Uncommon treasures and unexpected stories await at the Canadian Museum of History

December 8, 2022


A new exhibition co-produced by the Canadian Museum of History and Library and Archives Canada (LAC) allows the public to discover many unusual treasures.

By visiting Unexpected! Surprising Treasures From Library and Archives Canada visitors will see 36 artifacts from the LAC collection, including maps, paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, rare books, classified documents, codebooks, diaries, and even a music score. Three artifacts from the Museum of History’s collections have also been included in the presentation to complement the narrative of the exhibition.

Focusing on three themes — wonders, secrets and mysteries — the exhibition reveals the remarkable stories behind a diverse selection of extraordinary artifacts, from all regions and spanning four centuries of Canadian history. If they dare to look beneath the surface, visitors will find that these remarkable artifacts have important stories to tell.

They will learn that Beethoven, one of the world’s greatest composers, wrote a melody for a Quebec music teacher, and they will even be able to listen to a recording of the composition while viewing the precious manuscript. The public will also have access to documents dating back to 1945, replete with code names and instructions, revealing a sophisticated Soviet spy ring operating in Canada. Delivered to Canadian authorities by Russian defector Igor Gouzenko, the documents and the revelation they represent at the time marked the beginning of the Cold War.

“The Museum of History is proud to have collaborated with Library and Archives Canada in the development of this exhibition, which showcases important fragments of our collective past,” said Caroline Dromaguet, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of History. “We are pleased to highlight some of the incomparable artifacts that our two institutions preserve and that the public might not expect to find in our respective national collections.”

“This year marks the 150th anniversary of the National Archives of Canada, and LAC is very pleased to be able to make rarely seen and unexpected archival and published works available to the Canadian public through this unique exhibition,” added Leslie Weir, Librarian and Archivist of Canada. “Our collaborations with the Museum are valuable opportunities to combine our strengths to highlight the importance of preserving and conserving our heritage, and to share our history.”

This exhibition is the result of a partnership agreement between the Museum of History and Library and Archives Canada to provide Museum visitors with unprecedented access to some of Canada’s founding documents, while also fulfilling their mandates as institutions of national memory.

Unexpected! Surprising Treasures From Library and Archives Canada, an exhibition for the whole family, is presented at the Canadian Museum of History from December 9, 2022 to November 26, 2023.

About the Canadian Museum of History

Located on the shores of the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Quebec, the Canadian Museum of History welcomes over 1.2 million visitors each year. The Museum’s principal role is to enhance Canadians’ knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the events, experiences, people and objects that have shaped Canada’s history and identity, as well as to enhance Canadians’ awareness of world history and culture. Work of the Canadian Museum of History is made possible in part through financial support of the Government of Canada.

About Library and Archives Canada

The mandate of Library and Archives Canada is to preserve the documentary heritage of Canada for the benefit of present and future generations, and to be a source of enduring knowledge accessible to all, thereby contributing to the cultural, social and economic advancement of Canada. Library and Archives Canada also facilitates co-operation among communities involved in the acquisition, preservation and diffusion of knowledge, and serves as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions.

Library and Archives Canada is online at library-archives.canada.ca. Stay connected through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Flickr, LinkedIn, blogs and podcasts to keep up to date on the latest from Library and Archives Canada.