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.) http://www.newspaperarchive.com/ – The News Paper Archive has has most of the Manitoba digitized newspapers locked up behind a paywall, most significantly the Winnipeg Free Press
2.) http://news.google.com/archivesearch – 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.) http://pagesofthepast.ca/ – Pages 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.) http://www.britishcolonist.ca/ – The full archive of the British Colonist. This is excellent for early BC history
6.) http://lib.pg.bc.ca/pgnewspaper – The Prince George Newspapers Project won funding from the BC History Digitization Project at UBC to digitize the city’s full newspaper archive.
7.) http://www.quesnelmuseum.ca/CaribooObserver_form.html – Quesnel Cariboo Observer 1908-1967
8.) http://vanderhoof.bclibrary.ca/services-programs/the-bill-silver-digital-newspaper-archive – Bill Silver Digital Newspaper Archive is a collection of all of the newspapers from Vanderhoof, BC
9.) http://multiculturalcanada.ca/jwb – Jewish Western Bulletin, BC’s Jewish community newspaper since 1930
10.) http://www.ourfutureourpast.ca/newspapr/ – The Alberta Heritage Digitization Project has a large collection of Alberta newspapers from 1885-1950
11.) http://manitobia.ca/cocoon/launch/en/newspapers – Manitobia has a small collection of Manitoba newspapers digitized, but most are still locked away on newspaperarchive.com
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.
6 thoughts on “Canada’s Historical Newspaper Digitization Problem”
Just saw this article for the first time.
We have been working with a number of partners and subscribers for about 20 years in various spaces and have brought together the cumulative results of their local digitization work through a couple of beta news portals: http://news2.ourontario.ca and http://ink.ourontario.ca. Almost all those contents are also discoverable through the bigger, multimedia OurOntario.ca portal.
Our news portal spaces aggregate content being uploaded with our VITA toolkit, some of which are processed for hit highlighted results.
Collectively, the news coverage is more than 200 years and about 1.5 million full-page issues, and indexed articles and BMDs. The names of the publications are too numerous to list here, but take a look at http://www.ourontario.ca/demo/News.html for a list of contributors, including our US partner collections.
Thanks for posting these links. OurOntario.ca is an excellent resource for newspapers from across the province. I’ll be doing an update to this post later this summer so I’m glad to have this resource added to the working list.
I am hoping to use some Canadian newspaper sources for my history dissertation about VE Day. However, I am really struggling to find a reliable website to take sources from. Which site would the recommend for this period? I have tried the ones you posted above, but as you have said in your introduction they are quite fragmented and difficult to work.
Alternatively, I can get the Newspaper Archive if you would recommend it being worth the money?
Oh, PS, I am studying and living in the UK, I don’t know whether that will effect my access.
Newspaperarchive.com recently increased its user fees so this option has become somewhat more expensive. It is a good resource for historical newspapers from Canada, but its collection is limited and it has regional holes in its breadth. I would suggest the Globe and Mail Archives and Pages of the Past for good central Canadian options. The Google Newspaper Archive may have coverage from other parts of the country, but it can be hit and miss. I have also had some recent luck with the return of PaperofRecord.com, but the Canadian collection seems to be mainly nineteenth century and early twentieth century collecitons. Finally, I would encourage you to look for some French-language newspapers. My list, however, includes very few.
Does anyone out there have links or suggestions for online French-language Canadian newspaper collections?
A correction and update from me about the Ontario Community Newspaper portal as we’ve adjusted the URL and added a substantial number of newspaper pages with more to come, feel free (literally–there’s no charge) to check http://news.ourontario.ca/ as well as the multimedia http://ourontario.ca portal for your research as they represent community news and collections from at least the 19th century to present.
Among other projects, we are presently working to bring a collection of multilingual newspapers online as well in 2014, and though they are not French they will provide access to some under represented voices from the Canadian social history.
Thanks so much for sharing the updated links. This is a really important project. I think I will write up an updated post on the state of the digitization of Canadian newspaper archives. This one is now over two years old!