What's in the Archives?

The City of Victoria Archives contains a variety of valuable resources about the history of the city. To help you start your research, check out the guides on common research topics. 

Burial, Death & Marriage Indexes

The City Archives maintains indexes for Ross Bay Cemetery burial records and death and marriage notices from the Victoria Daily Times. Search for records from the Ross Bay Cemetery and for death and marriage notices:

Burial, Death & Marriage Indexes

City Government Records

The City of Victoria Archives is the official repository for all civic records of permanent value to the City of Victoria. These records come from various City departments, including:

  • Mayor’s Office
  • City Manager
  • Finance
  • Solicitor’s Office
  • Engineering
  • Parks

The records date from the City’s incorporation in 1862.

A wide variety of reports by and about the City are also available. These published and unpublished City documents include:

  • Neighbourhood plans
  • Transportation studies
  • Heritage reports
  • Downtown studies
  • Economic and social profiles
  • Surveys
  • Architectural proposals

Descriptions of City government records and City documents can be searched with the Archives’ Online Search.

City of Victoria fonds — Archives’ Online Search

City documents collection — Archives’ Online Search

Community Records

Community records document the history and development of Victoria. The Archives acquires them through donation. Community records consist of documents created in the normal course of affairs by a business, organization or family, such as:

  • correspondence
  • journals
  • ledgers
  • photographs
  • property files

Some larger bodies of records (or ‘fonds’) include the Commonwealth Games Society fonds, the business records of W. & J. Wilson and the photographs of Harry Upperton Knight.

Description of community records in the Archives’ collection can be accessed through the Archives’ Online Search.

Archives’ Online Search

City Directories

The first city directory was published in Victoria in 1860. The early directories list residents (not owners) in the city and outlying areas. They included addresses and occupations. It was not until the 1890s that another section listing residences by street was added.

City directories are available from 1860 to the present, with some gaps. City directories show residents of the city, occupation and street address. Although a few city directories comprise only of the City of Victoria, most also cover Vancouver Island and all British Columbia. City directories are also available at the Greater Victoria Public Library, B.C. Archives and the Legislative Library.

There is a list of directories available. Please note that ‘format’ in this listing refers to the primary reference room copy. Other versions may be available.

List of City Directories

When using city directories, please keep in mind:

  • the street number system changed in 1907
  • street names often change
  • city directories are not always accurate

Maps & Plans

The Archives has maps of Victoria and environs dating from 1848 to the present. In addition to maps, fire insurance plans, building plans and applications for plumbing connections are also available through the Archives.

Fire insurance plans for the following years are available:

  • 1903 to 1909
  • 1911 to 1916
  • 1921 to 1949
  • 1925 to 1949
  • 1957 to 1967

Building plans and applications for plumbing connections for demolished buildings are useful tools for researching architects and homes. They provide information on businesses and buildings that no longer exist. Building plans often show who the building was built for, date, architect, elevations and alterations. Applications for plumbing connections show:

  • the owner at the time the building was plumbed
  • a legal description
  • a drawing of the outline of the building with plumbing connections to the sewer

Maps, building plans and applications for plumbing connections are searchable via the Archives Online Search site.

News Clippings

The Archives’ clipping files contain newspaper articles and other related materials from over the years. These materials cover a wide variety of topics pertaining to Victoria, and are searchable via the Archives’ Online Search.

Archives’ Online Search

Reference Library

The Archives has a collection of publications dealing mainly with Victoria local history. Although these items cannot be signed out of the Archives, visitors are welcome to consult them in the reference room any time during open hours.

Please note that the Archives has a variety of pamphlets and near-print material, as well as some rarer publications. These form part of the regular archival holdings, rather than the reference library. These items are available for consultation in the Archives but are not described as part of the reference library collection.

The reference library collection is searchable via the Archives’ Online Search.

Archives’ Online Search