COVID-19 Notice

In order to protect the health and well-being of our employees and customers, the Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia (LTSA) is restricting access in all Land Title Offices to only its employees, direct access pass holders and Registry Agents until further notice.

Land Title Office front counters are closed; all other office operations continue as usual. Follow us on Twitter for updates.

The LTSA gives high priority to preserving the extensive collection of historic land title and survey records.

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 records exist in a range of formats, including historic records in original paper form, microfilm copies, and electronic records.

While security of title is protected through the Land Title Act and by the Assurance Fund, all of the original records held by the 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 the LTSA’s historical records are not accessible elsewhere and, therefore, protection of these records are critical.

For information on how to research historic records, see Research Records.

Historic Records Inventory

In early 2005, the LTSA committed to undertake a detailed inventory of the historic records held in the three land title offices located at Victoria, New Westminster, and Kamloops.

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 Division 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 Records Descriptions

Absolute Fees Book

These bound volumes record the registration particulars of an absolute fee land transaction. The absolute fee registration system was used before adoption of the Torrens system. The absolute fee register was closed to new entries in 1921and any live absolute fee titles have been converted to indefeasible electronic titles.

Absolute Fee Charge Books, also known as Charge Books

These bound volumes set out the registration particulars for charges against land held under absolute fee title.They still contain some active undersurface charges that were granted before 1921.

Absolute Fees Parcel Book

Documents parcel descriptions relating to absolute fee land transactions. For some parcels, a small colour sketch is affixed to the register page.

Applications

Documents applications for a land title transaction, including the registration of charges, absolute fees, and indefeasible fee transfers.

Bylaw Plans

Documents the filing of plans relating to municipal bylaws.

Certificates of Indefeasible Title

A title certifying that a party is registered as the indefeasible fee owner of a parcel of land, subject to any listed charges and subject to certain statutory exceptions.

Charge Parcels Book

Documents parcel descriptions relating to land referred to in the registration of a charge. For some parcels, a small colour sketch is affixed to the register page.

Church Property Plans

Plans that are filed relating to church property.

Conveyances

Handwritten copies of a conveyance of a parcel of land between two parties. For some parcels, a small colour sketch is affixed to the register page.

Crown Grant Documents

Documents conveying land from the provincial and federal Crown. Crown grant documents often include a colour sketch.

Deeds Deposited

Documents the filing of deeds in support of a land title transaction.

Documents Filed

Records the filing of documents in support of a land title transaction.

Documents Filed Plans

Records the filing of plans in support of documents.

General Plan Series

Generally fee simple and charge plans. In some offices, separate series have also been maintained for Bylaw Plans, Official Survey Plans, Posting Plans, Reference Plans, and Right of Way Plans. Beginning in 1965 in New Westminster Land Title Office and later in other offices, the various plan series were combined into one numeric sequence, with the exception of Strata Plans that remain a separate series.

Highway Plans

Documents the filing of plans relating to highways. Victoria Land Title Office filed Highway Plans in the Right of Way Plan Series.

Indian Reserve Plans

Documents the filing of plans relating to Indian Reserves.

Indefeasible Fee Books

By 1921, most indefeasible titles were in the indefeasible title format known today.  Before 1921, they were recorded in the Indefeasible Fee Books, similar to the Absolute Fee Books.

Key Plans

Maintaining an unofficial overview of the root descriptions of lands granted by the provincial Crown. Key Plans were unofficial sketch plans created between approximately 1916 and 1946 that provided an overview of some of the “root” or “primary” districts of lands that were conveyed by Crown grant. Generally, Key Plans were not created for lands conveyed through other types of grants such as railway or Dominion grants. The Key Plans were used internally by land title staff to scale only the first subdivisions out of the primary parcels.  Since each land title plan is filed independently and shows only the immediately surrounding geography, Key Plans could be useful to examiners to obtain an unofficial overview of the larger area.

Official Survey Plans

Documents the filing of plans resulting from Official Surveys.

Posting Plans

Documents the filing of posting plans that redefine surveyors’ monuments.

Railway and Foreshore Plans

Documents the filing of railway and foreshore plans.

Railway Plans

Documents the filing of railway plans.

Record of Agreements and Miscellaneous Instruments

Handwritten copies of agreements and miscellaneous documents relating to land transactions. For some parcels, a small colour sketch is affixed to the register page.

Record of Conveyances

Handwritten copies of a conveyance of a parcel of land between two parties.

Record of Mortgages

Handwritten copies of a mortgage relating to a parcel of land.

Reference and Explanatory Plans

Documents the filing of reference and explanatory plans.

Reference Plans

Documents the filing of reference plans that are based upon a survey to define a parcel, but excluding subdivision plans.

Register of Absolute Fees

Documents the registration of title to land by absolute fee.

Register of Charges

Documents the registration of a charge against a parcel of land.

Register of Indefeasible Fees

Documents the registration of title to land by indefeasible fee.

Register of Mortgages

Documents the registration of a mortgage against a parcel of land.

Right of Way and Easement Plans

Documents the filing of statutory right of way and easement plans.

Right of Way Plans

Documents the filing of statutory right of way plans.

Satisfaction Book

Documents the release of a mortgage or other charge against a parcel of land.

Strata Plans

Documents the filing of strata plans.

Subdivision Plans

Documents the filing of subdivision plans.

Supplemental Charge Book

Documents the registration of a supplemental charge against a parcel of land.

Supplemental Charges Parcels Book

Documents parcel descriptions relating to land referred to in the registration of a supplemental charge.

Title Delivery Books

Prior to electronic title, each title consisted of a paper original retained in the Land Title Office (LTO) and the “duplicate” title that was issued to an owner upon request and subject to s. 195 of the Land Title Act. When paper titles were typed, the process included the original as well as a carbon copy that was known as the “duplicate”. The title numbers were entered in the Title Delivery Books consecutively. The date the title was created would be entered, and if the duplicate title was issued to an owner or their agent, the date and the name of the individual to whom it was issued would be recorded in an adjacent column. When the duplicate title was returned to the LTO, that date was recorded.

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.