Sessional Papers of the Dominion of Canada, 1867 to 1925

Are you looking for documents offering credible information to use in research on the period between the late 19th century and the interwar years of the 20th century? You may find that the Sessional Papers of the Dominion of Canada contain much useful information.

History and organization

Sessional papers are among the oldest form of government serial records, and are part of the family of parliamentary publications that includes journals, debates, votes and proceedings. They have been published since pre-Confederation times and were formerly collected in the appendices to the Journals of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada. A distinctive group of these papers, titled Sessional Papers of the Dominion of Canada, exists for the period of 1867 to 1925. After this period the papers were issued separately.

Sessional papers are any documents formally presented in the House of Commons, filed with the Clerk, and tabled in the House during a given session of Parliament. Each report is recorded as a sessional paper and, as such, is open to public review. They are assigned a unique number in chronological order, known as the sessional paper number.

Sessional papers include the following:

  • Annual departmental reports
  • Reports of committees and task forces
  • Royal commission reports
  • Census returns
  • White papers (issued by the government as statements of policy) and Green papers (official documents sponsored by Ministers of the Crown to invite public comment and discussion on an issue prior to policy formulation)

Sessional papers are classified as either “Printed” (i.e., available for distribution) or “not Printed. Printed papers are collected and published by session in bound volumes that include the full text of the reports. They are proof of the government’s business and support government decisions. They also constitute a collection of data on a variety of topics related to the military, political, social and economic issues in the country at a specific point in time.

Each bound volume includes the text of papers for a given session of Parliament, separated into issues. The spine of each volume has the date along with the volume and issue numbers.

Inside each volume is an alphabetical list of papers as well as a numerical list arranged by sessional paper number. Some volumes have a limited subject index at the back of the final volume for a specific session of Parliament.

Finding a sessional paper

How do you find a sessional paper? If you know the date of the parliamentary session, the chronological arrangement of the volumes allows you to locate the paper by year of publication. The alphabetical and numerical lists at the front of each volume will provide the sessional paper number; you can then locate the paper by its number in the text of the volumes.

If you don’t know the date but you do know the subject, title or some keywords, you can access the comprehensive five-volume set of indexes to this collection of sessional papers: General index to the journals of the House of Commons of the Dominion of Canada and of the sessional papers of Parliament, AMICUS No. 568918.

The indexes provide the number and date of the sessional paper. However, many sessional papers are published separately, so even if you don’t know the date of a particular parliamentary session, you can conduct a search using AMICUS, the online catalogue of Library and Archives Canada.

Many of these sessional papers are now available online through the following databases:

Title page of the Sessional Papers of the Dominion of Canada, 1870, Volume I, 1st Parliament, 3rd Session, from Early Canadiana Online.

Table of contents providing an alphabetical listing of the Sessional Papers of the Dominion of Canada, Vol. III, 1870, from Early Canadiana Online.

Other formats of the sessional papers include microfilm. The following publication can provide additional information on sessional papers and other parliamentary proceedings:

Library and Archives Canada holds a complete collection of sessional papers (in print) for the period of 1867 to 1925. These are located on the 2nd floor at our 395 Wellington Street location in Ottawa. Should you need assistance in using these documents, please feel free to contact the LAC Reference Services.

Tips for aviation accident research, part 2

By Mathieu Sabourin

In our previous blog post on civilian aviation accidents, we covered the main search principles for finding files on this topic in our archives. We showed you that records could generally be found in four record groups:

  • Department of National Defence fonds: R112 (1923–1936)
  • Department of Transport fonds: R184 (1936–1984)
  • Canadian Aviation Safety Board fonds: R13086 (1984–1989)
  • Transportation Safety Board of Canada fonds: R1009 (1990–present)

Let’s take a look at the characteristics of the first two record groups so you can better focus your searches.

Department of National Defence fonds

After the First World War, the Royal Canadian Air Force served as a civilian airline for the government and was therefore responsible for investigating aircraft accidents. The Civil Aviation Branch was created for this purpose in 1923.

