University of Calgary

Important naval archives donated to university

UToday HomeApril 1, 2013

Commodore David Craig, Naval Reserve Command, and Tom HickersonCommodore David Craig, Naval Reserve Command, and Tom Hickerson, University of Calgary vice-provost (libraries and cultural resources), take part in the donation announcement Thursday as the university receives three historical naval archives. Photo by Riley BrandtOne of Canada’s largest naval collections is coming to the University of Calgary, a landlocked Prairie institution thousands of kilometres from the nearest ocean.

The University of Calgary announced on Thursday it will receive the naval collection as a gift from the Naval Museum of Alberta Society.

The collection offers a unique perspective on Canada’s maritime history and the Royal Canadian Navy from the late 1800s to the early 21st century. It is comprised of the Naval Museum of Alberta Society archives, the John Burgess Library – which is made up of close to 5,000 books and meticulous records – and the Ken Macpherson photographic collection consisting of approximately 50,000 photographs, as well as ship plans and correspondence.

Both Burgess and Macpherson were revered naval historians whose records provide a rare glimpse of social history aboard Canadian ships.

“We chose to make this donation to the University of Calgary’s Library and Archives in The Military Museums because of their experience and capacity to support and safeguard a collection of this size and significance,” says navy Cmdr. (Retired) Greg McKenzie from the Naval Museum of Alberta Society, located in Calgary.

“And with their international reputation in military and strategic studies, we know that the university is the most appropriate place for researchers and the public to access one of the most important naval archives in Canada.”

The Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, His Honour Col. (Retired) Donald Ethell, a highly decorated soldier, acknowledges the importance of preserving this extraordinary piece of Canadian history.

“The true value of this gift lies in its impact for future generations. It is our duty to commemorate the contributions of the men and women in our Canadian Forces, in peace and in war, past and present. I commend the Naval Museum of Alberta Society and the University of Calgary for honouring the sacrifices of those who serve by sharing their stories with all Canadians,” says Ethell.

The new collection complements the university’s existing military archives at The Military Museums and strengthens the area of naval history and research. It also builds on another significant acquisition of military archival material – the Chicksands collection – a donation of more than 50,000 books and manuscripts made to the university by the British Ministry of Defence in fall 2010.

“I would like to thank the Naval Museum of Alberta Society for giving the university and our partner, The Military Museums, this opportunity to house and steward such a meaningful gift,” says University of Calgary President Elizabeth Cannon.

“This remarkable addition secures the University of Calgary’s place as one of the country’s top archival repositories for Canadian Forces materials, ensuring that these resources will be available in perpetuity to researchers, scholars, historians, and naval and military enthusiasts here and around the world.”

The University of Calgary manages The Military Museums Library and Archives through a partnership established in 2000. The library and archives include thousands of catalogued books and periodicals on Canadian and general military subjects, as well as diaries, maps, photographs and other items related to military history.

The naval collection is available for public viewing at the University of Calgary’s Library and Archives at The Military Museums.

Examples of photos from the historic archives donated to the University of Calgary on ThursdayExamples of photos from the historic archives donated to the University of Calgary on Thursday.

Examples of photosExamples of photos from the historic archives donated to the University of Calgary on Thursday.  

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