Canadian Directories is a database of scanned, microfiche versions of pre-1901 Canadian directories. There are 95 directories in the Canadian Directories Collection database, including a comprehensive collection of directories for Ottawa (spanning 1861 to 1901) and Halifax (1869 to 1901).
History of directory publishing
Other directory projects
Available editions in PDF format
Canadian Directories Collection introduction
Library and Archives Canada’s (LAC) collection of directories includes national, provincial, territorial, as well as county and city directories, primarily of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in print, microform and electronic formats.
LAC has undertaken a partnership with the Canadian Institute of Historical Microreproductions (CIHM) in order to digitize a selection of pre-1901 volumes. These volumes can be consulted by searching the database.
The History of Directory Publishing page outlines the development and historical role of directories and their use to modern-day genealogists, historians and researchers.
We also provide two CityScapes which offer brief social histories of cities featured in our database. We focus on Ottawa and Halifax, where comprehensive directory coverage is offered for the first time in Canada.
The collection of print and microform directories is housed in LAC’s Reference Room, located at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa. The collection is available for on-site consultation; however, directories are not available for interlibrary loan. Photocopying of original directories is not permitted, although prints can be made from microform copies for a nominal fee. Please consult Visit us for service and opening hours.
Library and Archives Canada has published a bibliography of its Canadian directory collection, entitled: Canadian Directories, 1790-1987: a Bibliography and Place-name Index. Ottawa: National Library of Canada, 1989. 3 vol.
Search for directories in all formats in AMICUS, the Canadian national catalogue, using titles or subject headings such as:
- Toronto (Ont.)--Directories
- York (Ont.: County)--Directories
- Prince Edward Island--Directories
About this site
Microfiche versions of the 95 directories, produced by the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions (CIHM), were scanned to create digitized copies. The directories have been digitized in their entirety and users can view full-page images or download the PDF to zoom in to take a closer look.
A new selection of directories is also available in PDF format, but these are not searchable in the database. These new directories are:
Library and Archives Canada gratefully acknowledges the contribution of CIHM in the development of this project.
CIHM, established in 1978, is a nonprofit organization for preserving and providing access to early Canadian publications, first on microfiche and now online. CIHM managed the scanning and metadata production for the pre-1901 directories database project, as well as providing quality control and optical character recognition (OCR) services. In 2005, CIHM merged with the Canadian Initiative on Digital Libraries and Alouette Canada and became known as Canadiana.
We also appreciate the contribution of Mary Bond, Reference Librarian, for her essay on the history of Canadian directories.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial assistance of the Department of Canadian Heritage, whose Canadian Cultural Online Program [archived] made this work possible.
All directories contained in the database are in the public domain.
- The database supports keyword searching in one particular directory, or across all directories.
- Searches are performed on the full text of the directories.
- To search the database for a keyword, enter one or more keywords into the search box.
- The search results screen provides a list of the directories that contain your search term(s).
- The results list provides the title of the directory, the page number on which the search term was found and, if applicable, the section of the directory in which the term was found.