Charles Canniff James

Fonds number:
Title: Charles Canniff James
Dates of Material:
78 cm of textual records
Biographical sketch

Charles Canniff James (1863–1916) was an academic, a civil servant, a book collector and an authority on Canadian history and literature. He was born in Napanee, Ontario, the son of Charles James and Ellen Canniff. He married Frances Lillian Crossen in 1887 with whom he had one son, Wilfred Crossen James. He died in St. Catherines, Ontario.

James was educated at Napanee High School and Victoria College, Cobourg, Ontario, where he received a B.A. in 1883 and an M.A. in 1886. James was appointed Assistant Master at Cobourg Collegiate Institute (1883–86), Professor of Chemistry at Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph (1886–91), Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Government of Ontario (1891–1912), Commissioner to administer Dominion Agricultural Instruction Act (1912–14), and Member of the Federal Board of Enquiry into the Cost of Living (1914).

In 1911, he was warded Companion of The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (CMG).

James was elected Director of the Canadian Seed Growers’ Association, President of the Ontario Historical Society (1902–04), Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (1905), Member of the Canadian Olympic Committee (1908), Member of the Senate of the University of Toronto, Member of the Board of Regents of Victoria College, and Member of the Advisory Board of Acta Victoriana. He was awarded the Gold Medal in Natural Science, Victoria College in 1883, created Commander of St. Michael and St. George in 1911, and awarded LL.D. at the University of Toronto in 1912.

He was also a generous benefactor of the Victoria University Library, donating the Canadiana collection and the Alfred Tennyson collection.

James’s publications include: Agriculture (George N. Morang, 1898), A Bibliography of Canadian Poetry (English) (William Briggs, 1899), The Downfall of the Huron Nation (Hope, 1906), A Tennyson Pilgrimage: And Tennyson, the Imperialist (1910), David William Smith: A Supplementary Note to the Upper Canada Election of 1792 (Royal Society of Canada, 1913), and History of Farming in Ontario (Brook & Company, 1914), among many other titles. Other books by James are listed in the University of Toronto Libraries catalogue

Custodial history

The custodial history is unknown.

The Ontario Historical Society resolution was framed and displayed in a room in the Birge-Carnegie Building (BC20). It was transferred to the Victoria University Library Special Collections in April 2024 during the move out of Birge-Carnegie. The original donor is unknown.

Scope and content

The fonds contains James’s records pertaining to his academic career. It includes literary material including material relating to A Bibliography of Canadian Poetry; (annotated) essays on Tennyson; articles and reports; and an acknowledgement of the gift of James’s library to Victoria University Library (1898). The fonds also contains a letter from Wilfred P. Mustard, an author and James's colleague, and an Ontario Historical Society resolution recognizing James's passing.

Source of supplied title

Title based on contents of the fonds.


The fonds is stored in 4 boxes.

Immediate source of acquisition

Source of acquisition is unknown.

Language of material


Access restrictions

Restrictions on access: No restrictions on access.

Finding aids

File list available.

Related material

Related biographical information is held at Victoria University Archives.


No further accruals are expected.

Access points

Provenance access point: James, C.C. (Charles Canniff), 1863–1916

Related resources

James, C.C. “Brief Notes on the Early Press of Canada.” Acta Victoriana, vol. 20, no. 3, 1896, pp. 130–134.

James, C.C. “The Cause of Higher Education.” Acta Victoriana, vol. 20, no. 6, 1897, pp. 270–272. 

James, C.C. “The Princess—1847.” Acta Victoriana, vol. 20, no. 8, 1897, pp. 379–382. 

James, C.C. “Notes on Some Canadian Poets.” Acta Victoriana, vol. 24, no. 8, 1901, pp. 413–416. 

James, C.C. “The Present Needs of Victoria.” Acta Victoriana, vol. 25, no. 8, 1902, pp. 413–416. 

James, C.C. “David Thompson—A Canadian Boundary Maker.” Acta Victoriana, vol. 27, no. 3, 1903, pp. 191–195.

Other articles published by C.C. James in Acta Victoriana are listed in Acta Victoriana, 1878–1990: An Index with a Subject Authority List, pages 135–136.

Related special collections at Victoria University Library