Digitization of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Personnel Service Files – Update of June 2018

As of today, 601,736 of 640,000 files are available online in our Personnel Records of the First World War database. Please visit the Digitization of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Service Files page for more details on the digitization project.

Library and Archives Canada is digitizing the service files systematically, from box 1 to box 10686, which roughly corresponds to alphabetical order. Please note that over the years, the content of some boxes has had to be moved and, you might find that the file you want, with a surname that is supposed to have been digitized, is now located in another box that has not yet been digitized. So far, we have digitized the following files:

  • Latest box digitized: Box 10331  and last name Whittey.

Please check the database regularly for new additions and if you still have questions after checking the database, you may contact us directly at 1-866-578-7777 for more assistance.

The Artist’s Mirror: Celebrating a new exhibition of artist self-portraits at Glenbow

On June 15, 2018, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and Glenbow Museum come together in Calgary, Alberta, to officially celebrate the beginning of a very successful collaboration. March 10th marked the opening of the first in a series of five co-curated exhibitions. All of the exhibitions feature portraits from LAC’s collection. In some cases, they also include portraits from Glenbow’s collection.

This exciting collaboration provides the opportunity for more Canadians to see many of Canada’s most important national treasures: all of the exhibitions will be presented at Glenbow, in Calgary. Each of the exhibitions in the series has a different theme related to portraits and portraiture.

A colour photograph of the entrance to the exhibition space at the Glenbow Museum.

Installation photograph of The Artist’s Mirror at Glenbow, courtesy of Glenbow Museum

A special kind of portrait

The first exhibition in the series focuses on one of the most fascinating types of portrait: images that artists create of themselves. The proliferation of mirrors during the 15th century is said to have contributed to the popularization of artist self-portraits. When artists hold the mirror to themselves, it is very difficult not to be drawn in.

A painting of a mirror and a still-life arrangement on a dressing table with several books, a brush, a radio, and two oranges on a plate on top of a newspaper. The mirror’s reflection shows the artist and another painting.

Self-portrait in Mirror, William Lewy Leroy Stevenson, ca. 1928, e011200954

Artist self-portraits are particularly intriguing because they appear to give privileged insight into the creative process. They are also exciting for their variety. The choice of medium is just one way in which artists have experimented with self-portraits, over the years, as statements of creative identity.

The exhibition includes 17 historical and modern self-portraits of Canadian artists, drawn from LAC’s collection. There are examples of video and sculpture self-portraiture as well as paintings, drawings and prints.

Many faces, many stories

A stand-out self-portrait in the exhibition is this sculpture by Inuit artist Floyd Kuptana.

A colour photograph of the front of a stylized sculpture of a man with his tongue sticking out.

Self-portrait by Floyd Kuptana, 2007, MIKAN 3922914

It is important to view this self-portrait from a variety of angles. The playful stone sculpture smiles, when viewed from one angle, and sticks out his tongue when viewed from another:

A colour photograph of the front of a stylized sculpture of a man with his head tilted to the side. A colour photograph of the front of a stylized sculpture of a man sticking his tongue out.The humour in this self-portrait masks a much more serious exploration of self, on a variety of levels. Kuptana created this self-portrait with traditional ideas as well as modern ones. The multiple faces and angles reflect shamanic beliefs about transformation. Yet, the idea of multiple personalities, within one self, is also associated with modern psychology.

A colour photograph of the side of a stylized sculpture of a man.Self-portrait… or portrait?

The exhibition provides a chance to see a portrait that remains at the centre of one of Canadian art history’s most interesting unresolved mysteries. Certain scholars feel strongly that this portrait, created by important British Columbia artist Emily Carr, is a rare, early self-portrait. However, others have argued that this drawing is merely an image Carr may have made of somebody else.

A charcoal drawing on paper of a young woman with bare shoulders seen from the back with her face in profile. Her hair is styled in a loose bun with short curls framing her face. Her gaze is off to the right.

