Research Guides

Family History and House History Research at Oak Bay Archives

The histories of Oak Bay people and the places where they lived and worked are often closely linked in archival records and historic printed sources. Discover more about the history of a person, house, business or organization using a combination of online resources, historic secondary sources, and the archival maps, photographs, directories, property appraisal cards, tax assessments, and other records at Oak Bay Archives. 

Records of extant buildings: surviving plans, drawings and other documentation about existing individual houses and other buildings are still current business records, and are therefore with the municipal planning & inspections department rather than in the Archives. Homeowners can apply for copies of those records from the Building & Planning Department. Their request form is here.

Archival and historic sources:

  • City Directories: Historic city directories are a great place to start, whether you're looking for the address where a particular person lived, or the names, residences, and occupations of the previous occupants of your house, as well as the development of streets and neighbourhoods. Older Victoria directories are available online through the British Columbia City Directories 1860-1955 project (Vancouver Public Library). Earlier decades are indexed by both streets and names. Oak Bay Archives holds paper copies of Greater Victoria city directories for most years 1960s-1990s.
  • Maps & Plans: Fire Insurance plans are available at the archives for Oak Bay, ca.1925 to 1950
  • Photographs: Oak Bay Archives photographic collection includes thousands of images of people, landscapes, and buildings - online here
  • Building Files: Building files are available for over 200 individual Oak Bay homes, plus an inventory of all residential buildings with relevant dates
  • Building and utility permits: containing names of owners, builders/contractors, building dates etc for addresses
  • Tax Assessments: Oak Bay tax assessment ledgers contain lists of owners and occupiers as well as the legal description of the property and its value. Assessment rolls are held off site and can be viewed at Oak Bay Archives by researchers by appointment in advance. 
  • Voters' Lists: Oak Bay Archives has a small collection of historic voters' lists for the municipality


Research Guide: House History: Researching the History of Your Oak Bay Home

Heritage Houses: To find out how to designate your Oak Bay house as a heritage property, or for information on cost-sharing grants for designated heritage houses, please contact the Oak Bay Heritage Foundation.

More archival records elsewhere:

Not all Oak Bay-related material is held in Oak Bay's archives! Especially for individuals, families and organizations, but also for land and buildings, researchers often need to call on a network of related materials in more than one archive repository.

Looking for more in-depth information from published sources? Try:

genealogy ancestry heritage