Open Letter Re: The Closing of the Saskatoon Office of the Provincial Archives at the University of Saskatchewan

November 29, 2018

It has recently been brought to our attention that the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan (PAS) has made the decision to consolidate its holdings and close its office in Saskatoon at the University of Saskatchewan. The Saskatoon office has existed as an important part of the University’s research network since the archive board was created in 1945.

The mandate of the provincial archives is to act as a repository of “both in-person and distance research into family history, government policy and accountability, educational history, past eras, business and social organizations, land settlement, local history, geographic places, cultural developments, human rights, community events and provincial celebrations.”

In performing this vital role, the archives allow both researchers, students, and everyday citizens to inquire into the province’s past, in order to examine the “documentary heritage of the province.” Archivists are expertly tasked with the important work of organizing these invaluable documents and making them accessible to the general public. Given the numerous restrictions that exist around existing catalogued material, the closure of the Saskatoon office will make it even more difficult for researchers to access necessary records.

The closure of the Saskatoon location comes on top of the dramatically scaled back hours that the archive has been offering for the past several years. In fact, the reductions in staffing and now the closure of the Saskatoon branch of the archives will have dire consequences for people attempting to access records, which could mean even longer delays in cataloguing new material while also extending the wait times for researchers to access existing records.

Even if this closure allows the Regina office to expand its collection or to hire new staff, students, faculty, and researchers coming to Saskatoon will run into a never-ending series of issues trying to access essential information. Moreover, with the closure of the Saskatchewan Transportation Company, it will be increasingly difficult for researchers to travel to Regina to access essential records.

We urge the PAS to reconsider this decision. The archives are essential for citizens to access necessary public information. Such a closure will be a loss for students, faculty and the general public at the University of Saskatchewan.

Respectfully,

Charles Smith, Associate Professor of Political Science, St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan

Erika Dyck, Professor, Canada Research Chair in the History of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan

Jim Clifford, Associate Professor, Environmental History, University of Saskatchewan

Priscilla Settee, Professor, Indigenous Studies, University of Saskatchewan

Paul Orlowski, Associate Professor, Educational Foundations, University of Saskatchewan

Allison Smith, Special Lecturer, Languages, Literature and Cultural Studies, St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan

Wes Cameron, Saskatoon

Claire Card, Professor, Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, University of Saskatchewan

Maurice Jr. Labelle, Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Saskatchewan

Michael Laxer, Researcher, Toronto

Bohdan Kordan, Professor, Dept of Political Studies, Director, Prairie Centre for the Study of Ukrainian Heritage, St Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan

Tom McIntosh, Professor, Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Regina

Monica Hwang, Assistant Professor of Sociology, St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan

Tracy Mitchell, B.A., University of Saskatchewan

Cindy Hanson, Associate Professor and Director, Adult Education & Human Resource Development, University of Regina

Ed Lehman, B. Ed., University of Regina

Cheryl Stadnichuk, Researcher, CUPE Saskatchewan, Regina

Sheelah McLean, PhD, University of Saskatchewan

Marc Spooner, Professor, Educational Psychology, University of Saskatchewan

Eric Strikwerda, Associate Professor, History, Athabasca University

JoAnne Jaffe, Professor Sociology and Social Studies, University of Regina

Lori Hanson, Professor, Community Health and Epidemiology, University of Saskatchewan

Michael Gertler, Associate Professor, Sociology, University of Saskatchewan

Garry Ewart, University of Regina

Geoff Read, PhD, Dean, Arts and Social Science & Associate Professor, History, Huron College, Western University

Rachel Engler-Stringer is an Associate Professor in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology in the College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan

Peter Garden, Saskatoon

Robert Englebert, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Saskatchewan

Marc Spooner, University of Regina

Lorri Ewart, Regina

Tom Graham, Saskatoon

Sean Carleton, Mount Royal University

Sharleen Rayner, Saskatoon

Bryan Wiebe, Department of Philosophy, St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan

Todd Webb, Associate Professor of History, Laurentian University

Andrew Stevens, PhD (Queen’s University), Associate Professor, Faculty of Business Administration, University of Regina

Emily Eaton, Associate Professor, Department of Geography & Environmental Studies, University of Regina

Lesya Sabada, St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan

Collen Bell, Assistant Professor of Political Studies, University of Saskatchewan

Wilfrid Denis, Professor Emeritus, Sociology St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan

Martha Robbins, PhD Researcher, University of Saskatchewan Alumni

Pierre-Francois Noppen, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, University of Saskatchewan

Jack Walton, Saskatoon

Jullee Sanderson, Treasurer, Saskatchewan Federation of Labour

Mary Ann Bevis, Professor of Religion and Culture, St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan

Please use the comment section below to add your name to the open letter.

