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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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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.
- Cécile et Collin, Juliette Béliveau and Eugène Daignault; AMICUS 31393565
- Les quintuplettes, Juliette Béliveau, Hervey Germain and Paul Foucreau (piano). Herbert Samuel Berliner, composer (Herbert Samuel Berliner, founder of the Compo Co. Limited in 1918); AMICUS 31394366
- J’ai sauvé mon innocence, comedic sketches interpreted by J.H. Germain and Pic Pic, Mde. Beliveau and M. Germain; AMICUS 31397161
- Some jasette, Fannie Tremblay and J.R. Tremblay; AMICUS 31393410
- Discours electoral, Elzéar Hamel, comedic dialogues; AMICUS 32338313
Busy as a performer from the early age of 10, Béliveau specialized in comedy acts on stage, in recordings, and eventually on television.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To learn more about the Canada Games and the athletes who participated in them, please consult the following sources at Library and Archives Canada:
- The Fitness and Amateur Sport sous-fonds
- The Canada Games 1967–1977 Photo Album
- The Canadian Olympians database
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.
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.
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.
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 (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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.