Exploring the National Library and Archives

Diana Tibert
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I have not personally been to the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) in Ottawa. However, I have visited its website (http://www.collectionscanada.ca/index-e.html) countless times. For many of us, the website is as close as well get to the collections held at LAC. Still, there is a lot to discover.

The LAC collects and preserves Canada's documentary heritage, and makes it accessible to all Canadians. This heritage includes publications, archival records, sound and audio-visual materials, photographs, artworks, and electronic documents such as websites.

Available on the website are databases, digitized images and recordings. Visitors can explore the website by following the link What We Have - On Our Website. On this page, you have the option of browsing the on-line databases alphabetically, by topic, by media or by product type.

Alphabetically browsing is useful if you know exactly what you are looking for such as Immigrant Diaries and Guides or Aboriginal Documentary Heritage.

An easier way to find things is by browsing by topic. Topics are broken down further to help narrow the search. For example, under the topic Exploration and Settlement, is Immigrant Diaries and Guides. Like much of the material on the website, these diaries and guides have been digitized page by page.

One diary particularly interesting and surprisingly easy to read are the hand-written pages by a woman as she crosses the Atlantic Ocean to her new home in Canada in 1869: Diary of an Irish Immigrant Woman.

Under the topic Disasters is SOS Canadian Disasters which provides information on some of the worst disasters in the country. Among those found include the Newfoundland tsunami (1929), Springhill mining disasters (1891, 1956 and 1958), Halifax Explosion (1917) and the sinking of Titanic (1912). For some disasters, digital images of actual newspaper reports and photographs are included.

An interesting sub-topic of Transportation and Travel is Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. Included are people who played an important role in Canadas history or who stood out from the crowd. The collection is searchable by using keywords (surname, place or other).

Found in this collection is Stephen Fulton, a merchant, shipowner, shipbuilder and a politician who was born in 1810 at Wallace, NS. Stephen was the son of William Fulton. He first married Julia Ann Heustis. After Julia died in 1944, Stephen married Sarah Elizabeth Black. He died October 23, 1870 of typhus at Wallace.

The easiest way to find information may be to enter a keyword in the main Search All engine which will search the holdings of the archives and library and the website. If too many results are found, try the Advanced Search engine.

If you cant visit the LAC and want to access records or documents in the collection that are not on-line, make a request in writing for copies. For example, for the price of the copying fee and postage, you can get a copy of a family members military records for the First World War.

To learn more, visit the What We Do For - The Public web page.

Researchers File

What was Margaret A. Doyles maiden name? What were the names of her husband, children and siblings? Margaret was possibly born in Hants County. She died April 19, 1898 at Dutch Village, Halifax, NS. Contact: Madeline L. Toft, 25 Charger Street, Revere, MA 02151 USA; email: mtnf831@aol.com


Diana Lynn Tibert is a freelance writer living in Milford, NS. Submit queries to: RR#1 Milford, Hants County, NS B0N 1Y0; email: tibert@ns.sympatico.ca

Organizations: Library and Archives Canada, Wallace, Canadian Disasters Canadian Biography Online

Geographic location: Canada, Ottawa, Atlantic Ocean Newfoundland Hants County Milford Dutch Village

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