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COVID-19 Update

As of March 21, 2022, the City of Ottawa Archives remains open to the public by appointment only (in-person or virtual). Walk-in clients may be required to wait for an available appointment.

Tuesday to Friday: 9 am to noon and 1 to 4 pm
Saturday: 10 am to 1 pm and 2 to 5 pm
Sunday and Monday: Closed

Visitors are asked to pre-screen prior to visiting the reference room.

Please contact Reference Services for more information or to book an appointment: archives@ottawa.ca or 613-580-2857.

For more information on learning to live with COVID-19, visit Ottawa Public Health’s new Reducing the risks from COVID-19 webpage.

Mandate

The City of Ottawa Archives are the custodians of permanent and historical civic government records on behalf of the City of Ottawa and its many departments, as well as local, community records with historical value. We preserve, acquire and make these documents accessible for City Staff, the public, and other researchers, for present and future generations.  Our goal is to preserve records that enhance our understanding of the history, evolution, and development of the City's social fabric, natural and built environment, and the people that lived, worked, and made significant contributions to the shaping of the City.

Archives, and public access to records, promotes accountability and transparency in government, and documents the interaction between elected officials and citizens. This encourages citizen participation and ownership of their government and their community.

The combined corporate and community mandate of the City of Ottawa Archives is a hallmark of the Canadian archival system, enshrined in a 1980 report (authored bv Ian E. Wilson. former Librarian and Archivist of Canada) that established the present Canadian Council of Archives and the network of provincial and territorial councils.

Corporate Mandate

Under the Ontario Municipal Act, 2001, municipalities have an obligation to retain, preserve in a secure manner, and provide public access to municipal records that provide an accurate record of business functions and transactions to encourage effective governance, transparency, and accountability. The former City of Ottawa created an archives program in 1976, in part to meet this legislated requirement. The current program contributes to the Corporation's administrative efficiency as well as the cultural, social, and economic advancement of the City as a free and democratic society.

The City Archives is responsible for:

Promoting good record keeping by the City to facilitate the identification and preservation of civic government records that have enduring value because they document its business functions and transactions;

Identifying which civic records have archival value and authorizing their transfer to the City Archives for retention and preservation in a secure manner;

Determining which civic records no longer have any value and authorizing their destruction in accordance with the records retention by-law approved by City Council (Record Retention and Disposition By-Law No. 2003-527); and

Providing public access to the records in its care.

When City Council approved the Ottawa 2020 Arts and Heritage Plan in 2003, it made the City of Ottawa Archives accountable for identifying and preserving the City's documentary heritage. The Archives' mandate includes responsibility for the archival records of the 12 former municipalities preceding amalgamation in 2001, Ottawa Transition Board records, Ottawa Public Library, Police Services, and OC Transpo.

Community Mandate

The City Archives program plays a key role in preserving community memory by encouraging individuals, organizations, and businesses in the community to create their own archives. The objective of this role is to preserve records that enhance our understanding of the history, evolution, and development of the City's social fabric, natural and built environment, and the people that lived, worked, and made significant contributions to the shaping of the City. The City Archives program acquires community records that would otherwise be lost to the City for lack of a venue to preserve and make them accessible.

In support of its community mandate, the City of Ottawa Archives proactively engages the broader Archives community in its promotion efforts, and engages friends, partners, learning institutions and groups that represent the ethno-cultural-religious heritage of the City.

The City delivers its community mandate through educational programming, exhibitions, and other community outreach activities in order to connect with the various ethnic, religious, and cultural groups in the municipal area.

Who is James K. Bartleman?

In honour of a lifetime of service to Ottawa, Ontario and Canada, the Archives and Library Materials Centre was dedicated to James K. Bartleman by Mayor Jim Watson on April 3, 2012.

James K. Bartleman was born in Orillia, Ontario in 1939 and is a member of the Chippewas of Mnjikaning First Nation. Starting in 1967, he represented Canada as a highly respected diplomat for more than 35 years. He served as the first aboriginal Lieutenant Governor of Ontario from 2002 to 2007. As the Vice Regal representative he set three priorities: the first was to eliminate the stigma of mental illness. The second was to fight racism and discrimination. The third was to encourage learning for aboriginal youth. All of these priorities represent the spirit of community-building and public service that are the hallmarks of Bartleman’s life.