Guide to the Research Collections

- Canada (Billings HV-HZ)

Canada (Billings HV-HZ)

The collection relating to Canada is strong. The portion of the holdings administered by the

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American History Division numbers approximately 8,600 volumes consisting of reports, letters, and accounts of early and late explorers, general histories, and works of description and travel. There is also an excellent collection relating to the Canadian pioneers. General pamphlets number about 1,400, with many others devoted to special subjects.

Periodicals and serial publications are strong. Various types are present, the most important being the Reports and other publications of the Public Archives of Canada relating to both the French and the English periods. Provincial archive publications are also important: those of Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia are outstanding. The archives departments have in many instances issued calendars of important series of unpublished material; the library has extensive files of this matter.

A second source of material in periodicals is the publications of organizations, including among others the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec, the Ontario Historical Society, the Champlain Society; to these may be added the Royal Society of Canada and other British-American learned societies and academies. Those of French-America are represented by Nova Francia (1925-32) and other publications of the Société d'Histoire du Canada, the Revue d'histoire de l'Amérique française (1947-), and the like. The University of Toronto and Laval's Institut d'Histoire issue historical series.

The more specialized historical magazines such as Canadian Historical Review (1920-) are also useful to researchers. The library has generally complete files of these as well as of such important Canadian literary magazines containing historical papers as the Canadian Magazine (1893-1939).

The early works of exploration and travel briefly described in the introductory section to this description of the American history resources are of particular interest for Canadian historical research. To the works of travelers such as Alfonce and Thévenot may be added those of others who were more specifically explorers of Canada: Champlain, Denys, LeClercy, Hennepin, and La Hontan. The Rare Book Division contains first and early editions of their accounts. The library has a considerable portion of the materials listed in Henry Harrisse's Notes pour servir á l'histoire et á la cartographie de la Nouvelle-France et des pays adjacents, 1545-1700, and actively endeavors to secure the remainder either in original editions or in reproduction.

Special mention should be made of what are perhaps the most important single primary sources of early Canadian history-the seventeenth-century Jesuit Relations and allied documents. The library has one of the few complete runs of the series together with variant issues of a number of those years. Among the most prized items are the 1632 Le Jeune edition (McCoy 1); the Le Mercier edition of 1656 (McCoy 96); and the Lallemant edition of 1660 (McCoy 104). A bibliography of the Relations was printed in 1879 as No. II of the Contributions to a Catalogue of the Lenox Library, and the library's copies were more fully described by Victor Hugo Paltsits in R.G. Thwaites's edition of 73 volumes (1896-1901).14 The more useful portions of the Relations have appeared either in reprints or translations which are kept in the American history collections for general use; original editions are retained in the Rare Book Division.

There are interesting materials relating to the Hudson's Bay Company and other groups organized for exploration. In later materials, the printed works on pioneering and homesteading are an important feature. Documentary materials concerning Upper and Lower Canada as well as the Constitution are strong. A subject of associated interest is that of the American Loyalists during the period of the Revolution, many of whom emigrated to Ontario, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. Printed books, as well as transcripts of their claims for reimbursement under the laws of Great Britain (these in the Manuscripts and Archives Division), are among the library's resources.

Individual works on local or provincial history and local historical society publications form a strong collection administered by the American History Division. There is a good working collection of Canadian directories with long files for the more important cities.

There are few manuscripts relating to Canada in the library. Perhaps the most important of these are transcripts of the orders issued by General James Wolfe in the Quebec campaigns from April 30 to September 12, 1759, and by Generals Townshend and Murray at Quebec from September 14, 1759 to April 28, 1760. These transcripts contain orders not found in John Knox's Journal (London, 1769) and the text of the orders often varies. The transcripts form a part of the Ford collection, and are held in the Manuscripts and Archives Division. Another manuscript account dated Boston, January 3, 1690, describes the expedition of Sir William Phips against Quebec. It is supplemented by letters and documents in the Chalmers collection concerning the expeditions against Canada of 1690, 1710-11, and 1746-47. Diaries, journals, and other documents in the division concern French Canada during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Public Documents

