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Surveyor General correspondence

  • C/AA/30.71K/1
  • Series
  • 1852-1866

The series is a correspondence record book originally kept by the Surveyor General of the Colony of Vancouver Island, J.D. Pemberton, from 1852 to 1864. The record book was then kept by Acting Surveyor General B.W. Pearse, from 1864 to 1868 both for the Colony of Vancouver Island and the United Colony of

The volume contains copies of correspondence from Hudson's Bay Company House in London to Colonial Surveyor J.D. Pemberton and Governor James Douglas, as well as individual letters from Douglas and other Colonial officials to Pemberton and Pearse bound into the book. There are also lists of reports issued by Pemberton and extracts from minutes of council regarding regulations for the sale of land, letters and papers regarding the Race Rocks lighthouse, and correspondence relating to the Union of the colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia.

Vancouver Island (Colony). Office of the Surveyor General

Lands and Works Department letter book

  • C/AA/30.7J/4
  • Series
  • 1864-1866

The series is an indexed letter book kept by the Lands and Works Department from 1864 to 1868. The first part of the book is an alphabetical index which lists the correspondence by subject or name and the page number for that particular letter. From pages 25 to 588, there are letter book copies of correspondence outward from Acting Surveyor General B.W. Pearse to various colonial officials, along with follow up notes and memos and copies of some correspondence inward. The correspondence covers all matters to do with lands and public works.

Vancouver Island (Colony). Office of the Surveyor General

Report on the physical features, soil conditions and agricultural possibilities of the N.E. section of the Province of British Columbia...

  • C/D/30.9/C24
  • Series
  • 1913-1915

The series consists of a report collected by the Dept. of Agriculture in 1915. The report was written by Agricultural Surveyor W.H. Cartwright and contains information on the physical features, soil conditions and agricultural possibilities of an area just north of the Peace River Block, recorded between April 1913 and October 1914. The report is illustrated with 22 black and white photographs and is accompanied by meteorological readings and some correspondence between Cartwright and the Deputy Minister of Agriculture.

British Columbia. Dept. of Finance and Agriculture

Water rights maps : first series

  • CM/B1575
  • Series
  • 1911-1924

The series consists of maps prepared pursuant to the Water Act Amendment Act, 1913. They shows location of water rights and licenses and include tabulation sheets relating to decisions of the Board of Investigation. The maps also show property boundaries.

The maps are arranged by Water district volume and sheet number.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

BC Government lithographed regional maps

  • CM/CL1
  • Series
  • 1911-1991

In 1911, the British Columbia Department of Lands began publishing standardized series of lithographic maps of BC regions, as well as general maps of the entire province. Over the next five decades these provincial maps were used both to stimulate and to document settlement and economic development on a region-by-region basis. For many areas, the provincial regional maps served as the main published source of cartographic information until those areas were gradually covered by sheets from the National Topographic Series of maps.

This summary guide and the accompanying series lists and graphic indices provide a basic overview of the provincial series maps available at the BC Archives. The series list (see finding aid) allows researchers to search for the call numbers of desired maps by using map series name, map sheet number or map title, while the graphic indices (CM/CL1 page G1) allow for a search by geographic area.

The map series include the Geographic Series of general purpose maps; the Lands, Pre-emptors', and Degree series of land status maps; and the Topographic Series of physical features (and some land status) maps. The land status maps are of particular value to researchers since the lot numbers depicted on the maps serve as an entry point to many other types of records produced by the Department of Lands and its successors. Conversely, researchers who already know the legal description for a property can often use the maps to place the property in its geographic context. Researchers should note that mineral titles are usually not depicted on the land status maps. Such titles are shown in the published Mineral Reference Maps (subseries CM/CL1.7) and in a separate, unpublished series (CM/S1).

CM/CL1 includes the following series of maps:

  1. Geographic Series (1A - 1SW) , 1912 - 1981
    This series consists of a diverse range of maps including general maps of the entire province, general maps of large regions, and provincial and regional maps overlaid with various government administrative boundaries. The Geographic Series was continued by the successor to the Geographic Branch, the Map Production Division (1971 - 1981), which also published such related series *Date ranges given are those for the sheets held by BC Archives as the Special Geographical Series Maps, 1967 - 1980 and the Regional (New Series) Maps, 1978.

