Maritime Museum

Apr 8, 2017

The Maritime Museum of BC has just achieved a long-term goal to make the Reference Library and Archives catalogues available online. “Our Reference Library has been collected over six decades but has until now always been a bit of a hidden gem. We’re truly excited to make it better known.” said Brittany Vis, the Museum’s Associate Director and Archivist. “We already respond to requests for information in our holdings from many parts of Canada and internationally. We hope that making information more easily available about the collection will lead to greater use by researchers.” These two catalogues can now be accessed online at

The Maritime Museum of BC Library
The focus of the Maritime Museum of BC Reference Library is the northwest coast and the Arctic. It includes over 8,000 books, numerous vertical files, periodicals, and photographs. The collection contains popular, as well as rare books, dating from the late 1700s to modern day. Highlights include various editions of Captain Cook’s and Captain Vancouver’s and other early European explorers’ published journals, significant nautical reference books, out of print descriptions of activities along the BC Coast and marine technology, an extensive holding of pilotage and sailing directions guides, and British and Canadian Navy Lists.

The Maritime Museum of BC Archives
The Museum Archives collection contains roughly 100 metres of boxed textual materials, 35,000 ships plans, 2,000 maps and charts, and 40,000 photographs. It includes shipbuilding company and naval records (predominately from WWI and WWII), BC Ferries, records from sealing and whaling vessels (including oral history tapes), lighthouse logs, Coast Guard records, records for our fleet (Tilikum, Dorothy, and Trekka), personal diaries and letters, scrapbooks, and newspapers. These items date from the late 1700s to the mid-twentieth century. Researchers from elsewhere in BC and around the world also regularly access this part of the research collection.

“Our unique collection, including the Reference Library, are a tribute to the generations of devoted volunteers who have worked to preserve BC’s maritime heritage. We want to enable the public to more easily get access to our paper holdings and this is an important development for the Maritime Museum of BC” said David Leverton, the Museum’s Executive Director.


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