Research Enquiries

The Library is set up to provide facilities for research to work on site at the Library. While it does not have the personnel necessary to take on work for researchers, an attempt will be made to respond to simple enquiries or to direct an enquirer into an area that might be helpful. Email your question and the Library will do what it can to help. To contact the librarian

Researching Magazine Articles

The Library has an extensive collection of railway related magazines. The magazine train index is a very useful index of articles in a wide variety of magazines which is not limited to modelling. The Library collection does not cover all magazines listed and some of the Library's magazines are not listed. Nevertheless, a search in this index before coming to the Library may well save you considerable research time.

Researching Your Railway Relatives

At its peak the number of people working on Canadian railways exceeded 191,000 (1952). Thus there are many, many Canadians who have relatives who worked for one or other of Canada's railways.

Today there is a widespread interest in family history and the Library receives a regular flow of questions on how to trace a relative who either "worked for the railway", or was known to have been involved in accidents.

The Library does not hold any records which can assist in such searches. Employment records are the property of the companies and have rarely if ever been transferred to archives or other outside organizations. Today such information usually falls under the privacy laws which limit their dissemination and thus they are not readily available to the public.

Research into railway relatives, however, can be pursued through other channels. A guide to what can be done is: Canadian Railway Records, A Guide for Genealogists by Althea and J. Creighton Douglas, which may still be available from the publisher at:

The Ontario Genealogical Society, 2100 Steeles Ave. W. Suite 202, Concord, ON, L4K 2V1

Local genealogical societies may be able to assist you in pursuing your research. They can often be located through the nearest public library. Indeed the local public librarian may well be the source for many other useful ideas and tips.

Canadian National has deposited much of its historical material with Library and Archives Canada, in Ottawa and they can be viewed there. You can consult the list of the Archives holdings. The Archives also maintains a genealogical desk which may be worth consulting. At their web site click on the "Services to the public" listing for more information on what the Archives can offer.

Canadian Pacific's employee records are not held by the CP Archives and they are not available for research purposes.

Ottawa area residents may wish to consult the Ottawa Branch of The Ontario Genealogical Society or the Societe franco-ontarienne d'histoire et de genealogie-Regionale Samuel-de-Champlain. Both organizations are co-located with the Library.

Researching Wrecks and Accidents.

Unfortunately, wrecks and accidents were not uncommon in early railway history, and indeed still occur from time to time. The Library has no holdings which cover these events as such. Researchers seeking information about them and relatives who may have been involved should investigate newspaper accounts in the area in which the accident occurred. Many Canadian newspapers have been microfilmed and are available in public, college and university libraries either in their own holdings or through inter-library loan facilities. Other sources might be local coroner or police reports. In some cases, major accidents have been the subject of investigations by public regulatory bodies and their reports may also be useful.