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Spotlight on the Archives Collection

Major collections include those of the City and District of North Vancouver municipalities, Walter M. Draycott, the BC Mountaineering Club, the Versatile Pacific Shipyards (formerly, Burrard Dry Dock), Lions Area Girl Guides, North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, and many other individuals, clubs, businesses, and cultural organizations. To learn more about this community’s great stories, have a look at our new North Van History pages.

Archives Online Database

The Archives welcomes the public to the Community History Centre in Lynn Valley from noon to 5 pm daily, Tuesday through Saturday. We will assist you to explore the records, photographs, maps, and other materials in our holdings. The online database also provides access to detailed descriptions of our holdings, and scans of many of our photographs and maps.  To get started click on the online database , then enter a keyword in the top box, and click the search button and begin your online exploration!

Major Collections

BC Mountaineering Club Records: For over one hundred years the BC Mountaineering Club has maintained records of its activities in text, photographs, maps and film. The Club donated this remarkable treasure trove to North Vancouver’s Archives in 2011. Already researchers have used the records to study a variety of topics: the history of Garibaldi Park; trail building in the North Shore Mountains; the biography of mountaineer John Clarke; as well as environmental change in BC glaciation.

mus-pipeVersatile Pacific Shipyards Inc. (Burrard Dry Dock) Fonds: The Archives’ most extensive holding, the records of the Shipyard include operational records, professional quality photographs, thousands of ships’ and shipyard plans, company newsletters, even a short film of a War World II Victory Bond Rally.  Although its business was shipbuilding, the social, after-hours life of the employees is also well documented – the Wallace Pipe Band, fishing derbies, golf tournaments, employee picnics to name just a few.

Walter Draycott Fonds: Walter Draycott moved to Lynn Valley in 1911, where he bought land, built his own home, and made a place for himself as an active citizen and historian of the neighbourhood.  He kept diaries for most of his life, from 1907 until shortly before his death, at the age of 101, in 1985. He wrote letters to hundreds, including Queen Elizabeth, and drew and printed his own Christmas cards.

mus-collCity and District of North Vancouver Records: The District of North Vancouver was incorporated in 1891, and the City seceded from it in 1907.  Both North Vancouver municipalities transfer records to the Archives at regular intervals; these consist of departmental records for City and District Clerks and Mayors’ Offices, Engineering, Finance, Planning, and now defunct offices such as the Ferry Department.  Holdings of maps and building plans are a particularly rich source for information about heritage buildings, water supply and other infrastructure, land ownership, and zoning.

Community Records: The ‘community’ of North Vancouver is a complex fabric of communities, made up of individuals, families, clubs, societies, businesses, and service organizations.  Most of these leave behind documentary evidence of how they lived and what they accomplished on the North Shore.  The range of our holdings is wide, and often surprising. It includes materials from the North Vancouver Land and Improvement Company, the North Shore Youth Band, the North Shore Light Opera Society, St. Paul’s Indian Church Restoration Trust, the North Vancouver Beauty Pageant, various service clubs, sports and cultural organizations.

Special Projects

Walter Draycott’s Great War Chronicle

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Following the course of WWI, this online project, will develop over a period of 4 ½ years with the daily posting of diary entries by North Vancouver pioneer Walter Draycott. These provide a very personal and local view of Canada’s role in World War I. Here is one such entry from the diary of North Vancouver soldier Walter Draycott, a military photographer and topographer with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry:

Easter Monday, April 9th, 1917:
“One of our planes shot down. At 5.20 am our artillery open up their barrage –  also in Green Company. The semi-darkness is lit up by bursting shells making sprays of red light. Our barrage last for 1 hr 20 minutes. All the [rifles] reach their object & VIMY RIDGE is ours. I go up after & make a panoramic sketch for the General. Lt. Bob is killed.”

Each of Draycott’s 1,500 or so diary entries, spanning the war years from 1914 to 1918, will be posted exactly 100 years to the day after it was written.  The site is engaging on many levels. The text is brought to life with voice-over readings of the entries by a professional actor.  The website is illustrated with photographs and battle-field drawings from Draycott’s archives, and images of artifacts he donated to the Museum.

Diversifying History: Iranian Canadian Recollections

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We are gathering oral histories and photographs from Iranian Canadians living and working on the North Shore. To ensure that the stories we collect reflect the diversity of the Iranian Canadian community – which is represented by several ethnic groups, multiple languages and religions, we have established an Iranian Canadian Advisory Committee with members from the community and local multicultural organisations in our city.

Advisory committee members will guide an oral history project and have directed the development of the Sharing Our Stories exhibit.

Advisory Committee Members

Lida Amiri , Persian Settlement Worker, North Shore Multicultural Society; Nassreen Filsoof,President, Canadian Iranian Foundation; Dr. Mory Ghomshei , an international geothermal expert, and adjunct Professor at McGill University and UBC and North Shore resident; Fereshteh Kashefi , Reference and Multicultural Services Librarian, North Vancouver City Library; AR Rezamand, Department of History, Simon Fraser University.