LTSA gives high priority to preserving the extensive collection of historic land title and survey records.
LTSA recognizes the value of historic records and is committed to their preservation while ensuring wider access. Since 2005, we have invested over $18M in the various technology, equipment and personnel required to ensure these records are available for the benefit of all British Columbians for generations to come.
Land records of various types dating from the earliest days of BC’s settlement to the present are in the LTSA’s care. There are plans, maps, letters, documents, certificates, registers, indices, books, and more. The historic records exist in a range of formats, including paper and electronic.
While security of title is protected through the Land Title Act and by the Assurance Fund, all of the original records held by LTSA are useful for retracing historic land ownership and researching complex property boundary issues. These historic records are used by LTSA staff, lawyers, notaries and land surveyors to conduct their day-to-day business, and are also of interest to historians, First Nations, genealogists and environmental researchers.
Researchers refer to the records to obtain a wide variety of information including title, plan or other reference numbers, names, boundary descriptions and descriptions of rights that have been granted or reserved.
Much of the information in LTSA’s historical records are not accessible elsewhere and, therefore, protection of these records is critical.
In 2019, LTSA established the Historic Records Advisory Committee to provide advice to LTSA as it relates to the preservation, digitization, and accessibility of historical records with a focus on those of interest to Indigenous peoples. The Committee is chaired by LTSA’s Vice President, Policy and Legal Services, and committee members include representatives from the Assembly of First Nations, Union of BC Indian Chiefs and First Nations Summit; and LTSA’s Corporate Records Officer. The Committee meets a minimum of three times annually.
For information on how to research historic records, see Research Records.
LTSA preserves and protects historic records in its care, including survey plans, land title records and other documents which, combined with records from other archives, help tell the story of land use in British Columbia. This video includes information about the oldest records held by the LTSA, including hand-drawn maps and notes of the Cariboo Wagon Road route, as well as the earliest surveyed map of Victoria BC, both from the mid-1800s.
Historic Records Inventory
In early 2005, LTSA committed to undertake a detailed inventory of the historic records in LTSA’s custody.
By the end of the inventory process, more than 3,300 entries had been reviewed and recorded. The historic records inventory database is designed to produce reports that comply with national archival standards.
Each entry represents either an individual bound volume or a sub-series of documents or plans. Each volume or sub-series inventoried has been labelled with its unique inventory number.
The inventory of the paper format historic records of the seven original Land Title Offices and the Surveyor General is essentially complete.
An overview of progress as of March 2013 provides the outside date range and the physical extent of the main land title record series captured in the inventory, as well as an inventory description for each. In the section below, you can see a set of historic records examples. In these photos, a digital scan of a typical page for seven different record series shows the type of information each contains.
Inventory updates continue to occur on an ongoing basis.
Historic Record Samples
As a result of LTSA’s research to test the colour digitization of historic land title records, some sample images are available.
The selection of document images was made on the basis of a typical search to trace the ownership of a particular piece of land and includes the major record series, which can be viewed below.
To demonstrate how the major land title record series are inter-related, a list has been compiled of some of the transactions between the years 1870 and 1912 that relate to land in New Westminster.