The EMiC UA group capped off an exciting summer of activity with one more voyage: a move from our temporary offices on the third floor of the Cameron Library to a home on the second floor. After a year of renovations this new space now houses Wilfred Watson’s Fonds, serve as a space for our scanner, and provide meeting rooms for us to gather and work collaboratively on upcoming projects.
The move cements the relationship between EMiC UA and the University of Alberta Libraries (UAL). UAL’s commitment to digitization focuses on preserving the history and culture of the Canadian west. This interest stems back to 1956 when Bruce Braden Peel, Chief Librarian of the University of Alberta from 1955 to 1982, published Bibliography of the Prairie Provinces. According to Digitization Librarian Peggy Sue Ewanyshyn, this bibliography was updated ten years ago and is continuously added to as an online database called Peel’s Prairie Provinces. While this is the flagship project of the library’s digital initiatives it is by no means the only focus. Another major project is “The Sir Samuel Steele Collection.” Steele’s importance to the history of western Canada – combined with the extensive archival records left both by Steele and his family – make the collection a unique opportunity for the UAL to bring the digitization work they do to a wider public audience. While the digitization work is ongoing, the Sir Samuel Steele Collection website gives public access to Steele’s documents. This website is accompanied by a public exhibition that runs from June 1st to September 30th at the Enterprise Square Gallery in downtown Edmonton.
The use of digitization to theorize and understand the culture of the Canadian west is paramount to both the UAL and EMiC UA. What makes the EMiC UA’s presence unique is that we are a specifically literary project. While our current digitization initiative is on archival material in both the Wilfred Watson and Sheila Watson Fonds, our concurrent and upcoming projects, including Andrea Hassenbank’s “Canadian Manifestos 1910-1960,” Hannah McGregor’s “Martha Ostenso Project,” Kristin Fast’s work on Sheila Watson’s short fiction, and Vanessa Lent’s work on Wilfred Watson’s play Cockcrow and the Gulls broaden this focus. EMiC UA’s new home base in the Cameron Library will provide an ideal space from which to add to the rich and exciting digitization and preservation already undergoing at the UAL.