What is an archives?

An Archives" is a place where one-of-a-kind photos, letters, etc. are kept. Did you know there are over 800 different archives in Canada? Together, these archives store millions of photos and if you took all their boxes full of papers, they would probably stretch right across Canada!

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What is the difference between an archives and a library?

There are three big differences:

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How do I know which archives will have the material I want?

When you are trying to find information in an archives, ask yourself: "Who wrote about this? Who took the pictures?" and "Where did they live or work?"

Many archives collect records of specific institutions: provincial archives collect records of provincial governments; city archives have records that document the growth and development of their city; church archives normally have records from their congregations and church functions (like marriage and death records, for example).

Many people leave their own papers in an archives in the province or territory where they lived.

There is another website, Archives Canada, that can help you find the right archives for the information you want if you cannot find it here.

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Can I get material from any archives?

If you can't go to the archives yourself to look you can talk to the person in charge there, called the archivist. Most archivists are happy to answer questions by mail, telephone or e-mail. Most material held in archives can be copied. You will be asked to pay for the copy.

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