Canadian Heritage Departmental Publications

by Moya K. Mason

Note: The structure of this department has changed quite a bit over the last few years, so the information in this paper may not be completely representative of the department today.


During the last few years, many changes have taken place in the structure of the federal government. With economic shortfalls, the rising federal deficit, and widespread economic hardships evident all across Canada, the 1990s have been lean years for many people. The government has suffered from an onslaught of criticisms that demanded that it should cut back and downsize its operations, instead of simply giving that advice to provinces, as transfer payments were lowered. The federal government went through major restructuring and continued to scale down some of its operations, privatizing several of its agencies and corporations. It has tried to conduct its day-to-day operations more in the lines of a private conglomerate, which is accountable to a board of directors. For the federal government, the equivalent is the taxpayer. Some say the goal is to run government more like big business: keeping costs down, cutting corners, and streamlining. This makes some economists very happy, but has more than a few average citizens worried when they see services being eradicated.

The reorganization of the federal government infrastructure in 1993 saw programs and portfolios shift from one department to another. The goals seemed twofold: to give the big bureaucracy a facelift, projecting a new image to carry it into the 21st century, and to make a concerted effort to bring the diverse spectrum of Canadians closer together to solidify national unity. If Canadians knew more about Canada and cared more about its individual regions, then maybe the country could stay together. Certainly a tall order, but there was a vision to start the process, and outwardly some departments look brand new. One of the most important is the Department of Canadian Heritage. Created on June 25, 1993. it has Deputy Prime Minister Sheila Copps as its minister. In this age of super highways, super cities, and globally-interconnected conglomerates, Canadian Heritage is the super governmental department. This essay will examine its history, organization, and purpose, as well as, looking at its publications to see if there is any degree of bibliographic control. Finally, the information found on the website will be compared with printed sources found in depository libraries such as Weldon Library at the University of Western Ontario.

History, Organization, and Purpose

The Department of Canadian Heritage has been in existence since 1993 and its objective is as follows:

The broad mandate of the new Canadian Heritage portfolio is to support and encourage a strong sense of Canadian identity and heritage based on the fundamental characteristics of Canada bilingualism and multiculturalism and Canada's diverse cultures and heritage (Canada 1993,44).

Under its umbrella, this new super portfolio incorporates programs and activities that former departments had previously provided. For instance, historical sites and Parks Canada were once under the tutelage of Environment Canada; Health and Welfare Canada used to handle the amateur sport program (Canada 1993,44). Multi-culturalism was previously maintained by the Department of Multi-culturalism and Citizenship, and broadcasting, heritage, arts and culture by Communications Canada (Canada 1993,45). Finally, the promotion and education of official languages, the state ceremonial procedures, and Canadian Identity Programs were formerly under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of State (Canada 1993,45). Now the Secretary of State works with and reports to the Minister of Canadian Heritage. There is also a corporate management branch that coordinates communications, international relations, and human resources, among other services (Canada 1993,45). In addition, this portfolio also includes some important agencies and corporations such as the Canada Council for the Arts, the Status of Women, and the Public Service Commission, and is responsible for a large number of statuary acts.

With such a large department, there needs to be an efficient organizational structure in place. At the top there is the Minister of Canadian Heritage, supported by the Secretary of State, who oversees Multi-culturalism. Parks Canada also has a Secretary of State. This sector of the organization is responsible for protecting the physical side of Canada's heritage through creating new parks and protecting historical sites, while working with Aboriginal groups and provinces (Treasury Board Secretariat 1996, 141). The Assistant Deputy Ministers of Strategic Management and Corporate Services coordinate the Corporate Management Services Program that encompasses the financial and information management branches, and the administrative services for all sectors of the department and individual programs (Treasury Board Secretariat 1996,139). The Cultural Development and Heritage Program has a deputy minister who oversees the Canadian Heritage Information Network, arts' policies, the Canadian Conservation Institute, cultural industries, broadcasting policies, and heritage (Treasury Board Secretariat 1996,140). Within this sector, one will find the National Library, CBC, the national museums, Telefilm Canada, the CRTC, and the National Gallery of Canada, along with other high profile corporations.

