Documents compiled by almost 10,000 pioneer British Columbians have been digitized, indexed and placed online.
The records are the application forms for Pioneer Medallions, awarded to people in 1971 to mark the 100th anniversary of British Columbia into Confederation.
To qualify, a person needed to have been born or living in Canada prior to 1897.
The B.C. Archives and the Royal B.C. Museum have collected, copied and digitized 9,705 of the applications for the medallion. Those forms are expected to form a rich resource for genealogists and historians.
Angela Williams, deputy CEO of the Royal B.C. Archives, said the application forms asked for details often difficult to find, including the names of brothers and sisters, maiden names and place names, some of which may no longer exist.
Williams said she tracked her son’s great-great-grandmother on his father’s side. That record led to a great-great uncle whose own form included details on how the family made its way to Vancouver Island.
“So my son now knows a little bit more about his great-great-grandmother and even about her parents,” she said.
Williams said the Pioneer Medallion applications include First Nations applicants who wanted to be named as makers of B.C. history.
“People were just excited to be named as part of B.C.’s history,” she said.
Williams said the Pioneer Medallion digitization project was started by Gary Mitchell, the retired head archivist who has since been recognized as archivist emeritus. Indexing was done by Dorothy Mindenhall and Leona Taylor.
The B.C. Archives has also uploaded to its website more death and marriage registrations.
The Vital Statistics Act allows death data to be made public after 20 years and marriages after 75. The update extends the coverage of death registrations to 1995 and marriage registrations to 1940.
The closed period for birth registrations was extended in 2004, from 100 years to 120 years. The next update to birth registrations will take place in 2025.
To gain access to the Pioneer Medallion application forms, go to rbcm.ca/pioneer-medallion.