About Us

Heritage Burnaby is an online collaboration that represents all of the community assets, heritage services and historic collections managed by the City of Burnaby, British Columbia. As a collaborative effort we have endeavoured to provide a comprehensive community heritage and history website to bring together the 'personal history' of our citizens to facilitate a wider understanding and appreciation of our city's 'collective memory'. Our mandate is to provide the citizens of Burnaby and the wider public with access to information about the city and its unique history through online access to our heritage sites and landmarks, artifact collections, archival collections and library's history resources.

City of Burnaby:

Burnaby was incorporated in 1892 as a district municipality under the provision of the Province of British Columbia's Municipal Act. In1992, one hundred years after incorporation, the Corporation of the District Municipality of Burnaby became the City of Burnaby. In the first 30 to 40 years after its incorporation, the growth of Burnaby was influenced by its location between pioneer urban centres of Vancouver (incorporated 1886) and New Westminster (incorporated 1860). Burnaby was initially a small rural agricultural settlement but quickly grew as a major suburb with its own commercial and industrial districts. Today Burnaby is second only to the City of Vancouver in terms of its overall economic contribution to the Province of B.C.

Burnaby occupies 98.60 square kilometers (38.07 square miles) and is located at the geographical centre of Metro Vancouver. Situated between the City of Vancouver on the west and Port Moody, Coquitlam and New Westminster on the east, the City is further bounded by Burrard Inlet and the Fraser River on the North and South respectively. Burnaby, Vancouver and New Westminster collectively occupy the major portion of the Burrard Peninsula. The elevation of Burnaby ranges from sea level to a maximum of 1,200 feet atop Burnaby Mountain. Overall, the physical landscape of Burnaby is one of hills, ridges, valleys and an alluvial plain. The land features and their relative locations have had an influence on the history, location, type and form of development in the City.

While Burnaby occupies about 4 percent of the land area of the Greater Vancouver Regional District, it accounted for about 10% of the Region's population in 2006. It is the third most populated urban centre in British Columbia with an estimated population of 202,799. Burnaby is a maturing, increasingly integrated community that is centrally located within a rapidly growing metropolitan area. Burnaby's characteristic has shifted from rural to suburban to largely urban. The City features high density residential areas, major commercial town centres, rapid transit, high technology research and business parks, comprehensive industrial estates and major post-secondary institutions.

This website is an official project of the City of Burnaby's Community Heritage Commission. This project is also a civic partnership representing the Heritage Program of the Planning and Building Department; the City Archives of the Clerk's Department; Burnaby Village Museum operated by the Parks, Recreation and Culture Department.

Burnaby's Community Heritage Commission and the Heritage Planning Program:

The Community Heritage Commission was established in 1988 by Burnaby City Council under the provisions of the B.C. Heritage Conservation Act. The role of the commission has been to advise council on various heritage matters referred to it by Council. The Commission has evolved to create programs and projects that support heritage conservation in Burnaby as guided by the Official Community Plan.

The City of Burnaby's Official Community Plan has as one of its goals: "To Provide opportunities for increased awareness and the conservation of the City's unique natural, cultural, archaeological and built heritage."

In order to advance the mandate of the Commission, the Planning and Building Department, through the work program of the city's Heritage Planner, has developed a Heritage Planning Program to administer the City's stewardship of its civic-owned heritage sites; initiate education and awareness projects and provide opportunities to protect privately-owned heritage resources.

Burnaby City Archives:

The City of Burnaby Archives officially opened on Saturday, November 10, 2001. The Archives is Burnaby's first municipal archives, and is located in the McGill Branch Library at 4595 Albert Street.

The City Archives functions as a branch of the Office of the City Clerk and operates as the official repository of Burnaby's municipal records, containing records dating back to Burnaby's incorporation in 1892.

In 2007, the City of Burnaby Archives expanded its collection mandate to include private as well as public records. On February 14, 2007 an agreement was signed with the Burnaby Historical Society and, as a result, the Archives accepted into its custody the collection of community records that had been maintained and managed by the Historical Society since the 1950s. In the Spring of 2007, these records were transferred from the Burnaby Village Museum to their permanent home in the Archives facility.