  2. Land Series (2A - 2F), 1913 - 1958
    This series and the two following were designed primarily to show the status of land alienation. The Land Series sheets initially covered the settled southwestern area of the province and usually provided general geographic detail; fairly extensive cultural features such as transportation routes, parks, post offices, hospitals, telegraph lines, etc.; land district boundaries; limited topographic (landform) information in the form of spot heights, and depictions of the boundaries and numbers of surveyed lots pertaining to various forms of land title (crown grants, reserves, timber licences and leases), conveniently coded by colour. Later sheets in the series covered portions of the mainland coast, and the Queen Charlotte Islands. The series was published at the scale of four miles to one inch.

  3. Pre-emptors' Series (3A - 3Q), 1911 - 1969
    Originally intended as a quick means of depicting for settlers the Crown lands available for pre-emption in the north-central portion of the province, the first pre-emptors' maps were rough in form and were substantially redrawn each year. Since the early sheets were designed for short-term use, they provided only basic planimetric information (horizontal features such as rivers and lakes, but not landforms) along with depictions of the boundaries and numbers of surveyed lots, land recording district boundaries, government reserves, and of course, lands open for pre-emption or in some cases, public auction. Even the early sheets, however, often also provide relatively detailed information on the location of trails, roads, and railways, and the popularity of the series as well as the increasing availability of accurate survey information for the mapped areas soon prompted the Geographic Branch to improve the maps' appearance, accuracy and level of detail. Thus, while the scale, area covered, and numbering of the early sheets varied from year to year, the format of the series was standardized by 1915, with most sheets being published at a scale of three miles to one inch. Certain sheets eventually depicted topography by means of contours, and provided some of the types of more detailed cultural information present in the Lands and Degree Series.

  4. Degree Series (4A - 4Q), 1912 - 1956
    This series was designed to cover the relatively well-settled area of the BC interior between the CPR line and the 49th parallel using standardized sheets of one degree in latitude and one in longitude. The maps were published at the comparatively large scale of two miles to the inch since they were intended to provide prospectors and other residents with accurate, long-term information on physical features; the location of land recording, mining, and/or electoral districts; the boundaries and numbers of surveyed lots (including timber leases), and specific cultural details such as the location of schools, hospitals, post offices, transportation routes, power lines, and so on. Many of the sheets are contoured so as to depict topography in detail.

  5. Topographic Series (5A - 5E), 1917 - 1952
    This series was begun with the goal of depicting the results of exploratory topographic surveys (by Frank Cyril Swannell) in northern BC. The first sheets, therefore, provide planimetric information as well as topography in the form of hachures or contours, but depict few cultural details and are drawn at the relatively small scale of five miles to one inch. Later sheets, however, covered parts of southern BC and include not only detailed topography, but also many of the same cultural features, presented at the same scales, as in the Lands and Degree Series. Interestingly, certain maps in the above series were produced as special "economic geography" editions containing numerous annotations regarding natural resources as well as extensive textual information on the verso (back) of the sheets. Such sheets, as well as those which simply contain extensive natural resource annotations, are identified in the accompanying lists by the entry "Economic Geography" after the map title. In addition to the series described above, a number of smaller or more specialized series are identified in the series lists.

  6. Composite Series (6A), 1952

  7. Mineral Reference Maps (MRM1-MRM8), 1927-1935

  8. Mining Division Maps, 1914-1939
    Drawn by the Geographic Branch for the Department of Mines

  9. [Public Works Highway Maps] (PWD), 1930-1953

  10. Provincial Parks Maps (P.S.A.2. WCT2), 1966-1981

  11. Special Geographical Series Maps (SGS1-SGS2), 1967-1979

  12. Regional (New Series) Maps (1-2), 1978

  13. Outdoor Recreation Maps (1-16), 1981-1986

British Columbia. Dept. of Lands

Provincial electoral maps

  • CM/CL2
  • Series
  • 1884-1989

The series includes those maps in the holdings of the British Columbia Archives that were specifically published to depict provincial electoral districts or were annotated with information about such districts, as well as selected maps which include electoral districts as a minor depicted feature. Researchers should note that the dates provided in the map list refers to the publication date of the base maps. In some cases the same map has been used as a base on which to draw the electoral boundaries for different years. The dates of the district boundaries (when such dates are specified on the maps or have been determined) are provided in the notes portion of the description column.

