An essential team for the livelihood of our collective memory.
Here are a few people who contributed to the success of Expo 67 Mission Impossible:
Emma Hamilton-Hobbs : Archivist
Emma Hamilton-Hobbs has been an archivist at Library and Archives Canada for two-and-a-half years. She describes her work as such: “I perform various archival functions including the acquisition, arrangement, processing and description of archival government records. As a government archivist who specializes in photographic material, I provide support and guidance both internally and externally on the acquisition, arrangement, processing and description of archival photographic records from Government of Canada institutions.”
Having studied at Western University (London, ON) and Carleton University (Ottawa, ON), Hamilton-Hobbs holds an Honours BA in Art History and French Studies and MA in Art History, respectively.
She was first contacted by Guylaine Maroist in June of 2016 to work on Expo 67 Mission Impossible (released in April 2017). The co-director had been informed of Emma’s qualifications and expertise regarding the photographic records in the Expo 67 collection. “A few days later,” she recalls, “I met with Éric Ruel and Michel Barbeau who provided me with more information about their project and what images they were hoping to include in the documentary. There were many e-mails sent back and forth during which I provided them advice on how to use the finding aid material available to them, and helped to identify specific boxes of photographic records that they could order for consultation.”
“There were a few issues with the photographic records in the Expo 67 fonds,” she continues. “Most notably, only a small percentage of the photographic material had been described and made available in our online database (even a smaller percentage of the descriptions included a scanned image). Unfortunately this meant that a large portion of the photographic material was inaccessible to our clients. In order to help narrow down their search I had to study the analogue finding aid material very closely to identify images of potential interest. We are currently working on creating item-level descriptions of the photographs in the Expo 67 fonds to improve accessibility, and to support both ongoing and future digitization projects.”
When asked if she made any interesting discoveries, Emma described the wide variety of material that was available in the Expo 67 fonds, from the construction of the Expo pavilions to the visits of important dignitaries, in addition to more candid shots of individuals and families exploring the various exhibitions, riding the Expo Express, etc. “The images that I really enjoy as a photo archivist are the ones that depict the photographic library at the Expo site, where you can see the staff arranging and processing the colour slides and other photographic material – the very same ones that we see in the fonds today!”
Dale Gervais : Senior Film Conservator
Dale Gervais has been a film conservator at Library and Archives Canada for 34 years. His job mainly consists of performing conservation treatments on unique Library and Archives motion picture film documents, assessing the condition of LAC motion picture film collections for conservation purposes and performing final comparison inspections of film documents and new conservation masters.
Dale has spent his life surrounded by films.
“As a child,” he says, “I remember making short films using my father’s 8mm Minolta film camera. When I eventually graduated from high school I registered at York University and enrolled in their four year Film Production course. During the summers I was fortunate to land a summer job at the National Archives and have been here ever since!”
During the production of the documentary thriller Expo 67 Mission Impossible, Gervais was involved in the inspection, comparison and setup of the film material identified to be scanned. His biggest challenge was “to ensure that the selection of films identified by the client were made available in a timely manner, and at the same time respect the integrity of the archival document as it moves through the transfer process.”
“Opening a film can represents a unique opportunity to travel back in time and relive some of Canada’s historic moment,” he says. For Dale Gervais, the preservation and conservation of archives is a source of great pride.
Sophie Dazé: Director for the Digitization Services Division
A 15-year employee, Sophie Dazé started off at an Image Specialist at Library and Archives Canada, being a professional photographer, and during the past eight years, she progressed to Project Coordinator, then Supervisor until becoming the Director for the Digitization Services Division.
She now manages a team of eleven employees and is responsible for internal digitization projects as well as client requests for the digitization of special media (photos, art works, and cartography).
For documentary film Expo 67 Mission Impossible, she was responsible for ensuring the digitization of thousands of Expo slides and subsequent transfer to Productions de la ruelle, all within the given deadline, which proved to be her greatest challenge. “But we made it!” she says. “A huge thanks to my team of technicians who did excellent work.”
