Series GR-2184 - Indexes to Public Works building plans

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Indexes to Public Works building plans

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  • textual record
  • microform

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the contents of the series.

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1969-1978 (Creation)
    British Columbia. Dept. of Public Works

Physical description area

Physical description

65 cm of textual records and 1 microfilm reel

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Biographical history

The Dept. of Public Works was established in 1908 with the enactment of the Department of Public Works Act (SBC 1908, c. 41). The Dept. of Public Works was a successor to the Lands and Works Dept. The mandate of the Dept. of Public Works included construction and maintenance of government offices and buildings, public highways, bridges, wharves, river-bank protection, and maintenance of ferry and steamboat services.

In 1947 the work of the department was divided into district offices, an Architect’s Branch, Accounting Branch, Engineering Branch, and Equipment Branch. The department was also responsible for boiler inspection and electrical energy inspection.

In 1955, the responsibility for highways was transferred to the newly formed Dept. of Highways. At this time, the Dept. of Public Works, under the revised Department of Public Works Act (SBC 1955, c. 65), consisted of the Architectural Branch, Boiler Inspection Division, Electrical Energy Inspection Division, and Gas Inspection Division.

In 1975 the Dept. of Public Works was dissolved and its functions were merged with the functions of the Dept. of Highways to form the Dept. of Highways and Public Works (OIC 3842/75).

Custodial history

Transferred directly to the Provincial Archives in 1978 by British Columbia Buildings Corporation.

Scope and content

The series consists of indexes created by the Dept. of Public Works between 1969 and 1978 to manage building plans of public buildings throughout British Columbia. The province was divided into areas and then each public building or complex was given a number within the area. The actual plans, which are on aperture cards or negatives, are arranged by PWD number and these indexes can be used to locate specific ones.

The first index is the building file register; which explains the departmental filing system (both for files and drawings) and lists the building numbers and sub-numbers in order of area.

The next index is a four volume cross reference index, arranged numerically by area number. Within each area, the buildings are listed with a brief description, the sheet number (Public Works Drawing number) and the negative number of the building plans.

The most useful index for finding building plans is probably the 16 volume building plan index sorted alphabetically by location. Within each location, there are pages listing the building titles with descriptions of each drawing and its type and sheet number, the dates of the drawings and their negative number. This index was microfilmed in 1978 and a copy of the microfilm reel is in the file.

In addition there is a register listing of the plans in negative number order as they were assigned and filmed, from number 22000 to 44999, 150000 to 159999 and 45795 to 228947. Not all of the numbers were used.

Three groups of numbers and/or letters were used to make up the drawing number. The first group consists of numbers only and indicates the assigned area number. The second group consists of a letter or figure which denotes the type of plan.
When the drawing was used as a site plan, topographical plan or services (utilities) plan one of the following letters was used:
A - Architectural perspectives
E - Electric distribution, exterior floodlighting, street lighting etc. systems
L - Landscaping
M - Mechanical Services distribution systems
S - Site & topographical plans, excavation, levelling, roads, parking areas, sewage, water distribution and collecting systems
When the drawing was used as a building plan, the three part number consisted of area number, building number and sheet number.
The third group consisted of a letter/number group denoting the type of drawing and sheet number using the following letters:
A – Architectural
E – Electric circuitry and detail pertaining to the building
F - Furniture and fixtures
M - Mechanical
P – Plumbing
S – Civil/Structural
When an alteration (revision) was made to an existing plan, the new trace bears the same number as the original drawing, followed by an oblique stroke and number indicating the alteration.
When a new wing or extension was made to an existing building, the drawing would bear the first two groups as the original drawing but the third group started at 201. A second wing or addition to the same building would bear sheet numbers starting at 301.

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There are no access restrictions.

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Associated materials

For Public Works building plans on aperture cards, see GR-2176

Related materials


General note

Accession number(s): M91-007


The indexes were originally housed in 24 deteriorating binders. They were rehoused in acid free folders and boxes in March 2019.

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