Provincial Archives of British Columbia

Mineral titles reference maps

  • CM/S1
  • Series
  • [1942?]-1977

This cartographic record series consists of Mineral Titles Maps documenting the location of staked mineral claims and placer leases in British Columbia. In addition to the actual Mineral Titles Maps produced by the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum Resources’ Titles Division and its predecessors, the series includes Departmental Reference Maps (DRM) and Departmental Mineral Reference Maps (DMRM) which were originally created by the Department of Lands, Forests and Water Resources (and predecessor “Lands” Departments). The DRM and DMRM were used by the Titles Division both as guides to the location of parks, reserves, and surveyed mineral claims, and as base maps in the production of the Titles maps.

British Columbia. Dept. of Mines and Petroleum Resources

Water rights reference maps

  • CM/S3
  • Series
  • 1927-1978 (predominant 1952-1978)

The series consists of maps created by the Water Rights Branch between 1927 and 1978. The records provided the Water Rights Branch with a medium-to-large scale overview of its administrative areas, displaying both water rights information and detailed land status information produced by other natural resource agencies in government.

The series contains standard reference base maps (maps produced by the Department of Lands and successors in order to document the current status of Crown Lands title) upon which has been added a broad array of specific water rights administrative information. The base and added map information includes administrative boundaries: most notably, those of water districts and precincts, but also those of waterworks, recreation, and improvement districts, and of ecological, water, and other reserves. Depicted as well are flood areas (often with flooding contours), river improvement areas, and various forest, mine works, and other areas. In addition to the base cadastral information (such as surveyed lot boundaries and numbers) the maps also display conditional and final water licence numbers, correspondence file numbers, approval numbers, and numbers identifying gazette notices and orders-in-council.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

Water rights maps : second series

  • CM/S4
  • Series
  • [ca. 1920-1978]

This series of large scale maps was created by the Water Rights Branch pursuant to successive versions of the Water Act and the Water Act Amendment Act. The primary function of the sheets was to document the location of water rights licences. They therefore serve as a geographic index for the licencing function and also provide useful links to other maps and plans produced or used by the Branch.

The sheets in this series replaced those in the first series of Water Rights Maps, 1911-1924 (CM/B1575) and were themselves replaced at the Water Management Branch by a third series of larger-scale mylar maps. Accordingly, the sheets are often annotated with a "D" for "deletion," while the newer maps are sometimes referred to as the "conversions." Additional second series sheets remain at the Water Management Branch.

The maps depict the basic planimetry (creeks, rivers and lakes) within the boundaries of the various water districts and precincts, and record the location and numbers of conditional and final licences, as well as the numbers of both correspondence files pertaining to licences and of approvals of works. Other types of boundaries are also sometimes depicted such as those of local waterworks or improvement districts. Some of the sheets also contain tables which specify creek names, intake codes, and various file, map, or licence numbers identifying the location and nature of water diversions. Finally, the individual sheets frequently provide the numbers of registered plans, large-scale reference maps, and water rights maps or plans containing related information.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

Water rights plans

  • CM/S5-7
  • Series
  • 1892-1981

The series consists of records created by the Water Rights Branch, its predecessor, the Dept. of Lands and Works and its successor, the Water Management Branch. Throughout its existence, the Water Rights Branch (WRB) acquired and created a large central set of plans, maps, and engineering drawings which was assigned a single set of sequential water rights plan numbers. Over time, the original plan series was divided into separate sub-series for the use of particular operational units.

The water rights plans series documents a broad range of WRB activities. It includes: plans and engineering drawings submitted to the WRB by individuals, corporations, and municipalities as part of their applications for water licences or for approval of works; survey plans and maps prepared by WRB field engineers and regional engineers in support of licensing activities, irrigation studies, water power investigations and dam inspections; general reference maps used by WRB staff; and a variety of charts, graphs, and other items used for WRB functions such as stream measurement and precipitation monitoring. Taken as a whole, this series constitutes a wealth of often highly detailed cartographic information on regions and communities throughout British Columbia, information which in many cases is not available elsewhere.

