The collection constitutes part of the personal library of the Canadian poet Ralph Gustafson (1909-1995). He began to collect seriously during the Second World War as part of his work on an anthology, the Penguin Book of Canadian Verse. The collection was acquired in 1991 and has been kept as a unit. It consists of volumes of Canadian poetry covering the century, or so, from roughly 1880 to 1980. It is rich in presentation and association copies and contains most of the rarest books of Canadian verse since the time of the Confederation poets. The rarities include W.W.E. Ross's Sonnets and Laconics, Dorothy Livesay's Green Pitcher, and virtually complete runs of the books by F.R. Scott, John Glassco, Louis Dudek, Irving Layton and others. There are some 2000 titles.
Records for the holdings are in the McGill Library on-line catalogue.