Canada’s Historical Newspaper Digitization Problem

Andrew Smith published a terrific blog post yesterday about the Higher Education Academy guide to digital history newspaper research. The guide argued that Canada lags behind the UK, United States, Australia, and New Zealand in the digitization of historical newspapers because “[u]nfortunately so far Canada has not funded a national project.”

When compared to other Western countries, Canada certainly lags in terms of the digitization of historical newspapers. However, there are a number of good digital repositories out there. The problem is that the digitization process has been extremely fragmented and often trapped behind paywalls, making these sources inaccessible to ordinary Canadians and even undergraduate students of mine.

Here are a few of the places I turn for digitized Canadian newspapers:

1.) – The News Paper Archive has has most of the Manitoba digitized newspapers locked up behind a paywall, most significantly the Winnipeg Free Press

2.) – The Google Newspaper Archive (formerly Paper of Record) has a very large collection of digitized Canadian newspapers. It isn’t always the easiest collection to use, but I send my students here often.

3.) of the Past is the digital archive for the Toronto Star.

4.) Globe and Mail: Canada’s Heritage – This is the Globe and Mail digital archive that is only accessible via ProQuest subscription (ie. universities only)

5.) – The full archive of the British Colonist. This is excellent for early BC history

6.) – The Prince George Newspapers Project won funding from the BC History Digitization Project at UBC to digitize the city’s full newspaper archive.

7.) Cariboo Observer 1908-1967

8.) Silver Digital Newspaper Archive is a collection of all of the newspapers from Vanderhoof, BC

9.) Jewish Western Bulletin, BC’s Jewish community newspaper since 1930

10.) Alberta Heritage Digitization Project has a large collection of Alberta newspapers from 1885-1950

11.) has a small collection of Manitoba newspapers digitized, but most are still locked away on

Many Canadian newspapers then have been digitized but the record is far from complete and it is certainly not completely accessible. There is, needless to say, still much work to be done.

I’ve almost certainly missed a number of other Canadian digital newspaper archives. Please post any that I may have overlooked in the comments section. Let’s try to make a complete index here.

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