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The Canadian Album
Men of Canada; or, Success by example, in religion, patriotism, business, law, medicine, education and agriculture; containing portraits of some of Canada's chief business men, statesmen, farmers, men of the learned professions, and others; also, an authentic sketch of their lives; object lessons for the present generation and examples to posterity (1891)

I discovered this 5 volume set when looking for something else and it provides a ton of information as you can see from the title above.


The plan of this work is unique and the conception original. There are biographies JL in abundance, but this appears to be the only Album on a national scale in this or any other country. Its title, The Canadian Album: Men op Canada, is suggestive of its plan and scope, but it might well have been called “The Canadian Biographical Album,” for this it really is. The usefulness and desirability of such a work can be readily seen. By that large class of persons spoken of as “the public,” it should be highly appreciated. On every hand it is felt that the sources of information concerning The Men of Canada are very limited. Those who are rightly classed among the leaders of thought and action in the towns, cities, townships, and counties of Canada, as well as in the provinces, and in the Dominion itself, are not so well known as is desirable or necessary. How often one’s mind seeks information concerning an individual who has suddenly become conspicuous in church or state? Who is he? Where did he come from? How old is he? What are his antecedents? His age? His business or professional education? His past attainments and present standing? And, finally, his personal appearance?

This work proposes to answer these questions briefly, but accurately, in sober prose, and in cold type, like any other condensed biography. But it does not end here by any means. It brings to its aid the poetry of the artist, with the skill of the engraver, thus transferring the very image of the man to the printed page, so that he may, as it were, speak for himself and answer all our queries.

The next best thing to seeing and conversing with a man is to see his portrait, especially if a pen picture accompanies it as in the present plan.

The benefit conferred upon the country by the publication of this work will be the more readily seen when the plans of the publishers are considered. If carried out in their entirety, the enterprise will not only be gigantic in its proportions, but a benefit to the people that can scarcely be overestimated. Taking the population of Canada roughly at five millions, and supposing that about one man to a thousand of the population is a representative man, there are five thousand men who ought to find a place in The Canadian Album. This would involve the publication of seven volumes with a little over seven hundred men in each. To this task the publishers have set themselves, and from their past record, they will doubtless succeed. Thus The Men of Canada, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, will live in our homes, telling the story of their lives, exerting the influence of those qualities of head and heart which have distinguished them, giving inspiration and entertainment to the young, and affording companionship for those of riper years, giving lessons in experience and a knowledge of human nature which cannot be found with similar fulness in any other volume. Nor does the value of this work end in sentiment only, important as that is. It has a business and a professional value. It will be equally in place in the libraries of the learned professions as on the business man’s desk. How important to have a knowledge of the men with whom we do business? Mercantile reports are good so far as they go, but they give a man’s financial “rating” only, and private reports are often necessary to find out who and what the man is. There is a felt need to know more about men than is indicated by their mercantile standing, because there are often other than business reasons which make information necessary. Character, capacity and capital are the qualities which tell the story of a man’s worth, and, as a rule, the second “capacity” is a product of the first, while the third, “capital,” is generally a result of the second. Still, as capital is only an incident in the life of a man of character and capacity, and not a necessary part of it, this work deals with the man himself—his character and capacity—so that those who desire such information have only to consult its pages, and by the aid of its copious index, they are at once made conversant with the man in all the phases of his life.

A man carries his character in his face to a much greater extent than is generally supposed. One look at a faithful portrait will often tell the story more than many pages of print. While physiognomy has hardly yet attained the dignity of a science, yet there is a well founded belief that there is an intimate connection between the features and expression of the face and the qualities and habit of the mind, and every man is conscious of instinctively drawing conclusions in this way for himself with more or less confidence, and of acting upon these conclusions, to a certain extent, in the affairs of life.

The family album has now become a household necessity, and very properly so. For similar reasons this “National Album” should also be a household necessity. We want our friends ever with us, and here they are—archbishops, bishops, moderators, general superintendents, presidents of churches and their various assemblies, synods, conferences, and conventions, together with our pastors and teachers. Here are our legal friends of the Bench and the Bar; those of the medical profession, our educationists, merchants, manufacturers and leading agriculturists. Statesmen of the Provincial Legislatures and the Dominion Parliament; public men and private citizens meet and greet us here from all parts of our fair Dominion. The East meets the West, and the middle provinces embrace both; space is annihilated, and each man visits every other man around his own hearthstone, in the library or in the office.

This is not a work of fulsome praise, but of facts. The man is a fact; his birth, education, professional cr business training, early experiences, marriage, present position, church standing, and relation to the country as regards office or influence. These are matters not only gratifying to one’s friends, but which no good man need blush to read concerning himself. On the other hand, the public have a right to know these facts concerning representative men. This kind of information is furnished within these pages, and so far as the facts are concerned, they have been verified by the men themselves, with very few exceptions, and are thus reliable. For the additional comments here and there, the editor and the publishers are alone responsible. Not every man fitted for a place in these pages will be found in this first volume, not even, perhaps, from the territory covered by it, but in future volumes it is the intention to include the entire Dominion and supply deficiencies in the territory herein represented.

Editors Note:  I have extracted the Title Page and Index Pages from the 5 volumes and made them into a separate pdf file which you can download to check what names are in these volumes. I would advise right clicking on the link(s) to save these volumes to your own computer as they are quite large.  Note also that Volume V did not have an index but I managed to find one from another printing.

Volume I
Volume II
Volume III
Volume IV
Volume V

Return to our Makers of Canada Index Page

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