Speech by Daniel J. Caron to commemorate the official opening of the Library and Archives Canada Nitrate Film Preservatin Facility

Good afternoon. I would like to thank all of you for joining us today for this auspicious occasion. 
 
It is quite fitting that our celebration for the official opening of the Nitrate Film Preservation Facility falls on the summer solstice, a day that according to folklore carries good fortune.
 
In particular, I would also like to recognize the important contributions of several of our Government of Canada partners: our host for today's event, Communications Research Centre Canada, an agency of Industry Canada, and Public Works and Government Services Canada, as well as our partners in the private sector, the architectural firm of Schoeler & Heaton and the general contractor responsible for the construction of the facility, the Laurin Group.
 
A project of this scale requires a great deal of concerted effort over time and the quality of your collaboration is reflected in the successful completion of the project.
 
Finally, I would like to salute the fine work of the Library and Archive Canada's Nitrate Facility Project Team led by Mr. Pierre Gamache under the supervision of the Assistant Deputy Minister responsible for the Holdings Management Sector, Mr. Doug Rimmer.
 
Last week was a particularly fruitful time for the team as they were the recipients for both the Library and Archives Canada W. Kaye Lamb Award for special achievement and the coveted Public Service Award of Excellence 2011 in the category of innovation.
 
Once again, congratulations for a job well done.
 
The team showed great leadership in developing productive and collaborative approaches with several other departments and the private sector to ensure that all organizations with nitrate collections would benefit from the new facility.
 
Also, in cooperation with Industry Canada, the team was able to obtain space on Crown-owned land, leading to economies in real property, as well as facilities management.
 
Significantly, the facility was successfully delivered on time and within budget, resulting in measurable long-term benefits and savings for Canadians.
 
As we know, much of Canada's heritage film collection is based on cellulose nitrate, a medium that can self-combust under certain conditions.
 
These film and photographic negatives capture some of Canada's most significant moments until the 1950s, when the medium became obsolete. 
 
These documentary heritage records were in danger because they were housed in facilities that did not provide the stable, cold, and dry environment needed for proper preservation.
The nitrate films consist primarily of non-fiction short films, including documentaries, instructional films and newsreels. There are also some fiction features and entertainment shorts. 
 
Among the noteworthy titles are Canada's earliest surviving feature film from 1919, Back to God's Country; a rare 1935 Canadian-produced musical short entitled, Melody Ranch;and the Oscar-winning 1941 National Film Board documentary, Churchill's Island.
 
There are also to be found photo negatives from the Yousuf Karsh collections.
 
Indeed, many challenges were faced in order to construct a secure and permanent home for these films.
 
In designing this highly specialized building, a wide range of technical innovations were incorporated, such as small individual vaults and specialized monitoring systems, which make the Nitrate Film Preservation Facility a one-of-kind building in North America.
 
Moreover, while meeting strict fire prevention and protection requirements, the building is also environmentally friendly.
 
It features a "green roof", highly insulated walls, designed to enhance energy performance, highly efficient mechanical systems to reclaim energy, and technology to reduce water use.
 
In closing, the realization of this project demonstrates clearly that as Library and Archives Canada modernizes to take into account the impact of the rise of the Digital Age, we will continue to capture, preserve, and make accessible to Canadians their documentary heritage regardless of the format.
 
The portion of our holdings that consist of analogue materials, like the nitrate film collection, will remain an important part of Canada's documentary heritage.
 
Thank you.