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Canadian History on the Web

Oxford University Press Canada's
Resource Guide to Canadian History on the World Wide Web

Opportunities to engage with history of all kinds increased with the popularization of the World Wide Web in the last decade. Prior to the emergence of the Web as a popular information-gathering tool, many institutions that taught, protected, and advanced aspects of the country's history were bound by place, most often in the national or provincial capitals. Universities, libraries, archives, museums, and private collections of historical artifacts have always been linked to one another, but now it is easier than ever for the general public to gain access to these institutions and their holdings no matter where they live. In particular, the Web provides people with unparalleled access to primary sources- photos, documents, diaries, and the like. This increased ease of access poses a great opportunity for Canadians to learn about the history of their country.

One of the most important skills that a university education cultivates in students is healthy skepticism. With the relative ease of access to information on the Web, it is important to remember that the technology we use to access information does not always legitimize the information itself. It's important to keep in mind that not all Web sites are as useful as others. The following links are good places to start your Web searches on Canadian history.

For tips on evaluating materials found on the World Wide Web, Click here.

Library and Archives Canada

Consolidated in 2002, the National Library of Canada and the National Archives of Canada care for millions of documents of historical value. The documents are of all kinds - films, maps, diaries, treaties, journals, art, government records, photographs, sound recordings and more, thousands of which have been digitized and are now on-line. ArchiviaNet is the institution's on-line search tool and will help you find information on the Archives' and Library's holdings. The following sites on Canadian Confederation, Canadian Prime Ministers, and Anti-slavery movements in Canada are some examples of the Web sites hosted by the National Library and National Archives.

Canadian Confederation

Hosted by the National Library of Canada, this site is home to a wealth of information on Canadian Confederation. Read about individuals who had a role in the events, the reasons behind individual provinces' decisions to join Confederation, and browse the selection of primary source documents relating to the formation of the Dominion.

First Among Equals: The Prime Minister in Canadian Life and Politics

Can you name Canada's shortest serving Prime Minister? Do you know how many men held the office until the first woman led the Government of Canada in 1993? Do you know which future Prime Minister was considered the 'sharpest dresser' to ever sit in the House of Commons? This comprehensive Web site has a plethora of information on the history of the highest office in Canada, along with the men and women who have held that office. View pages containing biographical information and anecdotes and read speeches given by each individual who were 'first among equals.'

Anti-Slavery Movement in Canada

The history of the Anti-Slavery Society of Canada, established in 1851, is documented on this Web site. Learn about the history of this abolitionist group, the last of many in Canada, which included members such as newspaper publisher George Brown and Underground Railroad 'conductor' Harriet Tubman.

Canadian History Portal

This site has been created by the Canadian Historical Association and Chinook Multimedia with assistance provided by the Millennium Bureau of Canada. The two purposes of the portal are to provide a reliable guide to materials on Canadian history in digital format and to create resources that will enhance the use of digital materials in teaching and learning about Canadian history. This site includes some of the most comprehensive and content-rich Canadian history timelines on the Web.

Canadian History on the Web

Perhaps the best Web portal for Canadian history available. Maintained by Professor Susan Neylan at Wilfrid Laurier University, this portal contains links to historical documents, historical graphics like maps and photographs, and links to museums and heritage sites among others.

Canada's Digital Collections

Canada's Digital Collection, maintained by the Government of Canada, is a great place to find multi-media on Canadian history. You can search the Web site by subject or alphabetically, or take advantage of the 'featured Web site' link on the home page. There are collections on Canada at war, Canadian history, and the history of specific places.


Visit the home of Canada's National Museum on-line. Interested in the history of the vote in Canada, Canadian labour history, or Canadian military history? If so, you won't find a better site on the Web. Whether you are interested in researching social, political, or economic history, Civilization.ca provides plenty of grist for the mill.

In Pursuit of Adventure: The Fur Trade in Canada and the Northwest Company

While it may not be apparent at first, studying the fur trade leads to the discovery of many elements of historical interest. The historical study of politics, economics, geography, and social and cultural practices are all associated with what was once the largest and most profitable industry in Canada. This Web site, hosted by McGill University, provides information on the North West Company and other Montreal based fur trading companies during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Who Killed William Robinson?

This Web site is one of the best examples of Canadian social history on the Web, courtesy of Ruth Sandwell at McGill University and John Lutz at the University of Victoria. The site is devoted to examining the suspicious deaths of three Black Americans in late nineteenth century British Columbia and how the politics of land ownership may have played a role in their murders. Just as interesting as the history of these events is the way in which this site asks questions about historical understanding. Browse the impressive collection of primary documents on this site and see if you come to the same conclusions as its authors.

WWW-VL History Index: Canadian History

A good portal for Canadian history on the Web hosted by the University of Kansas. Organized both chronologically and thematically, this site provides links on everything from Canadian constitutional history to the history of transportation and communications in Canada.

Canadian Heritage Gallery

This easy - to - use Web site is home to thousands of images that tell the story of Canada. The gallery consists of documents and photographs relating to Canadian political history, Canadian artists, historical maps, and First Nation peoples among others.