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Library and Archives Canada has one of the richest Canadian directory collections in the world. The collection includes Canadian national, provincial/territorial, county and city directories, primarily of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in paper, microform and electronic formats.

In order to provide improved access to the wealth of information contained in the directories, Library and Archives Canada has undertaken a partnership with the Canadian Institute of Historical Microreproductions (CIHM) to digitize a growing selection of pre-1901 volumes. These volumes can be consulted by selecting Search the database.

The History of Directory Publishing page is a concise essay outlining the development and historical role of directories as well as their use to modern-day genealogists, historians and researchers.

To help contextualize these directories, we provide CityScapes -- a section which provides brief social histories of the cities featured in our database. In the current phase of this project, we focus on Ottawa and Halifax, where comprehensive directory coverage is offered for the first time in Canada. This section will grow as we add more directories, and will ultimately feature a wider national coverage.

The Library and Archives collection of print and microform directories is housed in the Reference Room of Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa, and is available for on-site consultation, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Directories are not available for interlibrary loan. Photocopying of original directories is not permitted, although prints can be made from microform copies, for a fee.

Library and Archives Canada has published a bibliography of its Canadian directory collection, entitled:

  • Canadian Directories, 1790-1987: a Bibliography and Place-name Index. Ottawa: National Library of Canada, 1989. 3 vol.

Search for directories in all formats in AMICUS, the Canadian national catalogue, using titles, or subject headings such as:

  • Toronto (Ont.)--Directories
  • York (Ont. : County)--Directories
  • Prince Edward Island--Directories