The archives acquire physical and virtual media relating to Canadian railway history, conserve these for posterity, and promote their use by making them known and accessible to students, historians, researchers, journalists, and other interested people.
The CRHA Archives and Documentation Centre houses more than 321 private archival fonds and collections from railway companies (Canadian Pacific, Canadian National, Grand Trunk, etc.), manufacturers (Montreal Locomotive Works, Canadian Car & Foundry, etc.), important people (Charles M. Hays, William C. Van Horne, etc.), former employees, and railway history buffs. These preserved documents illustrate in particular the technological genius, the history of the stations, the life of the workers, the growth of the companies, and the development of the regions; telling the history of transportation in Canada from 1780 to the present day.
In addition, the Centre holds a documentation section of more than 10,000 books and magazines on the history of rail transportation in Canada from 1773 to the present, making it the largest specialized collection of its kind in Canada.
The CRHA Archives and Documentation Centre currently houses (March 31, 2021)
|1,619.68||Linear metres of textual records|
|35,6||MB of digital text documents|
|209,261||Maps and drawings|
|361||Hours of sound recordings|
|4,142||Hours of moving images|
|12,161||Books and magazines|
The majority of documents kept by the CRHA Archives and Documentation Centre are available for consultation.
Descriptive records of fonds and collections processed using our ArchiLog database are available online. Some photos can also be viewed there in low resolution. Our new online search portal allows you to search all our databases in one place! Not only can you search our archival materials, but also our collection of books and magazines (Biblio-Tek) and back issues of Canadian Rail magazine, all with one click!
It is possible to consult our documents in person. You can do this by making an appointment with the archivist. Consultation, reproduction and user fees may apply. See the CRHA Pricing Policy for details.
See the Guide for Researchers for our opening hours, contact information for the Centre, consultation rules and much other useful information.
COVID-19: No on-site researchers are accepted at this time. A joint committee between Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) and Services d’archives privées agréés (SAPA) has been set up to define the services that could eventually be offered to clients on site in the archive centres. The committee’s recommendations will have to be submitted to government authorities to obtain public health endorsement for their implementation. Thank you for your understanding.
It is possible to ask the archivist to carry out your required research, using the search request form. It should be noted that fees are charged for this service. Similarly, other fees may apply for the reproduction of documents found. See the CRHA Pricing Policy for details.
The Centre does not hold any documents that can assist in genealogical research or research on former railway employees. For other ways to access such information, please see our help document on this topic.
Even though most of the documents held by the archives are old, this does not mean that they are free to be used without any restriction. For an overview of the legal framework surrounding the use of the archives, please see our document on this topic
Our history is preserved through the various documents that are built up over time. Without them, it would be difficult for us – if not impossible – to understand the different developments that have helped make our world what it is today.
Whether you are a railway company, a manufacturer, an employee or former employee, or a railroad history enthusiast, your archives are important.
Do not neglect documents that can clutter your closets: they sometimes contain unknown treasures! Consider offering an archival donation to the Canadian Railroad Historical Association.
To do this, a process is in place:
For more details, please refer to our acquisition policy.
110, Saint-Pierre Street
Saint-Constant (Québec) J5A 1G7
450 638-1522, ext. 237