CCA Collection : Library

"So Hopefully and Imaginatively Founded": The CCA Library to 1998. (ARLIS Canada. History of Art Libraries in Canada / Histoire des bibliothèques d'art au Canada, p. 119

General                Special Collections                Periodicals

Canadian Architecture and Urbanism | United States Architecture and Urbanism | European Holdings | Holdings from Other Regions | Reference Collection

Rich in rare books and special collections, the Library is dedicated to the literature of architecture in its broadest sense, including its professional history, its formal and theoretical elements and its relationship to the main currents of intellectual history. Its collections seek to document the history of architectural discourse and to promote scholarship and research in architectural history and theory; they aim to be as comprehensive as possible in scholarly, theoretical works while also focusing on a variety of special subject areas.

One of these special collections is that of early architectural treatises. Documenting the beginning of the modern tradition of enlightened debate about architecture, these Renaissance treatises comprise a collection of international importance. Supporting this material is a large body of Italian regional histories and city guides dating from the beginning of printing into the nineteenth century. Particular interest has been paid to the architectural literature of the countries whose culture has contributed to the formation of Canadian culture, England and France. There is an important collection of British country house guides of the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as of literature of the English Gothic Revival. The French contribution to the urban culture of Québec and its fortified cities is reflected in a collection of manuals, treatises and manuscripts on fortification. There are strong imprints from Germany and The Netherlands, and significant strengths in Eastern European holdings, especially books and periodicals on architecture published in the former Soviet Union. There are also a number of unique CCA collections, one of close to 800 architectural toys and games, one of over 5,000 architectural trade catalogues from the late 18th through the 20th century, and one of over 850 souvenir models representing architectural structures and monuments. A strong collection has been formed of literature on 20th century Modernism and avant-garde architecture which is supported by an outstanding collection of architectural periodicals, one of the Library's principal assets as an active research library.

Canadian Architecture and Urbanism

Currently comprising over 12,000 titles, more than half from the past four decades, coverage is intended to be comprehensive. The focus is on Canadian architecture, with emphasis on historic buildings and landmarks, and on Canadian architects and architectural firms. Includes general histories of localities, businesses and institutions. Special strength in souvenir publications of towns and villages, chiefly in Québec and Ontario, as well as view books and guidebooks. Especially good coverage on the history of Montréal and its architecture, with emphasis on city planning and urban renewal. Formats are interesting and varied: monographs, exhibition catalogues, theses, trade catalogues, almanacs, directories, atlases, audio-visual materials, etc.

Supplemented by two noteworthy special collections: the Ernest Cormier Library and a collection of Canadian fire insurance maps, dating from the 1880s to the 1970s, representing close to 400 cities, towns and villages throughout the country.

United States Architecture and Urbanism

Strong coverage of architecture throughout the United States from colonial times to the present. The early period is rich in builders' manuals and pattern books, beginning with John Norman's Town and Country Builder's Assistant (Boston, 1786). The collection includes about one third of the titles in Henry-Russell Hitchcock's American Architectural Books (New York, 1976). This core is supplemented by city guides, view books and other contemporary witnesses to the built environment. Other strengths include late 19th and 20th-century building types and materials, the latter complemented by special collections of trade catalogues and international expositions. Excellent coverage of American architects and architectural firms, including Frank Lloyd Wright (see C. Donald Cook Frank Lloyd Wright Collection). Particular emphasis on North American Modernism and its aftermath, with recognition of the interdisciplinary nature of many avant-garde theories. Good coverage of city planning and urban renewal, in particular housing. Also extensive holdings on the history of photography in America.

European Holdings

A major portion of the Library's monographs were published in Europe, many of these dating from before 1840 (including ten incunabula). Coverage of all aspects of architecture, urban planning and landscape design, as well as all styles and periods. The collection includes virtually all of the early printed architectural treatises, often both first and subsequent editions. Renaissance holdings range from pocket manuals to large illustrated books. Literature of the history and development of building types is complemented by treatises on the use of building materials; monographs by and about architects are supported by documents relating to the history of architectural education. Strong holdings of exhibition catalogues and theses. Topographical literature is well represented, with emphasis on early guidebooks and view books as sources for the study of urban planning, landscape gardening and techniques of architectural representation. European imprints on subjects such as draughtsmanship, engineering, ornament and perspective complement other monographic collections to provide for broad-based research.

All countries and languages are included, with France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and the Netherlands particularly well represented for all periods. Russian-language holdings are a special strength, with titles ranging in date from the 18th century to the present, but with about 80% from the post World War II period. Particularly strong in Soviet architecture, architectural history, urban and regional planning, architectural education and housing. There are also solid holdings for Eastern Europe and Armenia.