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214 thoughts on “Open Letter Re: The Closing of the Saskatoon Office of the Provincial Archives at the University of Saskatchewan

  1. David Moon

    This move would discourage use of this important archival resource by faculty, grad students and student at the province’s major university. The purpose of archives is not just to conserve the materials, but to make them available to people who need and wish to use them. (I visited the university a few months ago and was enormously impressed by the dynamism of the researchers.)

  2. Ashleigh Androsoff

    Please add my signature as follows:

    Ashleigh Androsoff, Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Saskatchewan

  3. Robert D Sider

    Robert D. Sider, Adjunct Professor, Department of History, Charles A. Dana Professor of Classical Languages emeritus, Dickinson College Carlisle PA.

  4. Anthony Johnston

    Anthony Blair Dreaver Johnston, Special Projects Mistawasis Nêhiyawak, great, great, great grandson of Mistawasis

  5. Cathy Holtslander

    Cathy Holtslander. I did my Masters research at the Saskatchewan Archives in Saskatoon. There is nothing to compare with full access to original documents. There is no way I could have done my study if I had to travel to Regina. By consolidating the Archives in Regina it cuts off future generations of U of S students and citizen researchers outside of Regina from the ability to create important new knowledge about our history that can only be done via archival research. I am also concerned that a consolidation process could result in culling or reduced capacity to hold materials, further impairing our access to history.

  6. Barbara Campbell

    Barbara Campbell United Church of Saskatchewan Archives Volunteer.
    Consolidating the archives in Regina would make access more difficult to the United Church of Saskatchewan archives, which are presently housed in Saskatoon. I have just completed a 1 year project on the archives of St Thomas Wesley church in Saskatoon, and it was under the understanding that the records would be stored in Saskatoon, not in Regina.

  7. Christopher Kent

    Chris Kent, Professor of History Emeritus. It is important to recognize that these archives are not just for the use of professional historians and other academics. They are there for the general public, and the general public are their main clients and beneficiaries. They are the province’s memory bank.

  8. Alice Csuka, B. Ed. University of Saskatchewan.

    Some institutions should not be consolidated. The University of Saskatchewan deserves to keep these archives to the benefit of all.

  9. Hilda Fitzner

    This history/archives has to be available, open and honest; ALL Canadians must have easy access to this information for research and education. True reconciliation will not happen if federal and provincial government cuts access and networking in this way.

  10. Daniel German, Senior Archivist, Library and Archives Canada

    When a history student in Saskatoon, access to the provincial archives was a prime teaching tool for a better understanding of history’s building blocks

  11. Leta Atkinson

    Leta Atkinson. Saskatoon Saskatchewan

    It is important to the citizens of this province that not all functions of government be centralized in Regina.

  12. Brittany Gilchrist

    The negative effects this will have on not only professional researchers but curious members of Saskatoon and surrounding communities will be noticeable. This archive and all the materials held therein are crucial to local historical, social, and cultural studies. To remove it from this city, from the U of S campus, will be a tragic and senseless loss.

  13. Mirela David

    The local archive at the University of Saskatchewan was very important for graduate students and faculty doing research on medical history, local History, queer history or queer sexyalities ( both for WGST and History graduate students). We urge reconsidering the closing of this archive as it would add unnecessary travel costs to these graduate students and impact the University of Saskatchewan local research capabilities.

    Mirela David
    University of Saskatchewan
    Assistant professor Modern Chinese History/ Women and Gender Studies

  14. Bonnie Heilman

    I’ve started using the archives this past year to research my family’s history and for my thesis for the Masters of Fine Arts in Writing Program. I’m angry that this government finds it acceptable to continue cutting public services with no consultation. This is not democracy.

    Bonnie Heilman, B.A., Unversity of Saskatchewan

  15. Tony Ulriksen

    Tony Ulriksen – I like researching past history on families and people in general. If this makes it more difficult to that then I’m against it.

  16. Professor Emeritus of History, University of Saskatchewan

    The presence of the archives branch in Saskatoon is essential for history students and for the public.

  17. Julian DeVito-Porter

    Julian DeVito-Porter, Undergraduate Student and Research Assistant, University of Saskatchewan

  18. Jim Miller, Professor Emeritus of History, University of Saskatchewan

    This abrupt closure of a major repository will mean serious hardship for a large number of Saskatoon-based graduate students and their supervisors.

    Jim Miller

  19. Beverley Volk

    The location of the Provincial archives in Saskatoon is essential for people in the northern part of the province who are researching their family trees and for students at the University who require these resources for their studies!

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  21. Melissa McCarthy

    Melissa McCarthy, archivist, City of Edmonton Archives, and Institutional Member-at-Large, Archives Society of Alberta

  22. Georgiana Chartier

    I have spent many hours doing research at the archives here. It will be very difficult for me not to have the records available here and to have to travel to Regina to see them.