Of particular interest are early large-scale maps and plans which provide extensive topographic information and vegetation notes for many areas of B.C. well before those areas were covered by standard topographic maps, including areas which were later flooded due to dam construction. As well, some of the early plans of towns and of agricultural, commercial, and industrial sites include such detailed cultural and cadastral information as the location and identity of buildings and the names of property owners affected by proposed water projects. The series also contains invaluable documentation of specific major hydro-electric, irrigation, and waterworks projects in the form of site plans and engineering (structural) drawings. The series' value is enhanced by the fact that many of the items contain numbers which can be used to link the items with related records such as water records, conditional and final licences; correspondence files, water rights and reference maps, field notes, and a variety of reports.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

Archives discrete item collection

  • F1
  • Collection
  • [ca. 1849]-2017

The collection consists of single items, reports, photocopies, photographs and other small collections donated and loaned to the BC Archives which document all aspects of the political, economic, social and cultural history of the province. There are private records produced by individuals, businesses and organizations and acquired by the Archives over many years from all areas of the Province and varying widely in subject matter. They consist of account books and journals, letters and diaries of gold seekers, pioneers, missionaries, and school teachers, literary manuscripts, photographs, the papers of natural historians and students and the personal and family papers of notable settlers and residents of the province.
There are also some provincial and federal government records which either came to the Archives as single items or files or were removed from other series.

British Columbia Archives

Archives research collection

  • F2
  • Collection
  • 1785-1991

The collection consists primarily of copies or records collected by the archives, loaned to the archives or donated to the archives. These records encompass all aspects of the political, economic, social and cultural history of the province. They come from all over the world but have a BC connection. These copies come from other archives, universities, historical societies, institutes and individuals.

British Columbia Archives

Archives moving images collection

  • F3
  • Collection
  • [ca. 1925-1990]

Collection consists of moving images collected or acquired by the BC Archives from a wide variety of donors. Subjects include the entire range of British Columbia history and cover most geographic areas of the province. They include commercially produced industrial and promotional films as well as amateur productions.

British Columbia Archives

Archives visual records collection

  • F5
  • Collection
  • [ca. 1850-1990]

The Archives photo collection (also known as the General file or genfile) consists of photographs collected by the Archives from around 1908 until the 1990s. The photographs were primarily collected because of their subject matter and little or no information was gathered as to their provenance and type. A single volume, arranged numerically by a classification code, appears to indicate that the first 14,000 or so photographs acquired were arranged by subject groupings.

By 1934, the annual report of the Provincial Library and Archives department noted that the "collection of photographs and prints in the Archives, which is estimated to consist of at least 14,000 items, is rapidly outgrowing the old filing system, and sooner or later the entire collection must be recatalogued and rearranged." In 1935 the new system of applying individual catalogue numbers known as "HP" or "Historic Photograph" numbers had begun. In 1940 the Provincial Archivist reported that half the photographs had been recatalogued. The cataloguing consisted of entering the photographs into registers in HP number order; the first number assigned was HP101 or HP000101. This system of item level numbering continued into the 1990s with over 100,000 photographs entered into the HP accession registers. While most of these photographs continued to be acquired because of their subject matter, selected photographs that formed part of original record groups, were also catalogued with an HP number.

The "original" photographs acquired in this way consist mainly of photographic prints in a variety of sizes and formats, but also include original negatives (both glass and flexible). In many cases, the Archives borrowed and copied photographs from individuals and other institutions. In these cases the "original" is a copy print made by the Archives at the time.

The prints are stored in HP number order in several runs: main run of several hundred boxes, one run of Maynard photographs, two runs of oversized photographic prints and one run of large oversized prints stored in map cabinets. Original negatives are stored by type (glass, nitrate, acetate, polyester etc.), usually by HP number. These original records are often know as "HP originals".

Copy prints were made of many of the prints and are arranged by subject in several runs. Portrait/family files are arranged in alphabetical order; topographic (place name) files are arranged alphabetically by place name and then by subject within the place; and a small set of subject files (including ships) are arranged alphabetically by subject. There are a variety of indexes and lists of files available in the Archives to help determine which general file copy print files are available on request.

Copy negatives (arranged by negative number or photo lab number) were made from many of the prints and original negatives. These records were used for reproductions and are stored in a large negative cabinet.