Self-portrait thought to be of Emily Carr, ca. 1899, e006078795

Most agree that Carr created the drawing when she was an art student in London, United Kingdom. The drawing is done in a traditional academic style, not typical of Carr’s later work, but very much typical of a student demonstrating her mastery.

Those who believe this to be an image of Carr herself point to the strong resemblance between the drawing and contemporary photographs of her. They acknowledge that Carr was notoriously prudish and thus unlikely to pose with bare shoulders. However, they point out that it would be quite common, in women’s drawing classes of the day, to practise drawing the human form from suitably draped ancient classical sculptures. An artist could place their own head on a body copied from one of these unexceptionable nudes.

A vignette of the Emily Carr portrait showing the drawing’s classical lines of the shoulders and chin.With this image, Carr may have been striving to project herself within a particular style, fashionable when she was a young woman.

The exhibition invites you to judge for yourself.

A western connection

The exhibition provides a chance for LAC to present self-portraits that have a particular connection to Calgary.

One example is this amusing self-portrait by Calgary-based artist Gary Olson.

A pencil drawing of a man’s face squished up against a piece of glass. Most of the left side of his face is indistinguishable, but his right eye is keenly focused.

I Am Up Against the Picture Plane Again, by Gary Olson, 1977, e011195950. @ Gary Olson

The image is part of a series created by Olson while he was a college art instructor. He came up with these lighthearted images to convey the difficult theoretical art concept of the picture plane to his students. He portrays the plane literally, in these images, by flattening and distorting his own features against it. At the same time, Olson takes the opportunity to poke fun at the theory of art, capturing something of his own irreverent desire to push the envelope

Come see the exhibition

A colour photograph of a dimly lit room with various art pieces hung on the walls.

Installation photograph of The Artist’s Mirror at Glenbow, courtesy of Glenbow Museum

Be sure to visit The Artist’s Mirror, if you happen to be in Calgary. The exhibition runs from March 10, 2018 to January 6, 2019 and is open every day. For more information, please contact Glenbow Museum.

Joseph Thomas Kaeble, VC

By John Morden

This week in the blog series on Canadian Victoria Cross recipients, we honour corporal Thomas Kaeble, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his valour on the battlefield on June 8 and 9, 1918. His actions took place 100 years ago today.

Joseph Thomas Kaeble was born on May 5, 1893, in Saint Moise, Quebec. Prior to the First World War, he served as a machinist. He enlisted in the 189th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force on March 20, 1916, and on November 12, 1916, transferred to the 22nd French Canadian Battalion. The following year, in April, Kaeble was wounded and admitted to hospital. He was released from hospital shortly after, in May. While in hospital, he was promoted to the rank of corporal.

A black-and-white photograph of a soldier in full uniform.

Joseph Kaeble, undated. Source: Directorate of History and Heritage.

Kaeble earned the Victoria Cross during the 1918 Spring Offensive, Germany’s last gamble for victory on the Western Front. On the evening of June 8, 1918, while the 22nd Battalion was stationed near Neuville-Vitasse in France, the German army launched a raid against the Canadian lines. The attack was preluded by a blistering German bombardment, which left the Canadians stunned. Afterwards, a wave of 50 German soldiers came towards Kaeble’s position. With most of his comrades injured from the bombardment, Kaeble got out of the parapet, and, with a Lewis machine gun, held off the German onslaught on his own. Despite being hit several times, he held the attackers at bay until he was finally knocked back into his trench, severely wounded. While laying wounded, he was reported to have said to his brothers in arms: “Keep it up boys; do no let them get through! We must stop them!” (London Gazette, 30903, September 16, 1918)

In that battle, Kaeble suffered compound fractures in both legs, both arms, as well as a fractured hand and neck. In the end, the German raid was repulsed by the 22nd, to large extent because of Kaeble’s valiant stand.

