Looking for information relating to Arctic history in Canada has always been a bit of a task; aside from Library & Archives Canada, many of the other notable institutions -- the Hudson's Bay Archives, the Glenbow Museum, the Canadian Museum of Civilization -- each had their own online archives, all with different search systems. That's all about to change now, though, thanks to the new Canadiana Discovery Portal, where dozens of institutions have begun to share their online materials, making them available at a single click. You can also limit your search by collection, if desired, as well as other parameters. Right now, the system is still in its beta version, and most of the contributing collections have placed only some portion of their digital material in the new system. Nevertheless, just this morning, I made use of the portal and came upon the following:
- A hitherto unknown 1861 poem about Sir John Franklin.
- A rare photo of a "Sundial Erected by Sir John Franklin at Fort Simpson"
- A beautifully-reproduced copy of Karl Hagenbeck's memoir, Von Tieren und Menschen.
- A photo of L.T. Burwash with a group of Netsilingmiut near Gjoa Haven in 1929.
- The White World, a scarce book published in 1902 with illustrations by Albert Operti.
From my initial experience, I would say that, in its present form, the value added is largely that of convenience, although further searches in individual archives would still be needed. And yet as the project progresses, I'm certain it will soon have the breadth and flexibility to be a truly world-class archival search, and the go-to site for anyone interested in the history of the Canadian Arctic.
P.S. -- my thanks to the Bioscope blog for first alerting me to this service!