Search just our sites by using our customised site search engine

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

University of Guelph Library
John Galt and the Lizars Collection

John Galt and the Canada Co.

       The Library’s archival, rare, and special collections section can be reached by taking the single elevator or stairs in the south-east corner (past the Circulation/Reserve area) to the lower level where researchers can use materials in the Wellington County Room. TRELLIS, the TriUniversity Libraries catalogue, is the primary tool for identifying and locating materials in Archival and Special Collections. TRELLIS can be accessed through the Library’s home page  (, where various web resources are also available.


John Galt (1779-1839) composed a number of novels of Scottish life, travelled widely, and helped settle land in the Canada Company tract in Upper Canada (1826-29). The collection was established in 1975 as a fitting tribute to the founder of Guelph, and has been expanded whenever suitable material has been available. The library collections had already contained some Canada Company material and this also has been augmented as material became available.


The John Galt Collection includes almost all published works by John Galt, including many rare and first editions. The library is attempting to acquire copies of every variant edition (including American pirated editions) in the original issue state. The H.B.Timothy Collection consists of printed and manuscript materials on John Galt and his descendants; the research materials of Jennie Aberdein, an early biographer of John Galt; and an early two-hundred page draft manuscript of a biography of Sir Walter Scott by John Galt. The Lizars Collection contains six original John Galt letters (his son, John Galt, married a Lizars) and many letters by other family members, especially Sir Alexander T. Galt, and his son Elliot Torrance Galt. Other archival collections contain examples of original Canada Company land deeds and circulating holdings contain many books, pamphlets, and maps connected with the Canada Company.


English predominates. Original works by Galt are collected in any language (only French and German are known), and critical material in any language is collected on Galt or the Canada Company.


More than 300 books, pamphlets and theses are held by or about John Galt. The Canada Company holdings consist of 60 titles of printed material. The archives have 2 linear meters of material on the Galts in the H.B.Timothy Collection, and an additional 5 linear cm. on Galt consisting of original letters and manuscripts. The Canada Company material consists of 13 linear cm. of papers including charters, minutes of agreements, correspondence, and legal documents. A new web site has been created for this collection.


All titles are catalogued and access is via the library’s online catalogue, Trellis. LC classification is used and archival collections as well as government documents are coded


The collection is open to the public. The hours of opening for the library are normally 7:00 a.m.-2:00 a.m. with exceptions posted. Rare and archival collections are open Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:45 p.m. (4:30 p.m. in summer).

Interlibrary Loan:

Available except for rare and archival materials.


Yes, as the condition of the material warrants, and as the copyright allows.

Reference Assistance:



No present publication describes the entire collection. However, the following publications describe parts of it:

Stelter, Gilbert A. -- "The John Galt letters in the Lizars Collection". --Collection update. - No. 7 (May 1983). -- [Guelph, Ont.]: University of Guelph Library, 1983.

Sauer, Tim. -- "Bibliographic comments on John Galt". -- Collection update. -- No. 7 (May 1983). [Guelph, Ont.]: University of Guelph Library, 1983.

Cunliffe, Vera. -- From Edinburgh to Colborne Township: Daniel Lizars and the Pioneer Collection at Guelph. -- Guelph, Ont.: University of Guelph Library, 1984.


John Galt, Annals of the Parish (1821)                                                  rare books         s0417b01

John Galt, Lawrie Todd (1832)                                                              rare books         s0417b21

John Galt, The Provost (1822)                                                               rare books         s0417b30

John Galt, Ayrshire Legatees (1823)                                                     rare books         s0417b06

John Galt, The Entail (1823)                                                                 rare books         s0417b12

John Galt, Unpublished manuscript – Walter Scott (1837)            archives           XR1 MS A277053

John Galt, The Member (1832)                                                              rare books         s0555b03

John Galt, Voyages and Travels and Letters from the Levant (1812)  rare books         s0415b09

Canada Company, Charter of Incorporation                                           rare books         s0531b07

Jennie W. Aberdein,  Research notes, 1924-1965                           archives           XR! MS A277012

Galt's Literary Career

Any discussion of rare editions of John Galt’s books must begin with some attempt to define his literary output from a bibliographical point of view, since more than half of the forty odd books which he wrote were not reprinted in the nineteenth century, and many of them have still not been reprinted.

