Handwritten council documents from 1886 to 1890 are now easily accessible thanks to a team of volunteers

John Mackie Vancouver Sun   December 10, 2015

VANCOUVER — Sam Sullivan doesn’t think much of Vancouver’s first mayor, Malcolm MacLean, who probably stole the city’s first election.

But he digs his successor.

“I’m such a groupie of David Oppenheimer, I went to the Jewish cemetery in Brooklyn (where he is buried),” said Sullivan, who was Vancouver’s 38th mayor and is now the MLA for Vancouver-False Creek.

Oppenheimer was quite busy during his four years as mayor. He was instrumental in the creation of Stanley Park, as well as the construction of much of the city’s infrastructure, from streets to sewers to streetcars.

But Sullivan ran into a problem when he tried to look through the council minutes during the Oppenheimer years of 1888 to 1891. The original handwritten documents in the city archives are too fragile to peruse, and the microfiche copies are difficult to read.

So Sullivan decided to have them transcribed. Initially he hired someone to do it, but that proved expensive, so he recruited volunteers.

It took almost four years, but the transcripts of all city council meetings between 1886 and 1890 are now available online at globalcivic.org/documents-of-early-vancouver/