Images of streetcars now on Flickr

Streetcars, also called trams, trolleys or street railways, were initially pulled by horses in Canadian cities. Montréal and Toronto were the first urban areas to use streetcars (sleighs in the wintertime). Other cities, such as Hamilton, Winnipeg, Halifax and Saint John, followed suit in using horse-drawn streetcars for urban transportation. The development of electric-powered machinery revolutionized the streetcar, as rails with simple guidance mechanisms enabled electric-powered streetcars to traverse cities quickly and efficiently. The rails were then extended to link nearby municipalities. This simple technology affected Canadian electric-power infrastructure, transportation and the growth patterns of our cities. Electric rail has seen a resurgence recently as light-rail transit.

A black-and-white photograph of a horse-drawn streetcar. The rails are located in the centre of the road that has three-story buildings on either side of it.

Horse-drawn streetcar, St. John Street, Québec, Quebec (MIKAN 3280834)

A black-and-white photograph of an open-aired streetcar. There are conductors located at the front and back of the car that has three male passengers sitting, and a boy standing on the sideboard.

St. Catharines open car No. 8, Ontario (MIKAN 3614885)

A black-and-white photograph of a lineup of women and men at a pickup location waiting to board an enclosed streetcar.

Group of people waiting to enter a streetcar, Winnipeg, Manitoba (MIKAN 4328408)

Visit the Flickr album now!

From the Lowy Room: commemorating a centennial gift

By Michael Kent

So far, 2017 has been quite the year in Canada. In addition to countless public conversations, gatherings and events, 2017 has seen many significant legacy projects undertaken to commemorate our country’s sesquicentennial, such as the opening of the Global Centre for Pluralism, or the reopening of the Canadian Science and Technology Museum. Watching the realization of these new legacy projects, it is worth remembering that 2017 is also the fiftieth anniversary of thousands of similar projects from Canada’s centennial year of 1967.

A black-and-white photo of a large room with glass displays showing off books.

Books from the Canadian Jewish Congress gift on display at the National Library in 1967. Source: Alex Dworkin Canadian Jewish Archives.

We, at Library and Archives Canada (LAC), can appreciate first-hand the importance of 1967 legacy projects. Our own building at 395 Wellington Street, along a corridor which includes Parliament and the Supreme Court, was opened in 1967 as a centennial legacy project. We have had the pleasure this year of celebrating this Jubilee and reflecting upon how this space has allowed us to collect, preserve, and tell the story of Canada. While our building was certainly a significant legacy project to Library and Archives Canada, it was not the only legacy project our institution was a part of.

A legacy gift from Canada’s Jewish community

As the curator of the Jacob M. Lowy collection of rare Judaica, the centennial legacy project I experience regularly is the Judaica collection gifted to the then National Library by the then Canadian Jewish Congress on behalf of the Canadian Jewish community. A gift I am reminded of constantly as I open reference works I use to see the blue, white, and red bookplate indicating that the volume in my hand was part of the gift.

Reading archival documents from the Canadian Jewish Congress, held in the Alex Dworkin Canadian Jewish Archives, it was clear that it was extremely important to the Canadian Jewish community to contribute to the centennial year and give back to Canadians. Dr. W. Kaye Lamb, the first National Librarian, was very appreciative of this gift, feeling it met a long identified need at the National Library, noting that many other national libraries had similar collections.

Content of the gift

This gift of approximately 7,000 volumes, in a mix of English, French, Yiddish, and Hebrew, encompassed all areas of Jewish scholarship, such as rabbinic literature, Jewish philosophy, Jewish history, Yiddish classics, Hebrew literature, selections representing Jewish contributions to the arts and science, and important encyclopaedias and reference works. Highlights include a general encyclopedia in Yiddish, the Encyclopedia Talmudit, and Cecil Roth’s Jewish Art. All the books were selected, catalogued, and delivered in time for the new building’s opening. To this day, this donation forms the foundation of our Judaica holdings and serves as an important reference tool used constantly by LAC staff and clients. Users can request and consult these and other items from Library and Archives Canada holdings on site in the main building at 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa.

