Did you know that VHF has a Reading Room available to the public?

The Reading Room is open by appointment only. We encourage you to come in and read about Vancouver’s history or do research on a project. Since many of our books are no longer being published, books must stay in the Reading Room. Please contact us to schedule a time to visit.

Thank you to Yosef Wosk for his contribution to establish the Vancouver Heritage Foundation Reading Room.

Exploring the Collection

The Reading Room collection includes books, journals, and other resources related to local heritage. Our materials cover a range of topics including history, local communities and culture, arts, architecture, and conservation of historic buildings.

Search our catalogue to find these titles and more!

Browse Our Catalogue

Search our catalogue to find more books and resources!

Can’t find something that you think should be in our collection?

Suggest an addition to the VHF Reading Room!

New Resources

Mount Pleasant Stories: Historical Walking Tours by Christine Hagemoen (2021)

Recipient of a Yosef Wosk Publication Grant in 2021
“Unlike other historical areas of the city – Strathcona, the West End, and Chinatown – very few historical walking tour guides and histories of Mount Pleasant have been published. In my opinion, this is a serious oversidght as Mount Pleasant has as rich and interesting a history as any of the other historical areas of Vancouver….The settler community of Mount Pleasant is over 140 years old, at the confluence of the east side and the west side of the city and consists of five distinct areas. There are so many stories to tell, especially in a physically dense area like its ‘Heritage Heart.’ I didn’t want this to be the War and Peace of walking tour guides, so this one guides (the first of a series) only scratches the surface. Think of this guide like a historical amuse-bouche – something to whet your appetite for the banquet that is Mount Pleasant’s history.”

VANCOUVER VICE: Crime and Spectacle in the City’s West End by Aaron Chapman (2021)

“The late 1970s and early 1980s were a volatile period in the history of Vancouver, where broad social and cultural changes were afoot. This was perhaps most clearly evident in the West End, the well-known home to the city’s tight-knit gay community that would soon be devastated by the AIDS epidemic. But the West End’s tree-lined streets were also populated by sex workers, both female and male, who fought a well-publicized turf war with residents. This, combined with a rising crime rate, invited the closer attention of the Vancouver police, including its vice squad. But after a body was found dumped in nearby Stanley Park, it was discovered that the victim’s high-profile connections reached far beyond the streets and back alleys of the West End, making for one of the most shocking investigations in Vancouver history, with secrets long held, and never fully told until now….Vancouver Vice reveals the captivating beating heart of a neighbourhood long before the arrival of gentrifying condo towers and coffee bars. Part murder mystery, investigative expose, and cultural history, this book transports readers back to a grittier, more chaotic time in the city, when gambling dens prevailed, police listened in on wire taps, and hustlers plied their trade on street corners. With warm regard and a whiff of nostalgia, Vancouver Vice peers behind the curtain to examine how the city once indulged in its vices, and at what cost.”

Becoming Vancouver: A History by Daniel Francis (2021)

“Vancouver has been called a city without a history, partly because of its youth but also because of the way it seems to change so quickly. Newcomers to the city, arriving by the thousands every year, find few physical reminders of what was before, making a new history like Becoming Vancouver long overdue.

In Becoming Vancouver award-winning historian Daniel Francis follows the evolution of the city from early habitation by the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, to the area’s settlement as a mill town, to the flourishing speakeasies and brothels during the 1920s, to the years of poverty and protest during the 1930s followed by the long wartime and postwar boom, to the city’s current status as real-estate investment choice of the global super-rich. Tracing decades of transformation, immigration and economic development, Francis examines the events and characters that have defined the city’s geography, economy and politics.”

Other resources

Looking for more information? A variety of resources are accessible online, and you may also wish to explore library and archive collections held elsewhere.

For more local history resources, visit our Vancouver’s History Resources page.

For sustainability resources, visit our Heritage & Sustainability page.

To find answers to your questions about heritage in Vancouver, try our Heritage Basics & FAQs page.