Canadian directories have long been a valuable resource at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and can be used for a variety of purposes. Before telephone books came into use, Canadian directories (sometimes simply referred to as city directories), were used as a tool for advertising and marketing within a community and were intended to facilitate communication between buyer and seller.
Our collection includes national, provincial/territorial, county and city directories from across Canada, primarily from the 19th and 20th centuries. Genealogists are frequent users of the directories as they provide opportunities to track a person within a given time period and place. An individual’s address, occupation and the names of other household members are only a few of the gems that lie ready to be discovered within their pages.
Canadian directories are a popular tool for genealogists but they aren’t the only ones who can benefit from this resource! These directories have many other excellent uses.
Canadian Directories can…
- help determine the urban development of an area
- be used to determine the history of a building
- showcase advertisements from a certain time period that can be a valuable source of information about the services, products and entertainments available to Canadian society
- provide information on the companies that were active during that time period
- furnish a list of city officials
- supply researchers with population statistics for that time period
- offer the names and locations of important community institutions such as schools, churches, etc.
- LAC has a growing collection of digitized pre-1901 directories. You can search and view these directories by accessing the “Canadian Directories: Who Was here” database.
- If you are interested in using Canadian directories for genealogical purposes, we invite you to take a look at our genealogy Web page on directories.
- You can also find out more about the history of publishing Canadian directories.
Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!