At the time, the Department used a subject-block numeric classification system. Blocks 1021 and 1100 (all the files starting with these numbers) were reserved for aviation accident records. For example:

Screenshot of the results of an archives search. A big red arrow indicates the reference to Block 1021.

Example of a file from Block 1021.

Continue reading

New Books in the Genealogy Services Collection at 395 Wellington – October 2016

We’re excited to announce recently acquired genealogy publications. You can consult them in the Genealogy and Family History Room located on the 3rd floor of the Library and Archives Canada building at 395 Wellington Street.

Check out the list below. The link to the AMICUS record gives the call number you need to find the book on the shelves.

If you’re just starting out in genealogy, you should visit the Genealogy and Family History section of our website.

Happy exploring!

Church, Cemetery and Newspaper Indexes

Obituaries from the Christian guardian, 1891 to 1895, by Donald A. McKenzie (AMICUS 42197735)

Répertoire des naissances, des mariages et des décès de la paroisse de Saint-Ludger-de-Milot, 1934-1941, et de la paroisse de Saint-Augustin, 1924-1941, by the Société d’histoire du Lac-Saint-Jean, Service d’archives et de généalogie, Comité de Généalogie (AMICUS 43692197)

Baptêmes, mariages, annotations marginales et sépultures de Notre-Dame-du-Rosaire de Sherbrooke, 1942-1995, by the Société de généalogie des Cantons de l’Est (AMICUS 42040268)

Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures et annotations marginales de Sainte-Jeanne-d’Arc de Sherbrooke, 1913-2012, by the Société de généalogie des Cantons de l’Est (AMICUS 41994325)

Baptêmes, mariages, annotations marginales et sépultures de Christ-Roi de Sherbrooke, 1936-2012, by the Société de généalogie des Cantons de l’Est (AMICUS 41849903)

Baptêmes, mariages, annotations marginales et sépultures de Saint-Antoine-de-Padoue de Lennoxville, 1878-2010, by the Société de généalogie des Cantons de l’Est (AMICUS 41849905)

Baptêmes, mariages, annotations marginales et sépultures de Saint-Joseph de Sherbrooke, 1946-2010, by the Société de généalogie des Cantons de l’Est (AMICUS 42040250)

Baptêmes des paroisses Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes, 1928-1941 et Notre-Dame-Auxiliatrice, 1939-1941, by Michel Chrétien (AMICUS 41279336)

Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures et annotations marginales de Saint-Fortunat, comté de Wolfe, 1877-2013, by the Société de généalogie des Cantons de l’Est (AMICUS 42160267)

Cataraqui Cemetery burial registers: Kingston Township, Frontenac County, by the Kingston Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society (AMICUS 41669821)

Outremont, naissances : archives civiles (greffe) 1921-1941, St-Germain 1929-1942, Ste-Madeleine 1908-1941, St-Raphaël 1930-1941, St-Viateur 1902-1941, by Cécile de Lamirande (AMICUS 43564793)

Military

American loyalists to New Brunswick: the ship passenger lists, by David Bell (AMICUS 43913838)

Dictionnaire prosopographique des militaires beaucerons incluant le Régiment de la Chaudière depuis 1914, by Sylvain Croteau (AMICUS 43027689)

Family Histories

Généalogie ascendante de Irénée Bergeron, 1838 (Sainte-Croix-de-Lotbinière) – 1923 (Saint-Paul-de-Chester), by Linda Bergeron Szefer (AMICUS 42856232)

Généalogie des familles-souches de Saint-Casimir, by G.-Robert Tessier (AMICUS 43150466)

Saint-Just-de-Bretenières: cent ans d’histoire, 1916-2016: de la mémoire à la plume, by Louise Lefebvre (AMICUS 44279124)

Newly digitized images of the construction of 395 Wellington

By Andrew Elliott

Located on a site overlooking the Ottawa River, the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) building (known more fondly as 395 Wellington or, even more archaically, as PANL—Public Archives National Library) is an iconic structure that is highly visible from many vantage points on both sides of the Ottawa River. The building embodies the preservation of the national collective documentary memory, which Library and Archives Canada gathers and disseminates.

