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Accessing the collection

Horticulture building plans
The City of Ottawa Archives welcomes all researchers: students, genealogists, City employees and anyone with a keen interest in history. Archival research is fun, but it can be time consuming. Since there is no single subject index for the entire collection, you should allow plenty of time to search, order and read the records when you visit us. Sometimes it may take a few business days to deliver records that are kept off-site to the reference room.

Search our online catalogue to begin reviewing what’s in our holdings. If you have specific historical questions about Ottawa, Reference staff can provide assistance by phone, e-mail or fax and make recommendations for records that may support your research, since much of our collection is not yet available online. For complex questions or topics, you will likely need to visit the Archives to review relevant documents in-person. Contact us for further information.

Please note that access to certain civic and private sector records will be restricted if they are exempt from access under various federal and provincial statutes and regulations, including the Municipal Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (MFIPPA), Personal Health Information Privacy Act (PHIPA), Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), and the Vital Statistics Act. Access to some private sector records may also be restricted for specific time periods because of agreements between the Archives and the donors.

Access procedures

  • Search the catalogue or speak to our Reference staff to identify records that may be relevant to your research. Request those records that you wish to consult, and they will advise if the documents are on-site and open for access. Most records are available in paper format and must be consulted on-site, so staff will work with you to make them available during our operating hours.
  • Some of our holdings are stored off-site and are brought to the Reference Room when they are requested. A lead-time of two working days should be given for requests to make sure that the items have arrived in the Reference Room at the Central Archives. Additional lead-time will be required if you wish to view items at the Rideau Archives Branch in North Gower.
  • Should you wish to access material that has been identified as restricted or may potentially have restrictions on either all or some of the material, please submit a request through Reference Services. Some records in the custody of the Archives are restricted by law, others are restricted by donor agreements, and some may not be available for custodial reasons. An archivist will review the records, and inform you within 20 business days whether you may have access.
  • Civic government records may be subject to MFIPPA or other applicable legislation, and you may be required to submit your request through the City of Ottawa’s ATIP process. As well, access to restricted material may require the completion of a research access agreement form, and supervision by an archivist. Reproduction of restricted records is strictly forbidden.


  • There is a book scanner in the Central Archives Reference Room. This scanner is free to use for scanning library materials from the Reference Room for research purposes. Please bring a USB flash drive to save your scans. Please note: The book scanner cannot be used to scan photographic materials.
  • As staffing resources permit, the Archives may occasionally provide photocopying services for smaller requests and for documents that need to be certified as official copies by the City Archivist.
  • Only Archives staff are authorized to photocopy fragile documents.
  • City employees must provide a cost centre prior to any photocopying. The standard corporate rate will be charged for photocopies done by Archives staff.
  • For reproductions of photographic and other graphic materials see Photographs and Maps.

Photographs and maps

Reproductions of historic photographs and maps

The Archives have over 3 million photographs and numerous maps in our collection.  Our Reference Staff can guide you through the collection.  For the majority of the photographs in our collection the City owns the copyright and can give you permission to use them commercially.

Photo orders

To order a photograph, contact Reference Services at  or call 613-580-2857. 

Cost for reproductions of photographs or maps


The Archives have different rates for print and scanning orders:


  • Up to an 8 X 10: $20.43 + HST
  • 11 X 14 or 16 X 20: $55.20 + HST
  • 20 X 24: $82.80 + HST
  • Oversize Black and White Printing: $20.43 per square foot + HST
  • Oversize Sepia or Colour Printing: $20.43 per square foot + HST

Rush service is available for select items at a premium.

Photos Archival Paper:

  • 8 x 10: $25.28 + HST
  • 11 x 14: $69.86 + HST
  • 16 x 20: $69.86 + HST
  • 20 x 24: $101.04 + HST


  • Target Size up to 8 X 10 (100 DPI): $8.02 + HST
  • Target Size up to 4 X 5 (300 DPI): $8.75 + HST
  • Target Size up to 8 X 10 (300 DPI): $14.91 + HST
  • Target Size up to 8 X 10 (600 DPI): $38.64 + HST
  • Maps and Plans (300 DPI): $16.56 + HST
  • Blank CD or DVD: $2.76 + HST

Rush service is available for select items at a premium.


  • Letter and legal size (self-serve): $0.25 + HST
  • All ledger-size photocopies: $1.00 + HST
  • Original documents photocopied by staff: $0.50 + HST

Copyright and Usage Fees:

  • Fees for commercial and internet publication, still images used in publications (books etc.) per image, non-exclusive, one-time only, single language. 
  • Fee per image – Not-For-Profit: Free 
  • Fee per image – Commercial: $50.00 +HST 

Photo order timelines

Regular service is 20 working days or less and Rush service is 10 working days. However, your photos may be ready sooner than this. Special requests for photos or maps may take longer than 20 working days. Special requests include records that have not been catalogued or described into our database, large volume of reproductions, or oversize material. 

Options for reproductions of photographs or maps

Print reproductions: Matte or glossy finish

  • Print size:  4 x 6; 5 x 7; 8 x 10; 11 x 14; 16 x 20; 20 x 24; oversize

Digital scans

  • File format:  JPEG; TIFF; PDF
  • Resolution: 100, 300, 600 DPI
  • Target size (original size or same as print sizes)

Reproductions can be sent by:

  • Email or FTP site
  • Mail
  • Pick-up at 100 Tallwood Dr.

Rush service is available for select items at a premium.

Sizes and resolution

  • 100 dpi 8 x 10 JPEG for web/PowerPoint presentations
  • 300 dpi 8 x 10 JPEG for print publications
  • 300 dpi 8  x 10 TIFF for exhibitions or oversize printing

Historical information about photographs or maps

The Photo Order form will include some information on the photograph or map such as a brief description and the date the original photograph or map was created.  For further information, we encourage you to visit the Archives Reference Room.


City of Ottawa by-laws from 2001 to the present are available on

If you need a by-law from before 2001, please contact the Archives to obtain a copy. You must specify the municipality, topic, and by-law number if known. Please Note: By-laws for many of the former municipalities are not indexed. Due to the complexity of your request you may be asked to come to the Archives to conduct your own research.

At the City of Ottawa Archives we are happy to provide copies of by-laws, but Archives staff are not permitted to answer specific questions about by-law interpretation. If you have a question about a particular by-law please contact 311 and request to speak with a by-law officer. This way you will receive the most up to date and accurate information for your specific situation. 

Building Information

House History

The City of Ottawa Archives has a number of resources that can assist researchers who wish to learn more about the history of a particular property. From City Directories to Fire Insurance Plans staff will be happy to guide you through this process.

Consult our research guide Tracing the History of your Ottawa Property [ PDF - 1.2 MB ].

Building plans

The City Archives does have some historical building plans in our collections, but most building plans are still kept with the Building Records department. To request copies of building plans please fill out the Access to Building and Permit Records Application Form, this can be found on If you have any questions about this process please contact or call 311 for more information.

Street, parks and facility naming

Historically, streets can be named in a number of different ways. With some notable exceptions, streets are named by by-laws. The reason for the name change is rarely found in council minutes or by-laws. If you have a question about the naming of a particular street the City Archives has a number of resources that can assist you with your research.

Consult our research guide Street, Parks and Facility Naming: Research Guide 209 [PDF - 146 KB]