Digitizing Canadian Collections 2018

In spring 2018, the NHDS launched the Digitizing Canadian Collections funding call. This one-time opportunity provided funds to organizations to digitize, make accessible and preserve documentary heritage material of national significance.

This initiative was made possible thanks to a generous gift from the Salamander Foundation.

Recipients were announced in the fall of 2018. The following projects received funding:

Colony, Confederation and Country: Accessing the National Story Through the Lens of Prince Edward Island’s Historical Newspapers

Robertson Library, Prince Edward Island University

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island


The Robertson Library will digitize newspapers from the 1840s to post–First World War, including the Examiner (1847–1900) and the Islander, and the first French-language newspaper, L’Impartial (1893–1915). The Examiner will fill existing gaps in pre-1890 content in our digital collections. L’Impartial documents the development of Acadian identity and the region, and its inclusion in IslandNewspapers.ca will increase language and cultural diversity within the collection. Digitizing L’Impartial is also a preservation and repatriation effort, given that portions of the newspaper are in a project that is no longer supported.

The Robin Collection: Digitization, Access and Preservation

Musée de la Gaspésie

Gaspé, Quebec


The Musée de la Gaspésie will digitize, make available and preserve textual documents from Robin, one of the largest and oldest companies in Canadian history. For over 200 years, Robin exported dried cod from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to markets in Europe, the Caribbean and South America. Dating back to the 1770s, this collection stands out for its international nature, its age and its richness.

Early Photographs of the Innu and Atikamekw Peoples

Université Laval Library

Québec, Quebec


In partnership with Institut Tshakapesh, the Université Laval library will digitize a collection of early photographs documenting the lives of the Innu and Atikamekw peoples. This collection will then be made available on the Internet. Dedicated to Innu culture, Institut Tshakapesh employs a wide range of means to ensure that the knowledge of the peoples of the North is transmitted from one generation to the next.

Forging Fur-ways: the North West Company Fur Trade Collection

McGill University Library

Montréal, Quebec


The Musée de la Civilisation in Québec, the McCord Museum, and McGill University will digitize their archival holdings of the North West Company and related material. Founded in Montréal in the later 18th century, the North West Company had a profound impact on the economic, transportation and settlement patterns of Canada.These three institutions hold some of the largest collections of material about the North West Company and related business and political activities of its partners. This material will be of interest to students, scholars, and the general public.

Set of 146 Early Books in Indigenous Languages (1556–1900)

Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ)

Montréal, Quebec


BAnQ will digitize a set of early documents published between 1556 and 1900 that are part of its heritage collections, containing lexicons of Indigenous words or written in an Indigenous language. The set of documents is listed in Canada’s and UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. The languages in this collection come from the main language families of Indigenous peoples in Quebec, namely Algonquian, Iroquoian and Inuit. All of the documents will be digitized by BAnQ, and the resulting files will be available free of charge on BAnQ’s digital platform.

Digitizing Past Issues of Bulletin d’histoire politique

Association québécoise d’histoire politique

Montréal, Quebec


The Association québécoise d’histoire politique will digitize past issues of Bulletin d’histoire politique back to 2012, edit the metadata and provide free access to the issues on Érudit. The free-access dissemination of these archives on Érudit will make it possible to maintain the journal, make it available free of charge and enable targeted searches through the incorporation of metadata. This project is in co-operation with Érudit, with support from the Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of History and Centre d’histoire des régulations sociales of UQAM.

Le Son des Français d’Amérique : Mixed Traces and Memories of Continents

Cinémathèque québécoise

Montréal (Quebec)


The Cinémathèque québécoise will digitize and promote original, unpublished film footage from the Canadian documentary series Le Son des Français d’Amérique. This 27-part series is dedicated to the musical and vocal heritage of North America’s Francophone cultures. All of the related audiovisual heritage is preserved at the Cinémathèque québécoise, and in 2017 it was added to Canada’s and UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. This project will save more than 100 hours of sound on 1/4-inch magnetic tape and approximately 15 hours of images on 16-mm film, which will then be made available online.

Digitizing and Publishing Heritage Collections on Canadian History

Document Management and Archives Division, Université de Montréal

Montréal, Quebec


This joint project by the Université de Montréal’s rare book and special collections library and its document management and archives division will digitize and publish two major collections covering nearly 300 years of Canadian history, namely the Louis Melzack Collection and a significant portion of the Louis-François-Georges Baby Collection. The digitized documents will then be published through a web-based digital object distribution service.

Discovering the Heritage of the Association canadienne-française de l’Ontario (1910–1990): A Living Memory!

Centre for Research on French Canadian Culture, University of Ottawa

Ottawa, Ontario


The University of Ottawa’s Centre for Research on French Canadian Culture will digitize and make available the textual records (1910–1969) and the photographic and audiovisual records (1949–1990) of the Association canadienne française de l’Ontario (ACFO). The centre will thus be able to offer unpublished textual, photographic and audiovisual documents on its digital catalogue, accessible online, that reflect the evolution of the French fact in Ontario.

Digital John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir

Queen’s University Library

Kingston, Ontario


Queen’s University Library will digitize one of the most frequently consulted private fonds in its archives: the papers of John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir, 15th Governor General of Canada. The material will be described and digitized at the item level. The high-resolution scans will be stored in a digital asset management repository, while derivatives will be made available to the general public through its open database. Once digitized, individual items can then be considered for a number of transcription projects from on-campus pedagogical instances to collaborative projects with national and international groups such as the John Buchan Society and the Journal of British Studies (now based at Queen’s University).

