Pioneer Collection

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Title page and frontispiece of "Poems" by William Cowper

The Pioneer Collection was acquired by the Library in 1982 as part of its efforts to increase the scope of Canadian-Scottish materials for students, faculty, and researchers. The books, pamphlets, periodicals and maps include many rare Scottish publications along with several popular periodicals such as Blackwood's Magazine.

The Pioneer Collection represents the personal library of Mr. Daniel Lizars (1793-1875), a Scottish immigrant who came to Canada from Edinburgh with his family in 1833. He was the son of Daniel Lizars (1754-1812) and Margaret Home. A public servant, printer and bookseller in Edinburgh, Daniel Lizars made a reputation for himself as a printer by imitating woodcuts on copper engravings. He sold his stock in 1833 to emigrate with his family to Upper Canada, where they settled near Colborne (Goderich), Ontario.

There are over 650 volumes within the collection, including many books and pamphlets, brought directly from Scotland, thus providing an indication of what an early pioneer circulating library must have been. The Lizars' library of books and pamphlets was very valuable to early settlers.

Many of the books in this collection have the signature of "Daniel Lizars" written inside the cover. The 300 books published before 1834 are only part of the library because it grew, in later years, into a circulating collection for the community. Lizars collected books from other families and likely from his trip back to Scotland in 1845. As such, the Pioneer Collection is one of the few examples in Upper Canada of a personal library and circulating collection that has survived mostly intact. For more information about Lizars and the collection, the Library has published a book by Vera Cunliffe, From Edinburgh to Colborne Township (1984), which is available for consultation. This book also includes the entire list of publications that comprise the collection along with an alphabetical index.

The Pioneer Collection is a reminder of the reading interests and tastes of immigrants to Upper Canada in the first part of the nineteenth century. It is also an enduring tribute to the importance that many attached to reading and literature in this period.


pre 1834 - ca. 1875

Types of Materials

  • Published Material


Approximately 650 volumes

How to Access This Resource

Items are catalogued individually.

Appointments are required to view this material and can be made through Archival & Special Collections.

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