City Directories

Rare Books and Special Collections has a collection of early British Columbia and Vancouver city directories. These directories were issued over the years by various publishers [1], consequently they vary in arrangement and content. The earliest directories consist of alphabetical listings of people and businesses. Later street listings were added, which give the name of the person or business at each address. Earlier directories might list the name of a man’s wife in addition to his occupation, and women listed separately were generally widows unless they were employed outside the home. Telephone numbers were gradually included in listings. More recent changes in directory listings included equal treatment for women and the decline in occupational information.

In 1949 the British Columbia directory split into the various cities and regions. Vancouver City was really Greater Vancouver until the 1980s when it divided into Vancouver City and Vancouver Suburban. In 1993-1994 Vancouver Suburban was divided into South and Northeast. The last Vancouver directories to be published were:

  • Vancouver City Directory – 1995/96
  • Vancouver Suburban Northeast – 1995
  • Vancouver Suburban South – 1994

Since the mid-1990’s, published directories have been supplanted by the various electronic directories on the Internet, some of which are listed on the UBC Library’s Web site under Internet Search Engines.

For various reasons the directories in Rare Books and Special Collections cannot be photocopied. Some directories have been filmed by the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproduction (CIHM), and most Vancouver directories from 1860 to 1899-1900 are available on microfiche. The UBC Library’s Preservation Microfilming Project has filmed most of the directories up to the mid-1950s, and these are available on microfilm in the Koerner Library Microforms area, along with the CIHM microfiche. The Vancouver portions of the British Columbia directories up to 1948 were filmed by the Vancouver City Archives and the microfilm is available in Koerner Microforms (catalogue number AW1 .R7464).

The Vancouver City Archives has most of the directories covering the City of Vancouver. The Vancouver Public Library Central Branch buys and retains the city directories for communities in British Columbia. The current editions are available there at QIS Level 2. Older directories are in VPL’s Special Collections on Level 7 [2].

1. The major publishers were: Mallandaine, Henderson, Williams, Wrigley, Sun Directories, B.C. Directories, and Polk.

2. A selection of city directories from across Canada is available at: Adoption Reunion Registry, 1600 West 6th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C. V6J 1R3.