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.
- 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.