A photo of a Canadian naval ship.
courtesy U of C communications

U of C receives historical donation

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On March 28, the University of Calgary announced that it received one of Canada’s largest collections of naval history documents from the Naval Museum of Alberta Society. 

The collection has over 50,000 photographs and 5,000 books and archives from the 1800s to the 1980s relating to the Royal 
Canadian Navy.

According to U of C vice-provost libraries and cultural resources Tom Hickerson, the collection of records provides insight into Canada’s naval history. 

“There is nothing comparable to this in terms of the areas [of history] that they cover,” said Hickerson. “It’s a marvelous collection of a diverse range of materials.”

Ken Macpherson and John Burgess, two naval historians, compiled all the artifacts in the collection. Macpherson collected the naval photographs and Burgess collected the books and records.

“These two individuals are really quite remarkable. They came to a great interest in the Royal Canadian Navy independently of each other,” said Hickerson. “Many of the archival documents [they] acquired, some in Canada and some from the British, provide detailed information on where ships were throughout the war.” 

The collection contains top-secret plans from World War II and information on German U-Boats sunk by Canadian forces.

At an announcement on March 28, Greg McKenzie from the 
Naval Museum of Alberta Society said that the collection will be a valuable addition to the U of C’s Military Museum Library and 

“We chose to make this donation to the University of Calgary’s Library and Archives in the Military Museums because of their experience and capacity to support and safeguard a collection of this size and significance,” said 

In 2000, the U of C established a partnership with the Military Museums, owned and operated by the Canadian Forces. The collection can be found at the Military Museums in Calgary. 

“The U of C established a partnership there with the feeling that we need to develop better resources in this area,” said Hickerson.

Hickerson said the donation will add to the many military documents that the U of C has acquired over the years, adding that the enormity of the collection will benefit university students and faculty interested in researching naval history.

“Our academic program in the area of military and strategic studies is a uniquely strong one here on the campus,” said Hickerson. “[The collection] is an important part of the research but in addition to serving students and faculty, placing the collection at the Military Museums makes it very publicly accessible.”