The library is a depository for the documents of the national government of Canada. Of the longer series, the collection generally contains extensive files both of legislative and departmental reports and papers. The Canada Gazette is complete from 1881; the Journals of the Legislative Assembly are available from 1841 to 1866 in an incomplete file, followed by the Debates of the House of Commons (1870-). Statutes include the Acts of the Parliament of the Dominion of Canada (1867-). There are some municipal documents for the cities of Canada: Quebec and Montreal are best represented, with statistical publications predominating.

The following notes on selected provinces of Canada give some idea of the extent of the resources:


Both the Alberta Gazette (1905-) and the Journal of the Legislative Assembly are complete. The Sessional Papers are complete from 1925 to 1937. The Statutes are complete from 1906. The Public Accounts of the Treasury begin with the second year of the series, 1909. The

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holdings include generally complete files of separately issued departmental reports.

British Columbia:

The file of the British Columbia Gazette, commencing in 1863, is incomplete for the early years. For the period in which this province was a crown colony (until 1871), the library has the Governor's Proclamations (1858-64) and Ordinances (1864-71). The provincial Statutes are complete from 1872 to date. The library also has the Journals of six of the eight Legislative Councils of the crown colony (1864/65-71); the Journals (1872-) of the Legislative Assembly are complete.

New Brunswick:

The Royal Gazette is complete from 1902 to date. The journals of the earlier Legislative Council and the House of Assembly are fragmentary; the Journals of the Legislative Assembly which succeeded it in 1893 are complete. The Acts are almost complete from 1922. The collections of departmental reports are incomplete but not fragmentary.

Nova Scotia:

The library has a file of the Royal Gazette commencing with 1903. There are some scattered volumes of the Journals of the House of Assembly prior to 1820, and the file after that date is nearly complete. There is also an almost complete file of the Journals and Appendices of the Legislative Council which existed from 1837 to 1928. Of the Debates and Proceedings of the House of Assembly (1855-1913) the collection contains a partial file; of the similar series of the Legislative Council (1856-1913) the collection contains a file covering 1875 to 1913. The holdings of the Statutes, which commence in 1833, are nearly complete.

Ontario (as Upper Canada, 1791-1841; as part of the Province of Canada, 1841-67): The Ontario Gazette (1868-) is incomplete for the earlier years; there are a few scattered numbers of the Upper Canada Gazette which preceded it.

The Journals of the Legislative Assembly are complete from their commencement in 1868; the Sessional Papers run from 1869 to 1951, containing during that period most of the routine departmental reports. The collection contains only partial files of the journals of the House of Assembly and of the Legislative Council (1792-1837) which preceded the Legislative Assembly. The Statutes of Ontario are complete from 1867.

 Quebec (as Lower Canada, 1791-1841; as part of the Province of Canada, 1841-67): The Gazette officielle is complete from its commencement in 1869; there is also a broken file of the earlier Gazette de Québec. The Journals of the House of Assembly (1792-1837) and those of the Legislative Council (1792-1837) are complete. The Journals of the Special Council (1837-39) lack volume 2. The Journals of the Legislative Council are complete from their commencement in 1867. The Statutes of the province are complete from 1867, and before that those of Lower Canada are available in an incomplete file from 1793 to 1831. The Sessional Papers of the Legislative Assembly, which are complete from 1869 to 1936, contain most of the routine departmental reports for that period.


The Saskatchewan Gazette is complete from 1911. The Journals of the Legislative Assembly are complete from their beginning in 1906. The Statutes of the province start with 1906 and continue to the present day.


The Royal Gazette and Newfoundland Advertiser with its successor, the Newfoundland Gazette, cover the period from 1903 to date. The Journals of the House of Assembly begin in 1834 and continue until suspension in 1933, although the files are not complete. The Journals of the Legislative Council from 1833 to 1934 lack some volumes.