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Banner: National Library of Canada 1953 - 2003

What Was Said at the Time

  • We will have to face that subject very soon… Perhaps the Library Committee will take up the question, because we ought to have  --  the Dominion of Canada ought to have  --  a National Library.
    (The Honourable Sir John A. Macdonald, Prime Minister, April 16, 1883)

  • From an economic point of view, we are not lacking in this work of edification, but often, and this is without a doubt due to the fact that we are a young country, we are less attentive to some external aspects of a cultural nature, even if they play an important role in the building of a nation.
    (Paul Martin, Le Droit, February 17, 1944)

  • The National Library would be an additional symbol of those intangible qualities of mind and spirit which in the long run make a country truly great. It would be a symbol, too, of the union of two cultures and their complementary contributions toward Canadian unity.
    ([Ottawa] Citizen, Paul Martin M.P., February 25, 1944)

  • It would be an indication that we have not forgotten in a new country the educational and cultural side of life in our concern for things strictly material.
    (Progressive Conservative Leader Gordon Graydon, Ottawa Journal, July 22, 1944)

  • If this is One World, Canada is One Country and the establishment of a national library would proclaim our pride in our heritage and our faith in the future.
    (Vancouver Sun, November 1, 1944)

  • Canada can no longer afford the unique position of not having a national library so essential to the integration and guidance of libraries throughout the nation.
    (Trades and Labor Congress of Canada, 1946)

  • The establishment of an adequate National Library in Canada would provide guidance and aid in organizing library work in districts not now served, and would vastly augment the usefulness of existing libraries by acting as a clearing-house for information and for inter-library loans.
    (British Columbia Library Association, 1946)

  • What a really good national library could do would be of great benefit. It would give the public a recognized centre of culture. It would enable research students to do advanced work within their own country. It might well induce more and more competent students to concentrate on the literature and history of Canada and help to develop a sense of pride among all Canadians.
    (Halifax Chronicle, June 25, 1946)

  • A national library is needed to provide services not now rendered by any agency, and to ensure the most effective use of our libraries.
    (Elizabeth Homer Morton, Canadian Library Association, January 14, 1947)

  • The National Library would be, above all, the greatest collection of literature about Canada in the world.
    ([Ottawa] Citizen, January 28, 1947)

  • First of all Canada needs a National Library to be the most comprehensive library in the world, on Canada. […] It’s also the centre for national services which are the greatest possible help to readers and to libraries.
    (Freda F. Waldon, Canadian Library Association, CBC Broadcast, August 27, 1947)

  • The usefulness of a national library is beyond question. It is recognized by dozens of other countries which have long since realized the cultural importance of such projects.
    (Montreal Standard, September 27, 1947)

  • If a socialist government in Britain can set aside one to two million pounds to build a National Theatre, this Dominion should be able to make some provision for a National Gallery and a National Library.
    (Extract from speech by The Honourable W. Rupert Davies in the Senate, March 17, 1949)

  • An effort to explain Canada to the outside world would help us to understand her better to ourselves.
    (The Right Honourable Vincent Massey, about his Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences, Globe and Mail, April 11, 1949)

  • The National Library will be much more than an efficient and handsome building on the West side of Parliament Hill, filled with books and helpful librarians. It will be the heart of a network of knowledge, the instrument by which Canadians will come to know their past, relish their learning and appreciate the community of their interests.
    (Ottawa Journal, Thursday, May 22, 1952)

  • I think it has long been a reflection on our national life that Canada was one of the few important nations in the world without a National Library.
    (M.J. Coldwell, M.P., Canadian Library Association Bulletin, July 1952)

  • The Government will evidently consider the question of the establishment of a national library as soon as possible.
    (The Honourable Louis St. Laurent, Prime Minister, August 12, 1952)