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British Columbia. Water Rights Branch
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Working papers and other material

  • GR-1284
  • Series
  • 1951-1954

This series contains working papers, drafts and photographs, 1951-1954, used in the preparation of the illustrated "Water Powers, British Columbia, Canada", 1954 edition which was published by the Department of Lands and Forests, Water Rights Branch, Victoria.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

Water utilities annual reports

  • GR-3479
  • Series
  • 1938-1973

The series consists of copies of utilities files created after the implementation of the Public Utilities Act (S.B.C. 1938, c. 47). The files date from 1938-1989 and document the regulation of water utilities throughout the province. The records from 1938 to 1973 were created by the Public Utilities Commission. In 1973, the responsibility for water utilities was transferred to the Office of the Comptroller of Water Rights in accordance with the Water Utility Act (S.B.C. 1973, c. 91).

The records are arranged alphabetically in two groups that coincide with whether the water utility was private or public. Most files also have an assigned numeric number. Between 1938 and 1973 the file number consists of “U-“ followed by a sequential number that coincides with order that the utility was regulated. All files were renumbered in 1974 with a new number that begins with “0321” followed by a three digit number.

The files contain copies of orders-in- council and orders of the Comptroller of Water Rights establishing, amending the original application, or deregistering water utilities. There are also annual reports, financial statements, water utility reports and names of water utility directors.

British Columbia. Public Utilities Commission

Water rights registers of correspondence inward

  • GR-3082
  • Series
  • 1912-1953

This series contains a nominal index of incoming letters relating to water rights management. Use in conjunction with GR-1088, GR-1440, GR-1441, GR-1443.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

Water rights reference maps

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

The series consists of maps and plans 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 consists of 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. Finally, the reference maps contain numerous references to other map and plan sheets. Related sheets of particular interest include those in the first and second series of the Water Rights Maps (CM/B1575 and CM/S4) and those in the Water Rights Plans Series (CM/S5- S7). Arrangement: The maps are arranged according to the National Topographic Series (NTS) map indexing system. A basic NTS map index, annotated to depict the coverage of the series, is provided at the end of the accompanying series list. A more detailed NTS index is on display in the BC ARCHIVES Map Reference area.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

Water Rights records

  • GR-1017
  • Series
  • 1858-1974

Registers of water record and water licence grants and applications; index of water reserves, 1908-1929; list of localities operating hydro-electric plants, 1918; alphabetical index of creek surveys, 1910-1911, measuring stream flows.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

Water rights records

  • GR-0835
  • Series
  • 1902-1925

This series consists of letters inward to the Chief Commissioner of Lands, the Deputy Commissioner of Lands and the Minister of Lands regarding water rights generally, 1902-1912. These letters were transferred to Water Rights Branch files from Lands files and do not appear on the microfilm of Lands letters inward. Letters are arranged chronologically.

The series also includes a page regarding the disposition of Indian water rights by Board of Investigation from 1921-1925.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

Water rights plans

  • CM/S5-7
  • Series
  • 1892-1981

Introduction: 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 topics documented in the series and in each sub- series are discussed in the scope and contents notes below. The plans are listed in plan number and water rights district order in the series list which follows this overview. The structure and contents of this list are explained in the arrangement section below. Scope and Content: 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. And of course, the series 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. The water rights plans received by BC ARCHIVES consist of three main sub- series that have been separated from the plans held at the Water Management Branch. To a large extent the topics and document types described above are found in all of the sub- series but each sub- series does exhibit certain characteristics which reflect its provenance. Arrangement: Although the Water Rights Plans consist of three distinct sub- series, a single comprehensive list of the items has been compiled for the convenience of researchers. In part one of this series list, the item descriptions are arranged sequentially according to the water rights plan numbers. In part two, the list is sorted geographically, according to the water rights districts in existence at the time the various items were filed. Researchers should note that the BC ARCHIVES series list is based primarily on the original Water Rights Branch plan registers (see BC ARCHIVES reel B1949 for a microfilm copy) rather than on the items themselves. The dates given in the list are the dates of filing and the descriptions presented are close (but not exact) transcriptions of the descriptions in the registers. The registers also often contain information not transcribed into in the BC ARCHIVES list such as the plan origins, creator names, material types, and numbers identifying related records. The creator names, in particular, can sometimes be used to link the plans with other records produced by the same creator such as the early regional engineers' reports published in the annual reports of the WRB. Since the water rights plan numbers were assigned sequentially, part one of the BC ARCHIVES series list is in chronological order. However, a single plan number often covers numerous individual items and the date of the items themselves sometimes does not match the date of filing. Similarly, the descriptions usually refer to the items originally filed under a given plan number. In some cases not all of the items pertaining to a number were transferred to BC ARCHIVES and in a few cases it appears that the original items filed under a given number were replaced by later plans pertaining to the same general topic. Therefore, while the list usually provides researchers with a strong indication of the types of items found under a plan number, it is necessary to consult the items themselves, using the call numbers provided in the list, in order to determine the precise nature of their contents. The items are physically arranged in call number order within each of the sub- series. Separate lists of each sub- series can be made available, but the sub- series origin of any particular item in the main list can be readily determined by consulting the item's call number against the chart at the beginning of the list.