Legacy of the gift

While many of the centennial legacy projects focused on physical buildings, it is very appropriate that Canada’s Jewish community chose to dedicate their resources to building the Judaica collection at the National Library. The Jewish people have long been referred to as the people of the book and their history, culture, and religious practices have been inseparable from the written word for thousands of years. Beyond a gift of physical items, this gift allowed for an expansion of the Judaic information and content available to all Canadians and an immeasurable legacy of knowledge. While many of the physical structures built in 1967 will eventually disappear from our country’s landscape, the knowledge that developed as a result of this donation of books has the potential to continue for centuries to come.

A colour photograph of a bookplate illustrated with a flame and a burning bush. The bilingual text describes that the book was donated by the Canadian Jewish Congress on behalf of Jewish communities across Canada. Beside the illustration is a passage from Exodus.3-2: …the bush burned with fire, but the bush was not consumed.

The custom bookplate for the Judaica books donated from the Canadian Jewish Congress to the National Library of Canada to commemorate the centennial of the Canadian confederation.

In 1965, at the laying of the corner stone for the new building, Governor General Georges Vanier stated that “…this building will become the repository of the very heart and spirit of our country.” How fitting that in time for the opening of this new building, the Canadian Jewish community was able to deposit in this structure a part of their own heart and spirit, in book form, to be shared with all Canadians.

Michael Kent is curator of the Jacob M. Lowy collection at Library and Archives Canada

Library and Archives Canada releases its latest podcast episode, “50 Years of Expo 67”

Colour poster promoting Expo 67 with a photo of a young woman with a camera with a row of Canadian flags and a futuristic building in the background.The 1967 Universal and International Exhibition, better known as Expo 67, was the highlight of Canada’s centennial celebrations. It was held in Montréal from April to October 1967, and was considered the most successful world’s fair of the 20th century. Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has maintained the majority of the Expo 67 records for the last 40 years. In this episode, we talk with Margaret Dixon, senior project archivist at LAC, about the legacy of Expo and the work that has gone into archiving these documents.

Subscribe to our podcast episodes using RSS, iTunes or Google Play, or just tune in at Podcast–Discover Library and Archives Canada: Your History, Your Documentary Heritage.

To view images associated with this podcast, here’s a direct link to our Flickr album.

For more information, please contact us at

New additions to the Virtual Gramophone – Comedy

By Margaret Ashburner

Comedic sketches and songs were popular among Canadian consumers during the 20s and 30s. Several labels released such recordings. This collection features several popular Canadian comedians.

Featured performers

Juliette Béliveau

A black-and-white photograph of a young woman.

Juliette Béliveau. Source: Denyse Martineau, Montreal, Les editions de l’Homme, 1970.

Busy as a performer from the early age of 10, Béliveau specialized in comedy acts on stage, in recordings, and eventually on television.

Fannie Tremblay

A black-and-white photograph of a young woman wearing a very large hat.

Fannie Tremblay. Source: Montréal qui chante; Montreal, Guénette and Senécal (etc.), ISSN 0702-102X.

Like Béliveau, Fannie Tremblay was well known for her comedy acts. She can be heard in this recording with her husband, Joseph Robert Tremblay.

Fannie Tremblay and Juliette Béliveau also performed together in France at the National Theatre.

Margaret Ashburner is the Special Collections Librarian of the retrospective music collection at Library and Archives Canada.

“Unity Through Sport”: Organizing the first Canada Games in Québec in 1967

By Normand Laplante

Minus 33 degrees Celsius (wind chill: –52)! It was bone-chillingly cold when the competitions started at the first Canada Winter Games, in the city of Québec on February 12, 1967. Three days later, organizers and athletes faced more bad weather: a blizzard that dumped 76 centimetres of snow on the sports venues. Despite the harsh winter conditions, this first national multi-sport event, which brought 1,800 athletes together from across Canada, was a great success. Fifty years on, on the eve of the 26th Canada Games in Winnipeg, those first Games stand as an important milestone in the development of sport in Canada.

