Canadian directories online

Library and Archives Canada is pleased to announce the release of a new version of the online database Canadian Directories. An addition to the page includes full versions of the directories in PDF format, as well as newly digitized directories which are not available through the database.

Black and white illustration of a page from the directory featuring three business card ads for hardware.

Business card-style advertisement from The Montreal Directory for 1842–3, page 213.

These 152 new directories are for the Ontario cities of Hamilton, Kingston and London and for the counties of Southwestern Ontario.

Enjoy!

All papers are not created equal

You may be aware that over the last 25 years, there has been a major effort to convert paper production from acidic products that deteriorate quickly to more stable paper. The movement largely came from the library community’s concerns about rapidly deteriorating paper in their collections. The result is that there are now no western producers making acidic papers anymore (other than newsprint), which is great news for libraries, archives and consumers.

Not all of these papers, however, can be guaranteed to truly last long-term (by that we mean over 300 years). Manufacturers can, and do, change the chemical composition of papers quite regularly, and as consumers and staff in a library/archive, it is good to know what is available and how to use it best.

So, let’s look at what’s around us. Our inexpensive everyday photocopy paper is not acidic when tested with a pH pen. This paper can be labeled “acid-free.”

Colour photograph of piece of paper with the words: “Purple = Ok!!” on it. This means that the paper is acid-free.

Test of the pH on everyday photocopy paper.

But it does not meet standards for longevity that we want for paper that will be incorporated with collections on a permanent basis. It’s perfectly fine for bookmarks and flags—items used temporarily.

For long-term quality, look for papers that are marked “permanent” or “archival,” with the infinity symbol set inside a circle.

An image of the acid-free paper symbol—the number eight lying on its side enclosed in a circle.

Infinity symbol designating a permanent or archival quality paper.

Permanent papers can be made with wood pulp (where the harmful acidic lignin is found), but the lignin is generally removed and no acidic additives are included during manufacture. Permanent papers are expected to last several hundred years under normal library or archival storage conditions. To be labeled “permanent” with the infinity symbol, the paper must meet either ISO 9706 or ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992 standards.

Archival papers are made to an even higher standard and will last up to 1000 years. These papers are produced with cellulose fibres from plants other than wood and do not contain lignin (usually cotton or linen). Also, the standard for archival papers (ISO 11108) includes requirements for paper strength, which the standards for permanent papers do not include.

Papers labeled as either permanent or archival are recommended for long-term use with collections. It is probably best to choose archival papers when strength is a consideration, such as wrapping or enclosures.

A colour photograph showing an enclosure to house textual documents.

An archival quality paper enclosure.

As a final note, it is important to remember that the storage environment for paper also has a huge impact on its longevity. For every five-degree reduction in temperature, it is estimated that the lifespan of paper doubles. Everybody put on a sweater!

“The Complete Set”: Some fascinating examples in Library and Archives Canada’s portrait collection

The Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holdings include one-of-a-kind historical artifacts that relate directly to specific portraits in the collection.

In some cases, items that were separated over the years were reunited at LAC. In others, LAC was fortunate to take over the custodianship of a carefully preserved ‘set.’ In all cases, these somewhat unexpected holdings provide invaluable context for better understanding the portraits they are associated with.

Copper plate image showing Captain George Cartwright checking his fox traps during the winter in Labrador. He wears snowshoes, carries a gun over one shoulder and has a dog on a leash, tethered to his belt.

Captain Cartwright visiting his fox traps (MIKAN 3986048)

This copper plate, for example, was created as a means of ‘publishing’ the evocative oil portrait of Captain George Cartwright (1739–1819), a retired army officer who set up trade as a trapper and fur trader in Labrador.

Oil painting showing Captain George Cartwright checking his fox traps during the winter in Labrador. He wears snowshoes, carries a gun over one shoulder and has a dog on a leash, tethered to his belt.

Captain Cartwright visiting his fox traps (MIKAN 3964571)

It illustrates one process that was used, before the development of photography, to “translate” paintings into a printable format, so that they could appear in books. The painted portrait was created specifically to provide a frontispiece image for Cartwright’s important Memoir, A journal of transactions and events, during a residence of nearly sixteen years on the coast of Labrador… (1792).

The same image as above, except in printed form, published in a first edition of the 1792 book.

Frontispiece from Captain George Cartwright’s Memoir (AMICUS 4728079)

Special Notes on the Frontispiece, compiled by Cartwright, underline the significance he attached to every one of the painting’s details. Like the Memoir, the painting reads like a primer for would-be adventurers—including innovative, Aboriginal-inspired solutions for survival, such as wearing snowshoes when checking traplines in winter.