Although John Galt is primarily known for his novels written in West Country Scottish dialect, his writing was exceedingly varied. He wrote biography, autobiography, historical fiction, history, poetry, drama, travelogues, travel and emigrant guidebooks and short stories of all sorts on a wide variety of topics. These appeared in periodical publications of the day and in book form, school books, childrens books, as well as the novels which he characterized as “theoretical histories” such as the Annals of the parish, The Provost, etc. Given the economic necessity for Galt to write, and the variation in editorial control exerted by the many publishers he used, the literary quality of much of what he wrote is not the best. Thus, despite the fact that it is a bibliographer’s tragedy that some of his juvenile literature (eg. Gog and Mogog) has not survived, their disappearance is not likely that significant from a literary perspective. However, some of his works deserve a better fate than the one or two early printings which have never been repeated, effectively causing them to be unavailable to the reading public for approximately one hundred and fifty years.

Galt’s literary production may be divided, for present purposes, into four time periods as follows: his early period prior to his relationship with William Blackwood (begun in mid 1819, although effectively not starting until 1820 or 1821); the productive years from 1820 to 1826; the treadmill years from 1829 to late 1832 or early 1833; and finally, the later period after his first stroke in October 1832 until his death in April 1839. Although somewhat a generalization, the first editions of his works during the second period are the most sought after and desirable from a collector’s point of view, as they represent his commonly known titles; while the works published during the first and last period are the rarest and most difficult to obtain. This article will limit itself to the two middle periods, from 1820 to late 1832, and subsequent articles will deal with the other periods.

Galt's Productive Years

It is significant that scarcity of an edition cannot be equated with value or desirability from a collector’s point of view. In the case of Galt’s work published from 1820 to 1832, most of them were immediately reprinted in the United States as soon as the boat arrived with the English edition, for this was the height of the American “pirate” editions. The print runs were generally the same 1500 copies (although some of Galt’s Blackwood titles had a first print run of 2000), the paper was of a similar quality, although there were more typesetting errors, and the three volume novels were generally issued in two volumes. For a variety of reasons they are far scarcer than the first English editions. With the exception of Lawrie Todd, the library owns only one of the twenty odd American editions of the period, and it is not recorded in Lumsden or Mansell. However, they are generally not Considered as collectable or valuable as the first English editions.

Galt’s productive period from 1820 to 1826 is the time when all of his popular novels were published, with the exception of Lawrie Todd (1830), one of the few books by Galt which had a lasting popularity in the United States. John Galt’s reputation as an author has primarily rested on the West Country Scottish novels published during this period (Annals of the parish, 1821; Ayshire legatees, 1821; Sir Andrew Wylie 1822; The Provost, 1822; The entail, 1822; and the Last of the lairds, 1826) all of which were published by William Blackwood.  With a few exceptions these were the only Galt novels which were kept in print throughout the nineteenth and twentieth Centuries. During 1841-43, the young Blackwoods assembled all the Galt copyrights owned by their firm and D.M. Moir edited these works into four volumes of Blackwood’s Standard Novels. These were reprinted several times throughout the nineteenth century from the 1841-43 plates.

In 1895 D.S. Meldrum edited an eight volume Collection entitled “the Works of John Galt” which Consisted of these Blackwood Standard Novels. In 1936 Meldrum and W. Roughead edited a ten volume edition of the works which was simply the 1895 edition re-edited with the addition of Ringan Gilhaize.

