Dr. Lawrence M. Lande, the eminent Canadian bibliophile, has been responsible over the years for an impressive number of Canadian bibliographies. Pride of place must go to The Lawrence Lande Collection of Canadiana in the Redpath Library McGill University (1965) and its supplement Rare and Unusual Canadiana (1971), although other bibliographies for which Dr. Lande has been responsible are also important. On 11 November 1996 Dr. Lande celebrated his ninetieth birthday and it seemed fitting that this occasion be marked by an exhibition. Bibliotheca Canadiana: A Historical Survey of Canadian Bibliography traces the development of Canadian bibliography from the early eighteenth century to the late twentieth century. This exhibition is a celebration of the achievements of one of Canada's great modern collectors. There could be no more appropriate tribute to Dr. Lande's life work.
Canadian bibliography has its origins, not surprisingly, in the larger subject of American or New World bibliography. And it was only slowly that Canadian bibliography became a distinct part of this broader discipline. Nevertheless, the first Canadian bibliography, by G.-B. Faribault, appeared as early as 1837. His work was closely related to the early interest in documenting the history of Canada and parallels the development of the Canadian archival tradition. The nineteenth century was to see the foundations of Canadian bibliography truly laid.
Bibliographies, generally, are of three types: those based on particular collections; compilations drawing on many sources; and book sellers' catalogues. All three types are included in this exhibition. Particular collections provide the basis for many bibliographies and these usually reflect directly the personality and purposes of the collector. In some cases, these particular collections evidence new departures as in the case of White Kennett's Bibliotheca Americanæ Primordia, usually considered the first American bibliography. In other cases, such of that of Dr. Lande, the bibliography reflects the passion of the collector. Even in these cases, however, new departures may find expression. Compilations represent another approach, one that is perhaps more theoretically oriented in that diverse sources are used to create a bibliography that is usually more comprehensive than one based on a particular collection. The works of L.T. Rede, G.-B. Faribault, H. Harrrisse and many modern bibliographies are of this kind. Finally, book sellers's catalogues frequently provide rare and unusual material or particularly important copies. As well, book sellers's catalogues frequently open previously unexplored areas of a subject. Book sellers and their catalogues are the usual sources from which particular collections are formed. Henry Stevens of Vermont is the most notable example, but there were many others in the nineteenth century including O. Rich and F.A. Brockhaus.
The important role of book sellers in Canadian bibliography is most apparent in the twentieth century the names of Bernard Amtmann, Dora Hood and G. Ducharme come immediately to mind but their role in the formation of nineteenth century collections is more obscure. The history of the book trade in Canada and especially in the nineteenth century is still to be written. Nevertheless, it is clear that the great Montreal collections of Canadiana of the nineteenth century such as those of Frederick Griffin, Robert Mackay, David Ross McCord, Gerald E. Hart and Joseph B. Learmont must have depended on the services of book sellers. Of these collections, those of Griffin, Mackay and McCord are now largely at McGill; those of Hart and Learmont were sold at auction in 1890 in Boston and 1917 in New York respectively. For these latter two, the auction catalogues are now the only record.
In the late twentieth century Canadian bibliography has come of age and of the many notable bibliographies it has been possible to include a very few examples. Canadian university and research libraries have played a leading role in the maturation of the discipline by creating bibliographies of their holdings the Toronto Public Library being an outstanding example and by sponsoring collaborative projects. Both individual scholars and groups of scholars have also made notable contributions and in particular the work of Marie Tremaine and of the Bibliographic Society of Canada should be noticed. This brief historical survey should provide ample evidence not only of the beginnings but of the present thriving state of Canadian bibliography.
The exhibition includes both bibliographies and items listed in them, and occasionally other illustrative material. Most of the examples are taken from the Lande Collection and are so identified; most of the bibliographies, on the other hand, come from the general collection of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.
Curator of Manuscripts
Librarian, Lande Collection of Canadiana
Dept. of Rare Books and Special Collections
McGill University Libraries