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French-Canadian Newspapers: An Essential Historical Source (1808-1919)

Search Help


Database Content

The digital collection of French-Canadian Newspapers: An Essential Historical Source (1808-1919) includes over 230 newspaper titles from across Canada and contains more than 1,000 issues.

The number of issues of each newspaper title varies. In most cases, only a single issue is available, usually the first, final, or a special edition. In a few titles, such as L'Évangéline, Le Courrier du Canada, and La Gazette d'Ottawa, the holdings cover a longer time span. These three titles were digitized from microfilms by the Canadian Microfilming Company Ltd (SOCAMI) [www.socami.qc.ca/en/index.html].


Search Screen

  • Enter one or more search terms in the fields of your choice and click on "Submit".
  • Using more than one search field will narrow the results.
  • Get the complete list of newspaper issues available, sorted by date:
    >Click only on "Submit" and leave all the search fields blank.

Search Fields

  • Keyword(s): Search for one or more words or expressions in the full text of the newspapers and retrieve all the issues that contain these words.
  • Title: Search for one or more words or expressions in the list of newspaper titles available.
  • City, town or locality: Search for a city, town or locality of publication and select an option from the drop-down menu.
  • Province: Search for a province of publication and select an option from the drop-down menu.
  • Date: Search for one or more specific date components and enter the Day, Month or Year.
  • Number of references per page: Select the number of results you want to display per page from the drop-down menu.

NOTE: Researchers should be aware that the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) process - the conversion of an image into a text file - is not 100% accurate, because of minor anomalies in the print quality of the originals. This means that a search using the Keyword(s) does not necessarily retrieve all occurrences in the newspaper pages.

Search Tips

  • The default Boolean operator is "AND".
    For example, search for the keywords "Halifax explosion".
    >It will scan the full text of the newspapers and retrieve the pages that contain both of these terms individually and in any order.
  • You can use the Boolean operators "OR" and "NOT" (in capital letters) between multiple words or expressions.
  • Quotation marks are necessary to search for an exact expression or a phrase.
    For example, search for the keywords "Halifax explosion" by typing these words within quotation marks.
    >It will scan the full text of the newspapers and retrieve the pages that contain this exact expression.
  • Replace hyphens with spaces and use quotation marks.
    For example, a search for "Saint-Boniface" will generate no results.
    >Type "Saint Boniface" as two separate words enclosed within quotation marks.
  • Use * as a wildcard character to truncate words (* should follow keyword(s)).
    For example, search for patriot*.
    >You will get results for patriote, patriots, patriotism, patriotic, patriotique, patriotisme, etc.
  • Search for significant words and avoid inclusion of articles and prepositions, such as "the", "le", "la", etc.

Search Examples

  • Find a specific word or phrase in all the newspaper pages.
    For example, search for "Louis Riel".
    >Go to Search. >Type "Louis Riel" within quotation marks in the keyword box and leave the other fields blank.
    >Click on "Submit".
  • Narrow a search for a specific word.
    For example, search for "Moncton" only in newspapers published in the province of Quebec.
    >Go to Search. >Type "Moncton" in the Keyword box. >Select Quebec from the Province box.
    >Click on "Submit".
  • Find all newspaper issues published in a specific year.
    For example, 1908.
    >Go to Search. >Enter 1908 in the Year box of the Date field.
    >Click on "Submit".

Browse Screens

The Browse screens provide complete alphabetical lists of the newspapers available in the database, sorted by titles or places of publication.

  • Select a letter in the alphabet toolbar at the top of the page.
  • Select All newspaper titles or All places of publication to view the complete list of newspapers.

Browse by Title

  • The alphabetical listings do not take into account the articles "le" or "la" at the beginning of the titles.
  • Results are sorted first by title, then by name of city (town or locality) and then by province.
  • Example of the results for the letter "A":
    1. L'abeille canadienne. Montréal, QC (1 issue).
    2. L'alliance. Hull, QC (1 issue).
      ...etc.
  • Browse to find, for example, the title Le Courrier du Canada.
    >Go to Browse by Title.>Click on "C" in the alphabet toolbar.
    >Search for Courrier du Canada in the alphabetical list.

Browse by Place of Publication

  • Results are sorted first by name of city (town or locality), then by province and then by title.
  • Example of the results for the letter "C":
    1. Chicoutimi, QC, Le Protecteur du Saguenay (1 issue).
    2. Chatham, ON, L'ami du peuple (1 issue).
    3. Chatham, ON, Le canadien (1 issue).
      ...etc.
  • Browse to find all newspapers from a place of publication, for example, Montréal. >Go to Browse by Place of Publication. >Select "M" in the alphabet toolbar. >Search for Montréal in the alphabetical list.

NOTE: You must search and not browse to find the newspapers published in a given province.
>Go to the Search screen. >Make your selection in the drop-down menu for the search term "province". >Click on "Submit".


Newspaper display

  • To look at a newspaper issue, click on the newspaper title in the list of results from your search or browse.
  • If more than one issue is available for a particular newspaper, the list of issues is displayed by dates.
  • Click on the newspaper title associated with the date you want to view.

Viewing a Newspaper Issue

  • Adobe Acrobat Reader must be installed on your computer to view the images provided in a PDF format.
  • This software can be downloaded for free by clicking on Download PDF Reader.
  • Display full screen opens the PDF viewer in a full screen. Use the "Back" button of your Internet browser to go back to the database.
  • Along with the images is a short descriptive notice that includes the title, place of publication, date and AMICUS number.
  • The AMICUS number can be used to find the bibliographic notice of the newspaper in LAC's catalogue.

Searching within a Newspaper Issue

If you conducted a search in the Search screen using keywords for a specific word or phrase, you need to repeat your search in the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Your result will be highlighted in the newspaper image on screen.

  • Use the search tools and options provided by the Adobe Acrobat Reader to locate each occurrence of a word or phrase in the newspaper pages you are viewing.
  • Your results will be highlighted in blue on the newspaper pages.
  • You must use an exact word, expression or phrase.
    For example, searching for "chemin fer" will produce no results. To locate the expression "chemin de fer", you must type either "chemin" or "chemin de fer" within quotation marks.
  • Wildcard characters and Boolean operators do not work.

NOTE: The search tools of Adobe Acrobat Reader differ from LAC's database Search screen.