Canadian company directories held at Library and Archives Canada

There are over one million companies in Canada. They include banks, grocery stores, pharmacies and department stores and we interact with them on a daily basis. If you need information about companies’ origins or how they were organized at varying points in time, the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) collection has a number of published resources to help you find what you need. With more recent information often accessible in online directories and business resources, you may find LAC’s resources more useful for historical research. This post will focus mainly on directories, a significant source of information about companies.

A company directory, whose title may change frequently in the course of its lifetime, provides factual, publicly available information that is published annually in a single resource. Directories may also differ in content and comprehensiveness. Print directories generally cover a larger time period than other formats, such as online or microform.

Well-known directories include the white pages telephone companies publish. Yellow Pages can be used to locate companies by name or line of business. LAC, meanwhile, has a historical collection of telephone books on microfilm, some dating back to the 19th century. The microfilm includes an index. A printed index is also available for consultation in the reference room on the 2nd floor of our facility at 395 Wellington Street.

Another important resource is the Financial Post family of directories, published by MacLean-Hunter Limited since the late 19th century. The FP Survey of Predecessor & Defunct Companies provides information on the status of companies including incorporation, bankruptcies and dissolutions, as well as dates and jurisdictions.

Other directories from this publisher are:

Also part of this collection is the Financial Post, later the National Post, a major Canadian business newspaper. An index for the first half of the 20th century has been published separately.

City directories include large bodies of company information and allow searches by company address, name and line of business. Names of company directors are sometimes included. Many city directories have sections dedicated to company listings and advertisements. The bibliography that follows can be used for retrospective searching. LAC has a comprehensive collection of city directories for consultation on site. Additional information on this collection can be found on the LAC website.

Other helpful directory titles include the series of directories of Dun & Bradstreet of Canada, Scott’s Directories (various titles covering manufacturing, industries, etc.), and the Canadian Trade Index. In addition, the microfiche set Annual reports and financial statements of Canadian companies includes information on both public and private companies.

If you wish to continue your company research online, helpful options include:

Furthermore, provincial company registrars, whose details can be found in the Corporations database of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (formerly Industry Canada) are useful for finding information on difficult-to-locate companies.

Please note that many of these financial services companies have adapted their resources to the digital era and digitized copies of their print editions. Historical reports on the companies are also preserved and are available in both print and digitized formats.

If you have any additional questions regarding Canadian company information, we would be happy to assist you with your research!

3 thoughts on “Canadian company directories held at Library and Archives Canada

  1. With regard to LAC’s “historical collection of telephone books” mentioned above. This appears from the reference to be the Bell Canada Directories microfilm set (published by Bell in 1981) which includes, I believe, Ontario and Quebec telephone books. Since LAC has a printed index, could this not be made available on-line? Or if there are impediments, might LAC encourage a volunteer project to prepare another index which can be freely available? Archivaria #7 (Assn. of Canadian Archivists, 1979) had an article,”Telephone Historical Collection” by Isabel Gerachty about Bell Canada’s Telephone Historical Collection which includes the directories, then being microfilmed. Article on-line at: http://journals.sfu.ca/archivar/index.php/archivaria/article/view/10692/11568

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