Local newspapers at the heart of Canadian life

By Annie Wolfe

Library and Archives Canada’s newspaper collection is full of stories, both large and small! These true stories make up Canada’s fabric, from politics to the economy, and from the arts to sports, not to mention the obituaries, known to be a gold mine for genealogists.

Local newspapers, in particular, are the voices of regions, cities, villages and neighbourhoods. The information they provide is especially important because it comes straight from those involved in building Canada’s communities. Local newspapers open a window on debates and events that directly affect citizens’ lives. Thanks to local newspapers, communities discover news that affects them directly. Local newspapers are outstanding sources of historical fact.

Here are two examples of local newspapers with valuable information for researchers or the merely curious.

Fort McMurray Today

The daily Fort McMurray Today, founded in 1974, covers the communities of Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo, in Alberta. In spring 2016, a huge wildfire raged, forcing the evacuation of the area. The damage was extensive, with devastating effects on the Canadian economy, including reduced oil production.

Fort McMurray Today won the Breaking News award, shared with the Edmonton Journal and the Edmonton Sun, in 2016 for coverage of the wildfire. (Source: http://nna-ccj.ca/award-archives/list-of-winners-since-1949/#2)

Microfilms of newspapers from 2015 to 2017 were acquired for the national collection to document the history of the community before, during and after the wildfire tragedy.

L’Écho de Frontenac

The weekly L’Écho de Frontenac, founded in 1929, covers the region of Lac-Mégantic, in Quebec. In summer 2013, a railway accident caused an explosion and fire that destroyed part of the town. This tragedy had significant economic, environmental and, particularly, human consequences for the community, which will take years to recover. Even today, in 2018, the courts are still trying to establish what exactly happened.

As a side note, the public library was rebuilt after the fire and renamed for Nelly Arcan, the famous Lac-Mégantic author.

Microfilms of newspapers from 2012 to 2016 were acquired for the national collection to document events related to the tragedy, but especially to show the community’s great resilience.

Local newspapers, being at the heart of Canadian life, are an extraordinary source of information on what is really happening in communities across Canada. They relate and confirm both tragic and happy events. Canada’s history is written in newspapers.

The two newspapers mentioned in this article, Fort McMurray Today and L’Écho de Frontenac, are just a few examples of the newspaper microfilm acquisitions in the national collection. These microfilms are available through interlibrary loan. For more information, please visit Library and Archives Canada’s Loans to Other Institutions page or your public library.

Black-and-white photo of a large church in a small village. Railway tracks can be seen in the foreground.

The Lac-Mégantic church before the railway accident that created a major explosion in the village in 2013. The photograph is dated 1925 (MIKAN 3323453)


Annie Wolfe is an acquisitions librarian in the Published Heritage Branch at Library and Archives Canada.

Newspaper Collection website launched

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is pleased to announce the release of a new version of its Newspaper Collection website. The website provides an overview of LAC’s newspaper collection, including a list of newspapers available on microfilm, an index to the Canadian newspapers in its collection and a sampling of online Canadian news resources available from third-party websites.

Highlights of the new version include links to other websites offering free online digitized copies of newspapers, direct links to the AMICUS descriptions, and other improvements that make the website easier to navigate.

How to retrieve a Canadian newspaper when visiting LAC on site

Thanks to our article on “How to Find a Canadian Newspaper on Microfilm” you may now know how to easily access our Geographical List and how to read a newspaper entry. But how can you access these newspapers while you are on site at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa?

Some of our newspapers on microfilm are available in the self-serve section on the third floor, but most need to be requested via AMICUS, our library catalogue. Once you have located your AMICUS number, you can make a retrieval request in AMICUS by following the steps below:

To access our AMICUS catalogue, go to one of our computer workstations and open the Internet browser. You can access the catalogue by selecting the “Library Catalogue – AMICUS OPAC” link from the workstation homepage.

Use the AMICUS number to get to the correct record by selecting the “AMICUS No.” option from the drop-down menu.

Remember:

Not all the AMICUS records have been updated to show all the newspaper dates available. If you don’t see your date listed in the AMICUS record, don’t worry! You can trust the dates given in the Geographical List even if you don’t see them in the AMICUS record.

Once you have found the right record for your date range, press the “Retrieve” button. Enter your date in the first space provided and don’t forget to enter your user card barcode number.

Your retrieval request will take 2 to 3 hours to process. You can then retrieve your microfilm reels in the third floor Consultation Room. Make sure to search for them under the first letter of your last name. You will find microfilm readers available in the same room. For more information on using these microfilm readers, consult our article “Tips and tricks on how to use a microform reader”.

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