Happy 75th Anniversary National Film Board of Canada!

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) was established on May 2, 1939, under the National Film Act, with a mandate to produce and distribute films on subjects of varied interest to Canadians. Although its mandate has expanded, the NFB maintains a solid international reputation for capturing historically significant footage and producing visually stimulating flagship films, such as the early award-winning documentary Royal Journey (1951), documenting Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh’s visit to Canada and the United States.

In 1967, after a fire devastated most of the NFB’s nitrate film collection housed in a storage facility near Montréal, Quebec, it became clear that Canada’s film heritage was endangered. This tragedy provided the impetus to authorize the Public Archives of Canada (now Library and Archives Canada) to create a national film acquisition program in 1969. And in 1976, Canada officially had a National Film Archive with its own dedicated staff to ensure the ongoing collection and preservation of Canada’s film collection.

The NFB Fonds

The National Film Board fonds is Library and Archives Canada’s largest film collection, boasting a variety of genres that represent over 11,000 audiovisual records, including film, video, sound recordings, textual records, posters, technical drawings and more. These records consist of completed productions and pre-production elements, such as negatives, outtakes, stock shots, and prints. The photographic series documents everyday Canadian life—promoting tourism, industry and natural resources—since the NFB’s photography division was established in 1942.

Stamp commemorating 100 years of cinema in Canada with a still image from Pour la suite du Monde

Stamp commemorating 100 years of cinema in Canada with a still image from Pour la suite du Monde (MIKAN 2266771)

Although many NFB filmmakers are now working entirely in digital form, it is not uncommon for audiovisual archivists, when opening a box of archival records, to come across the iconic green NFB label on cans of celluloid or video cases. The NFB’s once wide distribution of their productions is evidenced in the large amount of analogue records still found in libraries and archives across Canada. Most of its analogue productions having been digitized, NFB can now reach an even greater public with its online collection.

A stamp celebrating the National Film Board and its outstanding achievements

A stamp celebrating the National Film Board and its outstanding achievements (MIKAN 2266867)

Important NFBContributors in the LAC Collection

Besides the National Film Board fonds, Library and Archives Canada has private fonds of well-known and award-winning NFB filmmakers and directors, such as Norman McLarenNeighbours; Gilles CarleLa vraie nature de Bernadette; Evelyn Spice CherryWeather Forecast; Donald BrittainCanada at War series; Cynthia ScottFlamenco at 5:15; Claude Jutra—Mon oncle Antoine; Bill MasonPaddle to the Sea; and Colin LowThe Romance of Transportation in Canada. You can view many of these movies for free or a small fee on the NFB website.

Related Searches:

Discovering the Héritage Collection Through Archives Search

Since Library and Archives Canada (LAC) extended its long-standing partnership with Canadiana.org to digitize microfilms in August 2013, 17.4 million images and 535 collections have been added to the Héritage website. These microfilms cover personal, administrative and government records.

Up until recently, clients looking for microfilmed records in the collection would start their search on the LAC website, then go to the Héritage website to check if that content was already digitized. But now, you can find out whether a microfilmed record has been digitized or not just by consulting the MIKAN description!

In this example for the Royal Canadian Air Force files, the following graphical notice is displayed at the top of the page in the Title section:Graphical notice indicating that all or part of the records described have been digitized and are available online.Scrolling down to the Finding aid section, you will find the link to the Héritage website:

Exemple of a MIKAN entry with a the link to the Héritage website.

As other microfilms are digitized and made available on the Héritage website, similar links will be added to the corresponding MIKAN descriptions.

Happy hunting!

Library and Archives Canada’s Alma Duncan fonds

Art lovers interested in researching the life and working methods of Canadian artist Alma Duncan (1917–2004) must make Library and Archives Canada (LAC) one of their first stops. With the acquisition of Duncan’s complete records (fonds) between 1998 and 2005, LAC became the major centre for the study and preservation of artworks, and supporting material documenting Duncan’s personal and professional life.

The collection includes major oil paintings such as this early self-portrait:

Self-Portrait with Braids

Self-Portrait with Braids (MIKAN 2996876)

In this painting, Duncan portrays herself wearing pants at a time when this type of attire was still considered somewhat risqué for a woman.

The collection also includes drawings, preparatory work, material related to Duncan’s separate career as a graphic designer, and original films by Duncan. Probably the most fascinating items are related to the film company, Dunclaren Productions, formed by Duncan and Canadian photographer Audrey McLaren between 1951 and 1960. That collaboration resulted in three internationally acclaimed short animated films created for the most part in an Ottawa attic. Today these films are recognized as milestones in the history of short animated film, a genre in which Canada has always been a leader.

The Dunclaren Productions holdings include most of the original handmade puppets and props that Duncan created for the films.

This puppet and its accompanying “scared” replacement head created for the film, Folksong Fantasy, illustrate the painstaking methods Duncan used to make the characters in her films appear to change expression.

Wife Puppet in Orange Dress

Wife Puppet in Orange Dress (MIKAN 4488575)

Wife Puppet Head—Scare

Wife Puppet Head—Scared (MIKAN 4488578)

Meticulously crafted props like this tiny igloo and kayak created for the film, Kumak, the Sleepy Hunter, highlight Duncan’s lifelong interest in themes related to the Canadian arctic:

A major retrospective exhibition on Duncan’s life and work, ALMA: The Life and Art of Alma Duncan (1917-2004), opens on October 2, 2014 at the Ottawa Art Gallery. LAC is a major lender to this exhibition, which will include many of the original art works illustrated above.

