Margie Gillis Dance Foundation Archival Holding at Library and Archives Canada

Did you know that, since 2010, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has held the Margie Gillis Dance Foundation’s audiovisual, administrative and promotional materials?

Dance performance advertisement featuring Margie Gillis.

Dance performance advertisement featuring Margie Gillis.
© Margie Gillis Dance Foundation. Credit: Michael Slobodian

The Foundation itself chose LAC to preserve its documentary heritage as a result of a 2008 analysis report that strongly urged the Foundation to ensure the long-term preservation of its documentary heritage in a Canadian archive.

LAC has more than 1,100 photographs illustrating the career of this internationally acclaimed Canadian contemporary dancer and choreographer. The collection features photographs by nationally and internationally renowned photographers and artists, including Annie Leibovitz, Lois Greenfield, Cylla Von Tiedemann, Michael Slobodian and Jack Udashkin.

Black and white artistic dance photo of Margie Gillis

Black and white artistic dance photo of Margie Gillis.
© Margie Gillis Dance Foundation. Credit: Annie Leibovitz

The archival holding also includes about 750 hours of audiovisual materials. This unique collection of recordings shows Margie Gillis’s choreographic and artistic work from the beginning of her career to today. Her dance performances in Canada, the United States and around the world are thus preserved for posterity, along with her choreography labs and rehearsal sessions, and a large number of media interviews and reports.

In addition, the textual records, brochures and multiple posters in a variety of formats provide an overview of the activities carried out by the Foundation, which was created in 1981. The Foundation’s primary mission is to support, protect and promote the artistic vision of Margie Gillis, a pioneer and an innovator in contemporary dance.

All the materials in the holding are accessible. However, they may not be reproduced or used without the Foundation’s consent.

The fonds can be consulted online.

For more information about Margie Gillis and her dance foundation, please consult the Foundation’s website.

Discover Finding Aids—Part Three: Searching within a Finding Aid

As we mentioned in our previous article “Discover Finding Aids – Part Two,” finding aids may be accessed through the hyperlinked number found in the “consists of” field in Archives Search. This link takes you to the next level down in the hierarchy, the lower-level descriptions.

Browsing through finding aids in this manner can be done quickly when there are a small number of lower-level descriptions. You can use the filters on the right-hand side of the search result list to sort by title or name, for example, or to limit the list to a particular decade.

However, for other finding aids, there may be thousands of lower-level descriptions and you won’t necessarily want to browse through them all.

Fortunately, help is at hand!

There is a way to keyword search only within these lower-level descriptions. This can be a very useful strategy when there are thousands of them.

First, go to the “finding aid” field description in Archives Search and jot down the finding aid number.

Screen capture of the finding aid section of a record description in Archives Search, identifying the electronic finding aid number.

Next, go to the Advanced Search page.

■ Select “finding aid number” from the drop-down menu and enter the finding aid number you wrote down in the first search box.
■ Enter your keyword search terms in the second search box.

Finally, click the “Submit” button.

Screen capture of the Archives Advanced Search box, indicating a finding aid number (24-60) and the keyword (Saskatoon).

Remember, this strategy is for searching finding aids that have been entered into Archives Search as lower-level descriptions in the “consists of” field. This strategy will not work for all finding aids.

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

Join the dance! – Dance Archives at LAC

Did you know that Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has fonds and collections related to dance in Canada? These include fascinating documents in a variety of formats on many aspects of this major component of the performing arts.

These fonds illustrate the careers of the founder of the National Ballet of Canada, Celia Franca, and a few of its principal dancers, including Veronica Tennant and Karen Kain.

Other fonds focus on the achievements of companies and artists in the field of modern dance, including the Groupe de la Place Royale, co-founded in 1966 by choreographers and dancers Jeanne Renaud and Peter Boneham. LAC also holds the fonds for the Toronto Dance Theatre and the Margie Gillis Dance Foundation, which are among the leading institutions in modern dance.

The collection also includes archives from schools of dance and of dance pioneers in Canada, including the Lacasse-Morenoff, the Gina Vaubois and the Ottawa Ballet Company, founded by Nesta Toumine in 1947, and Alex Pereima, ballet dancer and arts administrator.

At the same time, there are a certain number of fonds related to institutions that support dance companies and artists in Canada, including the Canada Council for the Arts, the 
National Arts Centre Corporation
, the Canadian Conference of the Arts and the Dance in Canada Association.

Many dance-related posters and photographs can be found through our Archives Image Search tool, using the keywords “dance” or “ballet.” You are also invited to consult our Flickr album.