In 1962, the Canadian Sports Advisory Council decided to create a large national sporting competition that would bring together amateur athletes from every province and territory. The competition would be held every two years, alternating between winter and summer editions. André Marceau, a member of the newly established National Advisory Council on Fitness and Amateur Sport, proposed that Québec host the first Canada Winter Games. His proposal was accepted, and in 1963, a group of athletes from Quebec’s capital set up a corporation for those first Games, with Georges Labrecque as president and Marceau as vice-president. Guy Rousseau became chief executive officer for the Games.

In March 1965, the federal and Quebec governments officially announced that the first Canada Winter Games would take place in February 1967. The competition would be one of the events held to celebrate the centennial of Confederation. Organizers of the Games had initially planned on 20 sports, including winter Olympic sports, indoor sports and lesser-known disciplines such as barrel jumping, dog racing and ice canoeing. This list was revised many times in the months that followed because organizers had to consider a number of issues, including logistics. In the autumn of 1966, the corporation announced the 13 sports for the first Games: skiing (downhill and cross-country skiing, and ski jumping), speed skating, figure skating, hockey, curling, basketball, volleyball, badminton, wrestling, synchronized swimming, artistic gymnastics, shooting and table tennis.

A colour photograph of a ski jumper flying above a crowd of spectators.

A ski jumper above a crowd of spectators at the first Canada Winter Games, Québec, 1967 (MIKAN 4743402)

A black-and-white photograph of a woman kneeling and aiming a rifle, surrounded by spent cartridges.

A shooting competition at the first Canada Games, Québec (MIKAN 4743394)

Choosing the athletes for the provincial delegations required an unprecedented level of coordination between provincial governments, national sports associations and the organizers of the Games. The organizing committee of the Games in Québec estimated that 75,000 people participated in preparations for the first Canada Winter Games. These included not only athletes from the 10 provinces and 2 territories, who competed in elimination rounds to determine who would qualify for the teams, but also officials, organizers, coaches, and heads of provincial and national sports associations. One result of this exercise was the creation of many provincial administrative bodies responsible for sport.

The Prime Minister of Canada, Lester B. Pearson, accompanied by provincial premiers Jean Lesage of Quebec, Louis Robichaud of New Brunswick and Alex Campbell of Prince Edward Island, opened the Games on February 11, 1967, in front of the Legislative Assembly of Quebec, with the theme of “Unity Through Sport.” During the nine days of competition, 184 medals were awarded. Ontario won the most medals, ahead of teams from British Columbia and Alberta. Teresa McDonnell, winner of three artistic gymnastics events, and Toller Cranston, gold medallist in figure skating and a future bronze medallist at the Winter Olympics, were two of the athletes whose performances stood out at these first Games.

A black-and-white photograph of a podium on which three young women wearing medals are standing. A man is shaking hands with the gold medallist.

The Prime Minister of Canada, Lester B. Pearson, congratulates Teresa McDonnell and her fellow medallists, Jennifer Diachun and Marie St-Jean, after a women’s gymnastics competition at the first Canada Winter Games in Québec, photographed by H. Leclair (MIKAN 4743377)

The success of the first Games encouraged the national sports organizations and the federal government to hold the first Canada Summer Games in Halifax-Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, in 1969. In later years, several provinces would launch their own provincial winter and summer games, modelled on the Canada Games.

Colour photograph of a man in a red jacket carrying the Canadian flag while athletes enter the stadium.

Harry Jerome carries the Canadian flag at the opening ceremonies of the first Canada Summer Games in Halifax-Dartmouth (MIKAN 4743415)

To learn more about the Canada Games and the athletes who participated in them, please consult the following sources at Library and Archives Canada:

Were you there? Do you have a story to tell?

Normand Laplante is a senior archivist in the Society and Culture Division of the Private Archives Branch at Library and Archives Canada.