The history of the design and construction of this Classified Federal Heritage Building is an interesting one. While the original proposal targeted a site near the intersection of Bank and Wellington streets, in November 1952, the National Planning Committee of the Federal District Commission (now the National Capital Commission) approved the 395 Wellington Street address as the most appropriate location for the new National Library and Archives building. At the suggestion of Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent, Cabinet agreed to retain the services of the prestigious firm Mathers & Haldenby to design the new building.

The firm of Mathers and Haldenby (1921–1991) was established by Alvan Sherlock Mathers ([1895–1965] born in Aberfoyle, Ontario) and Eric Wilson Haldenby ([1893–1971] born in Toronto).

Construction, however, was delayed for almost a decade. The primary reason: No. 1 Temporary Building, which sat on the site, had not yet been demolished. In 1958 the project was further delayed following a major gas explosion on Slater Street, which destroyed a government building and saw the relocation of hundreds of civil servants to the remaining offices at No. 1 Temporary Building.

In 1960 Ellis-Don was awarded the contract to construct the building and in the fall of 1963 construction finally began in earnest. The entire construction project, which lasted until 1967, was recorded by Ottawa’s Van Photography Studio.

Recently, a remarkable series of photos showing the progress of the building was digitized by LAC. These images can be found in the Department of Public Works Accession. Included are the following photos:

A black–and-white photograph showing a large construction site with various types of construction equipment, and trees and other buildings in the distance

Excavation of the building site, September 4, 1963 (MIKAN 3600820)

A black-and-white photograph showing the unfinished facade of a 10-storey building. There is construction board on the ground floor. There are cars (including a VW bug!) and pedestrians going about their business.

A view of the partially constructed building looking north, July 15, 1965 (MIKAN 3600860)

A black-and-white photograph showing a building completely surrounded by scaffolding.

View of the building looking southeast, August 16, 1965 (MIKAN 3600863)

A black-and-white photograph showing a construction site with a partially finished building.

A view looking northeast taken on November 26, 1965 (MIKAN 3600869)

A black-and-white photograph a low-ceilinged room with rows upon rows of shelving in various states of completion.

An interior view of partially finished stack shelving, November 21, 1966 (MIKAN 3600895)

A black-and-white photograph of a large room with scaffolding and construction materials scattered about.

Partially finished Reading Room showing the coffered-light ceilings, February 24, 1967 (MIKAN 3600901)

A black-and-white photograph showing a partially completed interior covered in deeply-veined, white Carrera marble.

Main floor showing the beautiful marbles in the entrance of the building, June 27, 1966 (MIKAN 3600882)

On May 10, 1965, Governor General Georges Vanier laid the official cornerstone. Inside the cornerstone he placed an elaborate copper casket containing pictures and descriptions of the building as well as copies of the latest publications of both the National Library and the National Archives. On June 20, 1967, in time for the celebration of Canada’s centennial, Canada’s new, purpose-built National Library and Archives building was officially opened. You can listen to the opening ceremonies here:

395 Wellington is an interesting combination of functional and aesthetic design. As the Federal Heritage Building Review Office Report 04-027 (FHBRO) states, “[it] is a high quality achievement . . . . Aesthetically, it is a hybrid of two tendencies, balancing remnants of federal classical modernism with Modernism’s new trends, both of which it handles with sophistication and refinement, resulting in a modern, functionalist, rational appearance . . . . Functionally, the complex range of the building’s uses is well served and the arrangement of public areas and that of services and stacks is reflected in the composition of the building.” (For further reading see: http://historicplaces.ca/media/18730/2004-027(e)publicarchivesandnationallibrarybuilding.pdf)

As one can see, neither time nor expense was spared with regard to the building’s design. Today, the building continues to have an iconic presence near the heart of downtown Ottawa.


Andrew Elliott is an archivist with the Science, Governance and Political Division of Library and Archives Canada.

 

Ottawa’s Uppertown: A lost neighbourhood uncovered

By Andrew Elliott

A black-and-white photograph showing a streetscape at a crossroads.

