Canadian federal government publications

Parliament of Canada
The Centre Block on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario

Our collections of printed Canadian federal government publications run from the colonial period to 2014. The Canadian government now publishes its material online.

About the collection

The original exchange agreement for official publications was set up with the Parliament Library in Canada in 1883. It was part of a programme funded by the Treasury to establish exchanges of official publications between the UK and the principal British colonies to compensate for the fact that colonial governments were not regularly depositing official documents at the British Museum Library as required by colonial legal deposit. Under this agreement, the Library received all Canadian federal government publications issued by the Queen’s Printer. Following a review in 1969/70, the arrangement continued, with the Canadians agreeing to send the British Museum Library all federal government publications issued by the Queen’s Printer and the Dominion Bureau of Statistics.

After 1970 responsibility for supply was transferred from the Queen’s Printer to the Canadian Depository Services Program (DSP). We were recognised as a depository library and continued to receive a complete set of Canadian federal government materials in print or microform, including statistics, departmental publications, and Parliamentary papers and proceedings, until April 2014, when the DSP ceased the distribution of hard copy publications.

What is available online?

The Canadian Depository Services Program is developing an online collection of Government of Canada publications in electronic format. The collection is free to access and download via Government of Canada Publications. This marks the transition of Canadian Government publishing from print to online dissemination.

The Government of Canada Publications Portal provides more than 20,000 historic Canadian Government publications digitised by Internet Archive Canada.

Other online sources include:

What is available in our Reading Rooms?

Registered readers have access to subscribed e-resources, including House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, 1688-, which has material on the political, social and economic development of Canada in the nineteenth century in particular. The Congressional Serial Set Digital Edition, 1817-1994 and the Congressional Record Digital Collection, 1789-1997 both contain useful material on relations between Canada and the United States.

Some reference books and finding aids to older Canadian official publications are shelved in the Social Sciences Reading Room, but most printed official publications have to be requested for delivery.

A more detailed description of the collections is available in our Guide to Canadian official publications in the British Library (PDF format). Given the complexity of this material, please also ask staff at the Social Sciences Reference Enquiry Desk for help with finding out if we have the documents you need.