Launching the new veteran-focused research for the Dictionary of Canadian Biography. (Photo by Caz Zyvatkauskas)

Lives of soliders, important Canadians to be documented

U of T - Université Laval project receives $3-million injection from federal government

As Canadians prepare to honour fallen soldiers this Remembrance Day, the federal government has announced funding for a website which chronicles the lives of war veterans, including U of T graduate Lt. Col. John McCrae, and other key historical figures.

The $3-million in funding, announced today by the Department of Canadian Heritage, will support the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, a comprehensive, historical dictionary compiled by researchers at the University of Toronto and Université Laval with the collaboration of scholars and researchers throughout the country. The dictionary provides easy-to-read accounts of the lives of people who were significant contributors to Canada’s development. It debuted online in 2003 and currently includes more than 8,400 biographies in English and French, covering Canadian history from 1000 to 1930.

“We are thrilled that the government is showing continued support for this most worthy resource, led by researchers at the University of Toronto and l’Université Laval,” said U of T President David Naylor. “This free, highly accessible and authoritative dictionary reaches beyond academia to the broader Canadian public, forming the basis for ongoing dialogue around our shared history and experiences.”

John English, U of T’s general editor of the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, says the government’s three-year funding commitment will enable the research team to advance the biographies beyond the 1930s, providing a fuller historical picture for Canadian audiences.

“This funding will enable us to continue building a resource which is already recognized beyond our borders as the best-researched national biography in the world,” said English. “The stories of soldiers, aboriginals, politicians, explorers, women and men who helped to shape this country are invaluable in terms of helping us understand our national past and the current direction of Canadian society.”

The goverment is pleased about funding a project that deepens Canadians' knowledge of their own history.

“Our Government proudly supports projects that encourage Canadians to gain a better understanding of our country, its history and its people,” said James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. “With the support announced today, the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online will continue to be easily accessible to all Canadians and can keep on growing. I invite everyone to visit the website to learn more about the stories of Canada’s earlier citizens.”

The Dictionary of Canadian Biography is a product of a U of T-Université Laval partnership that dates back to 1959. The dictionary began as a hard-copy product but has since evolved into a well-used online resource that now receives millions of hits each year. Important Canadians already featured include artist Tom Thomson, Métis leader Louis Riel, writer Goldwin Smith and Ontario Hydro founder Adam Beck, plus many Canadian prime ministers. The dictionary is online.


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