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News Release

France and Canada Launch Impressive Research Tool on the History of the French Presence in America

Ottawa, November 26, 2003  -  Today, Mr. Ian E. Wilson, National Archivist, Library and Archives Canada, and His Excellency Philippe Guelluy, Ambassador of France in Canada, are unveiling in Canada the world’s most comprehensive research portal on source material from the French colonial period in America. Canada and France are the first two countries to possess this type of joint database on their common history, and the first to make it available in its entirety on the Web.

New France, New Horizons: On French Soil in America is a vast documentary corpus, which consists of a virtual exhibition and an impressive database with 22,000 documents reproduced in more than 400,000 digitized images. It offers maps and plans, letters and reports, and other archival documents related to New France -- fundamental period in Canada’s history. In addition, many documents that were previously inaccessible to the public may now be consulted online.

The virtual exhibition presents 350 of the most significant documents, chosen for their visual and illustrative quality, their emotional impact and their relevance. Grouped under 12 themes, which range from crossing the ocean to daily life in the colony, the visitor is invited to discover the great challenges faced by the early French settlers in North America.

This project is the result of a collaborative effort by Library and Archives Canada, the Direction des archives de France and the Canadian Embassy in France. The Archives nationales du Québec and the Centre d’études acadiennes in Moncton also contributed to its production.

"This unique resource not only highlights the richness of French history in Canada and America, but also helps us to better understand the determination and ingenuity of our ancestors," said National Archivist of Canada, Ian E. Wilson. "Close co-operation with the Direction des archives de France and its Director, Martine de Boisdeffre, has certainly helped to extend the cultural influence of France and Canada in the world, and to make known the important contributions to our collective history."

The creation of this Web product posed a sizable archival and technological challenge. The Canadian and French teams had to develop new digitization techniques in order to handle such a large body of documents and produce a high-performance research tool capable of answering the public’s many questions. The portal initiative was undertaken in connection with the Programme Canada-France 2004.

The portal New France, New Horizons: On French Soil in America, which includes a virtual exhibition and a database, is being launched today at 5:00 p.m., at Le Cabaret du Roy, in Montréal (363 de la Commune Street East), during a celebration to be attended by representatives of the Government of Canada, the French Embassy in Canada, the Direction des archives de France, the Archives nationales du Québec, as well as by the archival, cultural and academic communities.

Today’s unveiling serves as a prelude to the host of activities taking place next year to mark the 400th anniversary of the founding of the first French settlement in Acadia, in 1604. These anniversary festivities will reach a culmination point in 2008 with celebrations to highlight the founding of Québec by Champlain.

Visit New France, New Horizons: On French Soil in America at: www.archivescanadafrance.org

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Pauline M. Portelance
Library and Archives Canada


Les Majuscules, Media Relations
Nicole Durand
514-736-2473 or 514-495-9535