The MacGregor Collection

The Canadian Canoe Museum

Peterborough, Ontario


The Canadian Canoe Museum will engage a third-party service to scan and create OCR records, where appropriate, of its collection of patents, ledgers, publications, photographs and transparencies, named by its collector R.H. MacGregor as “The Peterborough Papers.” This collection is concerned predominantly with the history of the development, manufacture and marketing of canoes in Ontario from the 1870s to the 1960s. The digitized records will be shared through the Internet Archive and used by the museum as a resource when creating exhibits in its new museum scheduled to open in 2022.

Digitizing Inuit Artistic Heritage

Inuit Art Foundation

Toronto, Ontario


The Inuit Art Foundation will digitize its extensive archives of slides, photographs and negatives, covering the development of modern Inuit art over the past five decades, in order to make Inuit artists’ work and perspectives more accessible to the general public.

Healing and Education Through Digital Access

Algoma University

Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario


The Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre (SRSC) at Algoma University, located on the site of the former Shingwauk Residential School, will digitize and make available unique archival records that document the early years of the Shingwauk School. This project will make accessible the story of Indian residential schools, and more specifically, the story of the Shingwauk School and its survivors. By preserving and providing community access to these records, the SRSC seeks to enhance Canada’s understanding of residential schools and reconciliation.

First Nations and Métis Oral History Digitization Project

Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan

Regina, Saskatchewan


The Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan will digitize its oral history audio interviews of Métis and First Nations individuals within its holdings. Most of these interviews were conducted in the 1970s and 1980s and are of influential members of those communities. Some of the topics, which are of national significance, covered in the interviews include the Riel Resistance, treaties, participation in both world wars, and treatment of First Nations peoples. The digitized material will be disseminated to other organizations such as the First Nations University of Canada and the Gabriel Dumont Institute.

Indian History Film Project Digitization

First Nations University of Canada

Regina, Saskatchewan


The First Nations University of Canada Library, with collaboration from the University of Regina Library, will digitize its collection of the Indian History Film Project cassette tapes of Indigenous elders from the late 1960s to early 1980s. The objective of the project is to increase access via streaming to these unique recordings for community members, future generations and researchers across Canada. These recordings provide a unique and rich view into Indigenous communities and their history.

The Idea of the North: Exploring Evidence of Resilience and Change

University of Saskatchewan

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan


This University of Saskatchewan will digitize at-risk materials, including moving image and sound recordings, photographs and textual records in relation to the Subarctic through the High Arctic regions of Canada, with a focus on northern Saskatchewan, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. These regions are relatively unknown and often misunderstood by most Canadians, and the materials we will present will show the area through the work of southern citizens, academic researchers and the Indigenous inhabitants of the area. The University of Saskatchewan will collaborate with partners such as Indigenous Studies at the University of Saskatchewan and the Pahkisimon Nuye?áh Library System (La Ronge).

Smoke Signals, Satellites and Servers: Digitizing the ANCS Television Archive

Sound Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Alberta

Edmonton, Alberta


The Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta will partner with the University of Alberta’s Sound Studies Initiative to digitize its archive of films produced by the Alberta Native Communications Society (ANCS) from 1968 to 1983. This project aims to preserve materials and to create openly available metadata for each item to foster discoverability. This will be done using the guidelines for traditional knowledge and cultural heritage, as well as best practices in media digitization and protocols for working with Indigenous communities.

Chambermaids to Whistle Punks: The Labour and Lives of B.C. Women, 1890–1970

Satellite Video Exchange Society

Vancouver, British Columbia


Chambermaids to Whistle Punks traces the trajectory of Canadian women as labour organizers and advocates for workers’ and women’s rights. With the assistance of partner Western Front, the Satellite Video Exchange Society will digitize audio and video, photos and documents that illustrate these stories and the trajectory of Canadian women as labour organizers and advocates for workers’ and women’s rights. All digitized materials and metadata will be made accessible online along with additional Women’s Labour History Project materials for researchers and interested public.

BC Gay and Lesbian Archives Audiovisual and Graphic Material Digitization Project

City of Vancouver Archives

Vancouver, British Columbia


The City of Vancouver Archives will digitize and make freely available online photographs, posters, and audiovisual works from the B.C. Gay and Lesbian Archives (BCGLA), a collection established and maintained privately from 1976 to 2018 and recently donated to the City of Vancouver Archives. Digitizing these materials will enable them to be discovered and used by researchers around the world, supporting the study of LGBTQ2+ history in Vancouver and beyond.

What Becomes Canada: Digitizing Narratives of Exploration, Settlement, and Contact

Vancouver Island University Library

Nanaimo, British Columbia


Vancouver Island University (VIU) Library will digitize historic texts and maps from its Special Collections, making them freely accessible for students and researchers online. The collection features naval expeditions along the Northwest Passage, as well as pioneering settler, trader, and contact narratives. In an effort to elevate Indigenous voices with respect to these narratives, VIU Library will invite Elders from local communities to be aware of and to reflect on selected works and passages, as collaborations with communities provide an educational opportunity for a more robust and truthful lens to the past.

Native Communications Society Digitization Project

Northwest Territories Archives

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories


The Northwest Territories Archives will digitize the early years of the Native Press photograph collection (1971 to 1977). The project will include arranging, rehousing, appraising, scanning selected images, creating 5,000 item-level descriptions through identification projects in Indigenous communities, uploading digitized images and descriptions to the Northwest Territories Archives website, and creating a web exhibit in English and Tlicho. This project will be accomplished with the work of the Native Communications Society, Tlicho Government, and other Indigenous organizations.