The Scrapbook Debates of the Parliament of Canada

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Known as the “Scrapbook Debates,” newspaper clippings pasted into scrapbooks by Library of Parliament staff from 1867 to 1871 remain the only organized source of parliamentary proceedings during that period.

This unique collection has been placed on the Canada Memory of the World Register. Managed by the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, the Register is intended to contribute to the preservation of documentary heritage and reflect the diversity of documentary heritage significant to Canada.

The scrapbooks came into being after the members of Canada’s first Parliament decided, after debate, that the financial costs of recording word-for-word the debates in the Senate and the House of Commons would be too high. It was felt that public demand for the debates was satisfied by the reporting of the members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery.

Established in 1867, the press gallery was responsible for recording the proceedings of the new parliament for publication in Canadian newspapers. While an outline of the business conducted for each parliamentary sitting could be found in the Journals, it was the role of the press gallery to provide an ongoing record of verbal exchanges and interventions for both chambers during the first years of Parliament.

As Library staff created the scrapbooks, they added notes in the margins and handwritten partial indexes, that add context to the historical data.

Although access to the scrapbooks has always been limited to Parliament as part of the Library’s collection, the Scrapbook Debates have often been consulted and have degraded over the years. They are now individually boxed and preserved in a controlled environment in the rare book room of the Library.

The Library of Parliament reconstituted the Scrapbook Debates to make them available in a modern format. They can be found online on the Canadian Parliamentary Historical Resources portal.

Details

There are five scrapbooks in this collection

  • The scrapbooks measure approximately 33 cm X 28 cm X 7 cm
  • A scrapbook contains on average 275 pages
  • They are bound in leather
Spine of the Scrapbook Debates of the Parliament of Canada
The Scrapbook Debates of the Parliament of Canada
Picture of the spine of the Scrapbook Debates of the Parliament of Canada
Newspaper clipping
The Scrapbook Debates of the Parliament of Canada_handwriting text index
Index