British Columbia Archives

Archives sound recording collection

  • F6
  • Collection
  • [ca. 1930-1995]

Collection consists of sound recordings collected or acquired by the BC Archives from a wide variety of donors and sources. The recordings include oral history interviews, radio broadcasts, and published sound recordings. Subjects include family history, local and regional history, industrial history, and broadcasting.

British Columbia Archives

Warden's diaries

  • GR-0002
  • Series
  • 1893-1899

The series consists of three volumes of Victoria Gaol Warden's diaries dated 1893, 1896 and 1899.

British Columbia. Dept. of the Attorney-General

Correspondence on the naming of British Columbia

  • GR-0003
  • Series
  • Typescript 1971 (originally created 1858)

The series consists of copies of correspondence between Queen Victoria and Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton on the naming of British Columbia, 24 June to 26 July 1858. The copy, made in 1971, was a gift of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, on the centenary of the province, 1871-1971.

British Columbia. Dept. of the Provincial Secretary

Bennett-Atlin Commission records

  • GR-0004
  • Series
  • 1898-1899

The series consists of records created by the "Bennett-Atlin Commission Act, 1899" to settle disputes as to mining claims in the Bennett Lake and Atlin Lake mining divisions. The records include applications to record claims, petitions of right, applications to the gold commissioner re involved records, calendar of cases, miscellaneous exhibits, decisions and judgements.

British Columbia. Bennett-Atlin Commission

Student essays, radio plays and lecture notes

  • GR-0005
  • Series
  • 1940

The series consists of radio talks on community drama delivered by Llewelyn Bullock-Webster; student essays regarding drama; student written radio plays; and a lecture by Bullock-Webster to University of British Columbia Summer School of Theatre, 1940.

British Columbia. School and Community Drama Branch

Cariboo District naturalizations index

  • GR-0006
  • Series
  • 1906-1914

The series consists of a naturalization index for the Cariboo District from December 1906 to June 1914, created under the Naturalization Act (RSC, 1906, Cap. 77). Naturalization is the process through which immigrants acquire Canadian citizenship.

The entries in the index are by name and are arranged chronologically and alphabetically.

British Columbia. County Court (Barkerville)

Cariboo District naturalizations index

  • GR-0007
  • Series
  • 1914-1929, 1934-1955

The series consists of naturalization indexes arranged chronologically and alphabetically and created under the Naturalization Act (RSC, 1906, Cap. 77). Naturalization is the process through which immigrants acquire Canadian citizenship.

The first index covers the Cariboo District for June 1914 to September 1929 and the second volume covers the period 1934 to 1955.

British Columbia. County Court (Barkerville)

Quesnel Police Court record books

  • GR-0008
  • Series
  • 1925-1950

The series consists of Quesnel Police Court record books created between October 1925 and October 1950.

British Columbia. Police Court (Quesnel)

Cariboo District firm declaration book

  • GR-0009
  • Series
  • 1900-1954

The series consists of a Firm declaration book for Cariboo district for the period January 1900 to October 1954. The book has has an index volume for the period after 1918.

British Columbia. County Court (Barkerville)

Cariboo District firm individual index books

  • GR-0010
  • Series
  • 1900-1918

The series consists of Firm individual index books for the Cariboo District, from January 1900 to April 1918.

British Columbia. County Court (Barkerville)

Barkerville County Court plaintiff index

  • GR-0011
  • Series
  • 1933-1954

The series consists of single volume plaintiff index created by the Barkerville County Court between 1933 and 1954.

British Columbia. County Court (Barkerville)

Quesnel County Court plaint and procedure books

  • GR-0012
  • Series
  • 1913-1954

The series consists of plaint and procedure books, some of which also have indexes. The volume in accession 75-G-021 includes a list of court documents and costs for the Supreme and County courts inside the front cover. The volume in container 830898-0003 includes the County Court judge's Criminal Court plaint book. This volume also includes a short list of mechanic's liens in the back of the volume.

British Columbia. County Court (Quesnel)

Barkerville County Court plaint and procedure book

  • GR-0013
  • Series
  • 1907-1954

The series consists of a microfilmed copy of a plaint and procedure book for the County Court of Cariboo, created between May 1907 and March 1954. The volume includes proceedings from sessions held at Barkerville, Soda Creek, Richfield, 150 Mile House, Quesnel and South Fort George, although the court appears to have settled at Barkerville after 1911.

British Columbia. County Court (Barkerville)

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