Wellington and Bank, ca. 1900 (MIKAN 3325940)

On February 27, 1912, following what appears to have been at least a few years of behind the scenes deliberations, the federal government expropriated all properties located in Uppertown, an area bounded by Bank, Wellington, and Bay streets and the cliff along the Ottawa River. On March 9, 1912, a notice of expropriation was filed at the Ottawa City Registry Office (the area can be seen on these fire insurance plans: east view and west view (MIKAN 3816030).

The area was expropriated to make way for a new supreme court and other federal buildings. In 1913, the government launched a design competition, in response to which many of the major architects of the day submitted designs for the building complex. The designs can be found in the following LAC collection, which comprises 11 designs for the location of proposed departmental buildings. With the outbreak of the First World War, the fire and subsequent reconstruction of the Parliament Buildings, and changes in government, no concrete action was taken with respect to these plans until the early 1930s.

The area expropriated was both commercial and residential in nature. We have come to think of the stretch of Wellington between Bank and Bay streets as a boulevard flanked by grand, iconic government structures and large green spaces, but this is a relatively recent development. The towers of the Confederation and Justice buildings were built in the 1930s, followed by the Supreme Court building and, finally, the National Library building (now Library and Archives Canada), which was erected for the 1967 centennial. Continue reading

Tips for aviation accident research

Let’s be honest: Finding information on a civil aviation accident is no small feat. In the federal government, organizational changes involving aviation accident management and the evolution of records classification are making the researcher’s task even harder.

But seek and, generally, ye shall find! So let’s look at how to go about researching an aviation accident effectively.

First, you need to have certain basic information on the accident you’re researching:

  • Aircraft model
  • Accident date and location
  • Aircraft registration number
  • Aircraft type (civilian or military)

This will make things easier, because the finding aids related to aviation accidents are put together based on that basic information.

You must then determine where the records you are looking for might be located, i.e., select the right record group. The following reference table will help guide your first steps:

Years of Responsibility Department Record Group Number
1923–1936 Department of National Defence

Civil Aviation Branch

RG24 / R112
1936–1984 Department of Transport
Air Services Branch (1936-1970)
Canadian Air Transportation Administration (1970-1985)
RG12 / R184
1984–1989 Canadian Aviation Safety Board R13086
1990–present Transportation Safety Board RG156 / R1009

Each record group is divided into series and sub-series. For each of those subdivisions, you will need to consult a finding aid to determine whether a file exists pertaining to your research topic. It is a painstaking process, but some aids are available online (for example, the accession “Aviation Accident Reports 1919-1977“—RG12), which narrows down the research that needs to be done at 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa.

Here are some things to take into consideration:

  • Two types of records pertain to accidents: the accident report and the occurrence investigation. They are not always filed in the same location, so you’ll have to check the entire record group to find them.
  • In the 1920s and 1930s, National Defence had the mandate to investigate accidents. Even if your research is on a civilian aircraft, consult RG24.
  • Your file could be located in the Central Registry (records originally stored in Ottawa) or in the regional registries (stored in the regions: Maritimes, Pacific, etc.).
  • Library and Archives Canada’s (LAC) collection has gaps: we do not have all records pertaining to aviation accidents. Sometimes, a file simply does not exist.
  • Some records are still at the accession stage. They have been transferred to LAC but have not yet been processed by an archivist. If the description in our database contains a note to that effect, consult the links under the heading “Accession” (see “Scope and Content” in connection with the note “Please consult the related accessions”).

For example, here is a screenshot associated with the series Central Registry Files from the Transportation Safety Board fonds:

Screenshot showing that the files have indeed been acquired, but not yet processed.

List of accessions from Central Registry Files (RG156)

Each record group has its own challenges but the basic concepts explained here will help you to conduct your research effectively.

New books in the Genealogy Services Collection at 395 Wellington Street—March 2016

Here is a list of our recently acquired genealogy publications. You can consult them in the Genealogy and Family History Room located on the 3rd floor at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa. The link to the AMICUS record gives the call number you need to find the book on the shelves. Please note that CD-ROMs must be pre-ordered.

