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:

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 :

Five Heritage Films on Canada at War now on YouTube

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has released the last set of heritage films on its YouTube channel. Easy to access, you can now enjoy the following short films:

You can see our previous announcements on Snapshots of Canadian Life, Scenic Canada, and Agriculture and Industry.

Britain’s Future King – A Silent film of the visit of Edward, Prince of Wales, to Canada in 1919– Now on YouTube

The visit of the Prince of Wales to Canada in autumn 1919 was one of the first major cross-Canada events covered by the motion picture newsreels. Library and Archives Canada has preserved silent film of the event, including the film entitled Britain’s Future King.

Black and white image of three women, smiling in a crowd.

The Prince’s Canadian tour began on August 11, 1919, when his ship arrived at Newfoundland. It ended on November 10, when he left Canada by train to begin his visit to the United States. His Canadian itinerary took him to many cities across the country. Canadians gathered in cities, towns and villages along the route to see the Prince.

Itinerary from “Prince of Wales’ tour of Canada, 1919, a volume of photographs published by the Canadian Pacific Railway.” The National Archives, UK. CO 1069-286-7.

The visit had all the ingredients ideal for media coverage: an itinerary packed with photo opportunities and a public fascinated by celebrity and eager to see its community celebrations depicted in the newsreels and newspapers. Radio broadcasting was in its infancy, so it was up to the newsreels and the print media to report on the visit. In addition, Canada was in the mood for celebrating after the hardship of the war years.

Canadian weekly newsreels carried reports of the tour as it unfolded, bringing to audiences film of such events as receptions with First World War veterans, the opening ceremony of the Québec Bridge, the Prince laying the cornerstone of the Peace Tower of the new Parliament building in Ottawa, and a visit to a British Columbia sawmill.

The Prince viewed films of his trip while he travelled across Canada. Newsreels in Britain and other countries also showed film from the tour. Some of the newsreel companies compiled their footage into documentaries. For example, Pathéscope of Canada Limited issued two films, Britain’s Future King, and The Prince of Wales in Canada.

Son of George V, Edward became Prince of Wales in 1911. When his father died in January 1936, he became King Edward VIII but abdicated 10 months later. After his abdication, he was given the title Duke of Windsor.

Discover more:

Eight Heritage Films – Snapshots of Canadian Life – Now on YouTube

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) announces the release of eight heritage films on its YouTube channel. Canadians can now discover and enjoy with ease the following short films:

The films served as a successful method to inform and influence the public. They were used to achieve many goals, from enticing potential immigrants, to increasing industrial investment, to encouraging the public to embrace changes. Perhaps most interesting however, is what these films reveal about how Canadians pictured themselves in the early part of the 20th century.

As part of its ongoing commitment to providing Canadians with quick and easy access to their documentary heritage, LAC will release three more sets of films on its YouTube channel in the coming months. Stay tuned!

You can also find archived versions of the films on other media on the Virtual Silver Screen page.

The Receiver General Buy Button (RGBB): What is it and how does it work?

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) clients can use their credit or debit cards to purchase digital copies of textual material* through the Government of Canada’s Receiver General Buy Button (RGBB). The RGBB is a safe and secure service that provides convenient, reliable and secure payment services to clients and businesses during their online dealings with the federal government.

The RGBB is much safer than other methods of payment such as mailing or faxing a credit card number, or even providing it over the phone, as your personal information is protected throughout the entire payment process. When using the RGBB, your credit card number is immediately encrypted, then placed in secure transaction storage and no longer retrievable in an unencrypted format.

When you order copies and reproductions from LAC, a link to the RGBB will be sent to the email address you have provided. The link will be sent to you after LAC has completed the processing of your order. You may then pay the Receiver General by credit or debit card.

The Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) and the Office of the Privacy Commission (OPC) have studied the safety and security aspects of the RGBB. They published their research in a report entitled “Receiver General Buy Button Privacy Impact Assessment”, which concludes that privacy, safety and security concerns are low since the RGBB appropriately addresses any such concerns.

* Please note that clients who purchase photographic prints, videos, sound recordings or microfilm reels will continue to be contacted by our third-party suppliers for payment. LAC price lists and service standards are all available online.

The Canadian Coast Guard celebrates its 50th anniversary – Part II

In a previous blog, we invited you to discover some archival holdings to mark the 50th anniversary of the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG), including photographs, as well as government and political records. In this blog, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) encourages you to explore holdings containing CCG caricatures, audiovisual records and publications.

Caricatures

Audiovisual Records

There are many films and interviews on the CCG. It would be nearly impossible to list them all here, but the following are a few examples that may pique your curiosity.

Visit our film, video and sound recording database for more audiovisual records.

Publications

LAC has a vast collection of publications! Here are some books on the CCG that may interest you:

For more publications, visit AMICUS.

If you wish to search the records on-site at LAC, please order them at least five business days before your visit. You may order them online by using our Request for Retrieval of Documents form or by calling 613-996-5115 or  1-866-578-7777 (toll free) and selecting option 8 in the automated menu.

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!

Summary of comments received in French up to September 30th, 2013

  • LAC added the following resources: Usque ad mare: a history of the Canadian Coast Guard and marine services by Thomas E. Appleton. (AMICUS 612170) and The Canadian Coast Guard, 1962-2002 by Charles D. Maginley (AMICUS 28388186).

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – Caricatures, stamps and other documents!

Colour photograph of Queen Elizabeth II in a crowd, smiling.

Queen Elizabeth, 1990 Source

In addition to photographs, you can also find in the collection of Library and Archives Canada (LAC) caricatures, stamps, audiovisual materials and, of course, books; all of which illustrate and discuss Queen Elizabeth II.

Caricatures

As a public figure, Queen Elizabeth II is the subject for editorial cartoonists. Here are a few examples from the caricatures collection at LAC, some of which are digitized and available online:

Philatelic Documents

A vast number of stamps with Queen Elizabeth II as the main theme were issued. The first one dates from 1932 when she was only a child. The Canadian Postal Archives (Philatis) database, which is accessible from the LAC website, is where you can find Canadian stamps that relate to Elizabeth, Princess and Queen. Moreover, a search using the keywords “Queen Elizabeth II, philatelic” in our Archives Image Search database provides access to over 30 online records.

Audio-visual

The LAC collection includes many films and sound recordings of Elizabeth II. Although these recordings are not available online, you can easily discover our collection by making a keyword search of the Film, Video and Sound Recordings database, which is found on our website.

Here are a few examples:

Publications

Don’t forget our large published collection! To find a publication about Queen Elizabeth II, consult AMICUS.

In the meantime, here is a publication (in PDF format) available online:

A Crown of Maples: Constitutional Monarchy in Canada. Canadian Heritage, Gatineau, 2008 (archived) [PDF 55.9MB].

Stay tuned for our next and final blog on The Queen, which will focus on government records and private archives.

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!