Black History Month featured fonds: Gerald A. Archambeau

Detail from a page of Gerald Archambeau's scrapbook, featuring a photograph used to identify him as a tradesperson. Written around the pasted down image are the words "I WAS A TRADESMAN IN OLD MONTREAL."

Page from personal scrapbook by Gerald Archambeau

One of most recent donations from the community is a small cache of documents relating to the life and family genealogy of Gerald A. Archambeau.

Gerald A. Archambeau is a Canadian citizen (b.1933) who emigrated from Jamaica to Montreal in 1947. He was the first black adolescent to join the Canadian Naval Cadets in Montreal in 1948, and the first black telegraph messenger to work for the Anglo American Telegraph Company. Archambeau worked as a passenger car attendant for the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Canadian National Railway in the 1950s. From 1967 to his retirement in 1993, Archambeau worked worked as a station attendant for Air Canada at the Malton (now Pearson International) airport.

Archambeau wrote an autobiography of his experiences as an immigrant to Canada.  Titled “A Struggle to Walk with Dignity: The True Story of a Jamaican-born Canadian“, the book covers his experiences working on railways and his efforts to reform labour conditions for porters working in the rail industry. Part of his donation included scrapbooks of biographical information documenting his experience leaving Jamaica, settling in Montreal and his experience of race relations, labour issues and politics in Canada, the United States and the Caribbean.

First page of a personal scrapbook created by Gerald Archambeau detailing aspects of his personal history and philosophies. Includes magazine clippings and illustrations, a black and white portrait of Archambeau in a suit and tie, and includes many phrases and quotes with a central inscription "[message from the chairman] THIS IS MY BOOK, AND MY OPINIONS SO READERS OF MY BOOK BE KIND."

First page of a personal scrapbook created by Gerald Archambeau detailing aspects of his personal history.

The archives also contains genealogical information related to Archambeau’s paternal grandfather Herbert T. Thomas’ and includes Thomas’ own memoirs The Story of A West Indian Policeman, or, forty-seven years in the Jamaica constabulary from 1927.

These materials may be of interest to researchers studying the immigrant experience in Canada, labour history (particularly in the areas of transportation) and colonial history of Jamaica.

Link to finding aid here.

Link to earlier story about donation here.


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Sad songs say so much : love lost, betrayed and prevented

As a companion post to our teeth-achingly sweet post about Valentine’s Day from 2012, here are a selection of songs from the John Arpin Sheet Music Collection featuring scorned lovers, sad sops, shallow cads, and general romantic ne’er do wells.

If you’re looking for something more romantic for Valentine’s Day browsing, do not proceed with this post, dear reader.  Instead, view our posts of sugar-sweet pop songs from the 1910s  or our posts from an #AskArchivists event on twitter in 2012 for #loveheritage.

Bring Back My Lovin’ Man

Link to sheet music here.

Link to a 1912 recording by Ada Jones here courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Telltale hearts

If You Talk in Your Sleep Don’t Mention My Name

I can see that you are married | And you know I’m married too! | And nobody knows that you know me and nobody knows that I know you and, if you care to, we’ll have luncheon | Ev’ry day here just the same | But sweetheart if you talk in your sleep | Don’t mention my name.

Link to sheet music here and here.

Link to a 1911 recording of the song here.

She’s A Patient of Mine

Link to sheet music here.

I’m a-leavin’ song complete with shout-out to the President and a customizable lyric

Maybe I’ll Come Back

I will come back when the elephants roost in the trees, I will come back when the whales make love to the bees | I will come back when the sun refuses to shine | And President Taft is a cousin of mine | I will come back when the fish walk a round on two feet | And promenade up and down [any local street] | When the show has turned from white to blue, Then maybe I will come back to you, Yes maybe I’ll come back to you.

Link to sheet music here.

Bridal Brawls: beware the scorned gang of lovers

They Gave Me Something To Remember Them By

They all gave me something to remember them by, Just a token of their esteem | They kept it hidden till after the weddin’ | Then they presented it to me. | Just what I got, I never knew But the doctors said, “If you pull through, You will have one eye in instead of two.” | That was something to remember them by.

Link to sheet music here.

Stop the Wedding March

Cancel that wedding march and play a funeral dirge right now | When I see that gal and her yellow pal | There sure will be some row. | I’ll carve him like a Christmas fowl | There’ll be a massacre | Cancel the wedding march and play a funeral dirge for me.

Link to sheet music here.

Gothic Melodrama

Ashes of Roses

Ashes of Roses once so red | Clear is their meaning, Love is Dead. | Wildly my heart is singing, Over and over again.|  There could be no Ashes of Roses now, | Had you not loved me then.