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

Happy exploring!

Church, Cemetery and other indexes

La population des forts français d’Amérique, XVIIIe siècle : répertoire des baptêmes, mariages et sépultures célébrés dans les forts et les établissements français en Amérique du Nord au XVIIIe siècle : volume 3 – Détroit by Marthe Faribault-Beauregard (AMICUS 4941584)

Fegan’s homes newsletters. Volume 10: the Red Lamp 1913-1920 compiled by Douglas V. Fry & Fawne Stratford-Devai (AMICUS 32667771)

Arnprior area death notices, 2000-2007: compiled from Arnprior newspapers and funeral home notices [electronic resource] by Andriend Schlievert

Naissances & sépultures de Cabano, 1901-1939, St-Elzéar, 1933-1940, St-Honoré, 1871-1940, St-Louis du Ha! Ha!, 1878-1940 by Cécile de Lamirande (AMICUS 43564794)

Répertoire des baptêmes Saint-Sauveur, 1853-2013 by Société d’histoire et de généalogie des Pays-d’en-Haut (AMICUS 43711495)

Registres paroissiaux de Saint-Adelme de 1930 à 2014 : avec l’historique de quelques familles (extrait du livre du 50ième anniversaire de Saint-Adelme), (paru en 1981) et photo de mariage et d’anciens de chez-nous compiled by Madona Ouellet (AMICUS 43249438)

Inhumations sous l’église Sainte-Famille de Boucherville by Gilles Senécal (AMICUS 43918276)

Répertoire des mariages Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, mise à jour 1972 à 1992 : 70 établissements by Jacques Gagnon (AMICUS 40910246)

Family histories and dictionaries

The Linossier and Montagnon family pioneers in the Interlake region: homesteading – R.M. of Eriksdale, Manitoba, Canada by John Paul Linossier (AMICUS 43525032)

Dictionnaire généalogique des familles Thériault : descendance de Claude, 1601-2011 by Camille Albert (AMICUS 39364192)

Les premiers Audet dit Lapointe d’Amérique by Guy Saint-Hilaire (AMICUS 43306689)

The legend of four Weber brothers by Tim Campbell (AMICUS 43188991)

Les Filles du Roy de 1663 : recueil de biographies des 36 premières Filles du Roy arrivées en Nouvelle-France by Irène Belleau (AMICUS 43919407)

L’Association des Saindon de l’Amérique du Nord : Le recueil (AMICUS 34986778)

Mariages Larocque = Larocque marriages [electronic resource] by Charles G. Clermont (AMICUS 43727175)

Local histories

Mercier fête son histoire : des histoires de familles by La Société du patrimoine et de l’histoire de Mercier (AMICUS 43223569)

Très-Sainte-Trinité, Rockland : regards sur notre histoire, vision vers l’avenir : 125e anniversaire, 1889-2014 by Corporation de la communauté Sainte-Trinité (AMICUS 43474887)

Hiding in Plain Sight: Discovering the Métis Nation in the Collection of Library and Archives Canada

Who Are the Métis?

The Métis Nation emerged as a distinct people during the course of the 18th and 19th centuries. They are the second largest of the three Aboriginal peoples of Canada and are the descendants of First Nations peoples and Europeans involved in the fur trade.

Métis communities are found widely in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and the Northwest Territories, with a smaller number in British Columbia, Ontario, Minnesota, Montana and North Dakota.

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has a great variety of archival documents pertaining to the Métis Nation (including textual records, photographs, artwork, maps, stamps and sound recordings); however, finding these records can be a challenge.

Challenges in Researching Métis Content in the Art and Photographic Collections

While there are easily identifiable portraits of well-known leaders and politicians, including these portraits of Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont, images depicting less famous Métis are difficult to find. Original titles betray historical weaknesses when it comes to describing Métis content.

In many cases, the Métis have gone unrecognized or were mistaken for European or First Nations groups—such as the people in this photograph entitled “Chippewa Indians with Red River Carts at Dufferin.”