In the twentieth Century Foulis Press reprinted three of the novels and two collections.  They began with Annals of the parish in 1910 (PR 4708 G2 A8 i9lOA) and reprinted in 1911, 1912 and 1919 (PR 4708 G2 A8). This was followed by The Provost in 1913 (PR 4708 G2 P7) and the Last of the lairds in 1926 (PR 4708 G2 L28 1926). W. Roughead edited two collections of short stories published by Foulis; The Howdie and other tales, in 1923 (PR 4708 G2 H6) and A rich man and other stories in 1925 (PR 4708 G2 R5). These printings are all in the very attractive style typical of Foulis Press, bound in brown or red-brown buckram, and the three novels have coloured lithographic plates by H.W. Kerr or J.M. Aitken, tipped in. These are the most attractive editions and until Scottish Academic Press began to reprint some of Galt’s works in the 1970’s, the Foulis Press editions were the most readable.

Publications by Oliver & Boyd

Notwithstanding the literary merits of these Scottish novels published by Blackwood, the 1820-26 period saw the publication of a number of books by Oliver & Boyd which, although more unevenly written than the Blackwood titles, have enough merit that they should have been reprinted oftener than they have been. The only novel from this group to be reprinted consistently was Ringan Gilhaize. This novel of the two century struggle of the Church of Scotland for independence was Galt’s most carefully researched novel. He visited all the locations mentioned in the book which he was not familiar with, read extensively on the history of the period and carefully planned his narrative technique. The care may well have been due to the fact that Galt wrote it as a rebuttal to Scott’s unsympathetic portrayal of the Covenanters in Old Mortality (1816). Although it has some technical weaknesses, mainly the covering of a period of over 130 years through the autobiography of the hero’s grandfather, its success as a non romantic believable historical novel is best demonstrated by one factor which it shared with The Provost, Annals and Legatees namely, that Galt had to insist that it was indeed fiction.

The next Oliver & Boyd title published was The Spaewife, a tale of the Scottish chronicles (3 vols. 1823). Beyond the American pirate edition (2 vols., Philadelphia, Carey & Lea, 1824), it has only been reprinted once, probably in the 1880’s in an inferior one volume edition printed in Galt’s birthplace of Irvine. Set during the life and reign of James I of Scotland, it is one of Galt’s more successful attempts to treat a favourite topic; the supernatural, or what we would today call the para-psychologicaL Although inferior to Ringan Gilhaize in that it is too romantic and less creditable in places, the characterization of Anniple of Dunbiane, the Spaewife, and of Glenfruin, are very well drawn. Glenfruin is a most memorable Highland chieftain, portrayed as a coarse and older, yet pawkie Andrew Wylie, whose repeated “Sowils and podies! — oomph!” must be remembered by all who read the novel.

The library has the first edition in the original boards as issued, with untrimmed edges. It also has a copy of the Irvine printing (PR 4708 G2 S62) which is probably scarcer than the first edition.


The last novel published by Oliver & Boyd was Rothelan; a romance of the English histories (3 vols, 1824), which except for the American edition (2 vols; New York, Coffins & Hannay, 1825), has never been reprinted. It is significant only to demonstrate Galt’s need to have a publisher who would force him to write well. George Boyd basically published whatever Galt sent him, and there was a steady deterioration in each successive work Galt produced, which reached its lowest point in The bachelor’s wife, published before Rothelan in 1824. This is a collection of short stories best described as pot-boilers. On the other hand, Galt had difficulties with the confining Presbyterian Tory publisher Blackwood, who forced him to write very well, but who stifled his more liberal, often earthy, yet very insightful writings. This is best exemplified by the disappointing original publication of The last of the lairds as compared to the far superior first edition of Galt’s original unexpurgated manuscript as edited by Ian A. Gordon and published by Scottish Academic Press in 1976 (PR 4708 G2 L2).

The library’s copy of the first edition of Rothelan is in the original boards with untrimmed edges, as issued. Our copy of The bachelor’s wife is half bound in brown calf and marbled boards, with raised bands and gold lettering and marbled edges to make a very attractive volume.