Holdings from Other Regions

Holdings for countries outside of North America and Europe consist mainly of recent monographs. Earlier imprints are more selective and largely confined to colonial architecture in India and Central and South America, or the work of Western practices in the Middle East and elsewhere. Strengths include contemporary architecture from Japan, China and Korea, temple architecture of ancient India and urban development in Latin America. Includes a unique reference collection of retrospective and current vastu shastra literature.

Reference Collection

Over 6,000 titles including standard and specialised works of reference. Early works include multi-volume encyclopedias such as Diderot's Encyclopédie, the 5th and 11th editions of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Brockhaus Real-Encyclopädie of 1822 and Larousse's Grand dictionnaire universelle du XIXe siècle. Standard research tools such as general and specialised encyclopedias, indexes and national biographical dictionaries are available in the Reading Room; standard and specialised electronic reference resources are also available. Approximately half the reference titles relate specifically to architecture, including over 1,500 bibliographies, over 200 dictionaries of terminology, many of which are early works, and architectural guides for most major cities. Other strengths include reference works on art, on gardens, and on the history of the book.

Access to important collections of drawings (e.g. RIBA Architectural Library drawings collection; architectural drawings in the Victoria & Albert Museum; architectural and ornamental drawings in Sir John Soane's Museum, etc.) and photographic materials and documentation (e.g. The Conway Library; History of Photography collection of periodicals, etc.) is available through microform surrogates.

A vertical file collection, begun in 1985, includes ephemeral material such as exhibition announcements and invitations, as well as photocopies of newspaper clippings relating to architecture, principally from the Montréal newspapers and the New York Times. Comprises over 2,550 files on individual architects, extensive files relating to Montréal and files on many architecture-related subjects covered in the popular press.

Special Collections

Renaissance Treatises | Trissino Collection of Books on Italy | Festival Books | Fortification and Early Military Architecture | Portraits of Architects | Harris Collection of British Country House Guides | International Expositions | Trade Catalogues | Edward Craig Theatre Collection | Historic Theatres' Trust Collection | C. Donald Cook Frank Lloyd Wright Collection | Hoffman Collection | Norman D. Stevens Collection of Library Architecture | Ernest Cormier Library | Vastu Shastra Publications | Architectural Toys and Games | BRAU Research Reports | Ephemera | Postcards | Architectural Competitions

Renaissance Treatises
Editions of Alberti, Palladio, Scamozzi, Serlio, Vignola and Vitruvius. The collection aims to be comprehensive in tracing the history of these texts from the fifteenth century onwards. Supported by the Library's strong holdings in primary and secondary literature on Renaissance architectural theory and practice.

Search the Library Catalogue with the phrase Renaissance treatises to retrieve the items from this collection.

Trissino Collection of Books on Italy
Over 2,000 titles, from the 15th through 19th centuries, on Italian art and architecture, expanded by his descendants from a collection originally formed by Count Leonardo Trissino (1780-1841). Taking as its point of departure a chapter of Julius Schlosser's La Letteratura Artistica the collection consists mostly of regional histories and cultural guides to individual towns and cities, with especially good coverage of northern Italy (Friuli, Veneto, Lombardia, Piemonte, Liguria, Emilia Romagna). It also includes biographical monographs and first editions of major Italian treatises on art by Alberti, Borghini, Lomazzo and others.

Search the Library Catalogue with the phrase Trissino Collection to retrieve the items from this collection.

Festival Books
A selection of 75 printed books illustrating the temporary buildings and ephemeral decorations erected for special events such as royal births, weddings and funerals. Special emphasis on early examples of the genre, beginning with Henry II's triumphal entries into Paris and Lyon in 1549.

Search the Library Catalogue with the phrase festival books to retrieve the items from this collection.

Fortification and Early Military Architecture
Approximately 125 titles dating from Albrecht Dürer's treatise of 1527 to the early nineteenth century, with particular emphasis on the major Renaissance and Baroque treatises. Intended to show the development of military architecture in this period and its interrelationship with other disciplines, especially civil architecture, engineering, geometry and town planning. Includes four unpublished manuscripts.

Portraits of Architects
Over 600 portraits in various print media of British and European architects, engineers and artists. Dating from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries, the collection includes woodcuts, engravings, etchings and lithographs, some originally appearing as plates in published works.

Harris Collection of British Country House Guides
Approximately 340 early printed books on British country houses, offering primary evidence about the architecture, gardens and interior decoration of residential castles, palaces and villas. The earliest item is a suite of thirteen late seventeenth-century views of Audley End in Essex; the latest, one of thirty copies of a 1939 guide to Poundisford Park, Somerset. Strong holdings on Blenheim Palace, Fonthill, Stowe and Wilton, and representative guides to many less famous houses. Includes two manuscripts and numerous unique association copies.