Anything to declare? Yes, it’s of Canadian interest

By Louise Tousignant

The mandate of Library and Archives Canada (LAC) includes acquiring published material that is Canadian or of Canadian interest. In collecting this material, LAC aims for a national Canadiana collection that is as comprehensive as possible. Canadian material published in Canada is received through legal deposit while material of Canadian interest is published in other countries but has a Canadian creator or subject. Creators could be authors, illustrators, translators or artists. Works of Canadian interest, being published abroad, are acquired through gifts or targeted purchases.

Of those titles of Canadian interest received recently, there are studies on, and analyses of, Canada: Canada/États-Unis : les enjeux d’une frontière, Comparative North American Studies: Transnational Approaches to American and Canadian Literature and Culture, and Canadian Perspectives on Immigration in Small Cities.

Other works are also related to Canada; for instance, Negotiations in the Indigenous World: Aboriginal Peoples and the Extractive Industry in Australia and Canada and Indian Agents: Rulers of the Reserves delve into Indigenous matters.

Famous Canadians have also been the subject of scrutiny: painter Alex Colville in The Mystery of the Real: Letters of the Canadian Artist Alex Colville and Biographer Jeffrey Meyers; journalist and author Jane Jacobs in the biography Becoming Jane Jacobs; and singer and musician Alanis Morissette, whose work is explored in The Words and Music of Alanis Morissette. Canadians who made their names in Hollywood have also been featured in several books. William Shatner, born in Montréal and an ambassador for his hometown’s 375th anniversary celebrations and best known for his role as Captain James T. Kirk in the “Star Trek” television series, recently released Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man. Acclaimed Hamilton-born actor Martin Short, who became a star on the “Saturday Night Live” TV show, authored the memoir I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend.

A black-and-white photo of a woman with long hair leaning against a wrought iron fence.

Portrait of Alanis Morissette by Bryan Adams. Photo signed by Alanis Morissette. 1999 (MIKAN 3614421)

Here at home, Canadians have also had their works published in other countries: Quebec’s Guy Delisle, with the comic book S’enfuir : récit d’un otage, published by Dargaud; illustrator Yanick Paquette, the man behind Wonder Woman, with his Wonder Woman, Earth One. Volume 1 comic book; and Louise Penny, with The Long Way Home, which was published by Minotaur Books and became a New York Times number 1 bestseller.

Finally, some titles of Canadian interest in the national collection are directly linked to LAC’s archival fonds. These holdings allow for greater in-depth study of authors and their international profiles, and support research into Canadian literature. Examples include translations of works by children’s writer and illustrator Marie-Louise Gay, and by Sri Lankan–born Canadian poet, novelist and filmmaker Michael Ondaatje. Regarding Marie-Louise Gay, ¿Alguna pregunta?, a Spanish translation of Any Questions?, was published in Mexico in 2015; Angela en de ijsbeer is a Dutch version of Angel and the Polar Bear; and Bolle-Bertils sirkus is Fat Charlie’s Circus translated into Norwegian. As for Michael Ondaatje, LAC holds no fewer than 20 translations of his best-known novel, The English Patient, including versions in Bulgarian, Japanese and Italian. His novel won the Booker Prize and the Governor General’s Award in 1992, while the film adaptation received nine Oscars at the Academy Awards in 1997.

A colour photo of a seated, smiling woman. Blurred pencil crayons can be seen in the foreground.

Marie-Louise Gay. Canadian children’s writer and illustrator. @Groundwood Books

Colour photograph of a book open at the title page written in Bulgarian.

The English Patient published in Bulgarian by Delfi in 2000 (AMICUS 32172817)

Colour photograph of a book open at the title page written in Japanese.

The English Patient published in Japanese by Shinch⁻osha in 1996 (AMICUS 15875585)

Colour photograph of a book open at the title page: Michael Ondaatje Il Paziente Inglese.

The English Patient published in Italian by Garzanti in 2004 (AMICUS 32785464)

This brief overview is just a sampling of the variety of publications about Canada and of Canadian interest. The painstaking work of sorting through published material continues to ensure the growth of Canada’s documentary heritage and the development of the collections, and to make the national Canadiana collection the most extensive in the world.

