The UBC Library Digitization Centre Special Projects collection is a variety of smaller projects from the UBC Library Rare Books & Special Collections or University Archives divisions.

There are 106 items in this collection, including maps, books, albums, and other miscellaneous documents. These projects emphasize the depth and breadth of the Library’s rare materials holdings and give visitors a glimpse into some unique materials.


The Special Project collection contains some bibliographies about the Puban Collection(蒲坂藏書) and the Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era Collection.

The Puban Collection is one of the most distinguished Chinese rare book collections in North America. It contains some 3,200 Chinese titles in about 45,000 volumes, including numerous rare books in many subject fields such as history, literature, philology and philosophy. As mentioned in this tweet, the oldest book in Open Collections, Shang shu tong kao 尚書通考, is from the Puban Collection.

A descriptive Catalogue of Valuable Manuscripts and Rare Books from China (1959)

This catalogue is about books in the Puban Collection issued during the Sung, Yuan, and Ming Dynasties (960-1644) in China. The author, Yi-t’ung Wang (王伊同, 1914-2016), was a professor at UBC History Department in 1957-l962. Professor Wang picked the most valuable items in this collection and composed a descriptive catalogue.

A descriptive Catalogue of Valuable Manuscripts and Rare Books from China (1959)

The Puban Collection has not been fully digitized, which makes the bibliography especially informative.  With the help of Professor Wang’s work, we can have a preview of the most precious items in this collection.


There are 68 maps in the Special Projects collection, the oldest of which dates back to approximately 1587. A lot of these maps are nautical charts, mine maps, and geological maps that are quite different from the maps most people are familiar with.

Vancouver, B.C., 1890

Have you seen a map of Vancouver like this? It is a bird’s-eye view map printed in 1890. It depicts Vancouver in an artistic style, with drawings of 38 city buildings in margins of map, and index to points of interest in the bottom. Downtown Vancouver is in the foreground, while the rest of the city stands at the far end.

Vancouver, B.C., 1890

On the left-hand side, there is a bridge across the False Creek. It was the Westminster Avenue Bridge. In 1910, the avenue was renamed as Main Street. The eastern part of False Creek was filled for railway lands in the 1910s and 1920s. As a result, the bridge no longer exists. Another bridge on the False Creek, the Cambie Street Bridge, was opened in 1891, the year after this map was printed.


Kanada no sakae 金田之栄 [Prosperity in Canada]

This is an album of Japanese Canadian children published in 1921. According to the preface, the album was in commemoration of Prince Hirohito’s tour of Europe. It contains photos of 545 children from 259 families. Most of the families lived in B.C.

These two boys were living in 10th Avenue, Vancouver. Their family was from Kagoshima, Japan.

These children were living in Powell Street, Vancouver. Their families were from Hiroshima, Japan. The Powell Street area was once a Japanese neighborhood until World War II when Japanese Canadians within 100 miles of the British Columbia coast were forced to relocate east to the B.C. interior and other provinces.

The album lists the children’s addresses, names, dates of birth, and hometowns in Japan. It is especially valuable for Japanese immigration history and genealogy research.

In 2017, Professor Norifumi Kawahara from Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan, re-edited and published the album. An alphabetical list of the children’s names in English is attached to the album as well as maps showing where they lived. The re-edited album is available at UBC Asian Library.

If you enjoyed this post, please visit UBC Library Digitization Centre Special Projects and explore more!

The Digitization Centre has digitized several collections of maps, as well as several collections that contain maps among other materials. This post provides a summary of those collections, showcasing some of our favourite maps from Open Collections!

Greater Vancouver Regional District Planning Department Land Use Maps

This collection contains more than 1,800 maps of the greater Vancouver area from 1965, 1980, and 1983. There are two index maps that help to navigate the collection:

Index – Land Use Series: The numbers on this map correspond to the “Identifier” field for each map. For example, you can search within the collection for Identifier:(V92) to find maps showing the north side of UBC campus.

