Canadian Literary Manuscripts

The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library holds the papers of more than sixty (60) Canadian authors making it a major centre for Canadian literary studies. New collections of Canadian author’s papers are received by the Library on a regular basis. Accessions of new material from authors already represented in the Library’s collections are received annually, or every few years. Our Canadian literary collections include material by and about: Margaret Atwood, Don Bailey, Jack Batten, Earle Birney, Barry Callaghan, Elspeth Cameron, Leonard Cohen, Mazo de la Roche, David Donnell, George Fetherling, Mavis Gallant, Graeme Gibson, Lorna Goodison, Phyllis Grosskurth, Crad Kilodney, Irving Layton, Dennis Lee, Gwendolyn MacEwen, Hugh Maclennan, Jack Macleod, Malka Marom, Karen Mulhallen, Suniti Namjoshi, Eric Ormsby, Al Purdy, Joseph Rosenblatt, Joseph Skvorecky, David Solway, Raymond Souster, Rosemary Sullivan, Eric Wright, David Young and many others. The Library also holds the papers of two literary agents, Bella Pomer and Beverley Slopen.

Other Canadiana Collections


J. B. Tyrrell (Geologist, explorer, surveyor, author) Collection Papers, multi-media.

Click here for larger imageThis collection documents the life and work of Joseph Burr Tyrrell (1818-1957): geologist, explorer and surveyor for the Geological Survey of Canada, 1881-1898; mining consultant; engineer and entrepreneur, Dawson City, 1899-1905, and Toronto, 1906-1930s; Director and subsequently President of Kirkland Lake Gold Mine, 1924-1955 and amateur Canadian historian. The Tyrrell Papers contain a wealth of material on Canadian history, including aboriginal Canadian history, through photographs, notes and maps which demonstrate traditional lifestyles and areas of traditional habitation. The Library holds the papers of Tyrrell’s brother, James Williams Tyrrell, as well as those of their father, William Tyrrell and Henry Grattan Tyrrell, son of James. The Library also holds David Thompson’s “Narrative” of his explorations in Western America, 1784-1812. This text had remained unpublished until it was acquired by J. B. Tyrrell in 1895, and published in 1916 with Tyrrell as editor.

View the digital collection of The Barren Lands J.B. Tyrrell's Expeditions for the Geological Survey of Canada, 1892-1894 by going to

History of Medicine

Banting/Best/Collip/Macleod/Hughes Collections Papers, multi-media.

Click here for larger image The discovery of insulin at the University of Toronto, and its successful utilization in the treatment of diabetes, and other contributions to medical research, are topics fully documented in the personal papers of Sir Frederick Banting, Charles Best and James Bertram Collip. The Best Papers also include a small collection of J.J.R. Macleod’s papers. Included in these collections are research notes and papers; correspondence; articles; speeches; travel journals; sketches and drawings; scrapbooks; photographs; awards; and memorabilia. The Elizabeth Hughes Collection documents the dramatic improvements to the quality of life the discovery of insulin had for patients living with the disease. Elizabeth Hughes was the daughter of the United States Secretary of State and received her first injection of insulin August 17, 1922. She went on to Barnard College, married lawyer William T. Gossett and lived a long and productive life; none of her later friends or associates even knew that she suffered from diabetes, and she died in 1981 at the age of 73.

View the digital collection of Discovery and Early Development of Insulin, 1920-1925 by going to


Baillie, James, 1904-1970 (Naturalist, author). Papers, 1920-1989 (predominant 1930-1970). Correspondence, manuscript dictionary of naturalists, bird watching journals and notes, scrapbooks, microfilm copy of his newspaper columns, family papers.

Bennett, Gerry, 1921- (Naturalist, author) Papers, 1950s-1990. Typed journals recording his bird sightings and other observations from natural history; correspondence with other naturalists, 1970s-1990s; research notes and files on ornithological topics, including birding records and lists; drafts and typescripts for some of his writings; newsletters from ornithological organizations

Fothergill, Charles, 1795-ca.1875 (Naturalist, politician, author, printer and publisher) Papers, 1782-1840 The collection includes correspondence both private and public; diaries; natural history notebooks; a few sketches and scrapbooks. Much of the material pre-dates Fothergill’s arrival in Upper Canada in 1816. Some of the family correspondence continues for over 30 years after Fothergill’s death in 1840.