A typed report describing the events of the “night of June 8th/9th 1918”.

in the 22nd Canadian Infantry Battalion War Diary on the actions that took place on June 8 and 9, 1918 (e000963629)

Corporal Kaeble would die of his grievous wounds on June 9, 1918. Along with the Victoria Cross, he was also awarded the Military Medal for his actions in France. He was the first French Canadian to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

A colour photograph of a gravestone with some plants beginning to grow. In the background are other graves.

Kaeble’s grave, Wanquetin, France. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Credit: Wernervc

Kaeble’s legacy holds strong in Canada. He is honoured, among others, with a bust in Ottawa’s Valiants Memorial. In November of 2012, a new patrol vessel, the CCGS Caporal Kaeble V.C., was presented to the Canadian Coast Guard.

Library and Archives of Canada holds the digitized service file of Corporal Joseph Kaeble.


John Morden is an honours history student from Carleton University doing a practicum in the Online Content Division at Library and Archives Canada.

At the centre of it all: Library and Archives Canada’s Vancouver Office

By Caitlin Webster

After providing service for many years from a suburban warehouse, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) Vancouver is celebrating six months at its new public service point at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch.

Since 1992, LAC clients in British Columbia had been travelling to the Western Canada Regional Service Centre in Burnaby to consult archival records in reading rooms set up within the vast facility.

More recently, LAC began a project to redefine our national presence, in an aim to broaden services outside Ottawa, collaborate more closely with local memory institutions, and have greater visibility and impact across the country. One result of these efforts has been the establishment of co-location arrangements for LAC offices in Halifax and Vancouver.

Following closely on the successful establishment of LAC‘s public service point in Halifax, the LAC Vancouver office implemented its co-location partnership with the Vancouver Public Library VPL. LAC launched its public service point in the central branch of VPL on November 8, 2017, with a Signatures Series interview featuring former Prime Minister Kim Campbell. At this public service site, LAC Vancouver provides in-person orientation and reference services, as well as kiosks for LAC research tools and subscription databases such as Ancestry.ca.

A colour photograph of a round building resembling the architecture of the Colosseum in Rome but clearly contemporary with its glass windows on the top two floors.

Exterior view of the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch in downtown Vancouver. Photo: Vancouver Public Library.

In the first six months of service, LAC staff have assisted clients with questions on a variety of subjects, including Scottish emigration agents, the first Chinese Ambassador to Canada, evolving land-title laws, Indigenous genealogy, and the history of local buildings and other sites.

A colour photograph of a woman sitting behind a service desk with a Library and Archives Canada banner behind her.

Public service desk and self-serve kiosks at Vancouver Public Library’s central branch. Photo: Caitlin Webster.

In addition, given the ongoing needs of the local community regarding Indigenous claims, treaties and other subjects, LAC Vancouver continues to provide access to original archival records of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada from British Columbia and Yukon. LAC Vancouver provides reference, Access to Information and Privacy review, consultation, reprography, and other services for this selection of archival records at another site, next door to VPL‘s central branch.

A colour photograph of a room with large tables for the purpose of consulting documents.

LAC Vancouver’s reference and document consultation room at 300 W. Georgia Street. Photo: Caitlin Webster.

Since the move to this new location, interest in on-site document consultation has risen dramatically. The amount of archival material consulted by clients has increased by 54 percent, and the number of pages copied or scanned for clients has more than doubled!

Collaborative projects are also in the works, including exhibitions, information sessions and learning opportunities. For instance, LAC recently held an Indigenous genealogy workshop in which it highlighted relevant resources. LAC’s goal is to host many sessions like this one, offering diverse services to local clients and making the most of this new partnership.

For details on LAC Vancouver’s hours of service, location, and other information, please visit the Service Points Outside of Ottawa page.


Caitlin Webster is an archivist at LAC Vancouver.

Canadian libraries invite kids to Get Your Summer Read On!