Keep in mind that not all of our documents are available online. However, you can order archived documents through our online Request for Retrieval of Documents form. Please consult our article on How to consult material that is not yet available online for more information.

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

The Canadian Coast Guard celebrates its 50th anniversary- Part I

Black and white photograph of ship cutting a path for icebound vessel.

The CGS Stanley cutting a path for icebound vessels out of Bridgewater, Nova Scotia Source

Did you know that the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG)—which celebrates its 50th anniversary this  year—is heir to a long tradition originating in Canada’s East Coast? It is there that the first Canadian lighthouses and lifeboats were built during the
18th century.

Created in 1962 by the Honourable Leon Balcer, the then Minister of Transport, the CCG’s mission is to ensure safe and accessible waterways for Canadians. Library and Archives Canada (LAC) owns many archival records that document the activities of the CCG since its creation. Today, we invite you to discover some of these holdings, including photographs as well as government and political records.

Browse a few examples of digitized documents in the Archives Search Results page .



The Government fonds include textual records, technical drawings and boat plans.


LAC holds the archival fonds of former ministers of Transport, which contain records of the CCG. Here are two examples:

Please remember that not all of our material is available online. To learn more, consult our article How to Consult Material that Is Not Yet Available Online.

To view images, please visit our Flickr set.

Stay tuned for our next blog to discover more Canadian Coast Guard history, including caricatures, audiovisual records and publications.

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

Patrolling the French Shore with Louis Koenig

Newfoundland in the summer, completely inaccessible because of its winged garrison. Library and Archives Canada. (Source)

Did you know that thanks to the collection of Library and Archives Canada (LAC) it is possible to patrol the French Shore of the island of Newfoundland with Lieutenant Louis Koenig and discover this particular area where the French had cod fishing rights for almost 200 years, because of two treaties signed between France and England? Accompany Koenig and the crew of the French frigate La Clorinde during a campaign that brought them to Newfoundland, Cape Breton Island and Saint-Pierre and Miquelon in 1885.

Recognized by the French Navy for his artistic talents, Koenig created the 145 drawings and watercolours, the hand-drawn maps and the logbook, which are found in the Louis Koenig fonds and Louis Koenig Collection. The illustrations, most of which were done on site, show the landscapes and military installations he observed, as well as daily activities on board La Clorinde. The maps give three views of the French Shore and include notes by the artist.The logbook, also written by Koenig, documents the voyage, the places visited and gives his candid impressions of his experiences; devoting particular attention to the mosquitoes, which were apparently delighted to welcome the French sailors! The collection also includes a small sketchbook containing an illustrated, much more personal, account of the voyage, full of humour and whimsy presented by Koenig as a gift to La Clorinde’s commander, Félix-Auguste Le Clerc. Koenig also wrote an article Le « French Shore » (souvenirs de campagne à Terre-Neuve) (The “French Shore”, Memoirs of a Newfoundland Campaign), embellished with his maps and illustrations and published in 1890 in the periodical Tour du monde.

To order published documents that are unavailable online, use our online Request for Retrieval of Documents, or call 613-996-5115, or toll-free 1-866-578-7777, to consult them in person at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa.

Enjoy the discoveries and view the Flickr set of images from Koenig’s albums!

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

Celebrating the International Day of Peace – Part III: The Voice of Women fonds

In earlier posts to celebrate International Day of Peace, we discussed Julia Grace Wales and Thérèse Casgrain, two Canadian women who played key roles in the international peace movement. Today, we will conclude by discussing the Voice of Women fonds held at Library and Archives Canada (LAC).

Women in North America have long been active in trying to put an end to conflicts around the world. In the early 1960s, when the threat of nuclear war loomed over many nations, our own Canadian Voice of Women for Peace (VOW) was formed. Since then, the organization has been promoting peace and disarmament, particularly in the context of nuclear war.

VOW has organized unique activities to draw attention to its cause. In 1963, it collected and tested thousands of baby teeth from children across North America to demonstrate the fallout from the atmospheric testing of Strontium 90, a harmful radioactive isotope. During the Vietnam War, the Ontario VOW organized the Knitting Project for Vietnamese Children. Over a ten-year period, the group sent thousands of hand-knitted garments and other aid to the child victims of the war and their families.

Over time, VOW has expanded its focus to include human rights and civil liberties, preservation of the environment, as well as economic and political issues.

LAC’s Voice of Women fonds includes correspondence, reports and subject files about many campaigns for peace. Digitized photos are also presented in LAC’s Women and Peace Flickr set.

Please remember that not all of our material is available online. For more information, consult the article How to Consult Material that Is Not Yet Available Online.

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

Celebrating International Day of Peace – Part I: Julia Grace Wales

Black and white photograph of a woman with her hair pulled back and a faint smile.

