Library and Archives Canada today marked the official opening of the new Nitrate Film Preservation Centre in the west end of Ottawa.
The Centre, located on the Communications Research Centre Canada campus, was constructed on time and within budget, resulting in measurable long-term benefits and savings. The “state-of-the-art” facility features a range of technical innovations that meet the current standards for preservation environments and provide the required fire prevention and protection measures. The facility is also equipped with small individual vaults, specialized monitoring and an exterior buffer zone of land for added security.
Much of Canada’s extensive video collection is nitrate-based, a medium that can catch fire under certain conditions. These films and photographic negatives capture some of Canada’s most significant moments up until the 1950s when the medium became obsolete. The material was in danger because it was housed in facilities that did not provide the stable, cold and dry environment essential for preservation. Until recently, the collections were stored in an outdated facility, originally built in 1947 on the former Rockcliffe Air Base in Ottawa.
The nitrate video collection consists of 5,575 reels of film, dating from as early as 1912, and close to 600,000 photographic negatives. Among the materials preserved at the new facility is one of Canada’s first feature films, Back to God’s Country, along with works produced by the National Film Board and photographic negatives from the collections of Yousuf Karsh.
Full Text of Remarks by Daniel J. Caron, Librarian and Archivist of Canada at Opening Event