Louise Tousignant is an acquisitions librarian in the Published Heritage Branch of Library and Archives Canada.

Library and Archives Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Web Archive collection is now available

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is pleased to announce the launch of its Truth and Reconciliation Commission Web Archive collection.

This collection was created in collaboration with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, and the University of Winnipeg and University of Manitoba libraries, both of which have also launched their own web archival collections.

LAC‘s Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) web archive collection provides access to archival copies of the English- and French-language websites of organizations connected with the TRC, either as active partners at national events or through initiatives to support commemoration.

While the majority of this collection was harvested at the time of the TRC‘s final report in 2015, the collection is an ongoing project that continues to add new resources. It currently contains approximately 300 resources, consisting of full or partial websites, videos, newspaper and media content, and blogs.

Get more details or access all of the collections on the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation website.

Images of fishing now on Flickr

Indigenous peoples have been fishing the rivers and waterways of Canada for thousands of years, using a variety of fishing methods, such as hooks, lines, nets, traps and spears.

A black-and-white photograph of a man wearing a hat, coat and tie leaning against a fence post and holding a string of fish.

First Nations man with a string of fish (MIKAN 3385816)

Plentiful fish stocks in Canada provided a dietary staple for local communities and contributed to European exploration and eventual settlement. Harvesting this natural resource evolved with time, running the gamut from subsistence to sport to commercial fishing. The French were one of the first colonial powers to establish seasonal fishing stations for cod in Canada. And later, when the British arrived, the number of stations increased steadily, along with the diversity of species that were sought.

A black-and-white photograph of a man posing in front of Rupert Brand crates with two large salmon and two large halibut.

Halibut and salmon, Rupert Brand Fish (MIKAN 3359156)

Despite technological advances in commercial fishing, the pastime of solitary or small-group fishing continues to thrive, and is encouraged and supported in Canada to this day.

Visit the Flickr album now!

Montréal: Mount Royal and Frederick Olmstead

By Judith Enright-Smith

If you have ever visited Montréal or grew up there (as I did), you have in all likelihood, climbed or strolled along the many trails of Mount Royal.

The first European to scale “The Mountain” was Jacques Cartier who, after his climb in 1535, wrote in his diary “… among these fields is situated and seated the said town of Hochelaga, near to and adjoining a mountain. We named this mountain Mount Royal” (translated). A little over a century later, Paul de Chomedey, sieur de Maisonneuve, founder of the city of Montréal, fulfilled a pledge to the Virgin Mary for keeping the city safe from flood waters by erecting a cross at the top of the mountain.

A watercolour of a group of men standing on a hill looking over a forested landscape with water, and on the horizon are islands and low mountains.

Jacques Cartier on Mont Royal, painted by Lawrence R. Batchelor, c. 1933 (MIKAN 2833444)

Work on planning and sculpting today’s Mount Royal Park was started in the 1870s. Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, the same man responsible for the design of New York City’s Central Park, was hired to do the job. Many of Olmstead’s original plans were quite grandiose; they included the creation of a wide pasture and a lake along with a varied and eclectic selection of vegetation. However during the 1870s, Montréal fell victim to an economic depression and most of Olmstead’s fanciful ideas were abandoned. Still, Olmstead’s vision was maintained—bucolic, winding paths similar to Central Park, and accessible to everyone regardless of social standing.

A black-and-white photograph showing a grove of trees, possibly in the fall.

Grove of Trees, Mount Royal Park, photograph by Philip J. Croft, ca. 1936 (MIKAN 3206464)

Preceded by a parade through the streets of Montréal, Mount Royal Park was officially opened with much fanfare including speeches, cannon fire, and a grand picnic lunch on May 24, 1876. In 1884, a toboggan run close to today’s Beaver Lake or Lac aux Castors was opened and a year after that, a steam-powered funicular was launched that shuttled paying passengers to the mountain’s summit. It closed in 1918.

