The City of St. John's Archives

Saturday 10am to 4pm

15 Terra Nova Road (new location)


Archiving our History
The City of St. John's Archives

The City of St. John’s Archives is the official repository for the records of St. John’s City Hall and various other records of enduring significance relating to St. John’s history.  It was formally established by a Resolution of Council on January 11, 1989.

Originally housed in various rooms at City Hall, the Archives moved its contents to a bigger space at 495 Water Street in 2003.  Built in 1903 as the Riverhead Train station, this historic building was the perfect fit for the City Archives and underwent renovations to safely store and preserve the City’s records.  

After almost 15 years at this location, the Archives once again outgrew its space. When the former Boy Scouts Building at 15 Terra Nova Road became available, the City utilized the space to house its valuable archival documents.  It was decided that the F. Burnham Gill Archival Centre would be the name for the new building.  One of the many accomplishes of Frederick Burnham Gill, who was also a prominent archivist, was the introduction of the first Records Management Program to the Province.    

The space underwent major renovations to bring the storage areas up to professional standards.  Temperature and humidly controlled environments with separate climate controls for photographic material; mobile shelving to maximum floor space; specialized mechanical systems; accessible space for staff and the public; as well as increased security were all implemented.

The Archives division work closely with Records Management, both of which are part of the Office of the City Clerk.  At the end of each year, official City records are transferred to Records Management directly from all City departments and are placed on a specified retention.  At the end of this retention period, they are passed on to the Archivist for appraisal and potential permanent storage.  

Although there are some restrictions, most records are available to City employees, residents and the public.  The Archives division is also responsible for the management of the City’s fine art collection and those pieces not placed in the many City buildings, are stored on site.

The Archives holdings are quite extensive with some records dating back to the 1700s.  Along with maintaining records from all City Departments, maps, photographs and architectural drawings are also securely stored on in this building.  In addition, private collections from individuals or groups such as the St. John’s Rotary clubs are also accepted, stored and preserved according to archival standards.  

The City of St. John’s Archives are normally only open to the public by appointment.

© 2020 Newfoundland & Labrador Historic Trust