Halliday, Hugh Mackenzie, 1896- (Naturalist, reporter, author, photographer) Papers, 1940-1980. Collection includes typescript drafts of Halliday’s columns on birds and nature for the Toronto Star Weekly and other publications; alphabetical subject files; reader correspondence and correspondence with naturalists, birders, publishers, editors and friends (including extensive correspondence with Al Oeming, founder and director of the Alberta Game Farm, and one letter from John Diefenbaker); photographs of mushrooms, insects, animals and birds by Halliday; notes and sketches; print and ephemera

Roberts, Lloyd, 1884-1966 Collection of Grey Owl papers, 1937-1950. Collection includes correspondence from Grey Owl, and Anahareo “Pony” Gertie to Lloyd Roberts; typescripts of an unpublished article “Grey Owl the Man” and of a thirteen-part programme on CBC radio entitled “My Friend Grey Owl” by Roberts; and The Men of the Last Frontier, by Grey Owl, 1932, bound and hand-beaded by Grey Owl and “Pony” with lengthy inscription to Roberts, and manuscript drawing on inside covers and fly leaves.

Speirs, Doris Huestis Mills, 1894-1989 (Artist, naturalist, author) Papers, multi-media. Doris Huestis Mills Speirs was a life-time resident of Toronto. As an artist she painted with the Group of Seven. She was also a writer and an avid birder. Her field studies on the evening grosbeak were published in a volume of A.C. Bent’s series of life histories of North American birds as “Hespercphora Vespertina Brooksi Grinnell, Western Evening Grosbeak” in Life Histories of North American Cardinals, Grosbeaks … and Allies. The collection includes the detailed journals and bird sighting notebooks she kept for years, along with her husband, J. Murray Speirs.

Speirs, J. Murray, 1909-2001 (Naturalist, author). Papers, 1922-2000. J. Murray Speirs, husband of Doris Huestis Mills Speirs, was a gifted birdwatcher and naturalist. His lifelong fascination with birds first began with the sighting of a ruby-crowned kinglet in his garden at the age of 6. He kept detailed daily bird sighting notebooks from the age of 15 until his death in 2001. In 1939 he married artist and birder Doris Huestis. For forty years he taught in the Department of Zoology at the University of Toronto. He was a founder of the Ontario Federation of Naturalists, Toronto Ornithological Club, Toronto Field Naturalists and the Pickering Naturalists. He published hundreds of articles, and was editor of many books and journals, including 12 volumes of The Illustrated Natural History of Canada; 6 volumes of Birds of Ontario County and co-authored A Naturalist's Guide to Ontario. His collection includes daily bird journals 1923-2000, daily bird records 1922-1949, first and last sightings records 1922-1990, and research records on the American Robin and the Lincoln Sparrow 1930s-1940s (Murray and Doris Huestis Speirs wrote the account in Bent's life histories series).

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Art and Artists

Pachter, Charles, 1942- (Artist, author, lecturer, entrepreneur) Correspondence, 1950-2001. Collection is comprised exclusively of correspondence, including photographs and drawings from various friends and associates of Charles Pachter, many of whom are prominent Canadians. The collection contains personal and business material from the 1950s to 2001. The correspondence reflects Pachter's extensive and changeable career as an artist, including material from all of his exhibitions; for the retrospective of his work, Charles Pachter by Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov; his close relationship with his mother and father ("Dibbles and Har") and his large circle of friends, fans and acquaintances. Pachter studied art at the Sorbonne in Paris, the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan and the University of Toronto. His involvement in graphic art production; paper-making; real estate; building renovation and Gracie's, his Queen Street West restaurant in Toronto are all documented here. The collection also includes material related to his work as writer, lecturer, informal Canadian historian, and his extensive charitable pursuits. His website is located at

Click here for larger imageSchneid, Otto, 1900-1974 (Art historian, professor, writer, and artist) Papers, multi-media. Papers include research materials for his unpublished book on 20th century Jewish artists in Europe, manuscripts for his published and unpublished works, galleys for his published writings. The research materials include correspondence with more than 120 Jewish artists, copies of their exhibition catalogues, and other published works, and photographs of their art. Most of these artists perished during the Second World War.

Warren, Emily Mary Bibbens Papers, 1876-1981. Collection includes lecture notes and glass slides, watercolours, drawings, commonplace book, scrapbook, sketchbook, notes, correspondence, and notes, drafts and photographs for her biography by Constance McRae.

Head, Edmund Walker, Sir, and Lady Head Multi-Media, 1848-1861. Includes watercolours and drawings, 1848-1861, of Canadian scenes, mainly New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec.

