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Purpose of the Archives

The purpose of the Archives of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto (ARCAT), is to collect, preserve, and where appropriate, make available for research the official and ancillary records which reflect the work of the church within the Archdiocese


As the official repository of the history of the Archdiocese of Toronto, ARCAT’s mandate is to acquire records and materials of any form, made or received by the various offices, foundations and individuals, on behalf of the Archdiocese.

As a requirement of Canon Law, ARCAT serves a tripartite function; as a diocesan archives where records concerning spiritual and temporal affairs of the diocese are held; a historical archives where materials of historical value are preserved; and of the Chancellor’s responsibility to ensure that the acts of the curia are kept safe in the Archives of the Curia.

Our Holdings

Through our holdings, the Archives seeks to promote an accurate understanding of the origins, aims and goals of the Archdiocese by preserving the documentary heritage of its offices, agencies, parishes and institutions. Our holdings can be generally grouped into four parts:

  • Bishops' Papers: Administrative records of the Bishops, Archbishops and Auxiliary Bishops of Toronto documenting their ecclesiastical challenges and daily activities. This includes papers of Bishop Alexander Macdonell, who was the first bishop of the Diocese of Kingston, which from 1826-1840 included the territory of the current Archdiocese of Toronto. The papers are described at the file or ite​m level up to the end of Archbishop Pocock's episcopate. Finding aid​​s, including item level descriptions, are available for research use up to 1961, which marks the end of Archbishop James C. Cardinal McGuigan's active episcopate.

  • Administrative Records of the Chancery and Archdiocesan Offices: Corporate records that document the responsibilities and activities of the Chancery and the offices, agencies and ministries that are run by the Archdiocese of Toronto.

  • Special Collections: Collections of non-textual material that were originally arranged together by format, to facilitate preservation and access. Special collections – including photogr​​aphs, rare books, artwork, textiles, and artifacts - enrich the administrative records and particularly enhance evangelization through exhibits and displays.

  • Parish Records: Under Canon Law, parishes are required to keep their own archives. However, the Archives holds reference copies of parish histories and other ephemera.


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