We are having technical difficualties with the system that displays some of the maps below. We hope to resolve the issue soon.

The 1884 map, the 1885 fire insurance plans, and the 1889 "bird's eye view" of Victoria can be used in conjunction with census data and directory listings for the capital city. The 1891 Honeyman map of Nanaimo augments census records, directory listings and tax assessment data for that city. The other images posted here provide examples of different kinds of historical maps.

A map viewer is also available, which will let you explore the available maps in various ways. For example, you can view two maps of the same area in different years side by side and see how things changed over time. The map viewer displays very large maps, so you should maximize your browser window to see as much as possible. Some of the images below are also linked to the map viewer, so clicking the image will immediately display the map in the viewer. To use the various map display options, you should start on the map viewer introduction page. Additional maps, not shown below, are available in the viewer.

Fire Insurance Plans

Fire insurance plans were drawn to a scale of 50 feet to the inch (relative scale 1:600). Streets and buildings in Victoria are shown in extraordinary detail in these plans.
Maps for 1891 are available in the map viewer.
Maps for 1895, 1903, 1911 (revised 1913) and 1913 (revised 1916) are available at the University of Victoria Libraries Digital Collections external.

Victoria downtown 1901

Victoria City Centre Blocks & Lots
This 1884 map shows the numbers of blocks and lots in downtown Victoria. The numbers — which can be associated with historical census data & street directories — are still valid today, although some of the lots have been sub-divided.

Nanaimo 1891

Nanaimo, 1891
This map shows properties owned by the New Vancouver Coal Mining & Land Company. It also shows block & lot numbers which coincide with contemporary tax assessment rolls.

Victoria fire insurance map

Fire Insurance Plans of Victoria, 1885
Fire insurance plans were drawn to a scale of 50 feet to the inch (relative scale 1:600). Streets and buildings in Victoria are shown in extraordinary detail in these plans. These maps are also available in the map viewer.

Nanaimo 1891 with modern overlay

Nanaimo City 1891 & 2003
Nanaimo, 1891, with an overlay of modern streets and lot lines. The 1891 plan is a digitally altered version of the map posted above. The 2003 overlay was prepared by the City of Nanaimo's Development Services Department. Note - this a large [4.4 MB] file.

Victoria city centre

Victoria City Centre 1889 PDF
Streets and buildings are shown in this segment of a bird's eye view of Victoria. The image is derived from Ellis & Co's map, posted below. The file size of the PDF version of this image is 705 KB.

Victoria streetcars

Victoria, c. 1939
Electric street cars operated in Victoria from 1892 to 1949. This sheet, from Davenport's Hand-i-Maps of Vancouver Island, shows street car routes.

Victoria bird's eye view

Victoria, 1889
The "Bird's eye view" of Victoria was issued by Ellis & Co., printers of the Victoria Daily Colonist newspaper. It provides a unique and remarkably accurate view of the city.

Victoria downtown

Victoria, c. 1947
"Handy Map" of downtown Victoria issued by local merchants, shows layout of downtown streets before construction of Centennial Square in the 1960s and Eaton's Centre in the 1990s.

Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island, c. 1913
This map was a plate in a school textbook, A History and Geography of British Columbia (1913). The dotted line down the middle of the Island indicates the massive tract of land given to the Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway (1883).

Victoria 1953

Victoria, 1953
The "proposed" Trans-Canada Highway to Nanaimo is shown as a dotted line. The University of Victoria (1963) has yet to be conceived. The university's Gordon Head campus is still farmland on this map.