Is your family in these historical photos?
Free, searchable, history all from the comfort of home.
Find your ancestors with this list of online databases for historical photos of Vancouver Island. The list is organized geographically. The databases are searchable and simple to navigate. Search surnames, location, or other keywords. Happy hunting!
City of Victoria Archives
The Archives has a photographic collection of thousands of images from a wide variety of sources.
Esquimalt Municipal Archives
Since 2014, the Esquimalt Municipal Archives has digitized 3, 600 images including photographs, postcards, posters, maps, letters, and certificates.
Since 2007, the Saanich Archives have digitized more than 9,000 images, including:
Their online search also includes descriptions of their collections.
North of the Malahat
Alberni Valley Museum
Presenting the historic photograph collection online has long been an objective of the Alberni Valley Museum. It provides broad access to the collection, as researchers and visitors have the option of searching the collection from outside the museum, and it helps to preserve the collection by allowing images to be viewed without the wear of handling or exposure to light that occurs when looking at the original artifacts.
Specimens, artifacts, archival documents and images all convey the fascinating history of the Comox Valley. The museum is the recipient of awards from Heritage B.C. both in the areas of palaeontology and cultural history. The Salish word “K’ómoks” says it all because it means “abundance”. Join us as we explore.
Cowichan Valley Museum and Archives
The Cowichan Historical Society owns and operates the Cowichan Valley Museum & Archives and is mandated to collect, preserve and interpret the history and heritage of the Cowichan Valley. They operate a full-service community museum offering school and public programming, permanent and temporary exhibits, special events, and archival services.
The Cumberland Museum & Archives houses a rich archival collection of images and written records relating to the heritage of Cumberland and the surrounding region.
The archives feature information about local mining, logging, labour history, Chinese and Japanese Canadian settlements and communities, houses, family genealogy, biographies, schools, businesses, organizations, events, and more.
Ucluelet and Area Historical Society
The Ucluelet and Area Historical Society exists to gather and preserve artefacts and archival information of educational, historical and cultural value associated with the area.
Their ongoing purpose is to establish and maintain an archives and a museum for the purpose of preserving, recording and exhibiting for public enjoyment the material they curate.
Canadian Museum of History
The collection features objects, specimens, works of art, written documents, books, photographs, and sound and visual recordings.
The Jewish Museum & Archives of BC acquires records that document the rich 150 year history of Jewish life in B.C. With over 300 linear metres of textual records, 300,000 photographs and 760 oral history interviews documenting the history of hundreds of local Jewish organizations and close to a thousand Jewish families, the JMABC strives to make their archival holdings accessible for research. New content is being added daily, so visit often!
Library Archives Canada
As the custodian of our distant past and recent history, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is a key resource for all Canadians who wish to gain a better understanding of who they are, individually and collectively. LAC acquires, processes, preserves and provides access to our documentary heritage and serves as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions.
The Photography collection encompasses images that primarily document the social history of Montreal, but also that of Quebec and Canada, and Vancouver Island. Its holdings range from daguerreotypes created in the 1840s to contemporary digital images.
Memory BC is a portal where you can access descriptions of archival materials preserved in repositories throughout the province. Use the search box or browse options to get started and discover the rich and varied archival collections that tell the first-hand story of B.C.'s past.
Royal BC Museum and Archives
Use this database to find descriptions and select digitized versions of archival records held at the BC Archives.
SFU Digitized Collections
The Simon Fraser University Library digitized collections include over 130 collections, with more than 1.3 million digitized newspapers, photographs, documents, sound recordings, and other objects.
Many of these collections originated with the Multicultural Canada digitization project, which grew from the conviction that the cultural groups that make up our country have little-known stories that need to be researched and told.
UBC open collections
UBC Library's Open Collections include digital photos, books, newspapers, maps, videos, theses and more. These publicly-accessible collections are constantly growing and reflect the research interests of the UBC community and beyond.
Vancouver Maritime Museum
Includes 60 metres of processed fonds and collections related to vessels, shipping companies and maritime personalities. Brief summaries of the fonds and collections are included in the link with a link to their finding aids.
Victoria to Vimy:
For this exhibit, the University of Victoria Libraries has selected a range of items from our Special Collections and University Archives in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada that provide diverse perspectives on the lives of ordinary Canadians during the First World War. These materials tell the stories of soldiers—from enlisted men to high-ranking officers—as well as their friends and families. The site takes visitors on a journey from Victoria, where many young men enlisted and trained to sites across Canada, including, Vernon, British Columbia; Ottawa, Ontario; and Valcartier, Quebec—and then across the sea to England for training. Ultimately, many of these soldiers went to the Front in France and Belgium, where Canadians fought in several major battles, including the Battle for Vimy Ridge in April 1917.
Do you know of other online resources for finding photos on Vancouver Island? Share in the comments.
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