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Currently 84,200 transcribed historic building permits now online
As of January 2023; Vancouver 1929 added; 1930 coming soon
Remember, this is a database with *historic* material which was all transcribed from hand-written ledgers, and is not a contemporary up-to-date listing of heritage buildings.
You'll probably still have to undergo a few searches to pull the info out (but not always!).
As of January 2023: Over 84,000 transcribed permits are online.
Search fields explained & search tips
Field: Submit corrections to this entry
- More info or corrections? Select this link within the results, let us know and we'll update!
- Three historic pre-1929 separate municipalities (pre-1929 city borders)
- By default, the database will search all three
- All of the pre-1929 municipalities, post-Jan 1 1929 city amalgamation, are now contained under 'Vancouver'
- The currently available permit dates vary within each municipality:
As of January 2023, the database contains:
- Vancouver: Jan 1901 to Dec 1929
- South Vancouver: Oct 1911 to Dec 1928 (full ledger transcription complete)
- Point Grey: May 1912 to Dec 1928 (full ledger transcription complete)
The start date for each area, is when their individual building permitting system begun.
Depending on volunteer resources, we'll be adding subsequent permits as soon as we're able to.
- Generally formatted as 'Lastname, Firstname' (or initials), as in 'Wright, H. E.'
- Don't be too precise. Try using only the last name, or partial last name
- Names can be open to interpretation, although we have attempted to correct architects' names
- This is the *historic* address and not necessarily a modern address
- Numbering can change over time, as well as street names (esp. in South Van)
- Permits may not have included the street address
- Permits may only have indicated a street name and not number
- First field: street number; Second field: street name
- Try using only the street name without 'street', 'avenue', etc. for more results
For example, use 'Triumph' instead of 'Triumph Street' or '23' for '23rd Avenue E'
Field: Legal Description of the property
Fairly standard, and generally haven't changed over time (lot amalgamations may have changed).
DL (District Lot): Largest land-size portion
Block: Breakdown of the DL
Lot: Breakdown of the Block
Sub & Re-Sub: Not used very often; subdivision or re-sub of blocks
- Historic interpretation of lots when a complex division was involved can be convoluted/complex
- Try searching for a property by only using the DL and/or Block then scan the results
- Some entries will not contain the legal description, as it was never originally entered for whatever reason
- You can find a property's legal description from: historic fire insurance maps; the City's VanMap online application; VanMap also has a historic 1912 fire insurance map layer
- Shows what was going to be done
- May only have a category, rather than precise work. Ex. "Repairs", or "Dwelling/House" and could involve much more than this generic categorisation implies (we're working on adding details from alternative sources)
- Content within squared brackets [Example] is a contemporary addition
- Abbreviations are for additional sourced data, such as:
[DBR]: Daily Building Record
[VBR]: Vancouver Building Record
[BCR]: BC Building Record
[JOC]: Journal of Commerce
[PROV]: The Province
[SUN]: Vancouver Sun
[VDW]: Vancouver Daily World
- Drop-down field will show, if present
- A contemporary field, with additional information about a permit
Field: Reference ID
- A contemporary field, to track database entries
- Every individual permit in the database has its own unique ID (that's over 67,000 so far!)
- Example: VN-1000-1001-12
1000-1001: JPEG photo number of the original register page that we used
12: the line number of the given permit page register (so this would be the 12th one down on the page)
Donations towards further database enhancements
Please donate if you found this resource useful
If you have made use of the database, found it helpful and would like to see it maintained and developed further into the future, you can make a donation here.
Our aim is to have all building permits transcribed to the late 1940s.
The transcription database has been funded entirely through 15 years of volunteer labour and supporting grants.
In order to maintain the database, adding future functionality, and to further the transcriptions of additional years, we need to secure ongoing funding. Your donation will help maintain this invaluable research site for other researchers and for your future use.
Donations over $20.00 are eligible for tax receipts.
Charitable donation #1073758-52.