Before delving into the Hansard search, it's vital that you follow the appropriate preliminary steps to ensure an effective and targeted search. For a step-by-step guide on how to start the search for Hansard, look to our blog post Legal Research Survival Guide, Part 6 —Help with Hansard.
Additonally, the Archives of Ontario has created an excellent finding aid for those older Ontario Hansard on its website.
The Legislative Assembly of Ontario provides digitized versions of Hansard transcripts, Orders and Notices and Votes and Proceedings from the 1st Session of the 30th Parliament (1975) onwards:
The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library that works to provide researchers with free access to cultural and historic materials.
Although not exhaustive, the Internet Archive has digitized and made available a fair few volumes of the Ontario Provincial Hansard, along with their indexes, from 1947 (when Hansard debates first began to be officially recorded - from 1944 to 1946 there were typed versions of the debates) to 1980. To find Hansard debates on the Internet Archive, look to the Canadian Government Publications Portal, a collection of government publications from the federal and provincial jurisdictions; Hansard can be found in the subcollection Legislative Assembly of Ontario: Official Report of Debates (Hansard). Or, find Hansard by performing a general search using the search string: “Hansard AND Ontario”.
Newspaper Hansard, also called Scrapbook Hansard, is a collection of newspaper articles actually clipped from various newspapers whose reporters reported on the goings-on in the Legislature from 1841 to 1953. The Scrapbook Hansard has been microfilmed, and the Great Library has the microfilm reels plus a microfilm reader/printer.
A few caveats about using Scrapbook Hansard: these newspaper clippings are not official, they are incomplete (being brief, third-person summaries of speeches), and they reflect the editors’ and reporters’ political biases.
The microfilm Scrapbook Hansard includes rudimentary indexes for some years. However, it often works better to consult the Journals of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario (1868- ) to find the date(s) when a topic or bill was debated, and then search the microfilm source on the following date for any newspaper reports that may have been published.
In addition to the physical microfilm reels, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario has digitized the Scrapbook Hansard, making it available through their Ontario Scrapbook Hansard database. Find upwards of 15,000 newspaper clippings that have been enhanced with added metadata and are full text-searchable. We would still recommend using this resource in consultation with the Journals of the LAO.
The official Hansard of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario did not begin to be recorded until 1947 - which is when the Great Library's collection of official Hansard begins! We also possess print indices to the Hansard which really come in handy for locating Hansard in those big volumes.
Although not very well-known, the Journals of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario are a really useful tool that help the researcher better interact with Hansard, bills and legislation alike. The Journals of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario are the official record of the House proceedings, and are derived from the Votes and Proceedings of the Legislature. They detail the daily activities of the House, such as motions, voting results, bill activity and status, petitions, Sessional papers, etc. In essence, they are the recorded actions of the Legislative Assembly, manufactured from the notes of the clerks-at-the-table.
How is this different from the Hansard of the Legislative Assembly? Whereas the Journals are the recorded actions of the House — snippets of data that list and detail the events and proceedings of the day — the Hansard are the recorded verbatim discussion and debates surround the topics of the Journals.
One example of the ways that we use the journals at the library is to gather the dates of each sitting of any particular bill. This really comes in handy when used in tandem with the online Hansard resources, which sometimes organize Hansard not by bill number or title, but by sitting date.