Chamberlin, Agnes, 1833-1913 Papers, ca 1863-1934. Includes watercolours of Canadian flora and mushrooms; subscription books for Canadian Wildflowers, 1868 and 1869 editions; paintings and photographs of Canadian flora and other subjects by Geraldine Moodie, Chamberlin's daughter, 1902-1934.

Collections containing Thoreau MacDonald Material

MacDonald, Thoreau. Papers, 1905-1980. Collection includes drawings and designs, correspondence, biographical materials; notebooks and diaries.

Schaefer, Carl, 1903-. Papers. Collection of Thoreau MacDonald, 1924-1977. Includes correspondence, Christmas cards, drawings, original lino-cuts, printer's proofs, and clippings.

Speirs, Doris Huestis Mills. Papers. Collection of Thoreau MacDonald papers, 1917-1981, and other Canadian and American artists, mainly from the 1920s. As as artist she painted with the Group of Seven, and supported their work as benefactor.

Napier Simpson Collection of Thoreau MacDonald Papers.

Hunter, E.R. Collection of Thoreau MacDonald – includes drawings Papers.

History and Politics

Robert S. Kenny Collection. Papers, 1919-1975. The Robert S. Kenny Collection is a diverse collection covering many aspects of radicalism in Canada. The primary focus of the collection is Communism in Canada during the period 1919 to the mid-seventies. There is material by and about the Communist Party of Canada, including rare leaflets and ephemera distributed by the Party, briefs submitted by them to the Government, Proceedings of conventions, etc. There is also anti-Communist material. The personal papers of A.E. Smith, including his newspaper columns printed in the Canadian Tribune and his work with the Canadian Labor Defense League, are part of the collection. There is substantial information by and about Tim Buck, and information on other Canadian Communists including the trials of Communists and the persecution of alleged Communists. Information on or documents by organizations connected to radicalism and/or communism in Canada is also included. Important political events such as the Winnipeg General Strike (1919) and the Relief Camp Strike (1935) are highlighted. There is a substantial collection of photographs of members of the Communist Party of Canada. The collection also includes realia such as medals, political buttons, stamps. etc.

Denison (Flora MacDonald) Collection. Papers, 1898-1918. Collection includes letters, memo books, memorabilia, scrapbooks and clippings relating to the women’s suffrage movement, mainly Canadian, 1898-1918. Letters, documents and note-books relating to Denison’s summer resort in Hastings County, Bon Echo, where the Whitman Club of Canada met.

Charlebois Family Collection. Papers. Collection includes manuscript drafts, research notes, correspondence and photos relating to Dr. Peter Charlebois' The life of Louis Riel. Toronto: New Canada Publications, 1975; the history of the Northwest Rebellion of 1885; and the history of Metis in Canada. Also includes several albums of riverboat photographs for his Sternwheelers & Sidewheelers: the romance of steamdriven paddleboats in Canada. Toronto: NC Press, 1978.

Spanish Civil War Collection. Papers. Collection includes manuscripts from various sources relating to the Spanish Civil War and to various anti-Franco organizations in Canada and the United States to support the Republican cause. Gift of Canadian Committee for a Democratic Spain, Thomas T. Tattam, Velma Russell Elley and Susan Meurer (Ross Russell Collection) and others, 1975-1990.

Maclear (Michael) Collection. Papers, multi-media, 1945-1998. This collection of Vietnam related materials consists of Michael Maclear’s drafts for his book The Ten Thousand Day War: Vietnam, 1945-1975 (1981); drafts for the episodes of his television series with a similar title; interview transcripts and background information, analytical documentation, photographs, films and videotapes relating to the Vietnam War. It contains more than 2,200 photographs, 1930s through the 1970s, from various sources including his own photographs, relating to all aspects of the war, and to historical photographs dating from Ho Chi Minh’s activities as a young man.

Buttrick (Ann) Collection. Papers, 1968-1979. Collection of materials relating to the anti-Vietnam War activities of Ann Buttrick, 1968-1979. Topics include civil liberties, Canadian policy vis-à-vis the United States, and the Aquash case. Papers were created in connection with The International Committee to Free South Vietnamese Political Prisoners from Detention, Torture, and Death, which was a committee of the Canadian Council of Churches, and Voice of Women, which is a non-governmental organization, and the Canadian Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Includes correspondence, Vietnamese government publications, audio recordings of Toronto events, newspaper clippings, and printed matter.

Pocock (Jack) Memorial Collection. Papers, 1964-1977. Materials generated and collected in the course of business by the Toronto Anti-Draft Programme (TADP), 1964-1977. Includes individual case files, intake and housing records, sales records for the Manual for Draft-Age Immigrant to Canada, counseling materials, lobbying and public relations files, materials from other activist, religious and anti-war groups, TADP administrative records, and a collection of printed items.