Copper is a soft metal that allowed engravers to faithfully reproduce these details, as well as something of the feel of the original oil painting. Here, for example, the soft-edged atmospheric landscape of winter was created by protecting some areas of the plate with wax, while allowing acid to wash over other exposed areas.

It’s rare for any institution to hold a painting, its copper plate and a first-edition copy of the resulting book, but LAC’s collection includes all of these items.

Another example: LAC’s collection includes this pendant and earrings.

Colour photograph of two gold earrings with a stylized spiral pattern and a matching pendant.

Marie-Louise Aurélie Girard’s earrings and pendant (MIKAN 3994256)

This was the actual jewellery that Marie-Louise Aurélie Girard (ca. 1868–?) wore when she sat to have her portrait painted by the distinguished Montreal artist, Alfred Boisseau (1823–1901):

Oil painting showing a woman in a black dress looking straight at the viewer. She is wearing the same pendant and earrings as shown in the previous photograph.

Marie-Louise Aurélie Girard (MIKAN 3993116)

These precious items remind us of the human process behind historical portrait painting. Prominent and wealthy sitters would often deliberate over which items to wear or include in a portrait, not only for sentimental reasons, but also to convey social status. In this case, the sitter was the wife of a former Premier of Manitoba.

The William Redver Stark sketchbooks: the details

Over the next few months, the blog will feature a series of articles to uncover behind-the-scenes conservation work. This work ensures that the Library and Archives Canada collection is maintained, preserved and available for future generations to enjoy. We will be following along as the conservation team conserves the William Redver Stark sketchbooks. We had a preliminary overview of the restoration of the sketchbooks this year as well as a podcast about William Redver Stark. Now over the next months, the team will be conserving the sketchbooks and documenting the conservation process on the blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Examining the sketchbooks: the groundwork

The paper in the 14 sketchbooks is either wove watercolour or wove drawing paper. Wove paper is paper made on a closely woven wire roller or mold and having a faint mesh pattern. Unsurprisingly, the eight sketchbooks with drawing paper do not have watermarks. Watermarks are a design or symbol, such as the maker’s name, that is impressed on a piece of paper and can be seen when the paper is held up to the light. Three of the six watercolour paper sketchbooks have watermarks from different English papermakers.

Colour photograph showing a watercolour sketch of a horse. Along the bottom edge is the faint imprint of a watermark reading “1915 England”

Watermark reading “1915 England” on one of the sketchbooks.

The dimensions of the sketchbooks range from 84 x 126 mm to 145 x 240 mm which makes them roughly the size of a smart phone or a deck of cards. There is no pagination in any of the sketchbooks but a close examination reveals the sequence in which the artist used the sketchbooks—some were used from front to back, some back to front or in a completely random order.

Colour photograph of three stained sketchbooks on a white table with a smartphone beside them to show the relative sizes of the items.

Three sketchbooks laid out beside a smart phone for size comparison.

Further examination reveals other important nuggets of information. Some of the books have bookseller tickets, artists’ colourmen labels or ink stamps. These can provide further information on the composition of the paper, the format and provenance of the book. Some labels indicate the number of pages which is very useful in determining if pages are missing. The examination concluded that many pages were missing from these sketchbooks. The provenance information also reveals that the books came from a variety of book makers and booksellers in London and France and that some were marketed to English, French and German consumers.

Colour photograph of a yellow label with information on the maker of the sketchbook.

An example of an artists’ colourmen label showing the maker, the provenance of the sketchbook, the number of pages and quality of the paper.

The text blocks (the main book body) are composed of signatures of between four to eight folios. A signature is a group of folios. A folio is a single page, folded once. All but two of the sketchbooks were traditionally bound, one with two metal spine rings and another with a stapled binding. These two simple binding structures were hand produced and do not use the commercial industrial manufacturing commonly used in book production at the time. All the sketchbooks have hard board covers. The bindings are plain and utilitarian with no decoration on the covers or spines except for manuscript notations in ink or graphite possibly written by the artist. Two sketchbooks have leather spines with cloth on the boards. The others have beige canvas bindings with an elastic-wrap closure. Most of the sketchbooks have pencil holders.

The sketchbooks have not been previously repaired or conserved and all exhibit multiple minor or major stability issues as follows:

  • pages breaking off at the spine
  • paper tears and pieces of paper broken off
  • missing pages
  • pages out of their original order
  • broken sewing threads
  • weak or broken attachment of text blocks to covers
  • adhesive tape on covers
  • fragile areas on cloth covering and boards

The next article in the series, “The William Redver Stark sketchbooks: page mapping,” will look at how the conservation team determined the order of the pages in the sketchbooks.

