A few weeks ago, we reported that Canada’s family trees were going completely digital, meaning Canadians would soon be able to use searchable databases to find historical data. Now Canadians have their very own search engine for discovering Canadian history and genealogy.
The Canadiana Discovery Portal connects Canadians to over 60 million pages of data from various archive collections and includes information from multiple libraries, museums, universities and government agencies.
What does it do?
It allows users to perform searches similar to searching a term on Google but it’s all Canadian content. There are multiple ways to search; name, city or subjects such as hockey.
The database is powerful and it scours information from its collections to find users an exact page on a document where the searched term is found. As an example, if you searched for “Toronto”, the search results would likely link to a specific page within the book or archive that contained the word “Toronto”.
We searched “Windsor, Ontario” and found a myriad of neat information and images on theater life dating back to the 1930s. We also found a few interesting documents within the Windsor collection, on air pollution and Native Indian treaties and surrenders from 1680 to 1890.
If you’re a history or genealogy buff, having access to records online reduces the time-consuming task of hunting down records in libraries via microfilm. And, the added benefit of searching by topic, name and region within the database is a handy tool. A costly tool as well.
How much is this costing tax payers?
Canadiana.org, the organization that developed the Discovery Portal search engine received almost $200,000 from the federal government to make this information readily available, and to help with the development of software that assists institutions in connecting parts of their collections to the database. And, that cost doesn’t cover the vast amount of physical data that hasn’t been transferred to digital.
It’s estimated that the price of digitally achieving all of the heritage information before the 1990’s could cost as much as $1 billion, according to Ron Walker, executive director of Canadiana.org.
One of the issues is to preserve it and the other is to make it accessible .. We think by making interesting content accessible it will generate more interest from the public. – Ron Walker, executive director of Canadiana.org