City of Vancouver Archives
City of Vancouver government records (City records), records of non-government organizations, businesses and individuals (private-sector records), visual records including historic photographs, maps, moving images etc.
1150 Chestnut Street Vancouver, B.C. Canada V6J 3J9
Schedule & hours
Monday through Friday: Reading Room open 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Staff assistance 10:00 am to 4:45 pm Closed statutory and civic holidays.
There is one Reading Room containing large tables with chairs, card catalogues, microfilm readers and self-serve microfilm, and computers for searching the holdings database. There is a small reference library on site. A gallery space in the entranceway has a seating area which can be used for eating and drinking.
The #22 Macdonald (westbound) and #22 Knight (eastbound) buses stop along Cornwall Avenue which is a four-block walk from the Archives. Free visitor parking, including two reserved spots for the physically disabled, are available. The ground-level entrance is located on the northeast side of the building at the end of a concrete walkway which leads from the designated parking spaces. Map
Description of holdings
A large number of the 3,000 linear metres of records dates from Vancouver's incorporation in 1886, and every year more public records arrive at the Archives as a result of an active records management program.
The Archives preserves historical records representing many aspects of past and current civic administrations and associated agencies. Of particular note are City Council minutes, by-laws and records of election. Although public records are primarily textual in nature, maps, plans and photographs are also represented.
Roughly half of the Archives' holdings are records from non-government sources documenting the social, political, economic, cultural and community life of Vancouver. These include donations from pioneer families, politicians, social activists, artists, entrepreneurs and community organizations. The records are primarily textual, but also include photographs, architectural drawings, maps, plans, audio, moving images, and documentary art.
The Archives' photograph collection is comprised of more than one million images from private and public records. These photographs depict a wide range of subjects relating to Vancouver's history and culture from the 1860s to the 1980s. They bring to life the social, cultural and economic realities of the city's past, as well as the everyday activities of generations of its citizens.
History of the archive
(previous location(s) of collection held there, and any information that might help researchers to navigate previous systems)
Catalogues & finding aids
- Search all holdings: http://searcharchives.vancouver.ca/
- Advanced Search: http://searcharchives.vancouver.ca/;search/advanced
- Online search provides access to audiovisual content, both streaming and downloadable
Languages of materials
Restrictions & difficulties
Researchers have to fill out an access permission form for accessing restricted records. The archives may request a picture ID from the researcher and a written proof from the academic institution with which the researcher is affiliated.
Future of the archive
(what direction is the archive going? what rumours have you heard?)
Registration is required in order to use the Archives. Registration may be done upon arrival. One piece of photo identification is required. Documents are for validation only; numbers will not be recorded. Failure to produce acceptable identification will result in the researcher being denied access to materials stored in the Archives Stacks area. The following documentation is acceptable for researcher registration purposes:
- Driver's License
- Student ID card from recognized educational institution
- Government ID with photograph
- Status card
It is not necessary to make an appointment. New researchers must complete a registration form. Researchers can request an orientation tour as well as research assistance from the front desk staff and reference archivist.
Permitted and prohibited items
- Permitted: Laptop computers and digital cameras.
- Prohibited: Scanners. No bags or purses may enter the Reading Room. No pens to be used for note-taking. No cellular telephones to be used in the Reading Room.
Document Request slips need to be completed to request documents. There is no specific limitation placed on the number of files which can be ordered or consulted in a day. However, researchers may consult only one item at a time.
Ordering classified material
Viewing some collections may require the permission of the Archivist or individual’s family and/or estate. This may be noted in the Access Restrictions field as part of database search results.
Most documents are retrieved promptly. Some oversized documents may take longer. Some original photographs are frozen and delivery will be the next business day. When researchers are finished, the items are returned to the Reading Room staff in person, not left unattended at the reference desk.
Photocopying, photography, microfilming
(what are costs, permits, and page limits? how long do you have to wait?)
(what are the main forms that the archive uses? if possible, provide links to copies or post copies directly)
(people you've found particularly helpful; no invective)
(scholars who are familiar with this archive)
(published works based on research at this archive)
There is no food for sale at the Archives. There are vending machines at the Museum of Vancouver next door, and there are many restaurants a 10-minute walk away.
Free lockers are available.
The public washrooms are wheelchair accessible.
The #22 Macdonald (westbound) and #22 Knight (eastbound) buses stop along Cornwall Avenue which is a four-block walk from the Archives. Free visitor parking, including two reserved spots for the physically disabled, is available.
WiFi access is available in the Reading Room.
- Reproductions may be ordered online: https://vancouver.ca/archives_wa/
Archives' social media accounts:
- AuthentiCity (institutional blog}
- Internet Archives texts and video