The National Archives is Canada's memory bank. Here you can discover the story of Canada, not as it is interpreted in history books, but through direct contact with original documents from the past. The Archives' preserves tens of millions of records ranging from personal photographs to official government documents. The National Archives of Canada is open to all researchers, whether professional or amateur. Visitors are also welcome to enjoy the exhibitions.
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What You Should Know
Millions of manuscripts, photographs, films, maps, paintings and drawings are preserved at the National Archives so that our history can be passed on to future generations.
395 Wellington street at Bay, Ottawa.
The headquarters building of the National Archives of Canada is located at 395 Wellington Street, in downtown Ottawa, Ontario, a few blocks west of the Parliament Buildings and next to the Supreme Court of Canada. Limited visitor parking is available on the west side of the building (2 hour maximum). Street and pay parking is available in the vicinity.
Registration Desk, Reference Room and Consultation Room:
8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday - Friday (excluding statutory holidays)
8:30 a.m. - 10 p.m. Monday to Friday (excluding statutory holidays)
8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and statutory holidays
9 a.m. - 9.p.m. daily
Wheelchair access and facilities, washrooms, cafeteria (open weekdays), exhibition room, limited parking.
National Archives of Canada
395 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N3
General information: 613-996-5115 or 1-866-578-7777
Reference Services: 613-992-3884
Genealogy Reference: 613-996-7458
Did You Know?
- The Archives has many private letters and diaries. For example, it has a letter Louis Riel wrote to his family and the diaries of former Prime Minister Mackenzie King.
- The Archives has an extensive collection of maps. The earliest printed map to show the name 'Canada' dates to 1560.
- The Archives keeps the records of the government of Canada. By law, government and ministerial documents cannot be destroyed without the consent of the NationalArchivist.
- The National Archives has a special service for people researching their family histories. Nearly 80% of visitors to the Archives are genealogists.
- The National Archives has a new building in the Capital Region which is considered the most advanced archival storage facility in the world.
Canada's Collective Memory
The National Archives of Canada is a treasure chest holding tens of millions of public and private documents. The Archives' vast collections include:
- Manuscripts: These are unpublished records such as papers, files, letters and diaries of everyone from prime ministers to poets, scientists to sorcerers. There are manuscripts relating to individuals, communities and organizations.
- Government Records: As the official record keeper for the Government of Canada, the National Archives holds nearly 70 kilometres of records relating to the official business of the country. Personnel records for former military or public service employees are also kept.
- Documentary Art: The National Archives is not an art gallery but it does have many original works of art, posters and other visual materials that are of historical interest.
- Photography: One of the best known parts of the Archives is its collection of more than 20 million photographs of Canada's people, places and events. The collection ranges from daguerreotypes and tintypes to contemporary colour images.
- Audiovisual Materials: Historic film, video and sound recordings are often called on by film and documentary makers. The Archives preserves audio-visual materials produced by government departments, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, film and broadcasting companies, and individuals.
- Maps and Architectural Holdings: The National Archives holds over 2 million maps, charts, atlases, globes, architectural and engineering drawings, blueprints and plans.
- Philatelic Records: The Archives keeps stamps, stamp designs and artwork as well as prints and negatives, manuscripts, and papers relating to postal history
- Caricatures: The political cartoons you see in the paper have always been powerful commentaries on the times. The Archives has an extensive collection of caricatures from the 18th century to the present.
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