ABOUT THE CANADIAN LESBIAN AND GAY ARCHIVES
The Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives was established to aid in the recovery and preservation of our histories. Its mandate is to acquire, preserve, organize, and give public access to information and materials in any medium, by and about LGBT people, primarily produced in or concerning Canada. To support this function, the Archives also maintains significant non-archival collections, which include a research library, international subject files, and an international collection of queer periodicals. It is our mandate to make this information available to the public for education and research. Over the years, we have helped hundreds of people – students, artists, journalists, lawyers, filmmakers – working on various projects.
Founded in 1973, the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives (CLGA) has grown to become the largest independent LGBTQ+ archives in the world. After years of operating in tiny, cramped offices, the CLGA finally moved into our new home at 34 Isabella Street in September of 2009. Our house, which was built in 1858, has been extensively renovated for improved public engagement and we can now offer a large reading room, an art gallery, and a meeting room that can be rented by other community groups.
Given that the CLGA’s founders were also members of the collective that published The Body Politic, it should come as no surprise that our earliest holdings consisted of records from that influential gay and lesbian liberation newspaper. As the ’70s progressed and word of the Archives’ existence spread across the country, donations started pouring in from organizations and private individuals. These days, the CLGA preserves a wide range of material including personal papers, photographs, moving images, sound recordings, periodicals, and clipping files. However, unlike many more traditional archives, we also collect artifacts like buttons, board games, t-shirts, and banners. As if this weren’t enough to keep researchers busy, we also have a reference library and a rare book collection. Our National Portrait Collection, established in 1998, honours those that have made a significant contribution to LGBT life in Canada.