Canada's Local Histories Online brings Canadian history to life! This unique, online,
coast-to-coast record of Canadian local histories reflects the breadth and depth
of our country's heritage, and celebrates the diverse landscapes, resources, and
people that have contributed to sculpting its rich and ever-evolving national character.
Our Roots is a gateway to Canada’s past. Tales to be discovered include those of
the Irish at Grosse Isle, the American Invasion of 1775, the Klondike Gold Rush,
the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada’s historic forts and trading posts, the
Canadian Anti-Slavery Baptist Association, Aboriginal communities, political and
local scandals, ship building in Moncton, and the Sackville telephone exchange.
Looking for information is made easy when you search the site using key words, dates,
subjects or authors.
Our Roots provides universal access to unique materials concerning the cultural
and social heritage of our nation. Written by Canadians, for Canadians, these local
histories represent this nation’s history from the perspective of those who helped
shape it. Now available in digital format, these resources are not only accessible
from anywhere via the world wide web, but are also preserved for future generations
of students, teachers and researchers.
This online collection allows students of any age to search and browse through historical
material in a manner that is truly revolutionary: research is accelerated in terms
of time and access to information. Already, the availability of this wealth of research
material is heralding a new interest in Canadian history at all levels, as well
as a celebration of our rich past.
Through the collaboration of nation-wide libraries, universities, colleges, archives,
historical associations, businesses and individuals, Our Roots promises to develop
into the most comprehensive collection of Canadian local histories ever.
We would like to thank the following institutions for their support and generous
contributions to Our Roots:
Our Roots : Canada’s Local Histories Online is made possible with the support of Canadian Heritage through the Canadian Culture Online Strategy and the support of partner institutions across Canada
An Editorial Board has been established to address content issues, to identify digitization
priorities, and to advise on the order of items to be digitized. The Board includes
historical scholars from across Canada and one representative each from the National
Library of Canada, the Canadian Initiative on Digital Libraries (CIDL), and the
Canadian Institute for Historical Micro Reproductions (CIHM). The Board was formed
through the cooperative efforts of CIDL members from Laval, the University of Calgary,
and the CIDL the Steering Committee.
The site has been placed under the Imprints of the University of Calgary Press and
Laval University Library to clearly demonstrate the involvement of an Editorial
Board in vetting content and addressing content-related issues. The Editorial Board
is approved by the UC Press Editorial Board.
A complete member listing of the Our Roots Editorial Board will be available online
in fall 2006.
Totality: To establish academic rigor and credibility of the site content, only
entire collections will be digitized. The site content will not be 'selected', e.g.,
some items will not be chosen over others by project participants as being more
important to clientele.
The concept of totality assures an academic researcher that no material has been
purposely left off of the site. While each local history may not be regarded as
verifiably factual, taken as a whole collection, a student or researcher will be
introduced to personal stories, opinions and event accounts that they would not
be able to find elsewhere. In terms of Canadian research, the whole, in this case,
may be greater than the sum of its parts. The only reasons that a known item will
not be included on the site are that a copy cannot be located or because copyright
permission to digitize cannot be obtained.
The Our Roots web site will be as transparent as possible. It will be made clear
to clients using the site which organizations were involved in creating the site,
and why content or collections were placed on the web site. While each partner and
node may have a stand-alone site containing the items they have digitized, all items
will be placed on a centralized Our Roots site to ensure coherence of the site in
terms of look and feel, as well as technical and operating standards. This central
site will list all partners, nodes and funders.
Partners and nodes are required to agree in writing to follow the Editorial and
Technical Standards and Policies set by the Editorial Board, the Technical Advisory
Group and the lead institutions. If nodes and partners do not follow these standards,
they may forfeit their right to funding and their inclusion in this project. Decisions
regarding policies and standards and whether or not they have been met will be made
by the Our Roots Editorial Board in consultation with the CIDL Steering Committee
and the Technology Committee.
Copyright clearance is required for every item placed on the site with the exception
of those local histories in the public domain.
Our Roots employs standards consistent with academic and industry practice for digitization
of paper documents. The industry standard TIFF format with LZW compression is used
for high-quality archival digital images. Documents are scanned at original size
at 300 dpi in 8-bit greyscale mode to preserve as much of the original document
information as possible. When documents are in colour, 24-bit RGB scans are made.
As the chosen standard for archiving generates large files, Our Roots uses 4 sizes
to provide on-line delivery to the user: a 200x200 pixel thumbnail for quick reference,
and three sizes (600 pixels high, 768 pixels high and 1000 pixels high) for more
detailed examination and usage. On-line delivery files are created as JPG images
at a medium compression level, balancing onscreen quality with overall size of download.
Our Roots uses a modified Dublin Core record as the basis of its descriptive metadata.
The project has benefited from the work already done by librarians in the item-level
cataloguing of the books that Our Roots has digitized. Where available, descriptive
metadata is drawn from library catalogues such as the National Library of Canada,
the University of Calgary library and the Laval University Library. Items without
existing records are catalogued by trained cataloguers following AACR2 rules.
Each item in Our Roots has an index page that provides an interactive table of contents
to that volume. A Dublin Core header will be added to each of these index pages
to provide harvesting of each individual volume.
In addition to the descriptive metadata, administrative and structural metadata
are also added to each item-record. Plans are in progress to standardize the overall
record on the Library of Congress METS standard for encoding metadata.
One of the guiding principles for Our Roots is to provide a simple interface to
the resources. Complex client-side scripting and the usage of plug-ins is avoided
where possible. Pages are created using standard HTML 4.0 code. The majority of
the scripting and validation occurs at the server level.
Complete logs of server activity are maintained by Our Roots.
Currently, Our Roots employs Active Server Pages 3.0 for its server side scripting.
Cookies have been avoided in the past over concerns of privacy and lack of support
at the client side (whether by choice or because of incompatible clients).
Our Roots currently uses CD-R technology to store digital files for long term storage
and employs only standard file formats (TIFF, JPEG, HTML) that are open and non-proprietary
for all of its work. CD-Rs are written using standard ISO-9660 format to ensure
The general principles that Our Roots employ to ensure long term access to the media
is to create CRC-32 values for individual files and to do spot checks on the media
on a regular basis. Duplicate copies of media are made to store with one on-site
and one off-site copy. In addition to backing up the database information separately,
Our Roots plans to save the meta data with the files in XML format once the template
has been developed.