How to find Government of Canada press releases

By Emily Dingwall

Government of Canada press releases, also referred to as news releases, are issued for the media to announce the latest news of government departments. At Library and Archives Canada (LAC), we hold a number of press releases, some in hard copy format in our archival holdings, and some in our published collection. The LAC collection is a great starting point to search for older releases that are not currently online. However, it should be noted that the collection is not comprehensive because press releases were not collected systematically throughout the years. This blog post will focus only on the available materials we have in our published collection, most of which span the years 1945 to 2004. It will also discuss how to find more recent press releases on individual government department websites and through the Government of Canada Web Archive (GC WA).

News releases in our published collection can be retrieved through the AMICUS library catalogue. It is helpful to know the department and time period you are seeking, as the releases have been catalogued chronologically for each government department. Here is an example of a series of press releases in our collection from the former Department of Communications. For more search tips, please contact us with your question or visit us in person. There are also search tips available in AMICUS.

To find more recent news releases, such as those dating back to the late 1990s, try searching the GC WA. The GC WA is available through our website and provides access to harvested material from former Government of Canada websites. The archive can be searched by keyword, department name, or URL. It is most effective to search by department name (available through the red menu on the left), then scroll through the list of departments and click on specific ones of interest. This will take you to different snapshots of the websites where you can navigate to the news section to view the releases. Please note that this is an archived website, so certain links may not be functional, and older content on the website is no longer being updated.

A colour image showing screen captures of two Government of Canada web pages side by side.

A screen capture of the introductory page for the Government of Canada Web Archive (left) and the page listing the departments (right).

In regard to the most recent news updates, the releases for the last several years (depending on the department) are mainly available through individual websites for government departments, crown corporations, and the Prime Minister’s Office. For example, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (formerly Industry Canada) has news releases on its website archived back to 2012.

There is a Government of Canada News Releases website as well, which is a list of the most recent news releases compiled from all federal departments.

Please contact us for any other questions you may have on Government of Canada press releases!


Emily Dingwall is a Reference Librarian in the Reference Services Division at Library and Archives Canada.

Discover Finding Aids – Part Two

As we discussed in our first article “Discover Finding Aids”, finding aids are tools that provide information about the archival documents held in a fonds or a collection. One of the most common types of finding aid is the content list. It typically provides general file-level reference information. In Archives Search, a content-list finding aid for a fonds or a collection can appear in a number of ways:

  1. It can be attached to the fonds-level description as a portable document format (.pdf file). This is generally true for collections or materials acquired from private individuals (usually identified by collection codes beginning with “MSS”) as in the example below:
A two-column, black-and-white image of a search result in Archives Search. The left column displays the word “Finding aid.” The right column displays the result with a link to a pdf finding aid.

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  1. It may also be accessed by clicking on the hyperlinked number found beside the “consists of” text. This is generally true for collections of materials acquired from government departments (usually identified by collection codes beginning with “RG”).
A two-column, black-and-white image of a search result in Archives Search. The left column displays the words “Series consists of.” The right column displays the words “7893 lower level description(s).”

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  1. Sometimes the content list is only identified by a number in the text paragraph, which can be found beside the Finding aid field label in a fonds, collection, series or sub-series description.
A two-column, black-and-white image of a search result in Archives Search. The left column displays the words “Finding aid.” The right column displays a brief written description of the content list.

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Content lists simply identified by number generally exist in paper format only and must be consulted in person (or copies must be obtained). Numbers beginning with MSS (e.g., MSS0211) most often refer to content lists for collections or materials acquired from private individuals. Finding aids composed of numbers separated by a hyphen (e.g., 12-13) usually refer to content lists for collections of materials acquired from government departments.

This concludes “Discover Finding Aids – Part Two.” You can now read the Archives Search results to help you locate the finding aids.

 Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!

Discover Finding Aids!

Did you know that the concept of the finding aid dates back to the very origins of archives? The ancient Sumerians created finding aids on clay tablets so that they could locate specific bureaucratic documents. We have moved a long way from the clay tablet, but the principles of the finding aid remain the same.

An archive contains all of the documents created and used by a person, family, government institution, or corporate body in the course of that creator’s activities or functions. Generally called fonds or collections, the documents of an archive are arranged in a hierarchy, from the general to the specific. In other words, from the fonds level to the item level:

Fonds/Collection

(Sousfonds – if it exists)

Series

(Sub-series – if it exists)

File

Item

If you have never used an archive before, you may wish to consult the guide Using Archives: A Practical Guide for Researchers for more information.

Finding aids are tools that provide information about the archival documents held in a fonds or a collection. While finding aids can take many forms, they are generally used in the same way. Researchers use finding aids to help determine whether a certain fonds or collection of archival materials contains the documents, photographs, etc. that they might need to consult for their research project. Finding aids are created for fonds or collections but can also be created for series and sub-series of very large fonds or collections.

One of the most common types of finding aid is the content list. It typically provides general file-level reference information and contains the following elements:

  • Archival fonds orcollection code (i.e.,MG26-A or RG10)
  • Volume or box numbers
  • File number (and sometimes a file part number)
  • File title
  • Date of creation or date range of documents held within a file

It does not provide content listings of all the documents in each file.

For a percentage of our collection, there are no content lists available. For example, lists are not created for collections of less than 10 boxes of material. Many photographic and cartographic collections do not have content lists. Some older holdings of government documents also lack content lists.

Lastly, not everything is available online;for some fonds or collections, the content list exists in paper format only, and must be consulted in person. You may also order copies of material by following the instructions outlined in our post “How to Order Digitized Reproductions and Help Build the Digital Collection.

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!