British Columbia. Dept. of Lands and Works

Water rights photographs

  • GR-3276
  • Series
  • [ca. 1915-1982]

Series consists of photographs taken, acquired or annotated by the Water Rights Branch ca. 1915-1982. The photographs in this series were taken or acquired by staff of the Water Rights Branch in British Columbia to document their activities. These activities included water and snow surveys, which anticipated the amount of run off expected in spring that could be used for power, irrigation and domestic supply; water resources surveys which investigated future sites that could be used to increase power; documentation and inspection of water ways, power plants, reservoirs and dams; inspections of irrigation systems including both dyking and drainage; and evidence of flood control and water damage. The majority of the photographs consist of black and white negatives and many of their corresponding prints. They are arranged numerically by a photo file number. They have been indexed by area and subject using a card file system (see related series). In addition there are panoramic photographs, large negatives and glass plate negatives, filed separately because of their size. Most of these records are also indexed by the same card file system. The series also includes several albums and miscellaneous prints and negatives, both loose and in rolls, as well as a 16mm film reel and a number of lists, indexes and other miscellaneous accompanying material.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

Water rights newspaper clipping book

  • GR-3484
  • Series
  • 1920-1942

Series consists of a newspaper clipping book compiled by Water Rights Branch. The book provides information about water issues throughout British Columbia including irrigation and water power.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

Water rights maps : second series

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

Scope and Content: 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- 24 (see CM/B1575) and have themselves been 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 new maps are sometimes referred to as the "coversions.") This series was received by BC ARCHIVES in 1981. 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. Related series held by BC ARCHIVES include the Water Rights Reference Maps (CM/S3) and the Water Rights Plans (CM/S5- S7). Arrangement: The maps are arranged in the accompanying list in water rights map number order. These numbers are grouped by the district and precincts identified at the beginning of the list and an attempt has been made to specify the "book" numbers of the volumes in which the sheets were orginally bound. Since the Water Rights Branch often renumbered maps when district or precinct boundaries were changed, a conversion list linking old and new numbers is provided at the end of the main list. The maps are now physically arranged and retrieved by the BC ARCHIVES registration number cited in the attached item descriptions.

British Columbia. Dept. of Lands

Water rights maps : first series

  • CM/B1575
  • Series
  • 1911-1924

Maps prepared pursuant to the Water Act Amendment Act, 1913. Shows location of water rights and licenses. Includes tabulation sheets relating to decisions of the Board of Investigation. Maps also show property boundaries.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

Water rights conditional licence registers

  • GR-1765
  • Series
  • 1912-1955

Conditional licence registers: vol. 1, CLs 1-5250, 1912-ca. 1924; vol. 2, CLs 5251-15259, ca. 1924- ca. 1941; vol. 3, CLs 15260-22538, ca. 1941-1955. The data is arranged by CL no., which is roughly chronological. The registers show status, conditional licence number, date works completed, fixed licence number, priority date, file number, name of applicant, streams, W. R. map numbers purpose, quantity, dominant land, district, P/C works filed. Vol. 1 also contains data arranged by authorization number 1-1075.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