The Treadmill Years

The period after Galt’s return from Canada in May 1829 was followed by diligent writing in order to free himself from debtor’s prison where he was from July 15 to November 10. Much of his activity was spent in writing articles for Blackwood’s magazine, but when it came to novels he was forced by financial considerations to turn to Colburn and Bentley. They published Lawrie Todd (3 vols., 1830); Southennan (3 vols., 1830); The life of Lord Byron (1 vol., 1830) which went through three editions in the same year; Bogle Corbet (3 vols., 1831); The Lives of the players (2 vols., 1831); and Stanley Buxton; or, the schoolfellows (3 vols., 1832). A final novel, Eben Erskine; or, the traveller, was published in 1833 by their successor, Richard Bentley.

In 1832, Galt, thoroughly exhausted by the three volume treadmill of Colburn and Bentley, turned to yet another publisher, James Fraser, who published two one volume novels, The Member; an autobiography, and The Radical: an autobiography, both in 1832. As they did not sell, the remaining stock was bound together and reissued as The Reform: being the Member and the Radical, in 1833.

The Library has copies of the first editions of all the Colburn and Bentley works in the Rare Book room. Of the James Fraser imprints, the library recently acquired a copy of The Radical bound in quarter brown leather and marbled boards with gold lettering. The first edition is the only edition of this book ever published. There was not even an American pirate edition produced, Probably because Fraser was such a poor publisher from a marketing perspective, that his books never reached America.

Of the Colburn and Bentley imprints the library’s copies of Lawrie Todd, Southennan and Eben Erskine are worth mentioning. The first edition of Lawrie Todd is recently bound in a contemporary style of half blue calf and light blue buckram, with raised band and gold tooling. The second edition (Colburn & Bentley, 1830) has the three volumes bound in half brown calf and brown buckram with gold lettering but no tooling. The one volume revised and corrected edition of 1832 is a contemporary binding in half blue calf and marbled boards with gold tooling and lettering. The library’s copy of Southennan is in the original blue boards and brown buckram spine with paper label as issued, and all volumes are still tight. Our copy of Eben Erskine is half bound in brown calf with marbled boards, raised bands and gold lettering with the armorial bookplate of Henry Fowler Broadwood on the inside of the front cover of each volume.

Of the books of this period, comments will be limited to three: Lawrie Todd, Stanley Buxton and The Member.

Lawrie Todd

Lawrie Todd was the first book which Galt produced after returning from Canada. Based on a manuscript autobiography of a New York seedsman, Grant Thorburn, which Galt had purchased in the United States, it is the tale of yet another “pawkie” Young Scot who goes out into the world and makes his fortune, this time in the backwoods of upstate New York. It was a very successful book from the point of view of sales, being reprinted many times in the next twenty years. Some of the later American editions were edited and published by Grant Thorburn, of which the library has an 1847 imprint called the sixteenth edition. After Galt’s stroke, he had the manuscript autobiography published by Fraser in December, 1834, with an introduction Written by himself. Published under the title, Forty years’ residence in America; or, the doctrine of a particular providence exemplified in the life of Grant Thorburn (the original Lawrie Todd) seedsman, New York a of the two titles shows that Galt took most of the volume one of Lawrie Todd almost word for word from the Thorburn autobiography.  It may be of interest to note that the Thorburn firm was still in the seed business in New York at the turn of the century, as the library has seed catalogues from 1898 from J.M. Thorburn & Co. and 1905 from S.M. Thorburn & Co. The library also has a copy of the autobiography bound in a contemporary green cloth with a leaf design in the cloth, with untrimmed pages in very good condition.

At the other extreme from Lawrie Todd in terms of contemporary popularity and critical comment is Stanley Buxton; or, the schoolfellows, which has never been reprinted except for the American editions of the next year. Contemporary reviews were at least respectful. Thackeray called it “very clever though rather dull - Mr. Galt knows the world or seems to know it very well.” A romantic novel centering around the hero’s disinheritance, it is a mixture of Scottish school boys, ghosts, changeling child, Victorian romance and London tenement and business life. Although written as a commissioned piece of writing, it is certainly worth a read, and deserves to be reprinted, even if only by one of the reprint houses, to make it more available to libraries.