  23. Gabrielle Cavalli

    Gabrielle Cavalli, Saskatoon

    “[Berger’s] message is that through an understanding of our background and our ability to place ourselves in the history has brought us to the present moment, we are able to actively engage with where we are going it is through the knowledge of our own humanity that we are capable of advocating for ourselves and our rights in [our present context]”

    Berger, J. Ways of knowing. (1972)

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  25. Lisa

    Lisa Bird-Wilson
    Author
    The Saskatoon archives are an important resource for writers. My poetry book might not have come to fruition without the time I spent there.

  26. veronicastrongboag

    Please don’t close the Saskatoon branch of the archives. It’s a treasure. Veronica Strong-Boag, Professor Emerita, University of BC and Adjunct Professor, University of Victoria

  27. Emily Sutherland

    Emily Sutherland, B.A. (English) and 3rd Year J.D. Candidate, College of Law, University of Saskatchewan

  28. M-L Perron, BA, B.Ed (U of S), M.ès arts (U. Laval)

    Very unfortunate, especially now that the STC has shut down, too… 8-(

  29. Candace Savage

    Candace Savage, author and researcher, Saskatoon. The Archives have been starved for funds for years. This gross reduction of service is a call to action.

  30. Lesley Biggs

    There are two major cities in Saskatachewan—Saskatoon and Regina. Centralizing the archives at one site will make the records more inaccessible to researchers, students, genealogists, and members of the general public who have a keen interest in history. The decision to close the archives in Saskatoon does not make sense. Wouldn’t have been better to consult with those affected by the decision to explore options? What was the problem that the Archives was trying to solve by moving the records to Regina?

  31. Joan Champ, MA, historian

    The existence of two offices of the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan in Regina and Saskatoon is unique in Canada. The office on the U of S campus has afforded accessibility to researchers which, in turn, has stimulated the publication of an impressive number of works on the history of western Canada. The closure of the Saskatoon office will create obstacles for many researchers, and thereby erode the contribution the archives makes to the cultural life of the province. – Joan Champ, MA, historian.

  32. Randy A Robert

    I have used the archives for historical research and found information that was unavailable otherwise.
    This closure and move stifles research and understanding of our province.

    Randy Robert B. Ed. University of Saskatchewan

  33. David Meyer

    David Meyer, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Saskatchewan

  34. Jonathan Swainger

    Dr. Jonathan Swainger, History Department, University of Northern British Columbia and descendant of Saskatchewan homesteaders

  35. Caitlin Williams-Unt

    Caitlin Williams-Untereiner B.ed Student of History and Educator – we need the archives in Saskatoon

  36. Carol Vandale

    Keep the archives in Saskatoon and fund them adequately!
    Carol Vandale, BTh, MCEd
    DayStar Consulting

  37. Tania Duclos

    Tania Duclos
    Assistant Professor
    Languages, Literatures and Cultural Studies
    St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan

  38. Josephine Sallis

    Josephine Sallis, Archivist, South Peace Regional Archives, Grande Prairie, AB
    What’s the point of having archives if we don’t provide reasonable access to them?

  39. Andriy Nahachewsky

    Andriy Nahachewsky, Edmonton and Brussels.
    Access is key to validating the enormous value of the materials and the investments in them to date.

  40. Anne Patton

    As a writer of historical novels set in Saskatchewan I have used these archives many times, both in person and by phone. The staff ar3e always very helpful. Please keep the Saskatoon branch open..

  41. Karen Markle

    Karen Markle, undergraduate student of Arts and Humanities at Open University, Milton Keynes, UK

  42. Adriana Juarez

    Adriana Juarez, Undergraduate Student, Research Assistant, Department of Indigenous Studies, University of Saskatchewan

  43. Kim Christie-Milley

    D. Kim Christie-Milley, BA, MLS
    Team Lead Architectural Drawings & Published Materials
    City of Edmonton Archives

  44. Theresa Wilson

    Access to information for reasearchers, General public and students in particular should not be elitist based on geographic location. What this proposed closure does is provide reasearchers and students in Regina a step up from Saskatoon researchers and students; they will not have the option of physical access to this information and I suspect any associated costs to access this information could potentially be the responsibility of the person requesting the information. They would be looking at a delay in receiving the information and have to absorb possibly higher costs; neither of which these groups can afford. Please reconsider this decision.
    Theresa Wilson, B.A., University of Saskatchewan alumni

  45. florafaunaartwork

    Julia Adamson, Saskatoon Genealogist and historian

    I also implore you to reconsider this decision, especially in light of the recent article in the Star Phoenix – January 10 2019 by Merle Massie. – It only costs $500 a year in rent for the archives to operate in Saskatoon, and the SK archives board pays $1.1 million in “accommodation” says the article on page A6.

    My gosh, why did the provincial archives not centralize in Saskatoon. Someone is not thinking!!!!

    Add my name to the petition please.

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