Our local history books, directories and documents are housed on the first floor of our Central Branch in the Heritage Room, which features a special collection of around 2,500 items, focusing on the history and peoples of Vancouver Island.
For an interactive experience, we partner with local municipal archives and historians to present talks and programs that delve into the early years of our community and the notable characters who walked our cobbled streets and meadows of Garry oak.
The Heritage Room Collection
- City directories for Victoria and BC going back to 1860 (available in book, microfilm and microfiche; 1860 to 1955 are available online)
- City telephone books
- Local histories of many towns and communities on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands
- Church histories of many local churches
- Provincial voters lists of BC before World War One
- Numerous volumes of who’s who and volumes of collected short biographies of early prominent British Columbians
- Works on the early exploration of British Columbia
- Works on the First Nations of our region.
- Planning documents on local areas of the Victoria region.
- Clipping file
In addition to books, we have a reference clipping file, compiled over several decades by library staff. It focuses on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands and is extremely wide ranging in its coverage, including a biography file, covering hundreds of local individuals for whom there would be no other easy source of information.
To enter the Heritage Room, please sign in at the Central Branch’s first floor information desk. You’ll be asked to show ID.
Material from the Heritage Room is non-circulating and cannot leave the room. We encourage those who wish to copy materials to use digital cameras or hand scanners. If you need to use a photocopier, a library staff member can help you with the copying, provided the item is fit for copying.
Due to their fragility, city directories cannot be photocopied; however, copies can be made from the microfilm versions of these directories found in the Magazines & Newspapers area on the first floor.
Food or drinks are not permitted in the Heritage Room.
Newspapers on Microfilm
- Globe and Mail 1977–December 2010
- Vancouver Sun 1942-1953, 1989–2010
- Victoria Daily Chronicle May 2, 1863–June 23, 1866
- Victoria Daily Colonist December 1858–August 1980
- Victoria Daily Times June 1884–July 1980
- Victoria Times Colonist September 1980–present (two month delay)
- Victorian January 7, 1971–December 31, 1975
Indices on Microfilm
- B.C. Newspaper Index 1900–1990
Passenger Lists on Microfilm
- North Sydney, 1906–1922
- Saint John, 1900–1922
- Québec (includes Montreal), 1865–1921
Censuses on Microfilm
- 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1906, 1911, 1916
- British Columbia City Directories, 1860–2001
GVPL Digitization Projects
British Colonist Digital Database
Every page of every issue of the British Colonist newspaper, from the first one on December 11, 1858 until December 1950, has been scanned and made searchable in this database.
This database is a gift from the Times Colonist newspaper, the University of Victoria Libraries, and a consortium of B.C. libraries, including GVPL, as a way to honour the 150th anniversary of the British Colonist.
GVPL Digitized Local History Collection
This digitized collection was created from the local history holdings of the Greater Victoria Public Library. It contains items printed earlier than the 1940s on an assortment of topics, including agriculture, art, early trade, exploration and politics.
Created in partnership with the University of Victoria.