French-Canadian Newspapers: An Essential Historical Source (1808-1919) presents selected French-language newspapers from across Canada, in a digitized, fully-searchable format. These newspapers form the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) collection of first, final and special editions of French-Canadian newspapers.
To view the newspapers, you can browse a list of newspaper titles or places of publication or search newspaper content using keywords. The search options are fully described in Search Help.
This website complements other significant French-Canadian newspaper resources that are available online through:
Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec
University of Alberta Libraries
Manitoba Life and Times
For other print and Internet resources, see the Further Research. Use the "Contact Us" button at the top of this screen if you want assistance with LAC material.
About These Newspapers
This collection spans a time period during which French-Canadian newspapers underwent several transitions. These include the appearance of independent, political publications in the early- to mid-19th century, followed by the subsequent shift to more commercial, popular publications in the mid- to late-19th century.
This collection reflects another important development in 19th-century French-Canadian newspapers: the appearance of small community newspapers outside the big cities. The first were published in the province of Quebec, then in growing francophone communities outside of Quebec. Over half of the titles in this collection come from the cities of Montréal, Québec, and Ottawa. Approximately one-third of the titles come from smaller locales within Quebec, and the rest from francophone communities across Canada.
Newspapers are an important source of information about the daily lives of Canadians. The diversity of material contained in their pages-articles, editorials, and advertisements-works together to provide an idea of the culture of a particular period. They are unique in their ability to capture and reflect the national and local concerns of their times. The inclusion of newspapers from various regions in this collection also allows us to compare the viewpoints of communities across the country.
Back copies of these newspapers record many milestones in Canadian history, especially within a number of special editions issued for these events. These pages provide a particularly interesting link to French-Canadian perspectives on Confederation, the Riel trial, the First World War and a host of other historically significant events. Coverage of local events in these newspapers also provides glimpses of daily life, whether politics or the comings and goings of visitors and residents.
Daily life is also revealed in the advertisements, which were an important feature of these newspapers. In addition to providing a charming and quirky element for today's readers, they are also useful for studying mores and customs, the image and roles of different groups, and period trends. Illustrations and photographs are also useful in this regard.
The birth, death and marriage announcements in newspapers are an extremely popular and important source of information for genealogy as well as family and social history. Death notices, for instance, generally provide details about the life of the deceased, such as career or military service, and the names and places of residence of their immediate family.
The cultural life of each community is also reflected in these pages. Literary excerpts were a common feature of newspapers in this period, as were announcements and reviews of social events, concerts and plays.
Despite their value, past issues of community newspapers are a resource at risk. Fewer newspapers have survived than we may think, due to difficulties in providing appropriate storage facilities combined with the extreme fragility of newsprint dating from the mid-1800s, when acidic wood pulp replaced the more durable rag content.
Further complicating collection and preservation is the fact that in 1910 there were more than twice the number of newspapers in Canada than exist today. A large number of the non-daily community newspapers have all but disappeared.
This digitized collection of 19th-century and early 20th-century French-Canadian newspapers represents part of the effort to save an important resource and make it available to a wider audience.
We gratefully acknowledge the contribution of the Department of Canadian Heritage, whose financial assistance through the Canadian Culture Online Program made this project possible.