A black-and-white photograph of a winter scene of people on toboggans and others on snowshoes descending a hill.

Tobogganing “The Spill” ca. 1900–1925, unknown photographer (MIKAN 3335229)

A black-and-white photograph of a funicular going up a densely wooded slope. At the bottom of the hill stands a horse and carriage with a few people standing around looking towards the photographer.

“Incline Railway, Mount Royal Park,” ca. 1885 (MIKAN 3192950)

A black-and-white photograph of a funicular. One tram is going up the hill and the other is going down.

Funicular, ca. 1909 (MIKAN 3336180)

The handsome semi-circular stone balustrade, known as the “Lookout” was constructed in 1906 and today still offers the viewer the most stunning views of the Montréal skyline, the St. Lawrence River and its bridges.

A black-and-white photograph of an elegant path with a stone fence on one side leading to a small building. Horses rest under the trees.

Mount Royal Lookout (before the Chalet was built), photographer unknown, ca. 1906 (MIKAN 3335240)

A colour photograph of a couple standing with binoculars looking over the city on the edge of a lookout.

The Lookout, photographed by Chris Lund, ca. 1950 (MIKAN 4311969)

A black-and-white photograph of a bird’s eye view of a city.

A view of the city ca. 1906–1920, photographer unknown (MIKAN 3335382)

Adjacent to the Lookout is Mount Royal’s Chalet. The Chalet was designed by Montréal architect Aristide Beaugrand-Champagne in the Beaux Arts style and was constructed in 1932 as a make-work venture during the Great Depression.

But perhaps Mount Royal’s most renowned feature is The Cross.

Mount Royal acquired its first illuminated cross in 1924. It was commissioned by the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society and then given to the city of Montréal in 1929. Today’s cross is lit with LED bulbs and usually shines white although a custodian is able to change the colour for special occasions.

A black-and-white photograph showing a large metal cross with the text, “The Mount Royal Cross—100 feet high, daytime view.”

The cross on Mount Royal ca. 1935 (MIKAN 3322797)

Most recently, the group, Les amis de la montagne, has begun collecting signatures in an attempt to make Mount Royal a UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to Sylvie Guilbault, the executive director of Les amis de la montagne, “Mount Royal is an iconic symbol of the city [and] … fundamental to the quality of life of hundreds of thousands of Montrealers.

Judith Enright-Smith is an archival assistant in the Aboriginal and Social Affairs Section of the Private Archives Branch of Library and Archives Canada.

Images of Bowling and Lawn Bowling now on Flickr

There are two types of bowling—lawn and indoor—and both versions of the game can trace their origins to ancient Egypt.

Lawn bowling, or “bowls,” is played outside on a flat lawn known as the “green.” The object is to roll your “bowls” (bowling balls) so that as many of them as possible come as near as possible to the “jack,” a smaller white bowl, as compared to your competitor’s attempts. Lawn bowling was brought to Canada by British officers, and the first green was installed in the garrison at Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia.

Colour photograph of two lawn bowling teams. A woman and man are both in the midst of throwing their bowls down the lawn.

Nine people lawn bowling at Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba (MIKAN 4292934)

Black and white photograph of a male pinsetter sitting above the alley of a five-pin game as a ball strikes the pins.

Pinsetter at work in bowling alley, No. 2 Convalescent Hospital, RCAF, Young Division, Hamilton, Ontario (MIKAN 3384689)

Indoor bowling consists of a long wooden lane and pins set up at the far end. A player propels a ball down the lane in an attempt to knock down as many of the pins as possible. There are two types of indoor bowling: ten-pin and five-pin. Ten-pin bowling was developed in the United States in the 19th century. Five-pin bowling is a Canadian variant created in Toronto between 1908 and 1909. It uses only five pins, a smaller ball and a modified scoring system. This game quickly gained popularity across Canada along with its American ten-pin cousin.

Canadians enjoy lawn bowling and indoor bowling at numerous clubs and lanes across the country, as well as at international competitions. Both games have a long history as participatory sports in Canada.

Visit the Flickr album now!