A massive and historically important archive of Canada’s music history has found a new home at the Library of the University of Calgary. In 2016, the school received an important donation that indicates the growing importance of Calgary as one of the nation’s main cultural centers, as shown in this video about Studio Bell National Music Centre.
Tens of thousands of studio recording hours and numerous boxes of historical items and photographs from over five decades including the likes of Anne Murray, Nickelback, and Tom Cochrane were donated to the University by Universal Music Canada that acquired EMI Music Canada in 2012.
The massive and culturally and commercially highly interesting archive is offering a rare and unique glimpse into how a major record label works and the collection spans over six decades of the music and recording industry of one of Canada’s leading music production and distributing companies, EMI Music Canada from 1949 to 2012 when it was taken over by Universal Music.
Bringing the giant collection from Toronto to Calgary will take several years, and the items that will arrive over time include the master recording tapes of the Beatles’ “Rubber Soul” Canadian release (which hit the Canadian stores months earlier than it did in the U.S.) and a great and different from the U.S. version of “Drive My Car.”
The important collection will be managed and inventoried by the staff of the University of Calgary’ Libraries and Cultural Resources Department who only just started to dig into the first waves of this impressive material from the EMI Canada record label. It is expected to take several years before all items will have found their place for exhibitions and research and educational purposes
The collection also includes more than 13,000 original audio recordings and master tapes from predominantly Canadian performers and artists, as well as more than 18,000 videotapes and some 5,000 compact discs by numerous Canadian and international artists.
The archive additionally contains demo tapes from several Canadian performers such as Halifax rockers April Wine and Montreal pop singer Corey Hart. University workers think that eventually, some two million photographs and documents from the EMI Canada label will land in their hands after they will spend quite a few years in a warehouse cataloging the collection.
The archive is in perfect condition and to be able to lay your hands on such a valuable corporate collection in its entirety is makes it very unique in itself, and it contains not only music items. Universal Music will also donate thousands of boxes that contain documents outlining daily Canadian record sales and describing the company’s day-to-day operations.
These documents are describing and highlighting research and marketing plans, creative cover designs, outlines for EMI’s music videos, song lyrics drafts, composition planning schemes, recording hours of various performers, and correspondence between recording engineers, producers, artists, and EMI executives.
This impressive EMI Music Canada collection will, of course, be used by the University’s students, but there will be more. The archive is also intended for researchers from all across the world and scientists who can study economic and cultural relevant data, and the general public will have access to the collection through shows and exhibitions. The University of Calgary additionally has set up also a collaboration with the Canadian National Music Centre to promote public exhibitions even in a wider and better way.