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 9, 2017: 39,177 transcribed permits online
Search fields explained & search tips
Field Name: Submit corrections to this entry
- More info or corrections? Using this link within the results, let us know and we'll update!
Field Name: Municipality
- 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 1920
- South Van: Oct 1911 to Dec 1921
- Point Grey: May 1912 to Dec 1926
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.
Field Name: Owner/Architect/Builder
- 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
Field Name: Address
- 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
For example, use 'Triumph' instead of 'Triumph Street' or '23' for '23rd Avenue E'
Field Name: Legal Description of the property
Fairly standard, and generally haven't changed over time (lot amalgamations may have changed).
DL (District Lot): the largest land-size 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)
Field Name: Remarks
- 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
- Content within squared brackets [Example] is a contemporary addition
- Abbreviations are for additional sources, such as:
[DBR]: Daily Building Record
[VBR]: Vancouver Building Record
[BCR]: BC Building Record
[JOC]: Journal of Commerce
[PROV]: The Province
[VDW]: Vancouver Daily World
Field Name: Comments
- Drop-down field will show, if present
- A contemporary field, with additional information about a permit
Field Name: Reference ID
- A contemporary field
- Every individual permit in the database has its own unique ID (that's around 35,000 of them 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.