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Canadian History

Research guide for sources in Canadian history

Primary Sources

What are primary sources?

Primary sources are original documents and objects created at the time being studies, such as diaries, newspaper accounts, letters, governmental records, or drawings. Any record that documents a past event can be considered a primary source.

Where can I find primary sources? 

You can find primary sources in libraries, museums, and archives, including McGill's Rare Books and Special Collections Library (located on the 4th floor of the McLennan Library building). You can also find digitized primary sources online in library databases, such as those linked below, as well as in digitized collections, such as McGill's Digital Exhibitions & Collections, some of which are linked below.

Canadian Newspapers

Local newspapers provide insight into the social and cultural life of their communities. A selection of historic Canadian newspapers available online are included below. More Canadian newspapers can be found on the Newspapers Subject Guide.


Canada (nationwide)

Other Provinces

Multicultural Canadian Newspapers

General Primary Source Collections

Indigenous Voices and Encounters

For more from Indigenous voices, please see the Indigenous Studies Subject Guide.

Black History in Canada

Settler and Immigrant Experiences

Government Sources


Collections at McGill ROAAr

Liaison Librarian

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Kristen Howard
McLennan Library Buildilng
3459 McTavish Street
Montreal, Quebec H3A 0C9

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