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Queen's University Library

Edith and Lorne Pierce Collection of Canadiana

[3 books from the Lorne Pierce Collection]

The Edith and Lorne Pierce Collection of Canadiana was established at Queen's by Dr. Lorne Pierce (1890-1961) and his wife, Edith Chown. Lorne Pierce devoted his life to the promotion of Canadian literature.



As an ordained minister, a founding member of the Canadian Authors Association, the Bibliographical Society of Canada and the Art Gallery of Ontario, a member of the Champlain Society and the Arts and Letters Club, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, literary executor for Bliss Carman, private book collector specializing in Canadiana and editor of the Ryerson Press from 1920-1960, Dr. Pierce had a broad knowledge of Canadian history and culture and of the book industry. He edited the Makers of Canadian Literature series and the Ryerson Poetry Chap-books and knew many of the early Canadian poets personally. Dr. Pierce was eager to build a strong Canadian collection at his alma mater.

Although Queen's Library had been building its Canadiana collections since the Library's inception, it was due to Edith and Lorne Pierce's generous benefactions that Queen's became an internationally known centre for Canadian studies. Pierce began donating books to Queen's around 1925 and provided advice and some funding towards purchases thereafter.

An endowment fund was established in 1961 shortly after his death and Lorne Pierce's private library and papers - including the Ryerson Press correspondence and the papers of Bliss Carman - all came to Queen's.

Canadian Literature

The substantial literary collections include the works of Bliss Carman, Major Richardson, Charles G.D. Roberts, William Kirby, Archibald Lampman, Thomas Chandler Haliburton, F.P. Grove, as well as the Ryerson Poetry Chap-books and the complete output of the Oberon Press.

The Lorne Pierce Collection also incorporates a number of sub-collections which are often, but not always, shelved together within the main classification sequence. Examples of this sort are the libraries of John Glassco, George Whalley, Mazo De La Roche and Alexander Watt, theosophist.

The F. R. Scott Canadian Poetry Magazine Collection also is part of the Library's Canadiana holdings. The collection was purchased in 1969 and includes over 200 "little magazines". Items from the F.R. Scott Collection are listed in QCAT.

And lastly, along with a number of early herbals Queen's has a unique scrapbook by Catherine Parr Traill:

Canadian ferns, mosses & wild-flowers / collected and arranged by the aged hand of Cathe. Parr Traill in Sept. & Oct. 1891, for her grandson, Hargrave H. Muchall, as a loving memorial. [Lakefield, Ont.? : The Author], 1891.
29 leaves of plates ; 40 cm. + 29 slides (col.) + 2 rolls col. negatives in container (42 x 33 x 6 cm.)

[Canadian Wild Flowers]

Canadian Wild Flowers by Catherine Parr Trail

The engraved illustrations for this edition of 500 copies were all hand-painted by Traill's niece, Agnes Fitzgibbon and her daughters.


Canadian History

In addition to the wide range of print resources in English and French Canadian literature, the Collection also includes historical works relating to the discovery, exploration and early settlement of this continent, and the influx of United Empire Loyalists, the role of Major John Richardson (1796-1852) and the War of 1812, the opening of the West, Arctica, and native people.

[Journal of Captain Cook's Last Voyage to the Pacific Ocean]

Journal of Captain Cook's Last Voyage to the Pacific Ocean

The Jordan Library owns two of the original editions of the so-called "Jesuit Relations" - one by Barthelemy Vimont (1644) and one by Diereville (1708). The collection of early North American travel literature is particularly strong and includes many accounts of the voyages of Cook, Franklin, Parry, Frobisher and others.

The Edith and Lorne Pierce Canadiana Collection now numbers about 100,000 items in a variety of formats. Building on our considerable collection strengths, we place an ongoing emphasis on collecting historically-significant and rare Canadiana.

At the same time, there is a focussed effort to acquire for Special Collections a representative cross-section of contemporary Canadian literature in all genres as well as other publications relating to Canadian history, culture and society. Collecting local histories, particularly of Ontario and Quebec, is also an area of some interest.

Appropriately, the Library's coverage of publications on Kingston and Queen's University is comprehensive.

Non-Book Items

An important collection of over 20,000 Canadian Pamphlets provides a rich resource for the study of Canadian society from the 18th century to the present. The Broadsides collection consists of posters on such topics as War bonds, conscription, Canadian poetry, politics, art and travel.

[Fire Insurance Plans]

In addition, the Queen's Archives has a wide range of Canadian historical and literary resources, including the papers of Lorne Pierce, Ryerson Press, Bliss Carman, the Oberon Press and, of course, materials relating to the history of Canada, the Kingston region and Queen's itself.

Many Maps and Atlases of Canadian historical interest are in the Jordan Library. A substantial collection of Fire Insurance Plans for cities in Ontario provide fascinating snapshots of our urban development. The four sets of Plans for Kingston, left, date from 1892-1963.

Genealogy Research

Many research resources relating to Ontario and Quebec (basic guides, directories and indexes to land, church, birth, marriage and death records) are shelved in the Jordan Library's "Genealogy Corner" for easy access. These valuable resources complement the holdings of the Government Information collection in Stauffer Library as well as those of the University Archives and the Ontario Genealogical Society, Kingston Branch collection in the Kingston Frontenac Public Library. Refer to Queen's Library's Genealogy Research guide for more information.


Last Updated: 28 August 2015

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