“I didn’t know much about LAC before I started working here, and what could be found here. Even after 15 years, I’m still completely fascinated by our findings. Not only are archives so important for our heritage, it’s also gratifying to play a small role in sharing content digitally, which brings about a lot of interest from the general public.”
Lynn Lafontaine: Consultation and Reference Officer
Working as Consultation and Reference Officer at Library and Archives Canada for 18 years now, Lynn Lafontaine has over 31 years of experience in her field. Not only does she hold a DEC in Social Studies, as well as a Library and Information Technician Diploma from Algonquin College, she also studied on year in Law and has a university degree from Ottawa U in French Literature.
At LAC, Lafontaine processes requests for the retrieval of documents from special collections, i.e. photographs, art works and philatelic material, cartographic and audiovisual, by ordering the material from the vaults and confirming to clients that the material is available for consultation. She also supervises the consultation of these materials, ensuring that the documents are handled properly. Moreover, Lynn ensures that the client has the necessary tools to conduct their research in the special collections, communicating with them either on site, or via phone or email. Then, she processes the requests for audiovisual material, ensuring that they can provide the required format and that the necessary permissions are obtained before releasing the material.
Lynn was the Project Coordinator for the involvement of LAC in the production of Expo 67 Mission Impossible. Certain challenges she faced included the volume of material requested for the project and production deadline, as well as providing certain undescribed parts of the collection, such as the architectural plans for the Canada and Russian Pavilions, which required conservation.
Lafontaine made certain discoveries during this process, such as “the amount of documents whether textual, photographic, cartographic or audio visual that LAC possess on the subject of Expo 67 and its importance. I had the chance,” she tells us, “while helping with the research and the consultation of the documents for the project, to see some beautiful and interesting photographs and documents that reflected how proud Canada was to receive the world for the Universal Exposition. Also the hard work and effort by the people involved with the project.”
“For me,” she says, “the conservation of archival documents plays a very important role, because this means that we are preserving those documents for future generations and to make them accessible immediately to Canadians and to researchers around the world by digitization and their broadcast in products developed by LAC’s users, such as Les Productions de La Ruelle. Projects like Expo 67 Mission Impossible also help to promote and make people discover our collection and its treasures.”
Paul Gordon: Senior Film Conservator
Paul Gordon has worked for nine years at Library and Archives Canada as Senior Film Conservator. With a BA in Film Production from Ryerson University in Toronto.
Gordon’s main tasks at LAC revolve around the preservation of motion picture films. He was notably responsible for scanning the 16mm and 35mm films required for Expo 67 Mission Impossible.
His greatest challenge was in dealing with the massive amount of films that needed to be inspected, repaired, cleaned, scanned and then digitally stored. But Paul does recall making a few interesting discoveries, including “great behind the scenes footage of the multi-frame projection screenings that went on at Expo 67, such as We are Young and Labyrinth.”
“Without archives like Library and Archives Canada,” he continues, “many of these films would have been lost forever. Archives act as Canada’s historical memory, whether good or bad.”
Here is the entire Library and Archives Canada team who contributed to Expo 67 Mission Impossible – over 26 members of staff helped turn the film into a success.
Director General, Public Services: Johanna Smith; Director, Reference Services Division: Robert Grandmaître; Manager, Client Services: Lina Gouger; Consultation and Reference Officer: Lynn Lafontaine; Archivist: Emma Hamilton-Hobbs; Reference Archivist: Sophie Tellier; Manager, Copyright Services: Nancy Fay; Rights and Licensing Specialist: Patrick Osborne, Cédric Lafontaine; Head Conservator Moving Images, Audiovisual Section: Douglas Smalley; Senior Video Conservator: David Smith, Paul Gordon, Dale Gervais, André Lariviere, Gregory Boa; Digital Imaging Specialist: Katherine Sears, Jennifer Lily Woodley, Timothy Shawn Hack, Maggie McDonald; Manager, Audiovisual Migration: Tina Harvey; Director for the Digitization Services Division: Carla Kluck, Sophie Dazé; Communications Officer and Tours Coordinator: Suzanne Pagé-Dazé; Head, Media Relations: Richard Provencher; Project Manager: Tatiana Paganuzzi; Senior Communications Advisor: France Gravelle