The Canadian Polish Research Institute

Kanadyjsko-Polski Instytut Badawczy

Est. 1956

Archiving Materials

The newly founded Institute started its work from seeking and assembling documents and sources of information necessary for realization of tasks described by the constitution. There was an urgent need to make up for all the lost time and almost forgotten past. Gradually, beginning with small collection of brochures, mainly commemorative books of the various organizations, the Institute created but specialized and well equipped workshop with a basic tool – a library.

The idea of the archive may bring to mind a static state or petrifacation. Such association is incorrect. The archives collect the records of human and activity rather than passiveness. This activity of the Polish ethnic group in Canada is an integral part of the activities endeavoured by the Canadian society as a whole. It is worth remembering that this societal trait has a fundamental significance for each society since it determines the future prospects and alternatives of that very society.

Archives are the birth certificate of a nation. It is collective memory made permanent in a material form. The Polish element within the Canadian cultural heritage reaches back to 1812, when Poles served in the regiments of de Meuton and de Waterville. Since that time participation in the life of Canada of those arriving from Poland can be noted in every period of this country’s history. Documentation for this is held in our archives. It allows us to reach the origins, which are fundamental for education, upbringing, and scientific and cultural development.

Archivists are very concerned with the dispersement of materials. The materials can be found in the archives of various organizations, where they are liable to deteriorate because of improper storage. In addition, some organizations cease their activities all together. This poses a danger because the archival materials may undergo total destruction. We try to prevent this by appealing to all Polish associations and institutions to transfer the documents to our archives. This way our collection grows, although this is not where our work stops.

We try to verify and supplement the materials systematically. Some documents require conservation. This entails sterilization, cleaning, straightening, filling of mechanical gaps and bookbinding work. Costs of these activities are high although they become insignificant when compared with  the benefits they bring.


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