History 103: Pre-Confederation Canadian History

This guide will provide you with a starting point for research in your subject area.

Step 1: Define Your Topic

To help you in this process, use specialized encyclopedias and handbooks located in the reference collection, or chapters from a current textbook to give you a short overview of your research subject. These articles are written by experts on the topic and they often include other references listed at the end of the article. You can be assured that the references listed there are authoritative sources and well worth obtaining for your paper. Some reference books that may be useful:

Ref FC 23 .C36

Canadian Encyclopedia -online version

Ref FC 23 .H67

Horizon Canada (10 volumes)

Ref FC 23 .O94

Oxford Companion to Canadian History

Ref FC 25 .D53

Dictionary of Canadian Biography -online version

Ref E 77 .H25

Handbook of North American Indians

Ref E 76.2 .G74

Encyclopedia of the First Peoples of North America

Ref E 98 .E2 E52

Encyclopedia of Native American Economic History

Ref E 77 .G15

Gale Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes

Ref D 25 .A2 I58

International Encyclopedia of Military History

Ref E 77 .P89

Native Americans: an Encyclopedia of History, Cultures and Peoples

Ref G 1116 .S1 H582

Encyclopedia of Canada's Peoples -online version


Step 2: Look for Books

Begin your research by checking for your topic in the library catalogue. Remember to click the VIEW button to display the long record for an item and then examine the Subject terms at the bottom of the record. Click on appropriate relevant Subject terms to see if there are any other items available on your topic. Some useful Canadian history Subject Terms include:

  • Canada - History - To 1763 (New France)
  • Canada - History - War of 1812
  • Canada - Social life and customs
  • Fur trade - Canada - History
  • Maritime Provinces - History - to 1867

If you don't find enough appropriate material on your topic in the CNC Library, check bibliographies to find references to other works that have been published on your topic. Then once again check the CNC Library catalogue, other local libraries or order the items from out of town libraries via the Interlibrary Loan service. Obtaining books or journals via Interlibrary Loan can take up to two weeks, so do your research early. Some very useful bibliographies are:

Ref FC 104 .E56

Introducing Canada: an Annotated Bibliography of Canadian History

Ref FC 500 .R4

Reader's Guide to Canadian History, vol. 1

If your topic is about the history of women in Canada, First Nations history, etc. some specialized bibliographies are:

Ref HQ 1150 .C52

Changing Women, Changing History

Ref HQ 1453 .Z953

True Daughters of the North

Ref HQ 792 .C2 S97

History of Canadian Childhood and Youth: a Bibliography

Ref FC 3822 .J6

B.C. Bibliography 1849-1899

Ref F 591 .S64

The American and Canadian West: a Bibliography

Ref KE 8813 .A1 S62

Canadian Criminal Justice History

Ref E 77 .I52

Indians in the U.S. and Canada: a Bibliography

Ref E 78 .B9 S728

Native Indians in British Columbia

Ref E 92 .S7

Canadian Indian Policy

Ref E 99 .A86 M33

Indians of the Subarctic: a Critical Bibliography

Ref FC 179 .C66

A Scholar's Guide to Geographical Writing on the American and Canadian Past

Other Reference Sources

Ref FC 23 .G69

Historical Dictionary of Canada

Ref HQ 1416 .M395

Women in Early America: Struggle, Survival and Freedom in a New World

Ref FC 26 .W6 F67

100 Canadian Heroines: Famous and Forgotten Faces

Ref G 1106 .S12 H3

America Discovered: a Historical Atlas of North American Exploration

Ref FC 226 .C32

Canada at War and Peace: a Millennium of Military Heritage

Ref FC 24 .F58

Fitzhenry & Whiteside Book of Canadian Facts and Dates

Ref FC 24 .H55

Canada 875-1973: a Chronology and Fact Book

Ref FC 18 .R43

A Source-book of Canadian History

Ref FC 3212.1 .F73 H85

Simon Fraser, the birth of modern British Columbia: Vancouver Sun special report series 2006

Ref FC 36 .A7

Origin and Meaning of Place Names in Canada

Ref FC 226 .C32

Canada at War and Peace

Ref G 1116 .S1 T7

Atlas of New France

Ref G 1116 .S1 H58

Historical Atlas of Canada: from the Beginning to 1800

Ref G 1116 .S1 H582

Concise Historical Atlas of Canada

Ref F 851 .H38

Historical Atlas of the Pacific Northwest

Ref G 1174 .V3 H39

Historical Atlas of Vancouver and the lower Fraser Valley

Ref G 1116 .S1 H39

Historical Atlas of Canada

Ref G 2862 .N6 S12 H3

Historical Atlas of the North Pacific Ocean

Ref G 1122.51 .S1 H57

Historical Atlas of the Maritime Provinces 1878


Step 3: Use Periodical Articles

Periodicals offer excellent information. To locate articles in your subject area, use the online indexes - Canadian Reference Centre and Canadian Business and Current Affairs Index for articles published after 1982 - and the paperbound Canadian Periodical Index for articles published before 1982. Once you have located article citations, if the article is not in fulltext online, click on the Where can I get this? button to see if the journal is available in either the CNC or UNBC libraries. If the article is not available locally, get it from another B.C. library by clicking on the Check other library catalogues button to request the item online via Interlibrary Loan. Remember to order items early!

If you are aware of a particularly useful journal title, e.g. Canada's history (formerly The Beaver), and want to search within it, click on the library's Journals page and then click on Online A-Z Title/Subject. At the "Starts with" search box type your journal title. As long as the title is available in fulltext online in one of the library's journal databases or it is available in paper format in the library you will be be able to access this journal. If it is available in online fulltext, you will see the range of databases that provide the fulltext of the journal. Click on a database title and then click on Search within this publication.

Step 4: Check Canadian History Websites

From the Library page click on Web Subject Sites - History to find a list of recommended Canadian history websites.

Have fun! If you have comments or suggestions, email me at lovittj@cnc.bc.ca