Whether you are searching for family history, determining the history behind your heritage home or are just curious about Ottawa’s past, this is your guide to accessing and researching at the archives.
Our passionate staff will help you succeed with your research goals. Begin your researching journey with the City of Ottawa Archives today!
Address: 100 Tallwood Dr, Nepean, ON K2G 4R7
How is the collection organized?
The Archives identifies, acquires, organizes, preserves and describes Ottawa civic government records (corporate) as well as private sector records (community) of individuals, community groups, and businesses within the City of Ottawa.
Corporate records encompass records of the new City of Ottawa, as well as the 12 former municipalities, the Ottawa Public Library, Police Services and OC Transpo. Some of the holdings include: original by-laws, original minutes of Council and Committees of Council, assessment rolls, historical maps, historical photographs of major civic events, historical plans of major structures, and more.
Community records enhance our understanding of the history and evolution of Ottawa. Some examples from more than 350 collections include the Billings, Lett and Ogilvy family papers and records from the United Church of Canada and Royal Ottawa Sanitarium (now Royal Ottawa Hospital). The community records holdings include textual and electronic records, rare books, historical publications, maps, plans, microfilms, films, photographs, postcards, documentary art, and corporate memorabilia.
1. Searching the collection
Our helpful staff can search the Archives’ databases for you for specific keywords and subjects related to your topic. If you wish to browse for a particular fonds or collection by hand, there are also six Finding Aid binders available to researchers in the Reference Room. Retrieval of records are completed by staff, and can be done within the hour from the climate controlled vault on-site, or may take 2-3 business days if the information you request is off-site. Plan your time accordingly.
Examples of fonds in the Archives:
• MG 001, 002- Billings Family fonds
• MG 4- Maurice L. Berlyn fonds
• MG 5- First Unitarian Church of Ottawa fonds
• MG 6- Ottawa Board of Trade fonds
• MG 7- Protestant Children’s Village fonds
• MG 8- Knox Presbyterian Church, Ottawa fonds
• MG 9- J.E.Stanley Lewis fonds
• MG 10- Action Sandy Hill fonds
• MG 11- Ottawa Journal fonds
• MG 12- Marcella Penzel fonds
• MG 14- Royal Ottawa Sanatorium fonds
A very limited number of our archival holdings are presently described in ARCHEION (Ontario’s Archival Information Network). Ask the Archivist or Reference assistant about the current policies on Permission To Use (for publications), Copyright Permission and Reproduction Fees.
2. The Reference Room Library
The Reference Room Library holds a wealth of information and can be accessed immediately upon your arrival at the Archives. This extensive, non-circulating collection is right at your fingertips. It includes: a variety of published and unpublished items relating to the history of Ottawa and its inhabitants, and books, reports, maps, publications and newsletters of projects and programs of the City of Ottawa and its former municipalities.Our staff can conduct searches on your behalf with our on-site database. It can be searched by title, subject, and date. Or simply browse the collection at your leisure. Unfortunately this can’t be searched from home. The Library is organized into two sections: ALB (Archives Library Books) and ALP (Archives Library Pamphlets). You can browse through a variety of topics: genealogy of Ottawa, urban development, sports, churches, arts, hospitals, industry, associations, transportation, communications, villages, towns and cities and guidebooks.Consult the reference room assistant for photocopying rules and costs.Held within the Library are the City Directories, Council Minutes and Bylaws, microfilmed newspapers, index to the photograph collection, as well as the Archives’ partner’s libraries. Click to view their databases and library catalogues that are available at the Archives.
• Ontario Genealogical Society
• Craig Memorial Library
• British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa
3. Corporate Resource Library
The Corporate Resource Library is a searchable inventory of civic reports and other resource materials from former municipalities. This is the only database that can currently be searched online. Conduct your search and then to access these resources, send an email to [email protected] or call 580-2424 x13333, quoting the box number, classification (where available), and title. Materials will be available for your consultation in the Archives Reference Room within 72 hours of your request. Researchers visiting the Archives can also search this database on request in the Reference Room.Want to know more? See: Resources
Council Minutes and Bylaws of all municipalities are available. They are useful for city employees examining previous municipal issues, or residents who are curious about their neighbourhood’s origins. Council proceedings provide a rich resource on the history of Ottawa. They are available in hard copy; select years are searchable on the archives’ database.
• Bytown and Ottawa Minutes 1847-2000
• City of Ottawa Council Minutes and Bylaws, 2001-2004
• Regional Municipality of Carleton (RMOC) – 1968-2000
• City of Gloucester Minutes and Financial Minutes, 1897-1983
Determine the year you wish to view, and refer to the index at the beginning to pinpoint certain bylaws or issues discussed in council.Want to know more? See: Resources
Microfilm allows archives to keep many years worth of newspaper and printed material on their shelves.
There is a reference sheet to the microfilm stacks on the side of the bookshelf. It lists all the microfilmed newspapers, journals, and published materials. Highlights of the microfilmed newspapers are:
• The Ottawa Journal (1885-1980)
• Ottawa Citizen (1846-1886)
• Le Droit (1913-1948)
In addition there are numerous community papers:
• The Carp Review (1905-1929)
• L’ora Di Ottawa (1968-1980)
• The Clarion (1959-1978)
• Ottawa Farm Journal (1948-1955)
• Ottawa Jewish Bulletin (1940-1957)
• Ottawa Revue (1978-1979)
• Sandy Hill Image (1972-1980)
• Bytown Gazette (1836-1845)
Once you have determined the month and year you wish to view, inform the reference room clerk and they will show you how to load, view and print pages from the microfilm.Want to know more? See: Resources
The photograph collection can be browsed in the index trays in the reference library by subject, or searched on the archives’ database on-site. You can also browse the Finding Aid binders. General categories include: Parliament buildings, streets, houses, churches, schools, hospitals, businesses, merchants, hotels, aerials, bridges, rivers, sports, ceremonies, events, disasters, military, lumbering, transportation and portraits.
Inquire with the reference room assistant for assistance on searching the database and about the current policies on Permission To Use (for publications), Copyright Permission and Reproduction Fees.Want to know more? See: Resources
• HF 0774- Andy Andrews
• HF 0267- Baptist Church
• HF 0462- Baseball
• HF 0120- Billings Estate Literature
• HF 0165- Businesses in Ottawa
• HF 0046- Bytown
• HF 0509- Fleming, Sir Sandford
• HF 0530- Gravestones (Ontario)
• HF 0268- Newspapers in Ottawa
• HF 0528- New City Hall
• HF 0532- Parliament buildings centre block fire of 1916
• HF 0450- Rideau Tennis Club
• HF 0027- Sparks Street
• HF 0139- Sports in Ottawa
• HF 0148- Stock Market Crash 1929
• HF 0380- Whitton Hall – HistoryWant to know more? See: Resources