Greater Vancouver Regional District Planning Department. Index – Land Use Series.


Greater Vancouver Regional District Planning Department. Land Use : U.E.L., 1979.


Index Map: Subdivision and Land Use Maps: This index map includes the Lower Mainland outside of Vancouver. Similarly, you can search by “Identifier” to locate the maps referenced by this index.

For more information on this collection, check out our previous blog post about it!

Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era

This collection contains Japanese maps from the Edo period, or Tokugawa period (1603-1868). The majority of the maps are rare or even unique.

Many of the maps show all or part of Japan:

Okamoto, Chikusō, active 19th century. Shinkoku Dai Nihon zenzu [Newly engraved map of Great Japan], 1865.

Utagawa, Sadahide, 1807-1873. Dai Nihon Fujisan zetchō no zu [Panoramic view of the summit of Mt. Fuji], 1857.

There are also some Japanese world maps included in the collection:

Bankoku enzu [Round map of all nations], 1675.

For a more detailed overview of this collection, see our previous blog post: Explore Open Collections: Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era.

Andrew McCormick Maps and Prints

This collection contains world maps dating from 1503 to 1910, with a focus on European maps and maritime exploration. Here is a selection of maps from the collection:

Moll, Herman, -1732. A map of the North Pole with all the territories that lye near it, known to us &c. according to the latest discoveries, and most exact observations, Agreeable to modern history, [1732].

Pond, Peter, 1740-1807. A map shewing the communication of the lakes and the rivers between Lake Superior and Slave Lake in North America, 1790.


You can read more about the collection and view other highlights in this previous blog post: Explore Open Collections: Andrew McCormick Maps and Prints.

Maps in other collections

In addition to the above three collections, there are many digital collections that contain maps along with other items.

The Chung Collection contains several maps of Canada released by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. This “sportsman’s map” of Canada shows the terrain and wildlife for different regions:

Canadian Pacific Railway Company. Sportsman’s map of the Dominion of Canada, 1898.


This map from 1943 shows the air routes serviced by Canadian Pacific Air Lines at the time:

Canadian Pacific Air Lines. Map of Canada showing air routes, 1943.


In the UBC Library Digitization Centre Special Projects collection, there are over 60 maps that do not belong to other collections, including this map of southeastern Vancouver Island from 1860:

D’Heureuse, Rudolph. Map of the south-eastern districts of Vancouver Island, 1860.


The BC Historical Books collection is an excellent source of early British Columbia maps, like this map of the Lower Mainland:

Hill, Albert James, 1836-1918. Map of the municipalities of New Westminster city and district, British Columbia, 1889.


Finally, the Western Manuscripts and Early Printed Books collection contains several 16th century maps, like this beautiful map of the Americas from 1588:

Ortelius, Abraham, 1527-1598. Americae sive novi orbis, nova descriptio, [1588].

You can find more maps by searching for the keyword “map” in a given collection, or by perusing the Maps genre in Open Collections.


The Asian Library will undergo extensive renovations to its top and main floors starting in the Spring of 2018 that will allow for improvements to student study areas, seminar space and programming.

Beginning March 1, access to the upper floor of the Library will be restricted. Essential items in the library’s collection have been relocated to the lower floor to facilitate use, while all other material has been moved off-site and will be inaccessible for the duration of the construction, expected to be completed by early 2019.

Once construction is complete, material selected to return to the library will be returned gradually. Low-use material will be re-directed to PARC, our on-campus storage facility where they will continue to be available for check-out. Items moved out of the library will start to be available either back at the branch or in PARC by early 2019, with access to the full collection expected by summer of 2019.

Users requiring access to materials moved off-site are encouraged to use InterLibrary Loan in the interim.

Any questions about the renovation can be directed to Shirin Eshghi, Head, Asian Library.

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

UBC Library





Emergency Procedures | Accessibility | Contact UBC | © Copyright The University of British Columbia

Spam prevention powered by Akismet