National Defence Headquarters Directorate of History and Heritage

Identity area



Authorized form of name

National Defence Headquarters Directorate of History and Heritage

Parallel form(s) of name

  • Ministère de la Dèfense nationale, Direction-Histoire et patrimoine

Other form(s) of name


  • Government

Contact area


Warren Sinclair



Street address

2429 Holly Lane, Stacey Building





Country name


Postal code

K1A 0K2







Description area


The Directorate of History and Heritage (DHH) had its origins in the Canadian War Records Office (CWRO) and Canadian War Narrative Section (CWNS), organized in London during the First World War. The CWRO was formed in January 1916 under the direction of Lord Beaverbrook and was responsible for collecting and compiling historical records of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) and publicizing its activities. Its officers in England and France collected the records of Canadian units and formations and the unit war diaries. In addition, they collected data on the exploits of individuals and units in the field which were incorporated in office files. The CWNS was created to produce a narrative of the Last Hundred Days of the war which was used in the Report of the Ministry, Overseas Military Forces of Canada.

Meanwhile, By an Order in Council of 17 January 1917 Brig. Gen. E.A. Cruikshank was assigned the task of collecting material and records necessary to compile the history of the First World War. In November 1918 he became the "Director of the Historical Section of the General Staff". By the end of the war the CWRO ceased to exist. CWRO personnel and records formed the nucleus of the Historical Section in Ottawa. In 1919 the CWNS was transferred to Canada and amalgamated with the Canadian Army Historical Section in June 1921.

During the Second World War the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) began archiving their historical records. The RCAF Historical Section was small, with a maximum of five people on staff. The first official Naval Historian was Dr. Gilbert Norman Tucker. During the war the RCN Historical Section included the Naval Historian, one researcher in Great Britain and two in Ottawa. On 31 March 1948 the Naval Historical Section was shut down. It is uncertain who was responsible for the Navy's archives, but it may have been continued by the Directorate of Naval Information, Naval Staff Branch. The Naval Historical Section was re-established in March 1952 and the naval archives falling under the jurisdiction of the Naval Secretariat.

In 1964 the historical sections of the three armed services were integrated as the Armed Forces Directorate of History (DHist). After integration, the Directorate was attached to the Chief of the Defence Staff, but was shifted to the responsibility of ADM Policy and Communication in 1990. In 1996, ADM Personnel took responsibility for DHist. On 1 September 1996, the Directorate of History and the Directorate of Military Traditions and Heritage (DMTH) were amalgamated to form the Directorate of History and Heritage (DHH.)

Geographical and cultural context

Mandates/Sources of authority

The Directorate of History and Heritage (DHH) is mandated to preserve and communicate Canada’s military history and foster pride in a Canadian military heritage. The mandate of the Archives, therefore, is to gather, preserve and impose intellectual control over the historical record in order to support the research and writing of official histories.

Administrative structure

The Directorate of History and Heritage (DHH) includes a Director and a Coordinator and includes the following sections:

DHH 2 – History and Archives
DHH 3 – Canadian Forces Dress and Ceremonial
DHH 5 – Canadian Forces Museums
DHH 6 – Military Heritage
DHH 7 – Canadian Forces Music

DHH 2 is responsible for fulfilling its primary role of researching and writing official histories of the Canadian Forces and Department of National Defence. In addition to producing official histories, it maintains an Archives and Library section to support the research and writing of official histories.

Records management and collecting policies



The Archives includes records with substantive historical information emanating from the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War, the Cold War, peacekeeping missions, operations and exercises, and the development of the Canadian Armed Forces. There are records on the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) as well as the unified Canadian Armed Forces

Finding aids, guides and publications

Copies of the Finding Aids are available in the Reading Room.

Access area

Opening times

Hours of Operation for public research are Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 08h30 to 16h00.

Access conditions and requirements

The Archives is generally open to researchers, with appointments not required. Researchers must register and sign in and out of the building.


The Reading Room is wheelchair accessible.

Services area

Research services

Reproduction services

Photocopies or microfilm prints, as well as digital copies of photographs and documents are available for research purposes. There is no charge. Researchers are welcome to use their own digital cameras to make reproductions for research use only.

Public areas

Control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion




Maintenance notes

Access points

Access Points

  • Clipboard

Primary contact

2429 Holly Lane, Stacey Building
Ottawa, Ontario
CA K1A 0K2