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Guy Sylvestre

b. May 17,1918, Sorel, QC; d. Sept. 26, 2010, Ottawa, ON


1939 BA University of Ottawa
1940 LPh University of Ottawa
1941 MA University of Ottawa
1969 DLS University of Ottawa
1970 DLitt Mount Allison University
1974 LLD University of Toronto
1975 LLD University of Prince Edward Island
1982 LLD Memorial University
1984 LLD Concordia University


1943–1947 Literary Critic for Le Droit and Translator for the House of Commons
1947–1950 Personal Secretary to the Rt. Hon Louis St-Laurent (first as Secretary of State for External Affairs and later as Prime Minister
1950–1953 Administration Officer, Dept. Of Resources & Development
1953–1956 Assistant Parliamentary Librarian, Library of Parliament
1956–1968 Associate Parliamentary Librarian, Library of Parliament
1968–1983 National Librarian of Canada

Selected Publications:

Anthologie de la poésie canadienne d’expression française, précédée d’une introduction. [s.l.]: Valiquette, 1942. 6e éd.: Beauchemin, 1971. 7e éd., 1974.

Guidelines for National Libraries. Paris: Unesco, 1987.

Panorama des lettres canadienne-françaises. Québec: Ministère des affaires culturelles, 1964. English translation published in 1967 as: Literature in French Canada.

La poésie française au Canada: Guide du lecteur. [S.l.]: Services éducatifs de la Légion canadienne, 1944.

Poètes catholiques de la France contemporaine. Paris: Fides, 1943.

Situation de la poésie canadienne: Regards et jeux dans l’espace, axe axe et parallaxes. [s.l.]: Editions du droit, 1941.

Sondages. [Paris]: Beauchemin, 1945.

Under pseudonym Jean Bruneau: Amours, délices et orgues. Québec: Institut littéraire du Québec, 1953.

Under pseudonym Blaise Orlier: Louis Francoeur, journaliste. [S.l.]: Editions du droit, 1941.

As editor or compiler:

Canadian universities today. Edited by Guy Sylvestre and George Stanley. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1961.

Canadian writers: A biographical dictionary. Edited by Brandon Conron,

Carl F. Klink and Guy Sylvestre. Toronto: Ryerson, 1964 & rev. ed. 1966.

A Century of Canadian literature. Edited by H. Gordon Green and Guy Sylvestre. Toronto: Ryerson, 1967.

James P. Manion, a Canadian errant: Twenty-five years in the Canadian Foreign Service. Toronto: Ryerson, 1960.

Structures sociales du Canada français: Etudes de membre de la Section I de la Société royale du Canada. Québec: Presses de l’Université Laval, 1966.

As contributor:

Our living tradition. Edited by R.L. McDougall. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1959.

La recherche au Canada français. Edited by Louis Baudoin. Montréal: Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 1968.

Visages de la civilisation au Canada français. Edited by Leopold Lamontagne. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1970.

He was also a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Canadiana, Encyclopédie Grolier, Funk & Wagnall’s and Reader’s Encyclopedia of American Literature.

He contributed over 150 articles to library journals and popular and literary magazines, including Cahiers, Canada français, Culture, Dalhousie Review, Gants du ciel, Notre Temps, Nouvelle revue canadienne, Queen’s Quarterly, Revue dominicaine, Saturday Night, Top of the News and University of Toronto Quarterly.


Académie canadienne-française (président, 1960–1962) [now the Académie des lettres du Québec]
Alliance française d’Ottawa (président, 1960–1962)
Association canadienne des bibliothécaires de langue française
Canada Council (chairman of Committee on aid to publication,1960–1968)
Canadian Association for Information Science (president,1970)
Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions (president, 1983–1986)
Canadian Library Association
Canadian Writers Foundation (president, 1960–1961)
Cercle universitaire
Governor General’s Literary Awards (chairman, 1960–1962)
Library Association of Ottawa
Royal Society of Canada (president, 1973–1974)
Société des écrivains canadiens
World Poetry Conference Expo ‘67 (chairman)


1982 Order of Canada
1974 Poland’s Order of Merit
1983 Outstanding Public Service Award
1985 IFLA Medal


During Dr. Sylvestre’s term of office as National Librarian, the National Library Act was substantially revised, resulting in a dramatic growth in the programs, services, collections, and resources of the National Library. He oversaw the establishment of specialized collections and services in music, library documentation, children’s literature, multilingual publications, and rare books and manuscripts. As head of the National Library Advisory Board, he was responsible for the formation of committees and task forces of librarians from all across the country, on matters such as MARC, cataloguing and other library standards, resource sharing and the Canadian Union Catalogue, and bibliographic services. He was editor of Le Droit from 1940–1949; of Gants du ciel, 1943; and Nouvelle revue canadienne, 1951–1956.


Guy Sylvestre Fonds held by Library and Archives Canada


McCormick, Paul. “National Librarian Guy Sylvestre, 1918-2010,” Feliciter, vol. 56, no. 6 (2010), p. 237-38.
Ottawa Citizen, Obituaries, Sept. 29, 2010.
The National Library of Canada and Canadian libraries: Essays in honour of Guy Sylvestre. Montréal: ASTED, 1996.
Caya, Marcel (1996). “Le Fonds Guy-Sylvestre” in National Library of Canada and Canadian libraries: essays in honour of Guy Sylvestre, edited by Jean-Rémi Brault, Gwynneth Evans, and Richard Paré, pp. 165–171. Montréal: ASTED; and Ottawa: Canadian Library Association.
Piternick, Anne, “A period of development at the National Library,” National Library News, vol. 15, no. 11 (Nov. 1983), p. 4.

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