The Encyclopedia of Music in Canada was the first music encyclopedia published in Canada. It comprises more than 3,100 articles and 500 illustrations. It includes biographies of Canadian musicians and histories of music organizations in Canada. Topics that are covered include Inuit music, piano building, awards, education, instrument collections, folk music, the music scenes in Canadian cities and Canada's musical relations with other national cultures. Bibliographies, discographies and lists of compositions are included. Because of its role in documenting Canada's musical history, the EMC is a standard reference work for schools, libraries and musicians.
Preparation of the first edition was prompted by Floyd S. Chalmers, John Beckwith and Keith MacMillan in 1971. It began in 1973 under editors Helmut Kallmann, Gilles Potvin and Kenneth Winters. A peak staff of 23, aided by consultants, processed original articles from 400 writers. Information was gathered from records of individuals and organizations, from personal interviews and from research of related documents.
The EMC was published as a single volume in English by the University of Toronto Press (1981). It was published in French (as Encyclopédie de la musique au Canada) by Éditions Fides (1983). A second English edition was published in 1992 under the editorship of Kallmann and Potvin. A three-volume set in French was published in 1993. The second edition contained more than 800 new entries and expanded discographies.
In 2003, the Historica Foundation of Canada (now Historica Canada) assumed responsibility for the EMC. James H. Marsh became its editor-in-chief. Historica absorbed all EMC entries into the online version of The Canadian Encyclopedia.