Link to sheet music here.


I am wearing a mask of gladness

I am wearing a mask of gladness that is hiding a broken heart |The game that you played was a “love masquerade” | And you were untrue from the very start | I still love you dear tho’ you’ve shattered my pride | You played angel then devil like Jeckyll and Hyde | I am wearing a mask of gladness that is hiding a broken heart

Link to sheet music here.

Sad Sack Love Songs

Now She’s Anybody’s Girlie

Now she’s anybody’s girlie | Anyone who dines, and buys the finest wines; | When the lights burn late and early | She’s anybody’s little girl but mine. |

Link to sheet music here.

Every Girl I Get The Other Fellas Steal

Every girl I get the other fellow steals | That’s the reason why I always sigh | My own pal steals my gal | Takes her right away, doesn’t leave her stay | I’m awf’lly angry boys, I don’t know what to do, | Tell you, boys, you don’t know how it feels | I feel blue, so would you, For ev’ry girl I get the other fellow steals.

Link to sheet music here.

The Passive Aggressive Pursuer

If I don’t get you I’ll get your sister

If I don’t get you, I’ll get your sister | And she’s as sweet as you | If you don’t watch out some day, you’ll miss her, | And then you’ll miss me too | Oh your sister’s charming, she’s without a flaw | But I’d make a better husband than a brother-in-law | If I don’t get you I’ll get your sister | Then you’ll only be my sister-in law.

Link to sheet music here.

Bitter Tears

I’ll Be Smiling When You’re Crying

I’ll be smiling when you’re crying, | I’ll be happy when you’re sad | There’ll come a time some day when you’ll be longing for the old love you once had | You’ll never really know just what I’ve gone through | Until you love someone who doesn’t love you | Then I’ll be smiling when you’re crying | Smiling all the while.

Link to sheet music here.

…when all hope is gone, sad songs say so much.

Just a Little

Link to sheet music here.

All on account of you

Link to sheet music here.

After a Tear Comes A Smile

Link to sheet music here.

It’s awfully hard to say good bye to someone you love

Link to sheet music here.

I’m Just Pining For You

Link to sheet music here.

My Dreams Are Now No More of Thee

Link to sheet music here.


“National Jukebox” ; available from : ; Internet; accessed 14 February 2013.

Posted in Archives & Special Collections, News, Sheetmusic | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Traditional Christmas Greeting Cards: Mrs. Gutgesell’s mail-order catalogue from 1928

Gift label from Mrs. Gutgesell's Christmas novelty gift book.

In light of the approaching holidays, here’s a selection from our Special Collections, a mail-order catalogue for Christmas cards from 1928.  Provided to church and benevolent organizations,  Mrs. A.A. Gutgesell credits her seventeen years in the novelty business that “…enable me to develop a line of merchandise which cannot be equalled for material, individuality, workmanship and price.”

Operating out of Minneapolis, Minnesota, it is clear that Gutgesell’s company focused on the market provided by community organizations involved in fund-raising. See for example an advertisement placed in the Boy Scouts of America magazine “A Boy’s Life” here.

Advertisement for Mrs. A.A. Gutgesell's boxed Christmas cards in Boy's Life magazine, 1928

The catalogue includes numerous samples of greeting cards, labels and party favours for order by mail. Trends in graphic design, fashion, gender roles, gift-giving and culture are evident in this time capsule of commodified tradition.

“Everyone uses Christmas Cards, Enclosure Cards, Seals, Ribbon and Tissue Paper at Christmas time, and you will realize the great convenience of ordering by this method at your own leisure, in your own home, and away from crowded stores.”


Catalogue record available here.

For more information about the historical development of greeting cards and specifically Christmas cards, see:

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National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada.

Established in 1991 by Parliament, this day marks the anniversary of the murders in 1989 of 14 women at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal.

As well as commemorating the 14 young women whose lives ended in an act of gender-based violence, December 6 provides Canadians with an opportunity to reflect on continued violence against women in our society, remember those who have died as a result of gender-based violence and work towards meaningful change in our community.

Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student
Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student
Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student
Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the finance department
Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student
Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student
Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student
Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student

Portrait of 14 victims of the Montreal Massacre. (Canadian Press). Available at:


Portrait of 14 victims of the Montreal Massacre. (Canadian Press). Available at:

Additional resources on activism, research, resources at York University Libraries:

Biographical information about victims

“Montreal Massacre Victims – Montreal – CBC News”, December 4, 2009. Available at:

Research Guide for Violence Against Women

This guide was designed to help the York University community research the available information on violence against women and in doing so, be further inspired to end it.