Summer has arrived, and libraries across Canada are inviting kids and their families to Get Your Summer Read On! Kids can register for the TD Summer Reading Club at their local participating library and pick up their free reading kit, which includes a notebook and stickers. There is also a special notebook for kids with print disabilities so they can participate fully. Kids can track their reading throughout the summer, participate in programs at the library, and visit www.tdsummerreadingclub.ca to create an online notebook and read great ebooks. While online, kids can also submit book reviews, share jokes, learn to draw like our illustrator (Anne Villeneuve), write stories, find great recommended reads and much more!

A watercolour illustration of a man and a child with backpacks hiking down an ocean pathway.

©Anne Villeneuve

A real impact

The Club is big—and it’s getting bigger every year! A recent tally of TD Summer Reading Club numbers shows the significant impact of the program: over 700,000 kids participated in more than 38,000 programs, which were delivered by over 2,000 library branches across the country. Studies show that kids who keep reading throughout the summer do better when they return to school in the fall. The TD Summer Reading Club is an ideal way for kids to stay engaged.

A watercolour illustration of a bear and two children lying down in a hammock that is being lifted into a blue sky by open books. The older child is reading a story while the baby listens attentively.

©Anne Villeneuve

Kids can read, listen to and comment on two different stories created exclusively for the TD Summer Reading Club, one written in English by author Kevin Sylvester and the other in French by author Camille Bouchard.

A watercolour illustration of two children escaping the rain by entering an old, spooky abandoned house.

©Anne Villeneuve

Kids can participate anytime, anywhere—at local public libraries across Canada as well as at home, online, on the road or wherever their summer takes them. The TD Summer Reading Club celebrates Canadian authors, illustrators and stories. It’s designed to inspire kids to explore the fun of reading their way—the key to building a lifelong love of reading.

The three libraries designated as Get Your Summer Read On headquarters have events on the following dates:

  • June 16: at Bibliothèque Paul-Aimé Paiment, Québec, Quebec
  • June 21: Bkejwanong First Nation Public Library, Walpole Island, Ontario
  • June 23: Spruce Grove Public Library, Spruce Grove, Alberta

These locations will feature special programming and participation by our partners, including Toronto Public Library, Library and Archives Canada, and TD Bank Group.

TD Summer Reading Club is Canada’s biggest, bilingual summer reading program for kids of all ages, all interests and all abilities. This free program is co-created and delivered by over 2,000 public libraries across Canada. Development of this national, bilingual program is led by Toronto Public Library in partnership with Library and Archives Canada. Sponsorship is generously provided by TD Bank Group.

A colour illustration of three children reading in a hammock.

©Anne Villeneuve

And now, for something different…

To learn more about this year’s program, check out LAC’s most recent two-part podcast episode: “Get Your Summer Read On!” In part 1 of the episode, we sit down with Kevin Sylvester, the English author for the 2018 TD Summer Reading Club. Kevin is joined by our podcast host, Geneviève Morin, as well as a special co-host, 9-year-old Presley, who is a big Kevin Sylvester fan.

In part 2 of the episode, which comes out on June 19th, we catch up with Camille Bouchard, the French author for the 2018 TD Summer Reading Club. Camille took time to chat with us on the phone as he was travelling across North America in his RV. Part 2 of the episode also features a surprise interview with a famous Canadian writer who once served as Canada’s national librarian. You’ll have to tune in to find out more!

Images of Canada Washes Up now on Flickr

The Canadian washroom, or bathroom, has its roots in medieval times. The basic toilet and sewage systems built into castles during that era evolved into modern architectural design features for homes and large buildings. Later technological advances included internal running water, piping and community sewage systems.

A black-and-white photograph of a man standing and bathing in a travelling bath of the First World War era.

Motor transport travelling bath in the Canadian part of the line. [MIKAN 3396709]

A drawn plan listing the materials needed to build a wooden latrine.

Plan of a latrine. MIKAN 3699479]

When not indoors, Canadians have improvised and innovated in cleanliness and discharging their bodily wastes as cleanly as possible. Whether for the outdoors or for journeys, the solutions are reminiscent of home.

