Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives
Founded in 1973, the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives (CLGA) has grown to become the second-largest LGBT 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.
We’re finding that having this larger home base has already made a big difference in the kinds of outreach work that we can do, and on any given day volunteers at the house might be leading a school tour, assisting researchers, or preparing for a presentation elsewhere in the community. Our users include students, filmmakers, lawyers, journalists, professors and artists, though we welcome anyone with an interest in LGBT history.
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 queer 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.