Marilou McPhedran archival fonds 

Lawyer Marilou McPhedran worked on a number of projects for the Metropolitan Toronto Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC) s in the 1990s, including its involvement with the May-Iles inquest and other legal cases, public safety audits for the Royal Bank and the Toronto Transit Commission, an Ontario Women’s Justice Network project, and the production of METRAC publications on stalking and domestic violence.

Description of materials available here.

 Gail Singer archival fonds (F0462)

Gail Singer is a film maker who developed and directed a number of documentaries regarding violence against women and domestic violence, including You Can’t Beat a Woman! (1997) and Loved Honoured and Bruised (1980).

List of relevant materials available here.

 Women, social justice, and Canadian trade unions collection

Since the 1970s, the Canadian union movement has produced extensive documentation on equity-related issues. This material often had an ephemeral existence as unions lacked resources to preserve and provide access to the documents. In order to promote access and to raise consciousness about important union sources, Professor Linda Briskin, a feminist and union activist, began collecting these documents in the 1970s. The collection deals with equity in collective bargaining units, including issues of sisterhood and solidarity, education, human rights, anti-racism, aboriginal issues, affirmative action, violence against women, and the impact of technological change.

List of materials available here.

CBC Digital Archives : resources on The Montreal Massacre

Selection of television and radio broadcasts regarding the murders.


“Montreal Massacre Victims – Montreal – CBC News”, December 6, 2009. Web. 4 December 2012. Available at:
“National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women | Status of Women Canada.” Web. 5 December 2012. Available at: .
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The Toronto Telegram photograph archives: preserved with the assistance of the Canadian Council of Archives

The National Archival Development Program (or NADP ) is administered by the Canadian Council of Archives and it – and it’s previous incarnations- have been vital in the completion of a number of projects here at the Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections. One of the strongest examples is the survival of the Toronto Telegram photographic archives despite the challenges of preservation and a serious case of vinegar syndrome. 

 The delicious smell of fish and chips: harbinger of photographic doom

Photograph of Del’s Fish & Chip Shop in Toronto, 24 June 1964 for an article on teenage gangs. Photographer: Browne. Image number: ASC04605.

The majority of modern photographic film is cellulose diacetate, which is an inherently unstable material. Over time, fluctuations in humidity and temperature can lead to spontaneous decay with the photographic image detaching from the chemical base and eventually becoming illegible. This chemical process results in an acidic odour very similar to vinegar, hence the term vinegar syndrome (or VS). A proactive approach is essential as VS is a contagious process: once one photographic negative begins to degrade, there is a cascade effect on adjacent materials.

Our shared documentary heritage: saved with the help of the CCA

From 1995 to 1998 archivists at York University applied for a combined $13,390 in funding from the CCA to purchase preservation supplies and conservation services to protect the photographic negatives of the Toronto Telegram. This initial investment (matched by $15,825 direct and $8,075 in-kind investment from the archives) has ensured that the photographic record of the Toronto Telegram has been preserved for researchers, publishers and scholars now and in the future.

Long-term outcomes of short-term investment in archival preservation

In the past year alone, the following publications and projects have drawn on images from The Toronto Telegram, including:


That’s just the projects in the past year.  Over the past twenty years, the Toronto Telegram has been used in documentary films, history monographs and television programs.  The newspaper’s holdings have inspired student plays, have been used in undergraduate and doctoral research, gallery exhibits and art projects.

The Toronto Telegram is one of our largest archives and it is by far the most heavily used in our department.  From undergraduate students to international scholars, local historical societies to big corporations, there’s something for everyone in the Telegram.  Without the funding the Canadian Council of Archives twenty years ago, there’s no telling how much of this unique documentary heritage would have been lost to vinegar syndrome.


Above are a selection of photographs from the Toronto Telegram, including:

  • Three workers removing an item from a hurricane-destroyed home on Raymore Drive from 1954.  Photograper: Nelson Quarrington.

  • Two women in Resolute Bay sewing kamik in 1958. Photographer: Ward.

  • HRH Princess Elizabeth exiting the Legislative Assembly of Ontario after a tour of the building in 1951. Unknown staff photographer.

You can browse over 5,000 photographic prints and negatives from the Toronto Telegram on our institutional repository YorkSpace here.

Posted in Archives & Special Collections, News, Photographs | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 50 Comments

Canadian Council of Archives: vital for archives to survive and thrive

Last Monday, April 30, 2012 at 11:00am, administrative staff at Library Archives Canada announced that the National Archival Development Program (NADP) and the Canadian Council of Archives (CCA) were eliminated. Without prior consultation or warning to affected stakeholders, the decision was made to cut these vital programs and services which feed into the pan-Canadian network of archives serving researchers from across the country and internationally. This announcement was made in tandem with news that over two hundred LAC staff were served notice that their jobs are under review and that an estimated 105 positions are slated to be eliminated.

