Sir Arthur Doughty (1860-1936) and Gustave Lanctôt (1883-1975)

The idea of the archivist as soldier is, understandably, not commonly held. While archivists strike fear in the hearts of few, their role in the collection and preservation of the memory of the nation is crucial to understanding our past, maintaining our present liberties, and preparing us for the future. In the First World War, it was the duty of Dominion Archivist Arthur Doughty and future Dominion Archivist Gustave Lanctôt to ascertain and collect wartime materials for the use of future generations of Canada. Both Doughty and Lanctôt were granted military commissions and by the end of the conflict had been promoted to the rank of Colonel and Major respectively.

Doughty was the consummate collector. The material he acquired during his tenure as Dominion Archivist such as the Northcliffe Collection, the Elgin Papers and transcriptions of various colonial documents were cornerstones of the early Library and Archives Canada. His scope of acquisition, being much broader than modern archivists, often included artifacts, such as the tunic worn by Sir Isaac Brock, or the chair of General Wolfe. Doughty and Lanctôt, as well as identifying important documents, collected various war trophies from the conflict.

This material was sent back for display in Canada to assist in promoting War relief efforts and bolster patriotism. At the end of the War, a program was set up to distribute the various War trophies to communities across Canada. Many parks and public spaces still display these trophies, some of which you might have played on, or around, when you were a child.

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