On-site and web-based research

Researchers may carry out searches at the Archives Centre or on line. In the case of on-site searches, please submit a request (see below) and make an appointment with the archivist at least 2 weeks in advance. A workstation providing access to the database and digitized images is made available to visitors. Please note that the archival stacks are not open to the public and browsing is not permitted

There are also other search tools for documents that have not been digitized (hard copies).

During on-site consultation, researchers may bring their own laptop with them.  You must have the archivist approval before taking any photographs either with a camera or a phone, because there may be copyrights or other restrictions.

Individuals may also carry out searches using web-based tools. The archives fonds and collections are described in accordance with the Rules for Archival Description (RAD). These rules are applied coherently to all fonds in order to simplify consultations and searches.

The  Archives guide is available on line.

Several other inventories are available at the Archives Centre only.

Researchers may submit requests by phone, fax, standard mail or email by filling out the online form. Requests are processed according to the archivist’s availability and by order of priority. Research and reproduction fees applies to all requests.

For iconographic searches, contact the archivist.



Researching Your Railway relatives: Please note that The Archives Center does not hold any records which can assist in searches for railway relatives.

At its peak the number of people working on Canadian railways exceeded 191,000 (1952). Thus there are many, many Canadians who have relatives who worked for one or other of Canada's railways. Today there is a widespread interest in family history and the Archives receives a regular flow of questions on how to trace a relative who either "worked for the railway", or was known to have been involved in accidents. 
The Archives does not hold any records which can assist in such searches. Employment records are the property of the companies and have rarely if ever been transferred to archives or other outside organizations. Today such information usually falls under the privacy laws which limit their dissemination and thus they are not readily available to the public. Research into railway relatives, however, can be pursued through other channels. 
A guide to what can be done is: 

Canadian Railway Records, A Guide for Genealogists
 from Douglas, Althea & J. Creighton Douglas.
The book may still be available from the publisher at:
The Ontario Genealogical Society 
40 Orchard View Boulevard 
Toronto, Ontario 
M4R 1B9 
The involvement of relatives in accidents might be recorded in newspapers published in or near the location of the accident. Many of these papers have been microfilmed and are available at local public libraries or can be obtained by them for you through inter-library loan. Other reports which might be useful include coroners' reports where accidents resulted in deaths, and if the accident was a major one, an official investigation may have been conducted by the Board of Railway Commissioners or a successor body. 
Local genealogical societies may be able to assist you in pursuing your research, they can often be located through the nearest public library. Indeed the local public librarian may well be the source for many other useful ideas and tips. 
Canadian National has deposited much of its historical material with the National Archives in Ottawa and they can be viewed there. You can consult the list of the Archives holdings. The Archives also maintains a genealogical desk which may be worth consulting. At their web site click on the "Services to the public" listing for more information on what the Archives can offer.  


Thanks to Ken Healy, Ottawa, for the text above.  

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