Links to Resources for Doing Canadian Business History

There are plenty of places where a researcher can begin their work in studying business history. Below, we’re listing the resources in Ottawa that we’re currently using, as well as other academic resources that exist beyond the National Capital Region. If there’s an archive or library that you’re aware of that we haven’t included in our list, please let us know by leaving a comment.

Ottawa Resources

City of Ottawa Archives

The collection contains the business records of several businesses that used to operate in the City of Ottawa, as well as fonds related to business people and their families. Other resources include records related to the City of Ottawa (by-laws, fire and police records), directories, photographs, and cartographic material.
(NOTE: if you do a search for the archive on Google, do not believe where it is being shown on the map; the archive is now at the corner of Tallwood and Woodroffe Avenue)

Ottawa Room, Main (Metcalfe Street) Branch, Ottawa Public Library

This is an eclectic collection that includes a number of resources for business historians, including business directories relating to industry, community and municipality. There are also books specifically related to the City of Ottawa, as well as some about the Ottawa Valley and other nearby regions. Be ready to stay a while, you cannot take these books out.

Ottawa Jewish Archives

A collection of resources related to the history of the Jewish community in Ottawa, where one of the focuses is on business. Their catalogue is available and searchable online through Archeion, which is linked from their website.

Business History Resources at Canadian Academic Archives

University archives and special collections often hold the records of businesses which were located or conducted business in the geographic area surrounding the university. The following are some examples from across Canada.

Dalhousie University, University Archives and Special Collections

Dalhousie University in Halifax maintains the records of many maritime businesses, some dating as far back as the early 19th Century. Here’s the link to the finding aid:

McGill University Archives

McGill University in Montreal, Quebec holds numerous fonds of interest to historical researchers. From this link open Volumes 2 and 3 of the Guide to Archival Resources at McGill. The Guide is helpfully arranged by subject headings: Section 5 lists collections related to Business and Economy. Private fonds collected between 1985 and 1995 are listed in the Update to the Guide.

University of British Columbia, Rare Books and Special Collections

Rare Books and Special Collections at UBC are particularly strong in the areas of fishing,forestry, and mining, with important business records such as J.H. Todd & Sons, the Council of Forest Industries, and MacMillan Bloedel among others. Check out their holdings here:

University of Saskatchewan, Special Collections

Among its other holdings, Special Collections at the University of Saskatchewan has made available several digital collections of interest to business researchers, including The Margaret Friesen-Labach Collection of Early Twentieth Century Women’s Magazines ( Persuasion: Print Advertising and Advocacy on the Prairies, a digital exhibition of print advertising produced by or directed at prairie Canadians during the past century.

University of Western Ontario, Archives and Research Collections

The Business portfolio of ARC at UWO, London, collects and maintains records of corporations and businesses and papers of families and individuals involved in commercial activity, where the primary focus of the contents is on business. Included are the Canadian Tire Heritage Collection and the Labatt Brewing Company Collection (containing records for the period 1832 to 2009), along with the fonds of other businesses from southwestern Ontario. This link will take you to the list of their findings aids: .

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