Welcome to the Canadian History subject guide at Carleton University Library.

Explore your topic

Introducing Summon - which makes it possible to search across many of the library's collections simultaneously. Including books, ebooks, journal titles, games, music, videos, government information, maps, and more.

However,  Summon doesn't search everything that the library owns or subscribes to so you will still need to search other resources to find everything that you need. Summon also doesn't let you do sophisticated searches that you may be used to doing in specific databases or the library catalogue.  

When to use Summon

  • When starting research on a topic
  • If you are not sure which databases to use

For assistance using Summon please contact the Research Help Desk.

Reference Materials: 
Library Guide: 



Select Journals: 

Archives & Primary Sources

Primary Sources: 

A primary source is a document or physical object which was written or created during the period being studied. These sources were present during an experience or time period and offer an inside view of a particular event.  Also included are works created later by an eyewitness or a participant in an event, e.g. memoirs/autobiographies.

Types of primary sources:

  • Original documents (including excerpts and translations): diaries, speeches, manuscrips, letters, interviews, news film footage, autobiographies, official records, ancient literature, magazine and newspaper articles.
  • Creative works: poetry, drama, novels, printed music, sound recordings, art.
  • Relics or artefacts: pottery, furniture, clothing, buildings.
  • Statistics and raw data
  • Reproductions, facsimiles or replicas of original documents, creative works or artefacts are also acceptable as primary sources.

Examples of primary sources:

Finding primary sources in the library collection

  1. Original documents can be found by consulting the Archives and Research Collections (ARC) website.
  2. Reproductions can be found by checking the library catalogue.

Use specific words to locate primary sources in the Library catalogue, such as: correspondence, sources, diaries, letters, personal naratives. KEYWORD search examples:

  • [PERSON’S NAME] and s:correspondence
  • [PERSON’S NAME] and s:diaries
  • [PERSON’S NAME] and s:letters
  • [KEYWORD] and s:sources

In the library's electronic and microform collections

Microfiche reproductions from the time of the first European settlers to the 1920s. Items can be searched in the Library Catalogue by entering relevant KEYWORDS and adding and CIHM to the search

Historical Digital Newspapers

A collection of well-known francophone news sources, available as text or PDF files.

Coverage among the communities varies.

Times Digital Archive [U.K.]

The Guardian (1821-2003) [U.K.]

The Observer (1791-2003) [U.K.]

Maps, Government Information, and Data Centre (MADGIC)

This site has a wealth of fascinating heritage materials.

For more assistance, go to the Government Information Webpages

Available on the Internet

Original documents are usually unique, so they are kept in a place of preservation such as archives and libraries Archives Canada, Library and Archives Canada, ARCHEION, and Archives of Ontario.  Many of these institutions have undertaken digitization projects to make their holdings more accessible.  This is only a select list of websites that have primary sources available free on the Web.

Arctic Blue Books online is a searchable version of Andrew Taylor's unique index to the 19th Century British Parliamentary Papers concerned with the Canadian Arctic.

Various speeches by Canadian Prime Ministers

The penal press is a primary source of prison history from within.  Written and produced by prisoners, it provides insight into how convicts viewed the penal justice apparatus, its policies and its practices.  Focuses on Canadian publications, but accepts newsletters from other parts of the world.

Centre for Research Libraries

The Center for Research Libraries (CRL)
A great institution to check for historical documents, newspapers, journals, archives and other sources. "The Center for Research Libraries (CRL) is a consortium of North American universities, colleges, and independent research libraries. The consortium acquires and preserves newspapers, journals, documents, archives, and other traditional and digital resources for research and teaching and makes them available to member institutions through interlibrary loan and electronic delivery." Carleton University Library is a mermber of CRL.



Citing Primary Sources : Chicago Style (Library of Congress)



Data & Statistics


Contains about 350 statistical tables on the social and economic conditions of Canada from 98 Censuses of the earliest settlements to Confederation in 1867 and on to 1871.

Online publication containing about 1,088 statistical tables on the social, economic and institutional conditions of Canada from the start of the Confederation in 1867 to the mid-1970s.

Government Information

Canada - Federal: 

The Government Documents collection contains over 1.2 million items and is an especially strong repository of Canadian primary source material.

You will find the most important government documents for historical research, such as the Debates of the House of Commons of Canada, Royal Commissions, and the Census of Canada. You will also find historical sheet maps and atlases from around the world, and a full range of statistical publications to help provide historical context.

Staff at the information desk in MADGIC will assist you to identify primary sources for your research and assignment needs, and help you to use them efficiently.

See also: Government Information page

Maps & GIS


See Maps, Plans and Charts Research Tools. These holdings include some of the earliest known visual representations of Canada and constitute the largest cartographic description of our country.

This digital collection contains about one thousand cartographic images relative to the area of the Province of Quebec (Northeast America, New France)



Collection of streaming educational videos that cover a wide spectrum of disciplines. Contains both clips and full-length videos.

For video material at the Carleton Univeristy library, do a KEYWORD search in the library catalogue and limit "Material Type" to FILM/VIDEO. If you cannot find what you need search the following database:

If you wish to borrow a video listed in Watmedia please fill out our Interfilm Video Request form - do not submit requests directly to Watmedia.


    This History Game Canada

The History Game Canada is a game based on Canadian history that lets anyone play the past. Based on the award-winning, best-seller Sid Meier's Civilization III, The History Game Canada is the "What If" game of Canada... and you're the author. Will you replay our history or rewrite it?


General Gateways

The History Game Canada is a game based on Canadian history that lets anyone play the past. Based on the award-winning, best-seller Sid Meier's Civilization III, The History Game Canada is the "What If" game of Canada... and you're the author. Will you replay our history or rewrite it?



Special Topics

First Nations


Sponsored by the University of Waterloo.

Labour History

Local History and Genealogy (see also Immigration)

Includes links to national and provincial archives and museums, and historical organizations and societies.

Military Studies

Political History

Social History

Women's History

The ViVa database provides citations to over 8,000 articles on the subject of women's and gender history published between 1975 and 2004 in historical and women's studies journals.





Writing & Citing




RefWorks is an online research management and writing tool that is designed to help students and researchers easily gather, manage, store and share all types of information, as well as generate citations and bibliographies.