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OTTAWA, July 10, 2000 --  As research for the CBC’s Canada: A People’s History enters the final stages, so too does the National Archives’ collaboration with the CBC for this 30-hour bilingual television series. On October 22, the first of the 16 episodes will be broadcast simultaneously in English and French on the CBC and Radio-Canada. It will be preceded by a special on the making of the series October 8. To date, the CBC and Radio-Canada have made use of approximately 2,600 maps, paintings, and photographs from the rich collections of the National Archives (NA) and over 200 moving images.

Innovative Collaboration

In 1997, the CBC approached the NA to discuss the research for this project. The NA quickly recognized that the series was an excellent opportunity to make Canadians more aware of its treasures. In a spirit of collaboration, the NA subsequently provided the CBC’s researcher, Monica MacDonald, with an office and the same direct access to NA collections and services as regular staff members. Since 1998, the NA has been home to Ms. MacDonald who has also coordinated the activities of the CBC at the NA.



Monica MacDonald, Fiona McKew and Doug Payette.

Research and Use of Documents

Over the past two years, Ms. MacDonald has waded through innumerable stacks of historical papers, walked through kilometres of vaults, screened hours of audio-visual material, perused numerous diaries and other historical records and consulted numerous specialists of the National Archives. The documents she chose and had replicated will be put to various uses: to set the texts that will be used by both actors and narrators; to create the visual content; to ensure historical accuracy; to design the sets and props. As Ms. MacDonald points out: "I feel privileged to have been involved in a project that allowed me to witness the reciprocal benefits of collaboration between two national cultural institutions. It was a challenging and rewarding experience that would have greatly suffered without the knowledge, professionalism and friendliness of the National Archives staff."

The CBC at work
Gene Allen, Senior Producer and Director of Research for Canada : A People’s History, also believes that Ms. MacDonald’s special status was invaluable to the project: "This [arrangement] has not only made the process of obtaining archival documents and visuals much more efficient but, even more importantly, it has allowed our producers to learn much more about the enormous amount of [archival] material available. This in turn will enable them to make better use of this inexhaustible resource to tell the stories of Canada’s past, to the benefit of producers, archivists, and, most important of all, the public."

The CBC’s appreciation for the value of archives confirms the opinion of the National Archivist, Ian E. Wilson: "...Canadian history is not dead, it is being transformed into history written in the first person. The CBC has tapped into our archival heritage and discovered the treasures of our past. This documentary heritage belongs to all Canadians; it is the unique record of the voices and images of those who have preceded us. And Canadians are using these resources more than ever before because they have stories to tell, as individuals, as families, and as communities. This is our history, and archives all across this country make it possible for institutions like the CBC and for individuals to base their stories on the reliable and authentic testimony of many generations of Canadians."

The CBC at work

The Mission of the National Archives

The National Archives of Canada preserves the recorded memory of Canada, including the essential records of the Government of Canada. By opening these records to Canadians, it contributes to the protection of the rights of all Canadians and enhances their understanding of Canada. This serves Canadians by connecting them to the sources of their past, and with their personal and collective stories.


For more information, please contact:
Pauline Portelance
Media Relations Officer
Telephone: (613) 996-6128
Fax: (613) 995-0919
E-mail: media@lac-bac.gc.ca