Early Canadian Periodicals

Early Canadian Periodicals (ECP) is a Canadiana.org project to identify, digitize, store, and provide access to all Canadian titles published before 1921.

Canadiana.org plans to digitize all Canadian periodicals published prior to 1920 and works closely with the Advisory Committee to determine the collection parameters and scanning priorities. The committee, struck in 2003, is made up of scholars and librarians who during the course of their own work have acquired considerable expertise in older periodicals. In an effort to ensure that no newspapers are inadvertently included in the collection, the committee is consulted regarding each title proposed for digitization.

To achieve a comprehensive online collection, Canadiana.org makes the effort to find those issues and titles that are elusive. Where applicable, a missing issues note is added to the ECP online bibliographic records to detail missing issues. Users are invited to inform Canadiana.org of any known locations for these issues.

Why periodicals?

No single library comes close to having a complete collection of early Canadian periodicals. Rare issues are scattered across the country in organizations large and small, public and private. Digitizing these scattered collections and bringing them together in a single, fully searchable, online collection, will grant Canadians unparalleled access to their early print history.


Early periodicals are an invaluable source of information for researchers in all fields, as they offer a remarkable record of thought and opinion on diverse issues. In the collection can be found periodicals devoted to a wide range of topics: literature, medicine, science and technology, education, agriculture, business, recreation and sports, politics, religion, history, law, the military, music, genealogy, books and publishing, economics, fashion, philately, photography, humour, psychology, transportation, etc. Many of Canada’s prominent poets, novelists, scientists, and “great minds” were first known through their works published in periodicals. Conversely, equally intriguing are the glimpses into the lives and thoughts of “ordinary” Canadians in their contributions of letters to the editor, poems, stories, and illustrations.

Project scope

The size of the collection may not be known for some time, but is expected to be substantially larger than earlier microfilming projects, which were limited in scope to pre-1900 titles. The digital collection will include all of the periodicals filmed in the previous project (61,745 issues or approx. 1.7 million pages), newer titles published from 1901-1920, and hundreds of pre-1900 titles that were not included in the microfilming project, having already been filmed by other organizations.

The ECP project, developed in a rolling release over several years, is now entering its third and final phase:

Phase One: the digitization of pre-1867 titles from Central and Eastern Canada, pre-1920 titles from Western Canada, and titles published in a language other than French or English.

Phase Two: the digitization of titles published 1867-1900, continued digitization of pre-1920 Western Canada titles.

Phase Three: the digitization of titles published 1901-1920.

Earlier efforts were limited by the fact that commercial companies had already filmed most of the popular literary and cultural journals. Canadiana.org, not wishing to appear in competition with these companies, made the pragmatic decision to not duplicate their work. This time, Canadiana.org is intent on scanning all titles published before 1920. Whenever possible, to avoid duplication of effort, we will work in partnership with these organizations to digitize their films. And, in a further effort to attain comprehensiveness, we are making a renewed effort to find those issues, titles, and missing pages that eluded us in the earlier microfilming project. As is the case for all of our projects, bibliographical research is an important and ongoing step in ECP.


The pre-1867 online collection captured such notable literary magazines as La bibliothèque canadienne, 1825-30, The Halifax Monthly Magazine, 1830-33, The Literary Garland, 1838-51, Les Soirées canadiennes, 1861-65 and The Amaranth, 1841-43, Montreal Monthly Magazine, 1831, Magasin du Bas-Canada, 1832, Gazette des campagnes—the first popular magazine in French Canada—1861-95 and The Montreal Museum, 1832-34. The latter is the first journal in British North America published by a woman. The collection also includes the first magazine published in present-day Canada, The Nova Scotia Magazine, 1789-92; the first magazine to be published in Upper Canada, John Strachan’s The Christian Recorder, 1819-21, and Canada’s first medical periodical, Journal de médecine de Québec /The Quebec Medical Journal, 1826-27.

Since there were few periodicals printed in the West prior to 1867, the Advisory Committee felt it only fair that the earliest Western Canadian titles (though generally published after 1867) be given equal priority with the pre-1867 titles of Eastern and Central Canada. So, while we digitized the pre-1867 Central and Eastern Canada titles, we were concurrently digitizing Western Canada titles published before 1920. Western Canadian titles include: L’agriculteur, 1889-91, Manitoba, Northwest and British Columbia Lancet, 1887-89, Saskatchewan Medical Journal, 1909-10, British Columbia Law Notes, 1894, and the Diocesan and Parish Magazine, Victoria, B.C., 1887-92.

Titles published in a language other than French or English have also been given high priority. We currently have several issues of the German language magazines Der Deutsche in Canada, 1872-? and Der Evangeliums-Bote, 1888-1917? on ECO, as well as the Ojibwa/English journal Petaubun /Peep of the Day, 1861?-62?. Also recently digitized is the Kamloops Wawa, 1891-1923, which has text in English, French and Chinook Jargon. This periodical is significant because its publisher, Father Jean-Marie-Ralphaël, actively sought a First Nations audience and focused on First Nations concerns.

In the 1867-1900 part of the collection can be found periodicals such as: The Canada lumberman, 1887-1904, Le naturaliste canadien, 1868-1991, The Canadian Record of Science, 1884-1916, L'opinion publique, 1870-83, The Canadian Patent Office Record, 1873-1960, The Canadian Pharmaceutical Journal, 1868-1984, Annales de la bonne Ste. Anne de Beaupré, 1873-1967, The Illustrated Journal of Agriculture, 1879-97, Canadian Military Review, 1880-81, Journal de l'instruction publique, 1880-98, The Canadian Cricket Field, 1882-?, Vennor's Weather Bulletin, 1882-83, The Prairie Illustrated, 1890-91, and The Halifax Philatelist, 1887-89.

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