The Carleton Library Series (CLS) is the most enduring and significant initiative taken in the history of Canadian publishing where the editing, reprinting, and dissemination of documents important to the history of the place we now call Canada is concerned. Initiated in the 1950s by Carleton University professor of English R.L. McDougall, along with his colleagues in the humanities and social sciences, the series was intended to be a non-fiction counterpart to the New Canadian Library (NCL). The NCL was at that time dedicated to the reprinting of classic works of Canadian literature in paperback form. Like the NCL, the CLS was first published by McClelland and Stewart, with the first title appearing in 1963. Since then, the CLS has published well over 200 titles on a wide variety of subjects related to Canada.

Two related factors drove the mandate of the early CLS. First, the series was born from wave of anti-American nationalism that swept through universities in English-speaking Canada in the period preceding and following the nation’s Centennial in 1967. Critical of American cultural and economic imperialism, early CLS board members were also concerned about the dearth of materials related to Canada available to students and researchers. With the appearance of CLS volumes, important primary source documents became for the first time widely available, and in an affordable, pocketbook-sized paperback format. For decades, Canadian university students, undergraduate and graduate alike, bought these volumes; the reprinted documents also facilitated the study of Canada at universities in the United States and abroad.

In recent years, the motivations for, and thus the mandate of, the series have shifted. While the CLS remains committed to humanities and social science research that is relevant to the long histories of the territory now called Canada, it now takes as its primary purpose the rethinking of Canada. The series does not seek to define what Canada should be, but rather invites scholars working on questions about Canada’s history, present, and future to reassess persistent mythologies and to imagine just, shared futures.

In the spirit of rethinking Canada, the CLS publishes books that

  • engage in the transformative diversification of knowledge
  • explore the relation of Canada to the world within and across borders, and local and regional knowledges and experiences
  • draw on a range of disciplines, fields, theoretical traditions, methodologies, and epistemologies

The CLS publishes new manuscripts that fit the current mandate of the series. The CLS also continues to reprint out-of-print materials related to Canada with new scholarly introductions and other editorial apparatuses. We seek out-of-print or previously ignored materials as a way of further rethinking Canada and the diverse ways that peoples and groups consider this place. We invite authors to submit proposals for reprints and new manuscripts using the “Submit a Proposal” tab on the left.

In the spirit of accessibility that animated the original CLS, the complete series has been digitized, and all titles in the series remain available in paperback form.

Originally published by McClelland & Stewart (1963-1980) and Carleton University Press (1981-1999), the CLS has since 2000 been published by McGill-Queen’s University Press.