The Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online . . .
Have a look . . .
There are a further 8,431 portraits in the Online edition of the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, or DCB as it is commonly known: concise and well written, these pieces are exceptionally well researched, and exactly cited - making them a perfect start for serious research on almost any topic in Canadian history, especially those involving people.
The Online version of the DCB reproduces and extends the print version, including its essential chronological arrangement. The DCB in print organizes entries by the year the subject died. The first volume covers a 700 year period from 1000 to 1700, and subsequent volumes cover a range of periods from 9 to 39 years.
The online Advanced Search page includes volume searching under the "Date Range of Death" category. (note: coverage for any date past 1930 includes only a small selection of biographies that will appear in forthcoming print editions.)
The centre and right hand columns of the page includes a "Full-Text Search" option to look for common and distictive words in biographical entries: "astrolabe" (3 matching entries); "HBC" (513); "Jamaica" (138); "Napoleonic wars" (139); "Pemmican" (25); and "shipbuilding" (233).
Options are present for browsing in different ways, most obviously "by the first letter of the last name". And "Browse by Identification" allows searchers to select from catagories like "Aboriginal people" (254 matching entries); "Blacks" (39); "Business" (2,146); "Fur Trade" (323); Inventors (39); Mariners (132); and Politicians (1593).
The "Browse by Geographical Location" option can search for entries by the capital cities, as well as by the provinces. A quick review shows that the majority of the entries emanate from eastern Canada (eg. Halifax has 922 entries, whereas Victoria has 315).
A "Gender" search allows for the selection of entries by "Female" (504 entries) or "Male" (7,934).
All of the searches listed above can be "modified". For example, if we choose "Browse by Identification" and select "Philanthrophists and Social Reformers", there will be 263 results. From the results page that appears we can select "Modify Search". We can then select Gender "Female":
For this search, there are 103 entries listed once the "Submit" button is pressed.
The University of Toronto Press notes that the DCB is "Canada's oldest and largest research and publishing project in the humanities." Begun in 1959, the project is witness to the changing social roles of an earlier time, as when we discover, for example, that there are 1,590 male politicians listed in the database compared with a total of only 4 female politicians!
Still, what Robert Fulford wrote almost 20 years ago is just as true now: "today it would be hard to imagine anyone writing a serious book about pre-1900 Canada without using it." . . . and let's hope that the same will be said of the DCB by future researchers of 20th century Canada.