A black-and-white photograph of a shower, bath and toilet in a train lounge car.

New lounge car, shower bath. [MIKAN 3348414]

A black-and-white photograph of a ladies’ shower room in a Canadian Pacific Railway solarium car.

Women’s shower, Canadian Pacific Railway, new solarium car. [MIKAN 3380569]

Visit the Flickr album now!

Recent documents digitized through the DigiLab

By Karine Gélinas

The DigiLab is a new hands-on facility for clients to digitize and contextualize documents from the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) collections. Since its launch in 2017, the DigiLab has hosted more than 30 projects that have resulted in the digitization of over 30,000 pages of textual material and 9,000 photographs.

A colour photograph of a room containing a large-format scanner on a table in the foreground, a series of shelving on the left side, and two people sitting at workstations in the background.

The DigiLab space at 395 Wellington. Photo by Tom Thompson.

One of the projects hosted in the DigiLab was with the National Capital Commission (NCC), which digitized stunning historical images of the National Capital Region. You will find below some of the material the NCC digitized that is now available on LAC’s website.

Albums from the National Capital Commission fonds

  • Aerial views of Ottawa, 1952–1962 (8 images) – MIKAN 5025694
  • Federal District Improvement Commission, 1927–1929 (56 images) – MIKAN 5016537
  • Federal District Commission, 1927–1932 (291 images) – MIKAN 5023881
  • Photos by R.A. Ramsay showing installation of a steel railway structure (4 images) – MIKAN 5025167
  • Russell House block, Russell Hotel photographs (63 images) – MIKAN 3788413
  • Ottawa Region, Federal District Commission, 1902 (20 images) – MIKAN 5050722
A black-and-white photograph of a quiet park and streets surrounded by two major buildings flying the Union Jack flag from their highest rooftop. Old cars are parked on the main street in the foreground.

Looking south from East Block on Ottawa’s Parliament Hill, MIKAN 5026166

Aerial black-and-white photograph of an industrial landscape with logs floating in the water and a power station and rail lines in the foreground. The Parliamentary Precinct is in the background.

LeBreton Flats, Ottawa West Station & Turning House, ca. 1962. [Present-day City Centre Bayswater Station area] @Government of Canada (e999909317-u)

Ted Grant fonds

A black-and-white photograph of a street at night with cars parked on both sides and neon store signs adding light.

Sparks Street [Ottawa] at night, taken November 14, 1960. Credit: Ted Grant. (e999906140-u)

Federal District Commission fonds

Photographs, editorials catalogue and newspaper supplement proofs for the plan and model of the National Capital Planning Committee’s Master Plan, and its Canadian Tour – MIKAN 3788892

Interested in the DigiLab?

If you have an idea for a project, please send us an email at bac.numeri-lab-digilab.lac@canada.ca. Give us an overview of your project, the complete reference of the material you would like to digitize and any extra information you know about the collection.

After we verify the condition of the material to ensure it can be digitized safely, we’ll plan time for you in the DigiLab. We’ll provide training on handling the material and using the equipment and you’ll digitize and capture simple metadata. Material has to be free from restrictions and copyright.

We hope to hear from you soon!

Links of interest


Karine Gélinas is a project manager in the Public Services Branch at Library and Archives Canada.

A day in the life of a Reference Archivist

By Alix McEwen

I’ve always thought that, to be a good reference archivist at Library and Archives Canada (LAC), you need certain qualities. You need to have a solid knowledge of Canadian history and culture. You need to have an understanding of what is in LAC’s holdings, and how the records are collected organized. You must also enjoy working with people. However, it really helps if you are a lover of puzzles and are prepared to do some digging to help solve them.

A recent puzzle that came my way originated with a question from a former colleague about a copy of a particular document presumed to be a pre-Confederation Order-in-Council (OIC). He wanted to know if the federal Cabinet of the time had actually approved the OIC. The date scribbled in the margin of the document is “12 July 1856 OIC pp. 220-221 Vol. 10019.” Almost exactly the same reference information appears at the bottom of the document: LAC RG 10 vol. 10019 pp. 220-221. The subject of the text is the formation of the Indian Land Fund.