Galt's The Member and The Radical

In a category by themselves are the two novels The Member and The Radical. Through the accident of being published by a periodical publisher who wanted to get into the book business, but didn’t know much about book marketing and distribution, these two one volume works have been the most sadly neglected of Galt’s works. Neither work was reprinted in the United States, and while Ian Gordon edited a reissue of The Member in 1975 by Scottish Academic Press, The Radical is only obtainable in the first edition or as The Reform, which was issued in 1833 from the left over sheets of The Member and The Radical. The Member has been called the first English political novel. Galt had always been concerned with power, as shown in The Provost, Sir Andrew Wylie, and more directly in the years he spent in London as a Parliamentary lobbyist. Written in late 1831, with talk of political reform on everyone’s tongue, its publication in January 1832 presents an ironic, humorous and revealing picture of the old House of Commons just before the passage of the 1832 Reform Bill. The hero, Archibald Jobbry, recently returned from India, decides to buy a seat in Parliament “to benefit kith and kin”. His two election campaigns, his manipulating of ministers to serve his own ends, and his decision to withdraw from politics just before the redistribution of seats in the Reform Bill, are all written in a style reminiscent of Provost Pawkie. Not a bad man, not self-deceiving, but a shrewd politician who plays the game to his own advantage by the rules of the time, Jobbry differs from Pawkie in that he does not try to change the process as the Provost does, which is understandable given his increased sphere of operations. The other difference is what makes The Member a political novel; the setting is no longer the home and family which are not even mentioned, rather it is the political milieu in which Jobbry operates.


Thus, through an accident in the choice of a publisher, one of Galt’s best novels has been ignored for over one hundred and forty years. It is significant because of the generally held view that Galt ceased to produce anything of real literary quality after he left for Canada in 1826. While the quality after his return was generally far poorer, certainly The Member, and to a somewhat lesser extent The Radical, are worthy of higher critical examination And as we shall see when we look at the period after Galt’s stroke in a subsequent issue, which is generally ignored from a literary perspective, except for his two autobiographical works, John Galt continued to write well until his death.



John Galt’s place as a major nineteenth century novelist was well established with books such as The Ayrshire legatees (1820) and Annals of the parish (1821). His role as colonizer and town builder in Canada is still not as well known, perhaps because his correspondence relating to Canada in the late 1820s is scattered widely and only became available to scholars comparatively recently. The two major collections necessary for a study of Galt’s role in Canada are both in Canada. The massive collection of Canada Company papers in the Ontario Archives in Toronto contains the large number of official letters between Galt and the company’s Directors in London and is essential for an understanding of Galt’s administrative duties as Superintendent of the company’s Canadian operations. The Galt Collection in the Public Archives of Canada in Ottawa is now quite extensive for the PAC has recently acquired copies of letters previously in private hands. This collection contains a good deal of correspondence between Galt and professional friends in Scotland such as Dr. David Moir. In Britain, considerable material relating to Galt appears in collections such as the Bathurst Papers in the British Museum in London, the Dalhousie Papers at the Scottish Record Office, Edinburgh, and the Piggott Papers at the Bodleian Library, Oxford. H.B. Timothy has made extensive use of these collections for his book The Galts: a Canadian odyssey: John Galt, 1779-1839 (Toronto, 1977) but Timothy was not particularly interested in Galt as a town planner and builder.

The recently acquired collection of Galt Correspondence in the Lizars Collection at the University of Guelph Library Archival Collections is extremely modest in size compared with the major Galt holdings elsewhere. It includes six letters written by Galt between 1779 and 1839 — two to his aunt, Mrs. Elspa Spirling and four to his cousin, Jeannie Spirling. It also includes two letters by his younger brother, Thomas, to Mrs. Spirling. But these letters were completely unknown to scholars before the purchase of the Lizars material and they provide us with an insight into Galt’s character usually not possible in his more guarded correspondence with business or professional acquaintances.

