Vancouver’s Secret Waterways

Vancouver’s vanished streams and waterways can now be seen again in Google Earth, PDF form and other digital formats. UBC Library digitized the content of the Aquarium’s old paper maps, allowing both scholars and the public to see the paths of old streams and the original shoreline of Vancouver. The digitized maps encompass only the area of the City of Vancouver, and show the large area of land reclaimed since the 1880’s.

To download any of these files, visit Vancouver’s Old Streams on the Library’s Abacus website.

In the map above, the reddish lines show the shoreline of Vancouver as it appeared before the mass arrival of settlers. The darker blue lines show the path of streams in Vancouver, and the lighter blue lines show the estimated path where the data are uncertain.

The map is derived from Sharon Proctor’s Vancouver’s Old Streams, which has an accompanying booklet outlining the history of the now-disappeared waterways, complete with stories from Vancouver’s early inhabitants as well as black and white pictures.

This project would not have been possible without the help and support of the Vancouver Aquarium, the original publishers and creators of the printed map.

The digitized map is available in many formats via Abacus, the BC Research Libraries’ Data Services site. There’s a printable PDF version at 1:20 000 scale (48″x36″), a downloadable KMZ file that’s easily downloaded into Google Earth, and a georeferenced scan of the original map.

There’s also an ArcGIS shapefile which can be loaded into any GIS software, and even on your mobile phone through an applications such as iGIS.

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