The copy of the record of pre-Confederation OICs is found in RG 1 E-8 (RG 1 = Records of the Executive Council of the Province of Canada). However, the LAC reference given is to a Department of Indian Affairs document (RG 10). A brief moment spent in our Archives Search database showed that the RG 10

volume 10019 corresponds to Matheson’s Blue Books, which did not provide evidence that this was an exact copy of an OIC.

Back to the first steps: I searched the indexes and registers of RG 1 E-7 volumes 72-93. These sources are available to help a researcher locate pre-Confederation OICs. The problem is they are handwritten and the writing is not easy to decipher. I looked for the following entries: Indian Land Fund, then Fund on its own, then Land on its own—but no luck.

On to the next steps: Google Books (yes, we do use Google!). A search there provided some confirmation that there was an OIC relating to Indian Affairs signed on the date in question. More importantly, it led me to an unpublished Indian Affairs research paper “The Indian Land Management Fund,” by David Shanahan. My colleagues in the LAC Aboriginal Archives section were able to provide me with a copy of this paper.

This was a turning point. In the introduction to this paper, Mr. Shanahan notes, “There is no satisfactory evidence that the fund was established by Order-in-Council as has been previously believed.” He then devotes a whole chapter to the origins of the Management Fund. Most important to me was the fact that there was indeed an OIC dated July 12, 1856; however, what it did was to set up the Pennefather Commission, tasked with discovering the “best mode of managing the Indian property.”

So, why could I not locate this OIC? This time I returned to the microfilm of the OICs themselves, not to the indexes and registers. As is the case with many of our unrestricted microfilm reels, access is much easier, now that they are digitized and available via Heritage. I found the section that covered the date in question, and was then able to turn from page to page before finally finding what I wanted. RG1 E 8 vol. 60 p. 443 12th July 1856 (reel H-1795)—that was my final reference. The OIC, indeed, did not set up the Indian Land Management Fund.

A microfilmed page with handwritten text from RG1 E 8 volume 60, page 443.

Order-in-Council dated 12th July 1856, RG1 E 8 volume 60 page 443 (microfilm reel H-1795)

I was still puzzled as to why I could not locate a reference to this OIC in the indexes and registers. Back I went, this time resolved to go slowly and start under the letter “I” for anything related to Indian. Before too long, I found my reward. The OIC was referenced in the index under “Indians, Civilization of”—an uncomfortable reminder that to search historical records you need to be aware of the terminology and attitudes of the time.

Do you have a puzzle that could use the attention of a problem-solving archivist or librarian? Submit your question in writing to us today.


Alix McEwen is a Reference Archivist in the Reference Services Division.

Images of Point Pelee National Park and Pelee Island now on Flickr

A black-and-white photograph of Kathleen Hart and Dave Phipps sunbathing on the beach.

Kathleen Hart and Dave Phipps sunbathing on the beach at Point Pelee National Park, Ontario. [MIKAN 4297909]

Point Pelee National Park is located in southwestern Ontario. The park is a peninsula that extends into Lake Erie and consists of marsh and woodland that are home to diverse flora and fauna. In 1918, Point Pelee was the first national park created for conservation at the urging of birdwatchers and hunters.

A black-and-white “Plan of the Naval Reserve at Point Pelee in the Township of Mersea..."

“Plan of the Naval Reserve at Point Pelee in the Township of Mersea…,” Ontario. [MIKAN 3670979]

A black-and-white map of Point Pelee Island, Ontario.

Point Pelee Island, Ontario. [MIKAN 3670898]

Pelee Island is the largest island in Lake Erie and lies southwest of Point Pelee National Park, but is not part of the park. The island is abundant with wildlife and is an important flyway for migrating birds between Ohio and Ontario. The island also has a long history of wine making.