In these letters we see a young man’s dreams and disappointments, his initial reaction to the immensity of London, his constant fear of letting down his family who helped him financially, and his boyish thrill at finally achieving success in Canada. Although he was born in Irvine, one of. Scotland’s leading western seaports, his family moved to Greenock in 1789 and it was here, when he was sixteen, that Galt entered the Greenock Customs House as a clerk to be trained for a career in business. At the age of twenty-five he decided to make his fortune in London. In a letter to his cousin Jeannie back in Irvine Galt graphically described his awestruck response to the great metropolis. 

. . . its size is beyond the mind of an individual to comprehend which renders it beyond description. In some parts it exalts my expectations, the effect of the whole however is not remarkable. In my opinion its dimensions are its greatest magnificence and these seem almost to partake of the infmite as they reach on every side beyond the power of the eye.1

Galt’s business career in London can only be characterized as a series of setbacks and failures. His first venture was as a factor and broker together with a partner, a certain McLachlan, from his part of Scotland. This business soon failed and Galt reported to his aunt that McLachlan was returning to Scotland to try to recover his health. Galt was excited, however, by the arrival of his brother Thomas, who

. . . has at last come to Babylon and we are concerting measures to regain the favour of the fickle cow, Fortune. For some time our expectations must necessarily be very moderate, notwithstanding I trust we shall creep onward to something in the end.2

Thomas was also somewhat guarded about his prospects “in the Great City, in the land of the Sons of Bull”.3 In a letter to Mrs. Spirling he admitted he was inclined,

. . . to think unfavourably of many of our Countrymen . . . but really I have met with so much illiberality, and Selfishness, amongst them, that I confess, I look for Something better where I am going - it is not improbable however I may be disappointed, but you know our Motto - “Hope and Try.”

The partnership between the Galt brothers was shortlived for the adventurous Thomas left for the Honduras in 1809 where he died five years later. John himself set off for a tour of Europe which resulted in the volume Voyages and travels in 1812. His marriage in 1813 and his father-in-law’s support did not give him financial security, for various business schemes failed. As a result he and his family left London for Greenock and later they moved to Musselburgh, a village near Edinburgh. Despite his financial woes and constant wanderings, he produced some of his best books between 1820 and 1823 and also became active as a lobbyist at Parliament on behalf of Upper Canadians claiming compensation for property losses during the War of 1812. It was this Canadian connection which led to his great colonization experiment through the formation of the Canada Company. Financial problems continued to plague him during the complex negotiations prior to going to Canada. He was not able to attend his mother’s funeral and hoped that she might have had some satisfaction from knowing that his prospects finally appeared to be brightening.

Several months after the founding of Guelph, Galt believed that his fortunes had definitely improved. In a long letter to his cousin, he spelled out his feeling of relief.

It has pleased God at last after many disappointments to place me in a situation to redeem some of my debts, and although my office requires me to keep almost an open house I shall yet have something if spared health to lay aside for kindness besides what is set apart for the payment of what I owe.5

It was extremely important to him that his family realize that he had succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. He was particularly thankful that his

. . . good and ever anxious mother, before the collapse of her last illness had some glimpse of the turn which my uncertain fortunes were then taking. . . on the very day on which your letter was written I was presiding at a festival given to the settlers in the new city which I have founded and which is prospering beyond all expectation. It is now a considerable town. When I think of the circumstances in which I am now found I sometimes recall the fond predictions of poor Wally and your affectionate mother. What would have been their exultation could I have told them that I was placed in the situation of being the second person in this great country with a lordly income and a power which in its administration already affects the happiness of thousands and will probably influence the destiny of their descendants for ages to come.