Black and white photograph of a man, on the left, wearing European clothing and standing in front of a Red River cart, and a group of First Nations men, women and children wearing First Nations-style clothing and standing in front of another Red River cart, on the right.

Chippewa Indians with Red River Carts at [Fort] Dufferin” Manitoba, 1873 (MIKAN 3368366)

Continue reading

So many lockers, so little time

When visiting Library and Archives Canada (LAC) in Ottawa at 395 Wellington to do research, you may be asked more than once if you need a locker. Let’s explore why and where this might be the case. First off, when you arrive, the Commissionaire at the security desk on the ground floor will ask you if you need a locker to store your personal items, such as your jacket or coat, hat, large bag, or umbrella. As you can understand, none of these items is allowed in the reference or consultation rooms in order to keep the collection safe from damage or loss. These personal storage lockers are located on the ground floor, and are for day use only. You must leave the key to your locker with the security desk when leaving the building, both at the end of the day and for any reason during the day, even if you plan to come back.

The next locker you might require is located on the third floor. Here there are three types of lockers for temporarily storing archival, published, or restricted items. They are loaned out for up to a month at a time and may be renewed as required. The first type of locker is the one most commonly used for open archival material. You must ask the consultation staff to assign you one of these lockers, and you can request up to a maximum of three at a time. You can either request the locker(s) when requesting your material in advance or if you are planning on coming in person to do your research during or outside of service hours. Keys for these lockers are also kept with the security desk on the ground floor and must be returned daily or when leaving the building. The same applies for the second type of locker, a smaller one for when you only require a small space to temporarily store published items you have requested.

The third type of locker is the restricted one, for those researchers who have access to restricted (code 32) material. The same procedures apply for requesting this type of locker, but please note that keys are not issued automatically. The Commissionaire stationed in the lobby of the third floor must verify the researcher’s access to the restricted locker(s) before access can be granted.

Lastly, here are the most important things to remember when you are assigned any of the lockers located on the third floor:

  • Use lockers for LAC material only—no personal items please
  • Do not keep self-serve/archival microfilm in the lockers
  • Be aware that the expiry dates of lockers and items often differ
  • Make sure to renew your locker and archival items to ensure that the items are not sent back before you have completed your work
  • Note that overdue items may be removed and returned to storage even if the locker is not expired
  • Renew lockers or items after hours by contacting consultationtext@bac-lac.gc.ca. Be sure to provide all the details

Self-serve photography

It used to be that the only way of getting copies of archival documents was a bit of a tedious process. Flagging the pages you wanted copied, filling out the form, handing in the information to the Consultation staff, and then waiting the 30 business days for the copies to be made. If you were not someone who was from the Ottawa-Gatineau area, you would then have to wait for the copies to be mailed out to you. If you were in the National Capital Region, but not a regular visitor, you might have to make a special trip to 395 Wellington Street to pick up your copies. Now the process can be much quicker if you choose. If you have a camera or a smartphone, you can now take digital images of our collection, rights and restrictions permitting. Once you have the material you wish to copy, simply check in with the Consultation staff, who will provide you with a quick form to fill out. You will need to provide the full reference number for the box or volume, along with your user card number and your name. The staff will verify restrictions of the documents and provide you with a green copy of the approved form. Here are some of the key points to remember about what is required from a technical standpoint of your camera or smartphone.

  • You must have a wrist strap, neck strap or tripod.
  • No flash can be used.
  • Photos cannot be taken before permission is given.
  • Your green permission slip must be visible at all times.
  • You can request a weight or book wedges to help you photograph larger items instead of forcing the items open.

There are also a few tripods available with either a camera mount or a smartphone mount, but they are loaned out on a first-come, first-served basis. You can see the Consultation staff for these as well. If you cannot come in during service hours and still wish to take photos, you can either fax in your filled out form (613-992-5921) or scan and email it to the following address: consultationtext@bac-lac.gc.ca, indicating your date of visit and which lockers have been assigned to you. You can get a copy of the form in person during service hours or by contacting the Consultation staff at the above mentioned email address. This service is also available in Genealogy and Reference Services during their service hours.