Search the Library Catalogue with the phrase John Harris Collection to retrieve the items from this collection.

International Expositions and Fairs
Over 1,500 items generated in connection with fifty different international expositions from the 1834 Paris exhibition to the present day. Strongest holdings are for London, 1851; Philadelphia, 1876; Chicago, 1893; Paris, 1900; St. Louis, 1904; San Francisco, 1915 (over 700 items); Paris, 1925; New York, 1939; and Montréal, 1967. Over 100 other fairs of various types are also represented. The collection includes printed materials and souvenir artefacts.

Trade Catalogues
Over 5,000 trade catalogues documenting building technology and construction methods from the late eighteenth century to the present. The core of the collection was formed through acquisition of the relevant portions of the Franklin Institute trade catalogue collection. Coverage is broad and includes such categories as concrete and lumber, metalwork and woodwork, flooring, heating and insulation, plumbing and electricity, windows and roofing..

Search the Library Catalogue with the phrase Franklin Institute Trade Catalogue Collection to retrieve the items from the Franklin collection.

Edward Craig Theatre Collection
Books (about 75 titles) and ephemera documenting stage design and theatre history in Italy, France, Germany and England from the 17th through 20th centuries. Collected by Edward (Carrick) Craig and his father, the eminent stage designer Edward Gordon Craig. The 700 ephemeral documents -- engravings, photographs, broadsides, cuttings -- focus on London theatres. Also includes original prints and drawings, housed in the Prints and Drawings department.

In addition to the Craig Collection, there are over 1,000 other titles relating to the theatre (some 30 dated before 1800). Of these, about half concern the architecture of theatres (e.g. theatre construction, theatre as building type); about 300 items on the theatre as an art form; another 200 on stage sets and scenery. Complemented by items in the Library's non-book collections (toys, competition briefs, audio-visual materials, vertical files).

Search the Library Catalogue with the phrase Edward Craig Theatre Collection to retrieve the items from this collection.

Historic Theatres' Trust Collection
The mandate of the Historic Theatres' Trust was to promote a greater appreciation for the preservation of historic Canadian theatres and to encourage improved methods of preserving, restoring, operating and researching historic theatres. The collection comprises the Historic Theatres' Trust library and archives including reports, feasibility studies, monographs, periodicals, newsletters, theatre programs, photographs, clippings, postcards and theatrical memorabilia. A component of this collection is the Emmanuel Briffa Collection, named in honour of one of Canada's most prolific theatre decorators and comprising slides, photographs, postcards, theatre programs, clippings, and printed ephemera.

Search the Library Catalogue with the phrase Historic Theatres' Trust Collection/Fonds Société des salles historiques to retrieve the items from this collection.

C. Donald Cook Frank Lloyd Wright Collection
Major collection of research material relating to the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. Approximately 1,200 books, 1,200 periodical issues and 1,000 ephemeral items including posters, audio-visual material, clippings, postcards, stationery, memorabilia. Includes almost all significant titles by and about FLW from the early decades of the century to the mid 1990s; all editions and printings of the major titles, including all foreign-language editions. Also inlcudes most major architecture, design and other serial publications, with coverage of FLW, issued between the turn of the century and the present decade. Ephemeral items are both early and current; posters and memorabilia are current. Supplemented by other FLW holdings in the Library, Prints and Drawings, and Photographs Collection.

Hoffman Collection
Over 850 souvenir models representing architectural structures and monuments. This wide-ranging collection assembled by Barry Hoffman includes several rare and unusual items. Miniatures in various materials such as metal, glass, ceramic and rice straw, many presented in the form of ashtrays, thermometers, savings banks, etc.   Enhances the Library's existing collection of over 150 souvenir buildings.

Search the Library Catalogue with the phrase Hoffman Collection to retrieve the items from this collection which have been catalogued to date.

Norman D. Stevens Collection of Library Architecture
A collection of materials, dating from the late 19th century to mid-20th century documenting the library as a building type. Composed of approximately 25,000 postcards depicting libraries around the world; over 450 items of ceramic ware printed with images of library architecture, as well as similar items in metalware, glassware and treenware. Also includes 38 commemorative medals depicting libraries; over 300 books and pamphlets on library history; and other miscellaneous items such as wood miniatures and souvenir pins.

Search the Library Catalogue with the phrase Norman D. Stevens Collection of Library Architecture to retrieve the items from this collection.

Ernest Cormier Library
Approximately 2,500 monographic titles and 100 linear feet of periodicals comprising the major portion of the professional and private libraries of Montréal architect and engineer Ernest Cormier (1885-1980). Complemented by the personal and professional archive of Ernest Cormier in the Archives collection.