Visit Flickr to view more images of the conservation examination.

Did your ancestors come from England?

Do you want to know who your first British ancestor was and when he or she left England and arrived in Canada? Are you curious about your British origins?

If so, our website is a great place to begin your research. Here you will find a page dedicated to genealogical research on the British. This page provides you with historical information, archival documents and published material from the Library and Archives Canada collection, as well as links to other websites and institutions. This page also contains a link to our resources about Home Children; it is estimated that more than four million Canadians are descendants of British Home Children.

If your ancestor came to Canada between 1865 and 1935, you might find his or her name on the passenger lists.

New Books in the Genealogy Services Collection at 395 Wellington—January 2015

Below is a list of our recently acquired genealogy publications. You can consult these publications in the Genealogy and Family History Room located on the 3rd floor at 395 Wellington. The link takes you to the AMICUS record which gives the call number to help you find the book on the shelves.

If you’re just starting out in genealogy, you should check out our Genealogy and Family History pages.

Happy exploring!

Family Histories

De nos ancêtres Houallet en France aux descendants Ouellet-te en Nouvelle-France, de François Houallet et Isabelle Barré, à leur fils René et son rêve américain by Jeannine Ouellet (AMICUS 43057598)

Généalogie ascendante de Maurice Fortier by Lise Lefebvre (AMICUS 42357176)

La descendance de Pierre Gilbert, capitaine de vaisseau: Petite-Rivière-Saint-François à partir de 1756 by Jules Garneau (AMICUS 42913904)

André Marsil dit Lespagnol: l’ancêtre des Marcil et Mercille d’Amérique (1642-1725) by Denis Marsil (AMICUS 42507286)

La famille Miville-Dechêne, Julie: l’arrivée en Nouvelle-France et les pérégrinations à Québec et dans les environs du 17e au 21e siècle by Michel Émond (AMICUS 42421839)

Larocque family by Charles G. Clermont (AMICUS 42544482)

L’histoire de la famille acadienne des Lejeune dit Briard: les sept premières générations et plus by André-Carl Vachon (AMICUS 43023469)

Looking back: a history of the Robert and Hannah (Swinton) Williamson family, 2013-1783 by M. Yvonne Brown (AMICUS 42487533)

The Amos B. Weber family history by Tim Campbell (AMICUS 42624120)

The legacy of Peter Martin by Tim Campbell (AMICUS 43040697)

The Noah B. Martin family history by Tim Campbell (AMICUS 42624089)

The scent of oil: a Nicklos/Perkins family saga by Gary May (AMICUS 39274484)

Ethnic and Local Histories

Atlas généalogique de la France ancestrale: pays des migrants vers la Nouvelle-France by Micheline Perreault (AMICUS 42213484)

Dictionnaire des souches allemandes et scandinaves au Québec by Claude Kaufholtz-Couture and Claude Crégheur (AMICUS 42651679)

Irish presence: the protestant religious history, volume 1: Villages et visages en Lotbinière (includes cemetery transcriptions), research and writing by Sylvie Bernard; translation by Claude Crégheur and Mélanie St-Jean (AMICUS 38820935)

La colonie nantaise de Lac-Mégantic: une implantation française au Québec au XIXe siècle by Marcel Fournier (AMICUS 41526971)

Le pays des filles du Roy… au confluent du Saint-Laurent et de la Richelieu by Louise Biron, Danielle Mailloux and Louise Pelletier (AMICUS 42139559)

Les Filles du roi au XVIIe siècle: orphelines en France, pionnières au Canada by Yves Landry (AMICUS 42011241)

Les sépultures du coteau des Cèdres, 1750-1780 by Jean-Luc Brazeau and Isabelle Aubuchon (AMICUS 43036058)

Patriotes, reformers, rebels & raiders: tracing your ancestors during the troublous times in Upper and Lower Canada, 1820-1851 by Kenneth Cox (AMICUS 42726565)

Pour que rien ne s’efface: Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes, 2014 by Robert Charbonneau, Mario Cyr and Huguette Plourde (AMICUS 43043082)

Répertoire des naissances, des mariages et des décès de la paroisse de Saint-Émilien, Desbiens, 1926-1941 by Société d’histoire du Lac-Saint-Jean (AMICUS 42654710)

The Irish Catholic families of Puslinch Township, Wellington County, Ontario: a genealogy by Marjorie Clark (AMICUS 42756767)