Special Collections at Burnaby Public Library

Burnaby Public Library's collection development policy includes a special obligation to purchase and preserve materials which contain information on the province of British Columbia, its environment, communities and residents. The library's Special Collections includes more than 9,000 books and other material relating to British Columbia, BC communities and local Indigenous peoples. The collection also includes historical items about Burnaby and by Burnaby authors. Books and other materials span a wide range of subjects – from stories of Ogopogo, to urban planning, immigration, real estate, railways, wildlife, forests and shipyards. We have art books by and about local and BC artists, First Nations history and languages, local high school yearbooks dating from the 1930s, books of poetry and fiction, personal and family histories, journals of BC explorers, and histories of BC towns and cities.

Special Collections is housed on the second floor of the Bob Prittie Metrotown Branch. Materials are available on request for use in the library during regular operating hours, seven days a week. Some items in Special Collections are also available in the circulating collection, and can be borrowed. The special care and restricted access of Special Collections ensures that items in the collection remain available well beyond the expected lifespan of circulating materials.

Burnaby 125/Canada 150+

To mark Burnaby 125/Canada 150+, the library has a small selection of special collections material on public display during the fall and winter of 2017 at the following branches:

  • Bob Prittie Metrotown, from November 6 to 21
  • McGill, from November 27 to December 8
  • Tommy Douglas, from December 18 to January 2

Learn more about our display with Selections from Burnaby Public Library's Special Collections [PDF], or view a selection of images from these display materials below. 


Cover of 'The Log: 1941,' Hugh M. Fraser High School yearbook
Page from 'The Log: 1941,' Hugh M. Fraser High School yearbook
The Log: 1941
Hugh M. Fraser High School, 1941
Edited by Bill Baker & Tom Cumming
SC 373.71133 Bur

This is one of many high school yearbooks in BPL’s Special Collections. Burnaby South High School was briefly renamed Hugh M. Fraser High in 1940; the name was subsequently changed back in 1942. The class of ’41 was the first to occupy the school’s then-new building and was the largest ever graduating class at the time.


Area map around BCIT Burnaby campus, 1962
Drawing of BCIT Burnaby campus, 1962
British Columbia Institute of Technology
British Columbia Vocational Curriculum Development Division
The Division, 1962
SC 378.71133 Bri

This brochure provided advance information about the British Columbia Institute of Technology to prospective students prior to the opening of the Institute. Tuition is listed as $150 per year.


Map insert from 'Ocean to Ocean'

Ocean to Ocean: Sandford Fleming’s Expedition through Canada in 1872
George M. Grant
M.G. Hurtig Limited, 1967
SC 971.05 Gra 67

First published in 1873, this is the story of an exploratory journey of two famous Canadians: Sandford Fleming and George Munro Grant. During the summer of 1872, Grant served as Fleming’s secretary on a journey from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Ocean in search of a route for a transcontinental railway.


Map insert from 'The Great Company'
Cover of 'The Great Company'
The Great Company: Being a History of the Honourable Company of Merchants-Adventurers Trading into Hudson’s Bay
Beckles Willson
The Copp, Clark Company, 1899
SC 971 Wil

The Hudson’s Bay Company is North America’s oldest trading company. This volume covers its history from 1660 to 1871.


Cover of 'The Picture Gallery of Canadian History'
Illustrations of snowshoes from Western Canada, from 'The Picture Gallery of Canadian History'
Picture Gallery of Canadian History
C.W. Jefferys
Ryerson Press, 1967
SC 971 Jef

First published in 1942, this book is the first of a series of three volumes designed to illustrate the history of Canada. It contains 200 pages of pictures drawn from old prints and paintings or from surviving objects of the past in Canada.