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Historical Map Collections

About this Collection

Fire insurance plans are detailed large-scale maps of cities, smaller municipalities, and industrial sites. The object of these maps is to show the character of any insured building. These plans were compiled by the fire insurance underwriters to assist their agents in assessing and controlling the risks of fire. Various symbols and colours are used to indicate the following characteristics: the shape and size of a building; the type of construction used; the existence of fire protection facilities; and the use of the building (e.g., a restaurant, a laundry, etc.). The plans were first drawn using a scale of 50 feet to the inch (relative scale 1:600). Later, this scale was increased to 100 feet to the inch (1:1 200), especially in residential areas, and finally 200 feet to the inch (1:2 400).

Plans were revised periodically as buildings were burned, torn down, rebuilt, or a new area was developed. The revisions were printed and distributed to the agents to paste in. Sometimes revisions were made in pencil or crayon by the agent, or by the cartographers in the Plan Department. Plans with the same date may have different revisions. There are no plans for undeveloped areas, nor for a few areas which were developed.

This collection consists of maps from 1885-1975, when fire insurance maps ceased production. These maps cover the areas of North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Vancouver, Burnaby, Victoria, Saanich, and Oak Bay. 

To explore this collection, please refer to the Library Research Guide