09 September 2013

City of Ottawa Archives

The City of Ottawa Archives is a special place. It contains the historic records of the old City of Ottawa as well as the other municipalities who were merged into the city. The Archives also houses the extensive collections of many historical, cultural and genealogical societies. The City of Ottawa Archives welcomes all researchers: students, genealogists, City employees or anyone with a keen interest in history. You can visit the Archives website at http://ottawa.ca/en/residents/arts-culture-and-community/archives.

The City of Ottawa Archives houses the collections of the Partners:

·         Ottawa Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS).  The Ottawa Branch OGS encourages, assists and brings together all those interested in the pursuit of family history in the former counties of Carleton, Lanark, Renfrew, Prescott and Russell. Ottawa Branch is one of thirty-four branches of the Ontario Genealogical Society.  They have been a partner of the City of Ottawa Archives since 1987. The focus of the Ottawa Branch library collection is Ontario and the Ottawa Valley in particular. However because most Canadians are immigrants or descendants of immigrants there is some material dealing with the country of origin. There are over 5000 items in the collection, including journals, microfilm, cassettes and microfiche. The catalogue of their library can be found at http://ogsottawa.on.ca/library/.

·         Sir Guy Carleton Branch, United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada (UELAC). Like Ottawa Branch, the Sir Guy Carleton Branch is a member of a larger organization. The UELAC Mission is To preserve, promote and celebrate the history and traditions of the Loyalist epoch in Canadian History. Sir Guy Carleton Branch has a small library collection of approximately 500 items focusing on the United Empire Loyalists especially in Ontario. Access to their catalogue of holdings is at http://www.uelac.org/Carletonuel/.

·         British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO).  Their mandate is to encourage and facilitate family history research, and its dissemination, by people with ancestry in the British Isles. The society became a partner of the City Archives in 1999.  Their library holdings number approximately 2000 items which include books, journals, CDs and some microfiche and microfilm. The focus is on the British Isles and the people who immigrated to Canada from the British Isles. The BIFHSGO Library catalogue can be found at http://www.bifhsgo.ca/libraryRecords.php.

·         C. Robert Craig Memorial Library.  Hosted by the Ottawa Valley Associated Railroaders (OVAR), the library was founded in 1994 to commemorate Bob Craig’s life, his role as a founder of OVAR and its first president. The library holdings consist of 1200 book and pamphlet titles, 35,000 slides and photographs and long runs of major North American railway and model railway journals.  The library’s primary clientele is a vibrant community of railway fans in the Ottawa Valley; also it attracts inquiries by private railway researchers and railway historians from across North America and overseas.   Its pictorial resources are strong for the transition period between steam and diesel power and are much in demand.  Although the library holds no genealogical records, it holdings cover the history of the railway in Canada, an institution that touched almost all Canadians.

·         United Church of Canada Archives, Montreal/Ottawa Conference Ottawa Presbytery. The City of Ottawa Archives holds the records from Seaway Valley Presbytery and local church records of its pastoral charges and the records of Ottawa Presbytery and local church records of its Ontario pastoral charges. More information is available at http://www.uccanottawa.org/archives.html.

The Central Archives is home to the City’s extensive non-circulating Reference Library is also available. This collection includes:

·         a variety of published and unpublished items relating to the history and residents of Ottawa
·         books, reports, maps, publications and newsletters of projects and programs of the City of Ottawa and its former municipalities

Archival research is fun, but it can be time consuming. As there is no single subject index for the entire collection, you should allocate plenty of time to search, order and read the records when you visit. Sometimes it may take a few business days to deliver records that are located off-site to the reading room. If you have specific historical questions about Ottawa, reference staff can provide assistance by phone, e-mail or fax. For more complex questions or topics, you will need to visit the Archives.

The City of Ottawa Archives is open Tuesday to Friday: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (September to May, except long weekends). The Partners provide volunteers to work with visiting researchers, giving the City thousands of hours of free labour every year. Volunteers from Ottawa Branch and BIFHSGO are available every day that the Archives is open but the other Partners normally work specific days of the week, so researchers should contact the Archives to arrange an appointment: archives@ottawa.ca

The latest edition of `Anglo-Celtic Roots’ (Fall 2013) from BIFHSGO has an article by Ian White titled `The Ottawa City Archives: a Treasure Chest for Genealogist’. Ian has volunteered and researched in the Archives for many years and points out that “the Ottawa City Archives are a tremendous asset to both family and local historians” with “masses of material useful in family history research”

We hope to see you there soon.

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