Search the Library Catalogue with the phrase Ernest Cormier Library to retrieve the items from this collection.

Vastu Shastra Publications
A unique reference collection of retrospective and current vastu shastra literature on Indian temple architecture, iconography and city-planning, in original or critical editions in Sanskrit and other languages, and modern translations in Hindi, English and other Indian and European languages. Click here for a bibliography on Vastu shastra literature.

Search the Library Catalogue with the phrase Vastu Shastra publications to retrieve the items from this collection.

Research Reports from the Bureau de la Recherche Architecturale et Urbaine (BRAU) in Paris
Over 300 unpublished research papers and reports on architecture, urbanism and city planning in France commissioned from the French schools of architecture by the Bureau de la recherche architecturale et urbaine from 1972 to 2002. A finding aid is available.

Architectural Toys and Games
Comprising over 800 items, the CCA collection of architectural toys and games spans two centuries of toy manufacture in Europe and America and represents the full range of construction toys, including traditional wood building blocks, sets of paper architecture, and construction kits of metal, plastic or artificial stone. These toys and games provide rich insights into architectural history, particularly as toy manufacturers have always been quick to follow and incorporate into their products the latest technological and stylistic changes.

Over 3,500 pieces of architectural printed ephemera ranging from engraved letterheads to admission tickets, mainly 19th and 20th centuries. Many of these items are part of the Robert Biggert Collection of Architectural Ephemera, 1890-1950 which includes sugar packets, hotel luggage labels, matchbox labels, poster and postage stamps, all with architectural images, primarily of exhibition buildings, but also of hotels, restaurants, churches, castles, office buildings, factories, banks and other public and domestic architecture

Significant postcard holdings make up a part of the ephemera collection. Highlights include the postcard component of the Norman D. Stevens Collection of Library Architecture (ca. 25,000 cards dating from 1900-1997); The Gilles Gagnon Postcard Collection (ca. 11,000 cards depicting architecture, landscape and cultural images from over 190 countries, dating from 1950-2001); an international architecture postcard collection (ca. 6,500 cards dating from ca.1900); a Canadian architecture postcard collection (ca. 3,600 cards dating from ca. 1900 ); a Montreal architecture postcard collection (ca. 1,200 cards, dating from ca. 1900); cards featuring various world's fairs (ca. 615 cards, dating from 1904-1986); the postcard component of the Emmanuel Briffa Collection (ca. 375 cards featuring primarily theatres in Canada and the U.S., dating from ca. 1900-2006); the postcard component of the Robert Biggert Collection of Architectural Ephemera (ca. 140 cards dating from ca. 1890-1950); a collection of cards illustrating Frank Lloyd Wright designs (ca. 135 cards dating from 1950-1995).

Architectural Competitions
Close to 500 briefs of international competitions for architecture, landscape architecture and city planning. Systematically developed between 1987 and 2000, the collection also includes some documents relating to results as well as exhibition catalogues and other publications resulting from competitions.


An important component of the Library's research resources: over 5,000 titles (ca. 760 current subscriptions) including major professional and scholarly journals from countries throughout the world. Includes Jahrbuchs, reports, bulletins and other documents issued by associations, universities, corporations and governments. Rich in journals of the avant-garde. Strong in national and regional journals and those published by schools of architecture, as well as those which focus on architectural theory and architectural research. Selected titles in the fields of art, archaeology, history and iconography enrich the interdisciplinary research potential of the collection. Titles related to photography, archives, prints and drawings, conservation/preservation, museology and library issues reflect support for CCA collections and activities.

Canadian titles make up about 1/5 of current subscriptions; include membership in historical associations, especially Québec and Ontario. Collection includes newsletters and annuals produced by students of architecture and landscape design in Canadian universities. Also directories from provincial architectural associations. Annual reports from the 19th century to the present include those of cities, governmental agencies and other associations.

American holdings comprise all scholarly titles devoted to architecture, landscape design and urban planning, including those which derive from membership in major scholarly associations. Also include titles produced by students of architecture and landscape design in American universities. Good coverage of retrospective and current annual reports, professional journals, national and regional journals, architectural research journals.

European serial holdings include all countries and languages and all periods. Extensive collection of 19th-century engineering and construction journals, with information on inventions, bridges, construction and industry. Important 19th century German, French and British titles. Many rare titles document the major movements of twentieth-century architecture from both Eastern and Western Europe including Soviet publications. Outstanding coverage of current European titles.

Excellent coverage of current titles from other regions, including South America (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay); Central America (Mexico, Cuba); Asia (India, China, Japan); Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Malyasia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam); and Africa (South Africa).