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University of Guelph Archives and Special Collections


Other Primary Resources in the
University of Guelph Archives


The University of Guelph Archives and Special Collections hold the Library's 25,000 rare books, special subject collections such as the L.M. Montgomery Collection, and research archives related to agriculture, landscape architecture, Scottish history, regional and campus history, and theatre in Ontario. Electronic versions of rare books are available for university staff
and students.

Here and elsewhere on this website we present only a few examples of holdings relevant to rural history. For full information, consult the catalogue and discuss your research interests with staff in archives and special collections.


The University of Guelph Archives can be accessed at

The University of Guelph Archives holds many collections related to rural history. Masters students in History 6280/6281 (North American Rural History) have composed several abstracts of specific resources available in the archives. Others are explored in the University of Guelph Archives Collection Updates.

The archives' website highlights some of its significant holdings for rural history including:

The Gates Collection
The Burton Noble Gates Collection is one chiefly on the science of Apiculture. Acquired in 1973 by the University of Guelph, it contains the personal library and archives of Burton Noble Gates - a professor and renowned apiarist. The collection holds over 12,000 items. It spans Canada, the Caribbean, China, Europe, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South America, and the United States. Primarily predating 1930, materials in the collection include correspondence, clippings, pamphlets, reports, file cards, price lists, honey labels, reprints, posters, and artifacts.

The Leonard Harman/ United Cooperatives Collection
A significant part of the agricultural history archives at the University of Guelph, the Leonard Harman Collection gives great insight into the roles of co-operatives in Ontario history. Acquired over two installments in June 1994 and February 1995, much of the correspondence, administrative records, and other materials were gathered and organized by Leonard Harman. The collection deals with the records of the United Farmers of Ontario (U.F.O.),  and the United Co-operatives of Ontario (U.C.O.) two major Ontario co-operatives that were formed in 1914.

The Abell Collection
The Helen C. Abell Collection spans the years 1938-1985, and includes such materials as correspondence, reports, resource material, and publications. It is a substantial collection, and offers an excellent look into the beginnings of rural sociology in Canada, as well as being a good resource for studying family and rural sociology in general. The collection was donated by Helen C. Abell in 1984 and 2002.

The Massey-Harris-Ferguson Collection
Beginning with the early settlement of Upper Canada and for most of the 20th century, Massey-Harris, or is was later know, Massey-Ferguson, was one of the largest agricultural implement companies in the world and one of Canada's largest corporations. Massey products were sold all over the world and the company was an international leader in developing innovative farm machinery.
The Massey-Harris-Ferguson Collection exemplifies the history and growth of the industrial corporation and Canada's past. It is an important resource for researchers in Canadian rural and agricultural history. The collection covers the period 1806-1986 and includes pamphlets, brochures and circulars, photographs, magazines, correspondence, annual reports, marketing material, sales agreements, biographies; as well, it documents the company's production and history in Canada and overseas including many firms that joined Massey. In addition, there are important literary magazines encouraged by Hart Massey--the Trip Hammer, Massey's Illustrated and Massey's Magazine.

The Sallows Collection
The Goderich photographer, Reuben Sallows (1855-1937), devoted his professional career to capturing rural Ontario in pictures (many taken in and around Huron County). His work can be found in the National Archives of Canada, Ontario Archives, the Reuben R. Sallows Gallery at Goderich, and several other collections.
Many of the photographs featured in this website are drawn from the Sallows Collection at the University of Guelph. A contact sheet of these photographs is located here.

Huron County Oral History Project
As part of a larger work entitled, "Farm Work and Farm Life in Ontario in the early 20th Century", three researchers carried out interviews with men and women born between 1895 and 1910 in Huron County Ontario. The original tape-recorded interviews have been transcribed. The collection has been deposited in the University of Guelph Archives and provides a valuable source in recreating a picture of life in a 19th century rural community. This collection can be accessed electronically by searching in the library catalogue, Trellis, using keywords and the phrase "Huron County Oral History Project".

In addition, the archives contain impressive collections of rural periodicals such as those referenced by Edwinna von Baeyer.

These collections, as well as many others, offer a variety of finding aids.

homecontactSite MapAcknowledgements
Rural History, Farming, Farm, Food, Agriculture, Rural Life, Countryside, Canada, History, Harvesting, Settlement, Rural, Culture, Veterinary, Agricultural science, Farm labourer, Farmer, Children, Gender, Rural Industries, Victorian, Edwardian, Twentieth century, Nineteenth century, Eighteenth century  

This research was undertaken, in part, thanks to funding
from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Canada Research Chairs Program.
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