Finally, the deputy minister for Citizenship and Canadian Identity takes care of several branches, including sports, official languages, human rights, multi-culturalism, Canadian studies, and youth programs (Treasury Board Secretariat 1997, 138). It encourages youth participation in Canadian society, "coordinates the cross government commitment to multi-culturalism" (Treasury Board Secretariat 1996,138), and is responsible for Canada Day celebrations and state protocol. In each sector, there is a series of director generals, executive directors, and managers, reporting to the assistant deputy ministers. (Minister of Supply and Services Canada 1994,14).

Looking at all of the different parts of this department, it is hard to envision how they could come together into one common theme or mandate for Canadian Heritage. However, semantics aside, it is stipulated that the department is responsible for promoting a strong Canadian identity, by appreciating our natural and historical heritage, linguistic and multicultural identity, and achievements in sports, the arts, and culture" (Canadian Heritage Mandate 1997). Consequently, those working in this portfolio are responsible for protection of historical and natural areas, promoting Canadian heritage, official languages, artistic and cultural development, and multi-culturalism. In addition, the culture of native Canadians, amateur sport programs, national identity, and human rights are mandated to develop a strong Canada (Canadian Heritage Mandate 1997).

Canadian Heritage Publications: Any Bibliographic Control?

The information holdings for the department, as expected, are quite diverse and interesting. It is difficult to find out how much material the Department of Canadian Heritage actually generates since there is no comprehensive catalogue of their publications that can be consulted. If you are ever in Hull, Quebec, Canadian Heritage has designated their departmental library, a public reading room, under the Access to Information Act (Canadian Heritage 1997). It is located in the Jules Leger Building. However, it is difficult to say whether there is a complete collection of publications at that location or simply recent releases. Having tried to find a catalogue of the department's publications on Amicus, the Library of Congress catalogues, through the Weldon OPAC and on the governmental Internet sites, I can say that there is a small degree of bibliographic control. Within the 1997-98 Canadian Heritage Estimates package (Canadian Heritage 1997), they included a list of publications, but it was only a short list, highlighting the different types of monographs and bulletins they release. No ISSNs, ISBNs, or control identification numbers were included on the list.

At the point of giving up any hope of finding anything substantial as far as a publication index or catalogue, I decided to check the Depository Service Program website to see if there was a link for Canadian Heritage. The Weekly Checklist catalogue is available for searching by subject and provided quite an extensive list of Canadian Heritage publications, catalogued with ISBNs, ISSNs and governmental control identification numbers. They often insert abstracts in these records, which provide an interesting and helpful overview of the item. Ordering information, price, or free status is also included. Whether this index provides a comprehensive list of their publications or not, it certainly did have good structure, bibliographic control, and allowed for public access to their publications through the Internet. It seems that keeping track of all the publications in any government department would be very problematic, since it is obvious that the systems are not run by cataloguers, but by people who see much of the information as it really is - ephemeral; largely and quickly outdated and replaceable. Rightly or wrongly, that is the reality of the situation.

Within the Parks Canada division there are publications that the average person would find interesting, such as material on campsites, nature trails, and on tourist interpretive centers. Details on all types of wildlife found in the national park systems and regulations on trapping, commercial fishing, and endangered species are available (Treasury Board Secretariat 1996, 141). For those who are academics or more scientifically-inclined there are many Parks Canada publications that can be accessed at Weldon. Some examples are: Ecological Restoration of National Parks: Proceedings of a Symposium at the Fourth Annual Conference of the Society for Ecological Restoration, University of Waterloo, 1994; The Status of Amphibians and Reptiles of Fundy National Park and its Greater Ecosystem, by Douglas Cay, 1997; An Evaluation of Mercury Contamination at the Fundy National Park Golf Course, by A.H. d'Entremont, 1996; and, Visitor Use Statistics, [199-].

Citizenship and Canadian Identity releases information concerning the implementation of laws that "foster a national awareness of linguistic duality" (Canadian Heritage 1997), and those which show how the two official languages have equal status in Canada. For instance, the department released Official Languages: Towards a National Understanding in 1995, which could be read by anyone interested in that subject. There is also one called Youth Languages, vol. 2: Language Use and Attitudes Among Young People Instructed in English by Uli Locher, 1994. There are also multi-cultural communiques and many on sports in the collection. Sports in Canada by Statistics Canada and Canadian Heritage, and many brochures on the Canada Games, violence in sports, and the future vision of sports systems in Canada, can be found by the reading public at Weldon. Fascinating reading for those so inclined.