Galt’s estimation of his status was certainly overblown; provincial officials would have been dismayed to know that he considered himself next to the Lieutenant Governor in importance in Upper Canada. Ironically, Galt left Guelph in despair about sixteen months after writing this positive letter to his cousin. His administration of company affairs was questioned by the Directors who unceremoniously dismissed him from his position. He was to continue to suffer financial problems until his death a decade later. But his accomplishments in Upper Canada were nevertheless real and long lasting and influence the lives of Guelph’s residents to this day. The small group of letters in the Lizars Collection enables us to better understand the motivations for his activities here.

I           John Galt to Jeannie Spirling, July 4, 1804, Galt Correspondence, Lizars Collection, University of Guelph Library, Archival Collections.

2          Ibid., John Galt to Mrs. Elspa Spirling, Oct. 6, 1808.

3          Ibid., Thomas Galt to Mrs. Spirling, Sept. 23, 1808.

4          John Galt to his sister, Dec. 12, 1825, Galt Papers, Public Archives of Canada.

5          John Galt to Jeannie Spirling, Nov. 28, 1827, Lizars Collection.



The Library’s archival, rare, and special collections section can be reached by taking the single elevator or stairs in the south-east corner (past the Circulation/Reserve area) to the lower level where researchers can use materials in the Wellington County Room. TRELLIS, the TriUniversity Libraries catalogue, is the primary tool for identifying and locating materials in Archival and Special Collections. TRELLIS can be accessed via the public terminals through the Library home page (, where various web resources are also available.


The collection was begun with the purchase in 1982 of the bulk of the Lizars family library. Daniel Lizars was a printer and publisher who emigrated to Upper Canada in 1833 and settled in Goderich. He brought with him, or subsequently had sent out, a substantial library of over seven hundred books, many of which are connected with the Lizars family as printers, engravers, publishers, etc. Since 1982, the library has acquired all material with any Lizars family connection.


The Pioneer Collection in which the Lizars material is located is basically static, unless material is acquired from the original library collection. There are many incomplete sets, due to loss, and a few items from the library's general collection and other collections have been found and added. Works associated with the Lizars family are acquired and connected to the collection but shelved separately from the Pioneer Collection. Restoration of the heavily worn collection is gradually being undertaken and is being done in a manner to return the material to its original state as it was in the mid-nineteenth century.


English tends to predominate, with some French and Latin as would be expected from an educated family of this period.


Over 700 volumes of monographs and serials are held in the Pioneer Collection. A further 75 Lizars family volumes are elsewhere in the library. In addition, there are 45 linear cm of Lizars papers in the archives.


All books and periodicals are catalogued and available via the library’s online catalogue. LC classification is used for all material except the archival material which is coded in an adaptation of the cataloguing and coding system.


The monographs and serials are separately shelved in the same area as the Pioneer Collection which is housed alphabetically in the Archival and Special Collections section. The items do not circulate. The archival materials are stored together as the "Lizars Family Papers." Rare and archival collections are open Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:45 p.m.

Interlibrary Loan:

Available except for rare and archival materials.


Yes, as the condition of the material warrants, and as the copyright allows.

Reference Assistance:



Cunliffe, Vera. -- From Edinburgh to Colborne Township: Daniel Lizars and the Pioneer Collection at Guelph. -- Guelph, Ont.: University of Guelph Library, 1984.

Stelter, Gilbert A. -- "The John Galt letters in the Lizars Collection". -- Collection update. -- No. 7 (May 1983). -- Guelph, Ont.: University of Guelph Library, 1983.


Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of Roman Empire. (1828-32) Pioneer Collection   DG 311.G5 1828

Lizars’, Pocket map of Scotland. (1930?)                                  Pioneer Collection   G 5771.555 L59

Letters and documents relating to various members of the         Archives           XR1 MS A054

      Lizars Family…

John Milton, Milton’s Paradise Lost. (1802)                                Pioneer Collection   PR 3560.1802

Now you've read that lot here are some pictures from the collections...




And the above is the John Galt collection which is held in the Rare Books Collection

You can read some of John Galt's books online.

Or the Settlers in the Woods
Volume 1  |  Volume 2  |  Volume 3

Return to Library Page

This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus