Private Manuscripts

Our private manuscript fonds and collections document the history and culture of Kingston and surrounding region. They include the papers of individuals, businesses, organizations and societies that reflect the history and culture of the area and the country. The Archives also holds the early records of the City of Kingston, plus other regional and local government institutions.

Private papers may be donated to the Archives. Such donations become the legal property of Queen's University. The Archives processes and maintains the material and makes it available to researchers. Certain confidential or sensitive material may be temporarily closed at the donor's request. For further information on the donation process, issues of copyright and access, and the issue of tax receipts for gifts-in-kind, please contact the University Archivist directly.

Queen's University Archives' private records (manuscripts) programme can be summed up in a number of thematic areas. These include:


Throughout the years one of the largest collections of literary papers in Canada has been acquired by the Queen's University Archives. The collection began with the papers of Dr. Lorne Pierce who was Editor of the Ryerson Press from 1920 to 1960. Nearly every Canadian literary figure of note for this period is represented by at least some manuscript material in the Lorne and Edith Pierce Collection of Canadian Manuscripts. This invaluable resource for the study of Canadian literature has been supplemented with numerous collections in recent years - including the George Woodcock, Al Purdy, Hugh Garner, Dorothy Livesay, Ralph Gustafson and the Oberon Press fonds. A large portion of the Bliss Carman fonds were also acquired.

Descriptions of a large portion of the Canadian literary collections were prepared with a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, at the individual document level and are available on the Archives database.

While most of the collections relate to Canadian writers, the Archives also have the John Buchan and Monk Gibbon fonds. Microfilm copies of manuscript material relating to Virginia Woolf, Emile Zola and Thomas Hardy are also available.


Canadian public affairs is one of the major strengths of the Queen's University Archives. Our holdings contain the Charles Dunning, Norman Rogers, Thomas A. Crerar, Donald Gordon, Grant Dexter, and Charles G. Power fonds. In addition, the microfilm copies of eight Prime Ministers' papers are available. The records of the Ontario Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party have also been deposited in the Archives.

Students of nineteenth century political events will find a number of important collections. Material of value in this area include the Goldwin Smith Fonds, the Upper Canada Sundries, and the Canada West Provincial Secretary's Files. The Queen's University Archives also has partial original collections of two Prime Ministers - Alexander Mackenzie and Sir Mackenzie Bowell.


Queen's University Archives contains a number of important collections relating to Canadian business history. These records include extensive collections of several national companies including Canada Steamship Lines, the McLaughlin Carriage Works (forerunner to General Motors Canada) and the Canadian Locomotive Company. In the Archives are the papers of several prominent businessmen such as entrepreneur Sir Joseph Flavelle and furniture manufacturer Daniel Knechtel. In addition, there are records of several Kingston and district companies including the Joseph Abramsky Company, the Calvin Company, the Foley General Store and Tett Family Papers and several local cheese factories.

In general, these fonds contain financial records, correspondence, photographs and occasionally some printed catalogues and brochures.


The Queen's University Archives have an important collection of papers and records relating to families, organizations and land settlement in the Kingston district. Among the family papers in the Archives are those of the Cartwrights, Fairfields, Tetts, and Calvins. Also there are records of the Kingston Rowing Club, the Kingston General Hospital Archives, the Archives of the City of Kingston, and the Kiwanis Club. Land copy books and abstract indexes are available for several counties around Kingston.


Queen’s University Archives houses a large number of photographic fonds of local, regional and national interest. There are over 500,000 prints and negatives. While the major strength of this collection consists of images relating to Kingston and Queen's University, a considerable amount of material of national importance is also available.

Among the most unique of the Archives' photographic holdings is the Chesterfield fonds, which depicts life in the Hudson Bay district and Ile d'Orleans for the period from 1900 to 1935.

Detailed indexes of most of the collections are available. Prints of most of the photographs may be purchased by researchers, subject to copyright clearance.

The major photographic fonds and collections are:

  • Queen’s Picture Collection
  • Kingston Picture Collection
  • George Lilley fonds
  • Jack Chiang fonds
  • Wallace Berry fonds
  • Kingston Whig-Standard fonds
  • W.L. Prosser fonds
  • D.G. "Mike" Willis fonds
  • Hazelgrove Slides
  • Lloyd Thompson fonds
  • Frontenac Historic Foundation fonds
  • George Vosper Glass Plate Negatives
  • Powell Glass Plate Negatives
  • F.X. O’Connor fonds
  • Strathy Smith fonds
  • A.A. Chesterfield fonds
  • Leal Photos


The architectural history of Kingston and district is documented by a number of important architectural collections in the Queen's University Archives. The William Newlands Collection contains drawings, blueprints, specifications for Kingston dwellings, stores, hospitals and schools for the period 1883 to 1920. The Andrew Connidis Collection contains similar material for Kingston buildings from 1967 to 1974.

A smaller collection of early Kingston architects (including George Browne, Andrew Drummond, Joseph Power, John Howard, Robert Gage, and Shepherd and Calvin) have also been obtained throughout the years. Photocopies of a number of John and Joseph Power drawings have been acquired from the National Archives of Canada.

A substantial number of plans for Queen's University buildings are also available in the collection.

Queen’s University Archives has an outstanding collection of local architectural drawings. These date from the 1840’s to the present and comprise the following large collections:

  • Kingston Architectural Drawings collection
  • William Newlands & Son fonds
  • MacLennan Associates Architects fonds
  • Inglis and Downey Architects fonds
  • Andrew J. Connidis fonds

Of national interest, the large Peter J. Stokes fonds contains drawings relating to historical restoration projects from across Canada, and the Walter Seymour Allward fonds contain drawings relating to the Canadian War Memorial at Vimy, France.


The Queen's University Archives hold recordings of many special university lectures such as the Dunning Trust Lecture series. There are also several collections of oral history interviews (including the Dean of Women's Oral History Project with interviews with prominent women graduates and women staff members). There are some recordings of Canadian writers reading and discussing their work. There is some early motion picture footage of Queen's history and campus scenes. The collection also contains videotapes of recent Queen's University events.


Queen's Archives is the repository for a number of prominent Canadian artists. These papers typically contain correspondence, photographs and sketches. Just some examples are:

  • Walter Seymour Allward
  • André Biéler
  • Leonard and Reva Brooks
  • Alan C. Collier
  • Bobs Coghill-Haworth and Peter Haworth
  • Jacobine Jones
  • Grant Macdonald
  • Vera Frenkel