Building a Bibliography

Brendan O’Donnell traces the origins of his bibliography on English-speaking Quebec to a discussion with his brother Kevin in Toe Blake’s Tavern in Montreal on November 15, 1976. As they sat watching the first electoral victory of the Parti Québécois, they wondered what this meant for the province’s English-speakers, often portrayed as the “square pegs in the round holes” of Quebec’s historical narrative.

The brothers felt that part of the misunderstanding stemmed from the fact that nobody had written a history of English-speaking Quebec to explain the minority perspective. A first step toward this was compiling a bibliography, which Brendan felt compelled to do. He bought a package of 100 index cards and got to work. Forty years later, there are over 11,000 documents in his bibliography, and Brendan continues to add more every day.

Brendan says Quebec’s English-speaking community and its English-language universities have not risen to the challenge of defining and positioning themselves vis-à-vis the province’s French-language majority. There has been no comprehensive social history since Ronald Rudin’s The Forgotten Quebecers of 1985. There are virtually no courses on English-speaking Quebec in the universities. Given this, Brendan continues, people should not be surprised that Quebec’s recent high school curriculum could be criticized for misrepresenting the history of English-speaking Quebec. He quotes historian Michel Brunet, who said that a “…minority cannot blame the majority for not understanding it, as long as the minority does not have the knowledge, the science, and the courage to define itself.”

Brendan O’Donnell at Bishop’s University, November 23, 2017.


Brendan O’Donnell is a historian and retired civil servant. He has spent thousands of volunteer hours over the decades to identify, list, and provide annotations for his Bibliography on English-speaking Quebec.

Further Reading

O’Donnell, Brendan. “Defining a Minority: A Bibliographic Sketch of English Quebec History.” Québec Studies Vol. 56 (Fall/Winter 2013): 113–136.

O’Donnell, Brendan. “Consociationalism, English Quebec and the Chauveau Ministry, 1867-1872: A Study of Political Accommodation.” Thesis, Wilfrid Laurier University, 1980.

Rudin, Ronald. The Forgotten Quebecers: A History of English-Speaking Quebec, 1759-1980. Québec: Institut québécois de recherche sur la culture, 1985.

…or find more bibliographies related to English-speaking Quebec in our own bibliography.