Czechoslovakia 1968. Papers. Collection of typescripts, Radio Free Europe reports and analyses, special issues of newspapers, newspaper clippings, ephemera from 1968 intervention.

Peter J. Potichnyj Collection on Insurgency and Counter-Insurgency in Ukraine. Papers. This collection includes German, Polish, Ukrainian, KGB and other documents related to the Ukrainian underground movement. Also includes extensive correspondence, clippings and other documents pertaining to the Ukrainian underground. Microfilm available at Microtext in Robarts Library and some additional material available at Petro Jacyk Central & East European Resource Centre.

Art and History of the Book

Birdsall Bookbinding Collection. Multi-media. This collection includes 3000 finishing tools used by the firm of Birdsall and Son, of Northampton, England, and bindings produced by the firm.

Cooper and Beatty Collection. Papers. The papers of this printing, typography and type design firm were donated to the Library in 1992. Designers represented are Stuart Ash, Tony Crawford, Carl Dair, Jim Donoahue, Allan Fleming, Tony Mann, Jake Sneep, W.E. “Jack” Trevett. Also included are books used by staff and clients, pamphlets, broadsides, and Christmas cards sent to clients.

Barbarian Press. Records. Correspondence, designs, dummies, proofs from blocks, and page proofs.

Contact Press. Records Editorial correspondence.

Callaghan, Barry. Papers, 1972-ongoing. Collection of Exile records, 1972-1995. Drafts with notes, revisions, instructions to the printer, drawings.

Mulhallen, Karen. Papers, 1988-ongoing. Collection of Descant records, literary papers, editorial notes, correspondence.

Horne, Alan John, 1931- Papers, 194- - 1994 Includes correspondence with British illustrators relating to his The Dictionary of 20th Century British Book Illustrators (1994); John Buckland Wright’s sketches, drawings, working proofs for Jurgen; slides of illustrations for The Dictionary. Correspondence is arranged alphabetically for British illustrators, other correspondence arranged by accession.

Hunter Rose and Company Papers.

Garnet (Eldon) Papers. Papers, 1974-1990. Collection of editorial files of Impulse, 1975-1990. The collection consists of the editorial files of Impulse magazine from 1974 to 1990. For each volume there are submissions to the journal, drafts with editorial corrections, and page proofs. Many volumes include additional editorial material, such as advertising, cover art, rejected submissions, and correspondence. The collection includes an office archive, which contains correspondence, financial information (with grant proposals), advertising and promotional material, and circulation and distribution records. There is a large number of original art boards and other oversize materials, such as posters. The editorial record of I Shot Mussolini by Eldon Garnet is also included.

Peters Collection of The Typophiles and Private Press Printers. Papers. This collection contains material from a number of sources. By far, the greatest portion is from Paul Bennett’s correspondence and his working files for the numerous collaborative projects and events involving The Typophiles from the mid-thirties until his death in 1966. Herman Cohen of the Chiswick Book Shop assembled the balance of the material over many years as he purchased the libraries of Frederic Goudy, Arthur Rushmore, Eugene Ettenberg, Lester Douglas and others. Also included are many of Herman Cohen’s own letters received from typographers and private press printers. Paul retained carbon copies of his letters. These carbon copies when read with original letters sent to him, provide a continuous flow to the written narrative. Bennett’s enthusiasm and dedication to this group and the graphic arts in general, is very evident in the carbon copies of his letters.

William L. Shelden Australian Collection. Papers. This collection includes Shelden’s correspondence with book dealers and notes about his collection; several documents of particular interest include: an A.L.S. from Sir Joseph Banks and a photograph of Robert Louis Stevenson; and a volume of original drawings used to illustrate one of Dumont d’Urville’s voyages.


dlo.jpg - 3230 BytesPapyri Collection Includes fragments from the Fayûm, Hibeh, and Oxyrhinchus, Egypt. 3rd century B.C. – 3rd century A.D. 36 pieces in 5 boxes. The Fayûm Papyri include documents found at Umm el ‘Atl (Bacchius) in 1895-96; Harit (Theadelphia), Wadfa (Philoteris), and Kasr el Banât (Euhémeria) in 1898-99. On permanent loan from Victoria University Library. The online finding aid may be viewed here. View the digital collection at

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This page was last updated October 05, 2004. Your comments and questions are welcomed.
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