The Secretary of State for Multi-culturalism and the Status of Women publishes both for the average Canadian's interest, and more weighty materials that will be used by academics, students, and other government departments. Weldon has Gender Portrayal in English Television Coverage of the 1994 Olympic Games: Research Conducted for Sport Canada, by Erin Research, Inc., 1994; Canadian Women's Studies/Feminist Research, 1993; and papers from the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, 1995.

Finally, the Cultural Development and Heritage side of the huge portfolio puts out an enormous amount of data on everything from lighting, pests, humidity, vermin, and insects in museums, to tax issues for Canadian artists, and pamphlets on the commemoration of historical places and heritage buildings. The top ten, or some of the more captivating items, all available at Weldon, are as follows:

  1. The Care of Wooden Objects, by R. L. Barlay, 1994.
  2. Dry Methods for Surface Cleaning of Paper, by Janet Cowan, 1993.
  3. Making Our Voices Heard: Canadian Broadcasting and Film for the 21st Century, 1996.
  4. Symposium on Digital Technology and Copyright: March 3, 1995.
  5. Controlling Museum Fungal Problems, by Thomas J.K. Strong and the Canadian Conservation Institute, 1991.
  6. Technology and Canadian Printing: A History from Lead Type to Lasers, by Bryan Dewalt, 1995.
  7. Television Violence: A Review of the Effects on Children of Different Ages, 1995.
  8. Environmental Norms for Canadian Museums, Art Galleries, and Archives, by R. H. Lafontaine, 1981.
  9. A Question of Balance: A Report of the Task Force on the Canadian Magazine Industry, 1994.
  10. Annual Report of the Canadian Heritage Rivers Board, [1993].

The Weldon Library is a participatory member of the Depository Services Program (DSP). As a result, it has a large government document's collection. Of course, academic libraries do have collection development policies that are dependent on the courses offered, which structure what they will collect. Their collection will tend to be more academic, rather than collecting brochures on how to put up a tent in a national park. Weldon Library has a large collection of items put out by the Parks Canada sector, dealing with the more scientific and academic subjects that would interest faculty members and students, with more than two hundred records found in their database for Canadian Heritage. As far as how the print sources found in the library compare with the website, it is somewhat complicated. The Department of Canadian Heritage has some excellent websites, though they should definitely have an obvious link to the DSP and the electronic version of Info Source on their home page. For anyone going into the Government Documents section of Weldon Library, not knowing how to use the OPAC, it would be more beneficial to go to the Canadian Heritage website for some basic information. The information on these particular pages was very up-to-date and accessible. Serendipitous searching in government documents sections of libraries is difficult.

As far as actually finding something to read, the library is the only place to go because the website does not have many full-text documents. The few exceptions that were found include, one manual and operational procedure policy for Parks Canada, a few older annual budgets for Multi-culturalism, the full-text for Canadian Heritage's 1997-98 Estimates, and my personal favourite, Flag Etiquette in Canada, 1995. All five chapters, along with illustrations, can be found on their website.


What this exercise taught more than anything else was the need to continue giving support for government document depository programs all around the world, and to continue turning out well-trained and interested librarians who can assist in finding the information needed in a timely manner. With governments continuing with their strategy to privatize, downsize, and cutback, more and more information will no longer be in print, but found only in electronic form. When one considers the size of the Department of Canadian Heritage, and the number of publications the various sectors produce, one would think that more than flag etiquette would be available in full-text for the public to access. For librarians, the fight to keep the DSP alive and productive will be a worthy one.

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Canada. 1993. Organization of the Government of Canada. Ottawa. Canada Communications Group.

Canadian Heritage. 1997. Canadian Heritage Mandate.

Canadian Heritage. 1997. Canadian Heritage Web Site.

Corpus Government Index: Your Guide to Canada's Federal, Provincial, and Territorial Governments. 1997. Don Mills, Ont.: Southan Information Products, Ltd.

Public Works and Government Services Canada. 1997. Depository Service Program.

Treasury Board Secretariat. 1991. Info Source: Guide to Sources of Federal Government Information. [Ottawa]: Government of Canada.

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