Feature Film Collection

Film festival season is upon us, and as numerous Canadian cities including Toronto, Montreal, Halifax and Vancouver welcome the world’s film industry, it is an opportune time to discover the rich collection of feature films at Library and Archives Canada (LAC).

Since the 1970s, LAC has been acquiring and preserving Canadian feature films, an effort that has become more concerted since 2000. Our collection now includes the earliest surviving Canadian feature film, Back to God’s Country (1919) by Canadian film pioneer Nell Shipman, as well as the latest acclaimed works, such as Louise Archambault’s Gabrielle (2013), Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy (2013) starring Jake Gyllenhaal, and the latest from the Trailer Park Boys, Swearnet (2013).

Film poster for Back to God’s Country (1919), the earliest surviving Canadian feature film

Film poster for Back to God’s Country (1919), the earliest surviving Canadian feature film (MIKAN 2894160)

Since 2000, we have acquired master copies of all feature films funded by Telefilm Canada, a federal cultural agency, thereby ensuring their long-term preservation. In addition, we have compiled a collection of privately funded films.

Representing the most diverse and complete collection of Canadian features in the world, we have over 2,800 feature films starring national and international award winners, including Academy Award nominees and winners. Our collection includes film prints, master videotapes and digitally created features, all preserved in our state-of-the-art storage facility.

As the film industry rapidly switches to digital filmmaking, we too are changing the feature film acquisition process by including Digital Cinema Packages (DCPs), the digital equivalent of a film print.

In light of the influence of the American film industry on the international cinema market, Canadian feature films frequently have limited theatre distribution. As a result, LAC is a major access point for Canadian films that are no longer available commercially, thus preserving a diverse collection of feature films to archival standards, and accessible to researchers.

These films provide cinephiles with access to Canada’s cinematic heritage through online descriptions; on-site research and screenings; and loans to festivals and cinematheques for exhibition.

Related Resources :

War Diaries of the First World War and Image Search

War diaries—records held at Library and Archives (LAC)—are daily accounts of First World War units’ “actions in the field.” They provide the most complete, first-hand record of how and where individual units were deployed and the wartime experiences of their members.

A page from the war diaries of the 22nd Canadian Infantry Battalion

A page from the war diaries of the 22nd Canadian Infantry Battalion (MIKAN 2004664)

Searching War Diaries

To search the war diaries, use Image Search, a great, fast and easy way to view and consult these digitized records. Tips for searching specific diaries are available on our How to Search for War Diaries section; using keywords will also help you narrow down your search. For example, here are the search results for the diaries of the famous “Van Doos,” better known as the 22nd Battalion. We used the search terms war diaries 22nd battalion and selected “Textual material” in the “Type of material” drop-down menu.

Finding Related Materials

After consulting a unit’s diaries, redo the search you just performed, but this time leave out war diaries, and in the “Type of material” drop-down menu, select the default “All.” Here are the search results for the 22nd Battalion. Your results will still include the war diaries, but you will also see photographs, works of art and other documents related to your search term, provided that it appears in the title of these documents.

Enjoy searching and exploring the digitized materials that we have to offer!

Library and Archives Canada releases fourteenth podcast episode, “Sign Me Up: CEF Files, 1914-1918”

Library and Archives Canada is releasing its latest podcast episode, Sign Me Up: CEF Files, 1914–1918.

Archivist Marcelle Cinq-Mars and genealogy consultant Sara Chatfield from Library and Archives Canada join us to talk about the service files of over 640,000 enlisted men and women of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. We explore the service files of these men and women to find out the types of documents that are found in them, their research value, and how they ended up at Library and Archives Canada.

Subscribe to our podcast episodes using RSS or iTunes, or just tune in at: Podcast – Discover Library and Archives Canada: Your History, Your Documentary Heritage.

For more information, please contact us at podcasts@bac-lac.gc.ca.

A Sticky Situation: The Perils of Sticky Notes

The convenience of the sticky note cannot be beat… the variety of sizes and colours allows us to organize and place our notes and thoughts exactly where we want them. They are used in offices, homes, schools—I only wish I held the patent!

There are strong arguments, however, against their use in libraries and archives. Between 1988 and 1989, when conservation scientists at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration first tested sticky notes, they found that an adhesive residue remains on the surface of the paper that comes into contact with the note (even if the note is placed and removed immediately), that the adhesive can remove electrostatic images (that is, printing ink), and that the dye in the note can run if exposed to water. A more recent repeat of the testing confirmed these findings, showing that most of the note adhesives will stain over time.

The following images show the results of a highly unscientific test conducted at Library and Archives Canada. Although the results are startling, they are not surprising.

1. This is a good book—I will need to reference this chapter later…

A sticky note showing colour fading from the sun

A sticky note showing colour fading from the sun

2. “Goodness, I’ve heard about what light can do to colours. That really faded in a short time.”

A sticky note is used as a bookmark

A sticky note is used as a bookmark

3. “Uh oh… I was not expecting THAT… this didn’t even get wet.”

Evidence of glue residue on a page after a sticky note is removed

Evidence of glue residue on a page after a sticky note is removed

So, that’s why sticky notes are not approved for use with collection materials, not even for temporary use!

Remember, please keep sticky notes away from collection materials, and continue to contribute to the long-term preservation of Canada’s documentary heritage.