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  Banner: Literary Archives

About the Literary Archives Holdings

Literary Archives: A Guide to the Literary Fonds at Library and Archives Canada

The Literary Archives at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) houses archival fonds from Canadian writers, as well as individuals and organizations active in fields related to literature (e.g., small literary presses, translators and illustrators).

The emphasis of the collection is on the creators and creation of works of literature. The collection complements the LAC's printed resources for Canadian studies. Researchers can study unpublished materials to gain insight into the development of works of literature, the production of books, the relationships within the literary community in Canada and the organizations that work with and for writers.

The collection has provided material for many Canadian and international research projects in the fields of literary biography, bibliography, textual criticism and literary history.

A fonds may include manuscripts, typescripts, galley proofs, correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, audio and video recordings, and computer files. The following sample list of fonds serves to illustrate the nature and scope of Literary Archives at Library and Archives Canada: Bernard Assiniwi, Marie-Claire Blais, George Bowering, Dionne Brand, Nicole Brossard, Coach House Press, Robertson Davies, Réjean Ducharme, Louis Dudek, Timothy Findley, Sheila Fischman, Patrick Friesen, Gratien Gélinas, André Giroux, Jack Hodgins, House of Anansi, W.P. Kinsella, Roger Lemelin, Ron Lightburn, Daphne Marlatt, Susanna Moodie, Erin Mouré, Michael Ondaatje, Oolichan Books, Catherine Parr Trail, Jacques Poulin, Gabrielle Roy, F.R. Scott, Carol Shields, Michel Tremblay, Jane Urquhart, Phyllis Webb, and Rachel Wyatt.

Finding aids are available for many fonds. A print guide to collection holdings, entitled Literary Manuscripts: A Guide to the Literary Fonds at the National Library of Canada is available. Updates to this guide are being added with respect to the merger of the former National Library of Canada and National Archives of Canada.

The Literary Archives holdings are available for consultation from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, excluding statutory holidays.

Use of material is governed by Canadian copyright legislation: permission of copyright holders is required to publish or reproduce materials.


Criteria for Acquisition

  • Archival fonds of writers (Canadian-born or resident in Canada) of works of the imagination in any literary genre written in English and/or French.
  • Fonds of Canadian individuals and organizations in fields related to literature, such as small literary presses, private presses and the book arts.
  • Fonds and/or illustrations of Canadian writers and illustrators of children's books are also listed here: these are holdings of the Children's Literature Collection.
  • Types of material acquired: manuscripts, typescripts, letters, computer files, and accompanying material (e.g., pamphlets, broadsides, reprints, illustrations, decorations, medals, audio and video recordings, etc.). Fonds of sufficient size to illustrate the life and/or work of the author or creator.

Co-operation with Other Manuscript Repositories

While Library and Archives Canada actively seeks to acquire archival fonds of Canadian writers and literary organizations, due consideration is given to acquisition policies of other literary archives repositories.


The following rules apply to all researchers desiring access to materials held by Literary Archives at Library and Archives Canada

The Consultation Room

Materials in Literary Archives may be consulted only under supervision on the third floor at 395 Wellington, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Pencils only are to be used for taking notes. Use of self-adhesive notes are not permitted.

Tape recorders, typewriters and computers may be used in the Consultation Room with the permission of the staff.

Researchers are responsible for the care and safekeeping of all material they have requested. They must wear white gloves which will be provided by staff.

Researchers will be allowed a reasonable number of documents at any one time.

Access to Collections

All researchers must complete an application form providing information about themselves and their research. Unprocessed fonds are not open for consultation. Access to fragile materials may be limited.

Restrictions have been placed on access to and use of some fonds or parts of fonds. It is the responsibility of the researcher to contact persons responsible for granting access to restricted material and, once permission has been granted, to provide staff with written proof. Permission to view restricted materials carries with it the obligation not to show or read these materials to any other person.

Audiovisual recordings are available for on-site consultation. Patrons should contact the staff of Literary Archives to obtain access to these materials.

Permission to consult the records does not necessarily include permission to obtain photocopies. When copying is permitted, these copies may not be published nor passed to a third party without written authorization.

Any questions about access to or use of collections should be directed to staff of the Literary Archives.

Reproductions of Documents

Researchers are expected to take notes or use personal computers or dictating machines whenever possible. Reading Room staff reserve the right to prohibit reproduction of materials because of the condition of the originals.

Photocopies will be made for researchers by the staff at Library and Archives Canada at the rate in effect at the time of their visit. See: Photocopies and Reproductions. Consultation Room staff will instruct researchers in flagging material for photocopying.

Other material such as photographs, cassettes, etc. may be reproduced for researchers upon request, subject to copyright restrictions. Researchers must provide their own blank tapes for the dubbing of audio and video recordings.

Library and Archives Canada does not own the rights to unpublished materials contained in its collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain permission from the author, estate, or copyright holder(s) before publishing, excerpting, performing, recording, broadcasting or quoting from archival materials.