Special Collections include those materials that, because of subject coverage, rarity, source, condition, or form, are best handled separately from the general collections. The collection consists of two main collections of monographs, The Niagara Collection and The Masonic Collection. The materials are housed in closed stacks in a climate and humidity controlled environment, and are non-circulating; their use is limited to the Special Collections Reading Room.
The Niagara Collection
The Niagara Collection was established in 1967. It has been developed through individual purchases, donations, and grants. The collection covers all aspects of the Niagara Peninsula (former Lincoln and Welland Counties) and includes current and retrospective published materials relating to the Niagara Peninsula.
Subjects covered include: settlement history, geography, geology, military history, economics, planning, urban renewal, literature. The collection holds extensive materials on the War of 1812, the Welland Canal, and early travellers' journals.
Scope of the Niagara Collection
The Niagara Collection is intended to be a working special collection; the coverage is comprehensive and includes: the history, geography, geology and ecology of the area from the earliest settlement by the First Nations, through the French occupation, American Revolution (1776-83), Loyalist settlement and the development of communities by means of various institutions such as, church, school, business and social. The military history is part of this collection including all the local battles of the War of 1812 (with a special emphasis on the Battle of Queenston Heights and Sir Isaac Brock) the Rebellion of 1837-38, the Fenian Raid of 1866, local involvement in the two world wars, and the role of Niagara women during that period.
Transportation has played a key role in the development of the area through canals, railways and roads. The Welland Canals, the St. Lawrence Deep Waterway project (now called St. Lawrence Seaway) are a collection strength, as well as rail, bridge, and industry.
Early travellers to Niagara came as tourists to visit Niagara Falls. The Niagara Collection holds an excellent group of early travellers' accounts and guidebooks.
The geography includes the Bruce Trail, the Niagara Escarpment, Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, the Niagara River and the related geology and all the attendant environmental, ecological and land use issues, including those related to hydro production.
In addition, we support the tender fruit growing and market gardening aspect of this area with an emphasis on collecting materials related to the grape and wine industry.
Niagara's cultural contributions are collected and recognized through the Shaw Festival, Brock University, the Niagara Symphony, the past and present literary works of local authors, poets, and playwrights, and the role of musicians on the community scene.
The Archives consists of primary source, unpublished materials with a Niagara focus.
Select titles of early Niagara papers on microfilm and some representative print editions and special editions are available for researchers.
Plans of the Welland Canals, land surveys of the second canal era (1840s-1850s), fire insurance plans for many local cities and municipalities pre 1900-1963.
Other collections include a selection of Canadiana and pre-Confederation imprints, a copy of the first novel published in Upper Canada, a small representative collection of local private presses, fine press and limited editions, special editions, an example of fore-edge painting, items of notable provenance, signed and inscribed copies, some seventeenth and eighteenth century books, scarce books, rare books, costly books and other noteworthy titles.