Remember, this is a database with *historic* material which was all transcribed from hand-written materials, 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 22, 2015: 32,141 transcribed permits online
Database search fields explained & search tips:
FIELD: Submit corrections to this entry
- More info or corrections? Using this link within the results, let us know and we'll update!
- These are the three historic pre-1929 separate municipalities
- By default, the database will search all three
- available permit dates vary within each municipality:
Currently, the database contains:
- Vancouver: Jan 1901 to Dec 1904; Jan 1909 to Dec 1919
- South Van: Oct 1911 to Dec 1921
- Point Grey: May 1912 to Dec 1922
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)
- 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
- Permits may not have included the street address
- First field: street number; second field: street name
- Try using only the street name without 'street', 'avenue', etc. for more results Ex: 'Triumph' or '23' for 23rd Avenue
FIELDS: Legal Description of the property
These are fairly standard, and generally haven't changed over time.
DL (District Lot): the largest portion
Block: a breakdown of the DL
Lot: a 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
- 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 (double-click the lot for tax ID info that'll show this)
- Shows what was going to be done
- May only have a category, rather than precise work. Ex. "Repairs", or "Dwelling/House" could involve much more than this generic categorisation implies (we're working on adding details from alternative sources)
- Contemporary comments in this field are noted within squared brackets
- Drop-down field will show, if present
- A contemporary field, with additional information about a permit
FIELD: Reference ID
- A contemporary field
- Every individual permit in the database has its own unique ID (that's around 30,000 of them so far!)
- Example: VN-1000-1001-12
1000-1001: JPEG photo number of the original page spread that we used
12: the line number of the given permit page spreads (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 end of 1929.
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.
We are also looking into the possibility of transcribing the Vancouver water permits ledgers, dating from 1887 to 1909; this valuable info would provide further details into a building's history, and would be fully searchable as is the existing permits database. Bringing the water permits online, costs are anticipated at between $7-10k.
Donations over $20.00 are eligible for tax receipts.
Charitable donation #1073758-52.