Julia Grace Wales (MIKAN 3361984)

September 21 is recognized as International Day of Peace. To celebrate this event, our blog will feature Canadian women who played a key role in the international peace movement, as documented in the collections of Library and Archives Canada (LAC). We will begin by presenting Julia Grace Wales, who played a key role in promoting peace during the First World War, an unusual role for a woman at this time in history. LAC holds the Julia Grace Wales fonds. Born in the Eastern Townships of Quebec in 1881, Wales was an academic who pursued her studies first at McGill University in Montreal, and later at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where she taught English literature. Horrified by the news reports of the brutal struggle under way in Europe, Wales responded by proposing a plan to end the fighting.

In December 1914, Wales produced a draft of the now famous document entitled “Continuous Mediation Without Armistice,” which later came to be known as the
Wisconsin Plan. This plan proposed that the United States organize a conference composed of intellectuals from all neutral nations to act as mediators. These individuals would propose solutions that incorporated not only their own ideas, but those of warring nations.

The work of Wales was immediately endorsed by the newly formed Wisconsin Peace Party. State officials around the United States also supported it. The  National Peace Party was so impressed that it sent a delegation to Washington to present the idea to President Woodrow Wilson and Congress. In Europe, Wales presented the plan to the International Congress of Women, whose members unanimously selected it as the solution to the war. They had it printed in four languages and distributed throughout Europe and North America.

By 1916, however, the peace movement began to decline and, despite the efforts of influential citizens like industrialist Henry Ford and leading pacifists, the plan never gained official support from the American government. The entry of the United States into the war in 1917 essentially meant that the mediation plan of Julia Grace Wales was no longer up for discussion.

After returning from Europe in 1917, Wales continued with her academic career, but always maintained an interest in the peace movement. She published articles on the subject, as well as one book. She returned to Quebec in 1947 to retire, and died there in 1957.

For more information, consult the digitized copies of the writing of Julia Grace Wales and other images in our Flickr set or consult her fonds.

Please remember that not all of our material is available online. To learn more, consult the article How to Consult Material that Is Not Yet Available Online.

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

Discover Canada’s Olympic and Sports History – Part II

Do the London Olympics inspire you to learn more about the history of the evolution of sports in Canada?  If so, a great place to begin your research is at Library and Archives Canada. We hold the records of the national bodies for the following sports:

You will also find more information in the Fitness and Amateur Sport Branch records of the former Department of National Health and Welfare (now Health Canada); this is the main source for learning about the federal government’s involvement in the area of sports. It includes over 40,000 photographs documenting the performance of Canadian athletes at national and international competitions (including the Olympics) during the 1960s and 1970s.

For more information on sports, please visit our other websites:

Please remember that not all of our material is available online; however, it is possible to order archival material through our online Request for Retrieval of Documents Form, or by telephone at 613-996-5115 or 1-866-578-7777 (toll-free).

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

Discover Canada’s Olympic and Sports History – Part I

With the London Olympics well underway, it is fitting to remember the past Canadian accomplishments at the Games and to get acquainted with Canada’s relationship with sports throughout history.

For those interested in a visual history of Canada’s participation at the Olympic Games, Library and Archives Canada’s (LAC) Canadian Olympians database and web pages consist of more than 10,000 images of athletes from the 1904 St. Louis Olympics in the United States to the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.

Some of the early important events in Canada’s Olympic history documented at LAC.

*For more information on George Hodgson and other athletes, visit Sporting Lives: Images of Canadian Athletes (archived site).

Please remember that not all of our material is available online; however, it is possible to order archival material through our online Request for Retrieval of Documents Form, or by telephone at 613-996-5115 or 1-866-578-7777 (toll-free).

For more photographs from past Olympics, visit our Images of summer sports and leisure activities Flickr set.

Enjoy the London Games!

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

The School Files Series, 1879 -1953

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds records created by the federal government about the administration of residential schools.

The School Files Series (archival reference RG10-B-3-d) within the Indian and Inuit Affairs sous fonds contains records created from 1879 to 1953 about residential schools and day schools.

This series contains some records of the admission and discharge of students at residential schools, as well as files on the establishment of individual schools.

The School Files Series has been digitized and is available through the Microform Digitization section of the LAC website.

Our reference specialists recommend a list of which schools are mentioned in which volumes and reels of the series. This list can be found in the Search Help section of the digital version of the series. It will prove to be quite useful when navigating the School Files Series.

Additional Resources

  • For more information on how to search the Microform Digitization section, use the Search Help section.
  • View the description of this series in Archives Search for additional information.

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