Fonds MSG 809 - Union of Canadian Municipalities fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Union of Canadian Municipalities fonds

General material designation

  • Textual record
  • Graphic material

Parallel title

Other title information

Title statements of responsibility

Title notes

  • Source of title proper: Title taken from transmittal sheet and contents of records

Level of description


Reference code


Edition area

Edition statement

Edition statement of responsibility

Class of material specific details area

Statement of scale (cartographic)

Statement of projection (cartographic)

Statement of coordinates (cartographic)

Statement of scale (architectural)

Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1901-1931 (Creation)
    Union of Canadian Municipalities

Physical description area

Physical description

0.85m of textual records
8 photographs
1 technical drawing

Publisher's series area

Title proper of publisher's series

Parallel titles of publisher's series

Other title information of publisher's series

Statement of responsibility relating to publisher's series

Numbering within publisher's series

Note on publisher's series

Archival description area

Name of creator


Administrative history

In 1901, the Union of Canadian Municipalities (UCM) was founded by William Douw Lighthall (also known as W.D. Lighthall) and Oliver Aiken Howland. The union was created as a resistance from municipal mayors to the encroachment of corporations and monopolies on Canadian municipalities. Essentially, the Union sought to protect the rights of municipalities and their constituents from corporate exploitation via unfair corporate advantages or by legislative acts from politicians and other members of parliament who collaborated with corporations. It was also formed to remind utility companies that they could not assume municipal consent for the removal of public infrastructure without consideration of the municipal governments when building their infrastructure. Municipal rights-of-way must be negotiated beforehand.
In addition to resisting corporate encroachment, the union was created as an organization for the cooperation and collaboration of municipalities and mayors. It allowed for unionized action, sharing of resources to cut costs and save money for municipalities, and the ability to exert greater influence on municipal affairs.
In 1937, the UCM and the Dominion Conference of Mayors merged to form the Canadian Federation of Mayors and Municipalities (CFMM). It was then renamed the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) in 1976.
William Douw Lighthall (December 27, 1857 – August 3, 1954), also known as W. D. Lighthall, was a Canadian lawyer, historian, novelist, poet, and philosopher and played a significant role in the political and cultural life of Montreal and Canada. W.D. Lighthall grew up in Montreal and attended McGill University, where he received degrees of Bachelor of Arts in 1879, Bachelor of Civil Laws in 1881, Master of Arts in 1883, and, received the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in 1921. He was admitted to the Quebec Bar in 1881, and practiced law in Montreal for the next 63 years, from 1881 to 1944. There are several notable activities of his long tenure in Canadian public and political life. In 1900-1903, he served as the mayor of Westmount and co-founded the Union of Canadian Municipalities with Oliver Aiken Howland, the mayor of Toronto. In addition to the Union of Canadian Municipalities, he served as the vice-president of the National Municipal League of America.
W.D. Lighthall was also a known philanthropist. In 1883, he did the legal work pro bono necessary for the incorporation of the Montreal Women's Club and founded the Canadian Association of Returned Soldiers in 1915. He also founded numerous literary associations and published numerous literary works like history, poetry, philosophy, arts, and literature.
He was also a notable McGill figure, having served as Representative Fellow in Arts at McGill University from 1911 to 1913. After David Ross McCord, the founder of the McCord Museum, passed away in 1930, he served as the executor of the McCord Estate and the McCord Museum.
These records of the Union of Canadian Municipalities were compiled and organized by William Douw Lighthall before donated to the McCord Museum.

Custodial history

On May 1st, 1989, the McCord Museum transferred 0.6m of paper files to the McGill Rare Books and Special Collections. The records of the Union of Canadian Municipalities were then consolidated with existing William Douw Lighthall archival holdings.

Scope and content

The Union of Canadian Municipalities (UCM) fonds consists of the UCM’s administrative records and correspondence between 1901 and 1931. This collection presents the UCM’s organizational activities in Montreal and Canada in the early 20th century.
This fonds includes 64 files of administrative and financial records, 8 photographs and 1 technical drawing. Administrative records consist of Constitution 1901, meeting minutes 1903-1919, correspondences 1901-1919, Act or Bill or argument copies 1903, 1905, 1914, memorandum 1903, 1913, 1918, convention materials 1908-1919, official circulars 1905, 1914,1915,1919, survey 1905 and convention attendance registration book 1901-1914. Financial activities are documented by cash book 1904-1905, account book 1902-1915, cheques and invoices 1904-1919, ledgers 1901-1919 and financial reports 1913. Newspaper clippings covering 1905 to 1913. The publications include UCM journals from 1901-1919, annual reports 1905-1911 and convention reports 1902-1904. A scrap book, containing newspaper clippings, stock profile report, petition to House of Commons 1906, correspondence 1931, bulletins and circulars covering the period between 1902 to 1931. The collection also includes 8 photographs taken between 1902-1913. Besides, a technical drawing titled "Plan showing proposed system of telephone installation C.P.R. premises" is dated in 1904.
The majority of the UCM records are arranged as chronological files. A small portion of administrative documents includes a few UCM annual books, convention books and a scrap book of newspaper clippings. Then there are publications of their journals. Thus, the fonds consists of 3 series: 1) chronological files and 2) publications, and 3) administrative files.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


Language of material

Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

No other formats available

Restrictions on access


Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Finding aids

Box/file list available. For textual records, photographs, and architectural drawings, see MSG 809 (Box/file list).

Associated materials

Related materials


Alternative identifier(s)

Standard number area

Standard number

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Genre access points

Control area

Description record identifier

Institution identifier

Rules or conventions


Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Finding aid prepared by Thomson Yu and Bing Bai as part of McGill’s School of Information Studies course GLIS 641 ; edited by Prof. Gordon Burr, December 2019.

Language of description

Script of description


Accession area

Related subjects

Related places

Related genres