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Lawrence Lande Collection of Canadiana, Rare Books and Special Collections Division

Collection Profile

Lawrence M. Lande (1906–1998) was a consummate collector of Canadiana in all its aspects—political, economic, cultural, and historical—and has left a legacy that continues to benefit and inspire his university and his country. Born in Ottawa, Ontario, Lande graduated with a BA from McGill in 1928 and was awarded an honorary DLitt (1969). He was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1967. A bibliophile, compiler of bibliographies, poet, and composer, Lande had wide-ranging interests that included the poet William Blake and the Book of Job in addition to Canadiana. In 1996 the library published Bibliotheca Canadiana: A Historical Survey of Canadian Bibliography: Catalogue of an Exhibition in Honour of the Ninetieth Birthday of Dr. Lawrence M. Lande, a suitable way indeed to celebrate Lande's central place in the bibliographic world of Canadiana.

Inspired by a love of Canadian history, Lande had long collected Canadian materials, and in 1965 the first part of the Lande Canadiana Collection was acquired from its creator. It comprised some 2,300 items, and this original nucleus has since grown to some 12,000 items, including pamphlets, maps, prints (among them over 50 early views of Montreal), periodicals, government documents, and broadsides, as well as books. The original gift is recorded in The Lawrence Lande Collection of Canadiana in the Redpath Library of McGill University (1965), and this volume is still cited as one of the standard references for Canadian material.

Lande was interested in all aspects of Canadian history from its discovery and exploration to its historical development to the end of the 19th century. Outstanding among the descriptions of early discoveries are André Thevet's Les singularitez de la France antarctique, autrement nommée amerique (1558) and Wytfliet's Histoire universelle des Indes orientales et occidentals (1605), which has some of the earliest maps of Canada. The Jesuit Relations are an invaluable primary source for the study of the early French Regime in Canada and the Jesuit's missionary efforts. Among other areas of concentration are the search for the Northwest Passage and Arctic exploration, the controversy over Confederation, and early Canadian imprints. An insight into early Canadian social history is provided by the personal narratives of such travellers as Kalm, Lambert, Weld, Heriot and Bonnycastle, and by ephemeral items which include broadsides, circulars, and sheet music.

Three other significant collections were added over the years. The Arkin Collection was assembled by the Winnipeg collector Nathan Arkin and purchased with Dr. Lande's assistance in 1966. This material concentrates on the development of the Prairie Provinces and British Columbia during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with special emphasis on the Northwest Rebellions, the Manitoba School Question, and immigration literature. The two other collections center upon First Nations peoples and the work of the Moravian missionaries among the Inuit of Labrador.

Not only has this rich assemblage of documentation and iconography provided generations of students and researchers with essential texts and unexpected discoveries, it has also played a much larger role. The Lande Canadiana Collection at McGill with the Lande Collection at Library and Archives Canada and the many published bibliographies are repositories of the Canadian historical memory.

Collection Profile and Overview: Richard Virr
Illustrations: Eli Brown

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