National Defence Headquarters

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The Directorate of History of the National Defence Headquarters has now changed its name, following an August 30, 1996, amalgamation with the former Directorate of Military Traditions and Heritage. The new name is the Directorate of History and Heritage (DHH).

The new organization joins two formerly separate directorates in the aim of streamlining operations and reducing costs. It includes historians, archivists, experts in current Canadian Forces regulations pertaining to heritage and tradition, and Canadian Forces museums administrators.

DHH is under the assistant deputy minister human resources (military). Its offices are located in South-East Ottawa, near the Heron and Walkley road junction.


Address and Contact Info

Address: Directorate of History and Heritage, 2429 Holly Lane., Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K2

Phone: (613) 949-1086

Fax: (613) 990-8579

Web page:

Director: S.J. Stephen Harris

Online Finding Aid:

Archivists (principal contacts for advice on the collection):

Hours and usage restrictions

The reading room is open to the general public for archival and library research on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Collection Summary

In cooperation with the National Archives of Canada, the Directorate of History and Heritage is, in essence, the archives of the Canadian Armed Forces. During the Second World War, the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army, and Royal Canadian Air Force appointed historical officers to produce reports for the future record and to form the basis of official histories. All of these reports are available for research at DHH. The most formal and comprehensive collection of reports was created by historical officers at the Canadian Military Headquarters (CMHQ) in London. The CMHQ Reports are being made available electronically over time. These reports are available only in English. Other collections include:

Book Collection: Official histories of allied and enemy forces, general histories, campaign histories, and some technical works, as well as numerous Canadian and British regimental histories. Some bound runs of periodicals are held. There is an extensive collection of officers’ lists and printed regulations and administrative orders, mostly Canadian.

Kardex Collection: Papers from the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force, mainly 1939–64, filed according to the directorate Kardex classification system. The files includes the papers of Lieutenant-Colonel H. M. Jackson, who compiled information on a number of military topics—in particular his heavily used notes on the careers of First World War Canadian officers. The Kardex Collection was closed to acquisitions in 1971.

Document Collection: Begun in 1971, the Document Collection is catalogued on cards, and includes all documents, reports, and narratives received between 1971 and December 1994. This collection is now closed to acquisitions. InMagic Databases: As of June 1995, an archival database contains descriptions of archival collections. These collections include new materials on peacekeeping.

Permanent Reference Files: Working files of booklets, newspaper clippings, photographs, and similar ephemeral materials. Files have been created for Canadian bases in Canada and abroad, Canadian units, Canadian ships, squadrons of the Royal Canadian Air Force and Canadian Forces, and aircraft types, both Canadian and foreign. Biographical Files: Open working files for many Canadian servicemen and civilians, of all ranks and professions, and for some selected foreigners. The biographical files are supplemented by card files of Second World War honors and awards, casualties, prisoners of war, etc., for Canadian personnel. There is also a card file of Canadians who served in the British flying services in the First World War.

Steiger Materials: The late Mr. Steiger’s collection of documents in the German language which originated in Germany during the Second World War. Many are translated into English. They also include documents relating to research on specific aspects of the First World War, lists of documents held in other archives, and some secondary published material about German military history in general.

Public Record Office and Related Materials: Large quantities of Public Record Office documents photocopied in London for research on the Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Navy histories. Naval Historian’s Collection: Large collection of naval materials arranged by the old Royal Canadian Navy file number and catalogued in a separate Kardex.

Photograph Collections: Several collections of photographic prints are available. Captions to Royal Canadian Air Force Second World War public relations photographs are held in the document area; prints and negatives for these are held by the National Archives of Canada. A similar collection of Second World War Army public relations photographs may be located through the Kardex catalog. The directorate does not hold photographic negatives. As a rule recent negatives are held by the Canadian Forces Photographic Unit. Those more than 15 years old are in the Documentary Art and Photography Division, National Archives of Canada.

Usage Discussion

Suggestions for approaching the material:

Housing and getting by for less in the area:


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