Water rights conditional licence process registers

  • GR-1767
  • Series
  • 1944-1959

Conditional licence process registers tracking W.R.B. activities in carrying the C.L. applications to completion. The registers show file number, applicant, district, C.L. number or other decision, and other information.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

Water Rights Branch records

  • GR-1006
  • Series
  • 1889-1979

This series contains records from the Water Rights Branch. Types of records include correspondence, memoranda, reports, articles, speeches, miscellaneous papers and notes, legal opinions, memoranda of agreement, regulations, etc. relating to water rights, the evolution of water resource administration, and the history of the Water Rights Branch. Includes drafts and notes for a history of the branch prepared in 1979; various reports re irrigation; Indian Reserve water rights, the Railway Belt, and hydro-electric power. Printed material transferred to the Library Division.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

Water Rights Branch operational records

  • GR-0884
  • Series
  • 1901-1967

This series consists of records of the Water Rights Branch. Records include government publications, reports, memoranda, correspondence, statutes, regulations, indexes and maps pertaining to water rights, irrigation projects, water reserves, and water power developments, 1901-1967. Includes unpublished reports on the history of irrigation, water power resources policy, public utility regulation, and the Water Rights Branch, the Water Board, and the BC Conservation Fund.

Box 1-2 contain general files.

Box 3 contains the Provincial Water Power Index, ca. 1925-1933. Files are arranged alphabetically by Water District, with Water Rights Branch index numbers, Commission of Conservation index numbers, and Dominion Lands Branch index numbers. Also includes Water District maps showing locations of power site developments, water reserves, applications, and horsepower outputs.

Box 4 contains the Water Reserves Notices Index, 1901-1963. Files are arranged alphabetically by Water District, redone and rechecked February 13, 1963.

Box 5 contains Acts and regulations.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

Water Rights Branch maps and determination sheets

  • GR-1436
  • Series
  • 1913-1917

This series contains water rights maps prepared pursuant to Water Act Amendment Act, 1913, showing location of water rights and licences, points of diversion, conduits, places of user, file references and legal descriptions. The series also contains water rights determination sheets relating to water rights decisions of the Board of Investigation. These records show the dates of the original record (includes records ca. 1859-1909), creek or source, grantee, appurtenant land, purpose of water grant, works constructed, amounts of irrigated and irrigable land, names of other claimants, and remarks of the board. The records are arranged by Water District and Water Precinct. The original maps have been catalogued in the Map Division as CM/B1575.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

Water Rights Branch files

  • GR-1443
  • Series
  • 1912-1953

This series contains files mainly pertaining to water licenses and fishways. Files are numbered from 38W through to 45251W. The front of each file folder is filmed giving the file number ["W" indicates a water rights file], the geographical district, the name of the applicant, name of the stream, file numbers of related files, licence number, date of the application and names indexed [GR-3082]. The files contain various forms related to applying for a water licence, correspondence, maps, notices, proof of completion, cancellation, etc.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

Water Rights Board files

  • GR-1442
  • Series
  • 1909-1935

This series includes records of the Water Rights Board.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

Water Rights application registers

  • GR-1764
  • Series
  • 1947-1961

Application registers, vol. 3, 1947-1954, and vol. 4, 1955-1961. The names of the applicants for water rights are arranged by water district, and then chronologically within each district. The registers show file number, name of applicant, source of supply, place of user, purpose, quantity, priority date, conditional licence number, and final licence number. GR-1017 includes earlier volumes in this series.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

Water recorder files

  • GR-3493
  • Series
  • 1905-1955

Series consists of water records created by water recorders at the Alberni Water District and Golden Water District. The water recorders were usually a Government Agent so some of the records have been stamped by the Government Agent stamp.

Records include copies of cancelled final and conditional licences from the Alberni District and water notices that provide information about water applications.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

Water notices and other material

  • GR-1377
  • Series
  • 1909-1914

This series contains water licences issued for Victoria Water District, 1909-1912, by W.S. Drewry, Chief Water Commissioner, pursuant to the Water Act, 1909. The records include water notices and approval of plans. This volume was also used by the Board of Investigation to make water rights determinations, ca. 1913-1914.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

Water licence register

  • GR-1766
  • Series
  • 1909-1955

Water licence register, ca. 1909-1955, arranged by final licence number, 1-15922. The register shows status, conditional licence number, final licence number, priority, file number, name, stream, WR map number, purpose, quantity, dominant land, district.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

Water licence application registers

  • GR-3492
  • Series
  • 1962-1988

Series consists of a registers of water licence applications. The Water Rights Branch created two type of registers: the first is a numerical list of applications (1959-1982) and the second is a list of applications arranged by the water district (1962-1988). These registers allowed the staff to track water applications both chronologically and by region.

The numeric register is arranged by the approval number. The register includes the following data fields:

File number

The geographic registers have sections for each water district. The information is arranged in these sections and then by the file number. The data in the registers is roughly the same for all years with the exception of some fields that have changed. These fields include:

File number
Place of user
Licence number
Engineer’s report

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

Surveyor's notebooks

  • GR-3719
  • Series
  • 1910-1963

The series consists primarily of small, hard-cover notebooks used for recording data in the field during hydrographic survey projects. It also consists of envelopes containing various textual and cartographic records. The purpose of the records was to document information recorded by Water Management Branch field surveyors when they completed hydrographic surveys. Information was used as reference material in preparation of topographical maps. Also recorded was information relating to projects completed by the Water Branch (such as irrigation projects). Also recorded was information of the time regarding claims and claimants to water rights. The records may have a high degree of long-range research value.

Many of the field books contain data for so many different geographic locations, it was impossible to list or reflect each location in the file titles.

Relevant information is to be found in many Dept. of Lands, Water Rights Branch annual reports, where the background and execution of the hydrographic surveys around the province are discussed. See for example the Sessional Papers of British Columbia, Session 1913, pgs. D 107 to D 222.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

Report to the Minister of Finance by the Civil and Hydraulic Engineer

  • GR-1023
  • Series
  • 1916

Series consists of a report to the Minister of Finance of the Province of British Columbia on the Physical and Financial conditions of irrigation projects in the Vernon and Kelowna Districts, created by A.R. Mackenzie, Civil and Hydraulic Engineer. 2 parts.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

Report and other material

  • GR-1288
  • Series
  • 1922-1940

This series contains records pertaining to the Southern Okanagan Irrigation Project at Oliver, B.C. Types of records include a bound report which includes contract specifications, a project summary, tenders, memoranda of agreement, cost data, minutes of meeting of the West Kootenay Power a-ad Light Co., rate schedules, correspondence, energy consumption tables, plans and photographs. The original report was prepared in 1923 with various records added periodically until 1940.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch


  • GR-1289
  • Series
  • 1922-1954

This series contains copies of Hydro-electric progress reports in Canada, issued by Canada, Dept. of Northern Affairs and National Resources, Water Resources Division and its predecessor agencies. This mimeographed progress report highlights projects under development in British Columbia and the other provinces.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

Registers of the Board of Investigation

  • GR-1165
  • Series
  • 1896-1918

This series contains registers of the Board of Investigation, pursuant to the Water Act (3 vols.) Volume 1 is a register of land, water, mining, power and light, and lumber companies incorporated from 1896-1914. The registers are arranged alphabetically by company name and shows date of incorporation, capital, registered address, and file references. They include miscellaneous file references dated 1918. Volume 2 is a register of water claims in the Alberni district from 1905 to 1908, with Board of Investigation file references. Volume 3 is an alphabetical list of companies with water rights claims that are undated.

British Columbia. Dept. of Lands and Works

Register of reverted lands

  • GR-1163
  • Series
  • 1927-1928

The series is a register created by the Water Rights Branch from 1927 to 1928. It documents reverted lands in various irrigation districts and drainage areas in the Okanagan valley, including the Vernon, Kelowna, Westbank, Peachland and Grand Forks areas. Lists lands reverted to the Crown for non-payment of taxes and includes legal descriptions, name of last owner, acreage, amount irrigable, assessed values, etc.

British Columbia. Water Rights Branch

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