Finding Garneau: the importance of archival accessibility

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) houses many national treasures and endeavours to make its collections visible and accessible to the public. One of the projects conducted this summer was aimed at increasing accessibility to Quebec and French Canadian literary fonds, namely the fonds of Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau.

A colour image of a handwritten poem.

Undated manuscript of Un poème a chantonné tout le jour by Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau (MIKAN 4817952). Explore this and other digitized poems.

Garneau was an influential French Canadian writer who wrote in early 20th-century Quebec. He died of a heart attack in 1943, and his posthumous work Poésies complètes (1949) and his Journal (1954) made him an important literary figure of modern Quebec. When LAC acquired his fonds in 1993, visibility for the collection was needed. While Giselle Huot’s text, Œuvres en prose: Édition critique établie (1994), has been an important scholastic link to this fonds, a detailed online finding aid in LAC’s main research database, MIKAN, was needed to help researchers explore the life and works of this important poet.

A colour image of a notebook with “The Peerless Registered Exercise Book” on the cover containing handwritten annotations and inscriptions in Greek.

Cover of de Saint-Denys Garneau’s homework notebook, undated (MIKAN 4817981). Explore other selections from his notebooks.

Now that the finding aid has been entered into MIKAN, researchers can now view a description of each individual item in the fonds from the comfort of their own home and know what is in an archival box before they order it. This finding aid opens a window on the author’s life, his relationships and artistic processes—unveiling a little more of the beautiful handwritten poems and letters of Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau.

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