A black-and-white photograph of a Pelee Island wine vat now used as a water reservoir.

Pelee Island wine vat now used as a water reservoir, Pelee Island, Ontario. [MIKAN 3642953]

Visit the Flickr album now!

Found in translation: discovering Canadian literary translations

By Liane Belway

Discovering new and exciting books and authors is a rewarding experience for most readers. In Published Heritage—the library side of Library and Archives Canada (LAC)—we connect with the publishers who bring us these works and make our diverse published Canadian heritage accessible to a wider audience.

When Canadian publishers make material available, they deposit copies with LAC with the help of our Legal Deposit team. What kinds of material do we acquire in Legal Deposit? A wealth of Canadian content: books, music, spoken-word recordings, magazines and other serials, and digital material as well. Each offers a unique perspective on Canadian society and culture, reflecting the publisher’s vision, interests and identity. One source of new knowledge and literary artistry is the translation of such works, making these publications available to a completely new audience.

Canadian Translations

One way of making great literature available to wider audiences is through literary translation, an often overlooked literary skill but a highly valuable one in a multicultural and multilingual society. Translations offer a window into new perspectives and styles, and a chance to discover literary traditions and innovations often not otherwise easily accessible. In fact, the Governor General’s Awards have a category for Translation, acknowledging the value of bringing French-language works to new readers in English when they would not ordinarily have the chance to read them. Each year, this award recognizes the translation of a work into English for its literary excellence and cultural contribution.

Award Winners

The 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation was awarded to Readopolis, translated into English by Oana Avasilichioaei and published by BookThug in Toronto. It is a translation of Lectodôme by Bertrand Laverdure, published by Le Quartanier, a francophone publishing house in Montreal. The Peer Assessment Committee had high praise for Avasilichioaei: “In Readopolis, Oana Avasilichioaei has risen to and matched the stylistic acrobatics of Bertrand Laverdure’s Lectodôme. The many voices of Quebecois writing sing through in this intelligent translation – a vertiginous ode to the pure, if rarely rewarded, pursuit of literature.”

David Clerson’s Brothers, a worthy finalist for the same award in 2017, also offers an excellent introduction to a new publisher’s vision. QC Fiction, an imprint of Baraka Books with a fresh perspective, is a Quebec-based English-language book publisher in Montreal. Recognizing the value of translations, QC Fiction’s goal is to publish contemporary Quebec fiction originally published in French, in English translations for a wider Canadian and international audience. Another QC Fiction title, I Never Talk About It, contains 37 stories and as many translators. As Fiction editor Peter McCambridge states, “37 different translators to translate each of the short stories published in a collection by Véronique Côté and Steve Gagnon. It’s a reminder that there are at least 37 different ways to translate an author’s voice—something to consider the next time you pick up a book in translation!”

Six colourful book covers with similar designs laid out side by side, displaying all titles: Listening for Jupiter, I Never Talk About It, Behind the Eyes We Meet, Brothers, The Unknown Huntsman, Life in the Court of Matane.

A selection of publications from QC Fiction, including Brothers (2016), the finalist of the Governor General prize for translation. Image used with permission from QC Fiction.

Providing works in translation allows audiences outside of Canada access to a large and, in our ever more connected world, growing national literature, and Canadian authors are enjoying an increasingly international audience. QC Fiction is also a great example of Canadian fiction’s global appeal. Says McCambridge: “So far the formula seems to be working: 3 of our first 5 books have been mentioned in The Guardian newspaper in England and bloggers from Scotland to Australia have picked up on what we’re doing and praised our ‘intriguing light reads.’”

With these award-winning publishers—just two examples of the innovative work in the world of Canadian literary translations—Canadian publishing remains a creative, varied, and thriving world that LAC strives to collect and preserve for readers now and in the future. To see what else LAC has in its collections, try our new search tool at: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/lac-bac/search/all.


Liane Belway is the Acquisitions Librarian for English monographs in the Published Heritage Branch at Library and Archives Canada.