Victoria steps into the digital age with online archives database


WATCH: The City of Victoria is making it easier for people to discover the past with just a few clicks. Ceilidh Millar reports. 

The City of Victoria’s Archives contain the stories and moments that have shaped the Capital City.

“This is how folks used to access photographs exclusively,” explained city clerk Chris Coates, while searching through a filing cabinet in the Archives Reading Room.

The filing cabinets contain an alphabetized listing of the city’s 350,000 photographic inventory.

“Each of the cards contains certain information about the photographs,” Coates explained.

This week, the city launched a new online tool that is bringing Victoria’s history into the digital era.

“With a couple of mouse clicks, people can access 10,000 of the city’s photo archives from the comfort of their own home,” Coates explained.

The City of Victoria’s Archives Online Search allows people to search the thousands of digitized archival photos and records in the database.

Some of the material dates back to the 1800’s.

The collection includes the works of local photographer W.E. John who is known for taking candid photos that captured the life of Victorians, primarily during the 1960’s.

John notably took photographs of a “love-in” held in Beacon Hill Park in 1967.

There are also images chronicling the city’s past including photos from Empire Day celebrations in 1923 and a typical day on Broad Street in 1915.

“We have more than 1,000 visits to the reading room each year,” Coates explained. “It’s great that people will also have the option to discover the information from their own home.”

The initiative was endorsed by council in 2016 and $50,000 was allocated to the project.

The final phase of the multi-year project includes digitizing city documents such as maps, news clippings, original bylaws and reports.

“There’s a lot of volume of information that goes along with these things,” Coates said.

To access the City of Victoria Archives Online Search, go to


Ceilidh MillarCeilidh Millar

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!