The Archives storage area can accommodate 543 lineal meters of textual and other material, and is equipped with the sophisticated environmental controls necessary to preserve Burnaby's unique archival material into the future.

Our Mandate:

The purpose of the City of Burnaby Archives is to identify, acquire, preserve and make accessible archival material in the form of civic and private records documenting the history of the City of Burnaby.

The Archives is the official repository for all inactive civic records of permanent administrative, legal, fiscal, historical, evidential and/or informational value to the City of Burnaby. Archival material is preserved as evidence of the functions, legal rights, obligations, policies, decisions, procedures, accountabilities, and operations of the City of Burnaby.

It is the responsibility of the City of Burnaby Archives to ensure the preservation and accessibility of the City's archival records, which are identified for permanent retention through the archival and records management process. The Archives will provide proper facilities, environment and resources to preserve the archival material in its care for as long as possible.

Private or non-governmental records that compliment the official city records and/or enhance our understanding of the history and development of Burnaby are also acquired and preserved by the Archives. Private records include those of elected civic officials, those of boards and commissions related to the administration of the City and those of other organizations and individuals that detail the history of the City.

Burnaby Village Museum

Burnaby Village Museum was established in 1971 as a civic project named "Heritage Village" to celebrate the centennial of the confederation of British Columbia with Canada. In 1984 the name was officially changed to Burnaby Village Museum to better reflect its role as the city's museum. Originally governed by a society, the museum became part of the City's Parks and Recreation Department in 1990. Museum operations became part of the Cultural Services Division of Parks and Recreation in 1995. The Museum operation is overseen by the Parks, Recreation & Culture Commission.

The Museum fosters a shared sense of community identity for the citizens of Burnaby and visitors alike. It encourages understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of Burnaby's unique history and a leadership role in the preservation of Burnaby's heritage by:

  • Being a centre of museological excellence by protecting and presenting knowledge about Burnaby's historical and cultural heritage.
  • Increasing understanding and appreciation of Burnaby's history, achievements, traditions and institutions both past and present
  • Promoting participation and involvement through community and institutional partnerships
  • Fostering a sense of community identity through cultural awareness, advocacy and dialogue.

The Burnaby Village Museum is a community museum with a 'heritage village' setting that depicts life in Burnaby in a 1920s. The museum site covers approximately 10 acres within Deer Lake Park and consists of an outdoor museum village with 34 period exhibits, an operating 1912 carousel, gift shop, and restaurant. As one of the largest civic museums in the province it has evolved to incorporate an outstanding collection of material history artifacts housed in its exhibits and storage facilities. The museum also serves the community as one of Metro Vancouver's top visitor attractions and through its varied meeting spaces, diverse educational programs and as the setting for various community events.

Burnaby Public Library

The Burnaby Public Library plays and important role in enriching the lives of the residents of Burnaby by providing access to information resources, services and programs The purpose of the library is: "to serve the Burnaby community by providing optimum access to library materials and services in support of equality of opportunity for people to pursue their self-defined goals." The library also plays a key role in providing value-added services to the social and business sectors in the community.

The Burnaby Public Library is governed by a board of a nine members, including eight citizen representatives and one representative from Burnaby Council. The library is operated under the leadership of the Chief Librarian and has a staff of approximately 230 people working in the library's four branches.

The Burnaby Public Library can trace its history back to 1927 when the North Burnaby Library Association formed and a small lending library of 397 books was established in a store at 4147 East Hastings Street. In 1954 the Burnaby Public Library was established by a municipal bylaw and in 1956 the first library opened in south Burnaby. In 1957 the North Burnaby Library Association merged with the Burnaby Public Library and the institution has grown with the city to be a vital part of the community.

Today the library serves the community from four branches including the main Bob Prittie Metrotown branch, and the Cameron, McGill, and Kingsway branches. The library also maintains a website that allows users to access the library online. Statistics show that the library in 2006 provided over 3.5 million loans, had 1.8 million visitors, handled over 200,000 enquiries and logged over 700,000 website visitors.

The Burnaby Public Library also holds an important collection of books, reference materials and indexes about Burnaby's history and heritage.