Collections and Research

Thomas Molson’s notebook, 1820-1824. Gift of Miss Mabel Molson, M19113 © McCord Museum

Textual Archives


The Textual Archives collection is composed of 800 sets of documents, most of which are archives from individuals, families or organizations, or special collections organized around a theme or type of document. Totalling nearly 310 linear metres, these archives cover the entire history of Canada, but focus more specifically on that of Montreal and Montrealers during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Documents include personal, administrative, financial and legal texts like correspondence, diaries, minutes, books of account and deeds of sale. In addition, there are publications, maps, plans and ephemera, such as dance cards, advertisements and menus. The collection was initially built up by focussing on specific areas of acquisition associated with the history of events and figures of importance to Montreal and Canada. Its more recent acquisitions concentrate on the domestic affairs of several families, business and industry, armed conflicts, amateur sporting clubs, artistic and charitable associations, cultural events like Expo 67, fashion, the arts, etc.

  • Site Map of Expo 67, George E. Porcell Enterprises Inc., 1966. C146/A,6.2 © McCord Museum
  • Stock book for the hardware store of Arthur Webster, 1820-1821. Gift of Mrs. Helen Day Cooper, M2012.103 © McCord Museum
  • Sir George Back’s travel journal, 1833-1835. Gift of Reverend Norman Pares and David Ross McCord, M2634 © McCord Museum
  • Thomas Molson's notebook, 1820-1824. Gift of Miss Mabel Molson, M19113 © McCord Museum
  • Last wishes of Louis Riel, expressed to Reverend Father Alexis André, November 16, 1885. Gift of Brian McGreevy, M20193 © McCord Museum
  • 1911-1912 Program for Le Canadien de St-Henri Snowshoe Club. Gift of Mrs. Irene Jensen, P163/B.01 © McCord Museum


The Rare Books collection features nearly 2,500 books and brochures with publication dates ranging from the 17th to the 20th centuries. Most of its volumes date from the early 1900s as the collection is largely composed of the personal libraries of David Ross McCord and William Notman. Most of the other works in the collection were published in Canada and complement the Museum’s various collections. For example, there are books on the history of Canada and Montreal, directories and almanacs, tourist booklets, art books, books written in First Nations languages, explorers’ travel accounts, children’s books, books about magic, military censuses and plan books. These writings are not only reference documents for collections research, they are also artefacts, available for consultation and displayed as part of exhibitions and other dissemination projects.

  • F. Mesplet et C. Berger, <i>Règlement de la confrérie de l'adoration perpétuelle du S. Sacrement et de la bonne mort</i>, 1776. Gift of David Ross McCord, M242 © McCord Museum
  • Jacques Grasset de Saint-Sauveur, <i>Moeurs, loix et costumes des sauvages de la Baye d'Hudson</i>, about 1796. Gift of  Dr. J. lawrence Hutchison, M2004.117.20 © McCord Museum
  • Mi’kmaq Ideographic Prayer Book, 1921. Gift of Jérôme Rousseau, M2010.19.23 © McCord Museum
  • François Du Creux, <i>Historiae Canadensis, sev Novae-Franciae Libri Decem, Ad Annum usque Christi</i>, 1664. Gift of Ward C. Pitfield, M11712 © McCord Museum
  • <i>Diseases of the Nervous System, and How to Cure Them : Paine's Celery Compound</i>, Wells & Richardson Co., 1896. RB-0695 © McCord Museum
  • J. Bell, Gallery of Fine Arts, <i>La Belle Assemblée or, Bell's Court and Fashionable Magazine, addressed particulary to The Ladies</i>, vol. I part II, 1806. M2011X.6.33 © McCord Museum

To discover in the collection

Digitization projects

Shared Emotions

Anyone who has ever read archival documents like letters and diaries knows that these witnesses of the past can be full of emotion. The goal of the Shared Emotions project is to make it easier for researchers and members of the public to locate elements associated with the history of sensibilities.

With the financial support of Library and Archives Canada, our team has enhanced the descriptions of 100 groups of archival records from 29 different fonds and collections.

75 000 pages of history

In 2017, to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of Canadian Confederation and 375th anniversary of Montreal’s founding, the McCord Museum is making 75,000 new images from its Textual Archives collection available to the public. Explore this selection of documents recounting the history of Canada, but more specifically that of Montreal and Montrealers over the 19th and 20th centuries.

Our Amazing Families!


Thanks to the financial support of Sun Life Financial, the Museum will digitize and publish online 37 archival family fonds. Discover three centuries of Quebec documents and history!

Mathieu Lapointe

Meet the curator Mathieu Lapointe and learn more about his expertise and what he does.

Not to be missed!

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