Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy Birthday Public Archives of Canada

I was short-cutting through the Toronto Eaton Centre this morning when one of those ubiquitous public address flatscreens put up the announcement that today in 1872 the Public Archives of Canada was established.  History goes to the mall.

And the historical accuracy scale of the Eaton Centre is currently 1 for 1.

Library and Archives Canada's website seems to be silent on the subject of its own origins. Its Wikipedia entry says Library and Archives Canada was founded in 2004, which is correct in a sense but maybe also evidence on the historical sense of LAC today.  Indeed the whole entry has a painfully officious and official in-house feel to it. Remember when Wikipedia was fun and unpredictable?

Fortunately the Dictionary of Biography Online comes through:  Douglas Brymner was appointed Archivist of Canada by order in council June 20 1872 -- having already started work.  That's him with the whiskers -- from the Wikipedia "stub" on him.

Update, June 22:  Stephen MacLean observes:

Would it be too pendantic to write that Douglas Brymner was the first Dominion Archivist of the Dominion Archives of Canada?
That a cursory scan of LAC fails to record its own history ought not to surprise you.
Let no own disparage Canadas progressiveness:  we have put Orwells newspeak into general practice; by rewriting Canadian history, the powers-that-be can make of it what serves their own self-interests.

Too pedantic is not a category at this blog.  But on closer scrutiny, it seems that the Public Archives was founded as the Public Archives in 1912, and before that there was only the Dominion Archivist, who seemingly kept the whole thing in his head (and in office space at the Department of Agriculture)
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