Books in Native Languages in the Rare Book Collections of the National Library of Canada


190 pages
Contains Index
ISBN 0-660-53030-9




Edited by Joyce M. Banks
Reviewed by Terrence Paris

Terrence Paris is Public Services Librarian at Mount St. Vincent
University in Halifax.


Joyce Banks, Rare Books and Conservation Librarian at the National Library, has compiled a checklist of some 500 books in native languages printed before 1950 and located in the collections of the National Library. The checklist is a revised and enlarged edition of a 1980 compilation of 295 titles.

The works, listed with full title-page information and with notes, are arranged in chronological order under 58 native languages and dialects. The two earliest books date from 1632. “L’oraison Dominicale...” in the Montagnais language, published as an appendix to an edition of Champlain’s voyages, and Dictionaire de la langue Huronne established for 300 years the two principal types of native language publication: Christian texts and commentaries, and dictionaries, vocabularies, and grammars used by priests and missionaries for the propagation of the faith to the Amerindian peoples. Roman Catholic-Anglican rivalry in the eighteenth century, augmented by the missionary zeal of the Wesleyans, Methodists, and Moravians in the nineteenth century, ensured a proliferation of evangelical works. One of the few “profane” works is a tract in Cree syllabics on venereal disease printed at an unknown date, presumably by the government.

The preface includes a review of recent scholarship in the field of native language bibliography. There is a list of bibliographies cited in the entries. Titles, printers, and publishers are indexed. This checklist should interest all researchers in Canadian studies and linguistics.


National Library of Canada, “Books in Native Languages in the Rare Book Collections of the National Library of Canada,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 20, 2024,