Former researchers, York faculty, and students may not be aware how vital NADP funding and the support of the CCA has been in ensuring the preservation and accessibility of a number of very important records.

Since 1992, the Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections has received $178,952 through various grants managed through the Canadian Council of Archives.  In turn, the Archives has contributed matching funds of  $105,106 in cash, and $140,741 through in-kind investment.  Without the support of grants managed by the Canadian Council of Archives, none of the projects listed below would have been possible.  These funds covered projects that purchased vital preservation materials for historical photographs suffering from vinegar syndrome, and were as ambitious as an online exhibit and digitization project that preserved live sound recordings of Canadian artists and provided free and open online public access to digitized materials.  The support of the Canadian Council of Archives provided archivists at York University with the means to hire contract archivists to tackle challenging programming, description, digitization, and preservation projects.  

Many archivists got their first shot at practicing their craft through contracts funded in part through CCA grants.  None of these projects would have been possible without funding provided by the federal government through programs such as the NADP.

Before the National Archival Development Program, the Canadian Council of Archives developed and managed a number of grant programs focusing on issues in the archival community: reducing backlog of unprocessed – and therefore inaccessible- records, preserving fragile or deteriorating records, developing publicly accessible descriptions and improving awareness and access to archival materials.  Some of these grants include:

  • Young Canada Works.  The CCA is the adjudicator and distributor of YCW funds on behalf of the Ministry of Heritage. It is unclear if the CCA will continue to manage these grants.
  • The Archival Community Digitization Program (ACDP) was a funding stream managed by the CCA which focused on digitization projects that had a direct public output.  It was cancelled in 2010.
  • Control of Holdings Grant were grants distributed by the CCA to help archives deal with large donations of complex archival fonds.
  • Preservation Management grants were distributed to archives through the CCA to assist archivists to purchase supplies or equipment to deal with record deterioration, damage or improper storage.
  • Professional Development and Training Grants allowed archivists with funding and supplies to develop workshop and training material to improve the skills and knowledge of practising archivists.

Here is a brief summary of these projects and the long-term impact of small, matching grants provided by the CCA.  This week we will be highlighting these projects and what research, teaching and scholarship was made possible by these small, modest investments. 

Projects accomplished in the past twenty years through matching funding from the Canadian Council of Archives

  • Microfilming of York University student newspapers (1992)
  • Hiring of a contract archivist to arrange and describe the records of Major Alexander Addison (Lex) Mackenzie (1993-1994)
  • Providing funding for a paid (paid!) internship for an archival studies student to gain experience working in a university archives (1994)
  • Hiring a contract archivist to arrange and describe the records of Canadian theatre pioneer Mavor Moore (1994)
  • Development of workshop for archivists administering reference or finding aid systems in archival institutions (1995). Developed and delivered by the late university archivist Kent Haworth.
  • Preservation management to develop and implement a preservation strategy for the Toronto Telegram photographic archives (1995-1996)
  • Funding to develop a program to incorporate multi-level, RAD-compliant descriptions in the university’s inventory of holdings (1996-1997)
  • Purchase of preservation supplies for photographic negatives from the Toronto Telegram (1996-1997)
  • Funding to hire a contract archivist to arrange and describe the records of the Faculty of Fine Arts, one of the largest and most complicated series of university records at York University (1997-1998)
  • Funding to develop an EAD prototype, and a mass retrospective conversion of the archives finding aids from InMagic and exported into the university’s library catalogue (1999)
  • Funding to hire a contract archivist to arrange and describe the records of the Centre for Experimental Art and Communications  (2000)
  • Funding to hire a contract archivist and a contract programmer to develop and encode EAD-compliant archival descriptions for uploading to CAIN (now via Archeion, Ontario’s Archival Network (2001-2003)
  • Funding to hire contract metadata librarians, and graduate music students to digitize, describe and seek permission to host unique archival documents, photographs and live recordings from the Mariposa Folk Festival, Canada’s oldest folk festival (2009)
  • Funding to hire an university student to digitize a selection of items from the records of Canadian graphic designer Allan Fleming and develop an online and physical exhibit surveying his contributions to Canadian design (2010)
  • Funding to hire a university student to develop a workflow for the digitization and enriched description of historical sheet music collected by Canadian producer, composer and teacher John Arpin (2011)
  • Funding to hire a candidate to digitize and provide enriched geospatial metadata for the photographic slides of historical geographer John Warkentin and the environmentalist and pilot Lou Wise (2012)
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