University of Calgary receives crucial music history with EMI Canada archive

The massive EMI archive of music history in Canada has found a new home at the University of Calgary’s Archives & Special Collections. To learn more about the school’s Archives & Special Collections Department, watch this video:

Thousands and thousands of boxes filled with historically import artifacts and pictures of artists like Anne Murray, Nickelback, and Tom Cochrane and numerous studio recordings were donated to the University’s Library by Universal Music Canada, the owners of EMI Music Canada, in 2016.

The EMI archive is very large and it will take a few more years before all is cataloged and available to researchers and the general public. The archive provides a rare glimpse into most important years of music developments in the past century and the inner procedures and workings of one of Canada’s most important record labels and is spanning over 60 years of EMI’s Canadian branch. EMI Canada was operating from 1949 to 2012 when it was bought by Universal Music Canada.

One of the most interesting items is the master recording for the Canadian edition of arguably the most important Beatles album “Rubber Soul”. The album hit the Canadian stores several months before it was released in the U.S. and it includes (unlike the US version) the song “Baby You Can Drive My Car.”

One of the researchers at the Cultural Resources Department at Calgary University said that Library staff has only just begun to explore the first shipments from Toronto and that it will take e few more years before all of the thousands of crates and boxes will have been safely shipped to Calgary.

The rare collection contains some 13,000 original sound recordings, tapes, and master tapes from predominantly Canadian artists and performers. Additionally, there are more than 5,000 CDs and over 18,000 video recordings of Canadian and international performers. University researchers estimate that they will be able to lay their hands on some two million photographs and documents from the EMI label that were stored in the company’s cellars and warehouses.

The collection also includes unique contracts with recording artists and demo tapes from several Canadian singers such as pop singer Corey Hart from Montreal and Halifax rock band April Wine. The corporate collection has been retained in a perfect condition and its entirety is making this collection a one-of-a-kind find.

Besides the music and all that’s connected to recording it, Universal Music Canada also donated numerous boxes of historically important documents that give a good look into the daily Canadian album sales in those days and the company’s day-to-day business and operations.

The massive collection also includes a vast number of papers and documents that highlight EMI’s marketing plans, the creative outlines for the company’s music videos, various drafts of song lyrics, and many examples of correspondence between the company’s artists, music producers, and EMI executives.

The EMI collection will eventually be open to the school’s students, but it will also be made accessible to the general public and researchers from all corners of the world. The University of Calgary is proud to be the recipient of such an important collection that gives a detailed look into what may have been the most creative period for musical achievement in the 20th century and established a collaboration with the National Music Centre in Calgary for public exhibitions and shows.