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Treasures from the Archives

Treasures from the Archives

[a photo of the Royal Canadian Rifle Regiment ca. 1867]
Queen's University Archives Kingston Picture Collection

The Queen's University Archives is home to more than 30,000 photographs. Public Services Archivist Heather Home chose this item as one of her favourites.

"The photograph shows members of the Royal Canadian Rifle Regiment (RCRR) and highlights the role of the military establishment in the City of Kingston. It is a long and (thankfully, because of the nature of administration) well-documented history underlining the notion that the presence of the military in Kingston is one of the reasons we have such a rich history of the city..."

"It is a stunning example of a composite photograph, highlighting the cut-and-paste method, and the artistic skills of the creator."

"The composite contains 33 individual photographic portraits of the officers. The photograph is owned by Fort Henry, St. Lawrence Parks Commission, but the object is housed at Queen’s University Archives. I think it illustrates our role in the community as a partner with other heritage organizations in the protection of culturally significant items."


The Queen's Archives hold one of the largest collections of literary papers in Canada. A letter from Margaret Atwood to AI Purdy (with a painting on the verso, seen below) was chosen by Jeremy Heil, Digital and Private Records Archivist, as one of his favourites in the Queen's Archives' collections.

Alfred Wellington Purdy (1918-2000) was one of an important group of poets recognized as "working class" poets. His formal education ended after only two years of high school, and he spent the Depression years "riding the rails~ and worked at a number of jobs in British Columbia. Purdy's work won him the Governor General's Award for poetry twice; the first time in 1965, for The Cariboo Horses (1965) and the second in 1986, for The Collected Poems of Al Purdy, 1956-1986. He also won the A.J.M. Smith Award for Sex & Death (1973). In 1982, he received the Order of Canada and, in 1987, the Order of Ontario.

Al Purdy fonds: 5093.1-1-2. Queen's University Archives

The Al Purdy fonds at Queen's Archives contains manuscripts, correspondence, photographs and audio recordings documenting the poet's life's work and literary activities.

Acquisition of the fonds was made possible with the assistance of the Chancellor Richardson Memorial Fund. Papers were purchased from Mr. Purdy, with parts of acquisitions donated outright, in 1971, 1972,1985, 1987,1995, 1996, 1998 and 1999. Accruals from 2002 and 2011 were donated by the Estate of Al Purdy. •

[Queen's Alumni Review 2015 Issue 4 cover]