COHDS Archives Holdings Overview

The following is a brief overview of the fonds and collections held within the COHDS Archives. Each fonds or collection has a brief description that may include the number of interviews in that collection/fonds, the relevant series in the collection, restriction levels, languages used, and any other relevant information.

For further information or to gain access to the holdings, please contact cohds.chorn.archives@gmail.com.

Gaining Access

Access to archival materials at COHDS will be granted to all once they have read, signed, and dated an “Access Agreement”. Through this agreement, all users are made aware of, and commit themselves to follow, the rules and regulations of the COHDS Archives related to access, ethics, and future use of the materials being accessed.

Online Collections

Living Archives of Rwandan Exiles and Survivors in Canada

Funded by Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, this bilingual online life stories platform is built by Concordia University’s Centre for oral History and Digital Storytelling (COHDS – Steven High, Principal Investigator) and the Association des Parents et Amis des Victimes du genocide des Tutsis au Rwanda (Page-Rwanda), representing survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide now living in Montréal. Over eighty life story interviews were conducted by the Rwandan Working Group (led by Page-Rwanda) of Montreal Life Stories, twenty-eight of whom gave their permission to include their life stories here. Working in partnership, we sought to build a platform and suite of tools that would serve university researchers and community members. The resulting « living archives » enable you to engage with personal story in new and creative ways. The interview transcript is tethered to the video, allowing you to simply listen or conduct keyword searches and then enter into the recorded story. Otherwise much is lost in transcription. Thanks to the Geomedia Lab, there is also a narrative mapping tool that allows you to enter these stories using a map interface. And, finally, thanks to our partnership with the University of Western Ontario and Syracuse University, there is a “tension analysis” tool that allows us to analyse the interview dynamic itself. To access the English subtitles please press the button in the lower right corner of the video monitor once the video is playing.

Living Archives website

Fonds/Collections

The following is a list of publicly accessible fonds/collections held by the COHDS Archives in order of Accession/Reference number.

The Little Burgundy neighbourhood was founded as Sainte-Cunegonde, an independent town from the city of Montreal proper. During the Industrial Revolution it was the site of many so-called “smokestack” industries. Sainte-Cunegonde was absorbed into the larger city near the turn of the 20th century. As one of the most important sites for the nascent trans-Canadian railway industry, a great many African-American workers were brought in from the United States. Later, Caribbean blacks also moved in, leading to Little Burgundy’s unique niche as the home of Montreal’s working-class

English-speaking black community. Today, the neighbourhood has endured several phases of gentrification. The interviews in this collection are with present and former resident of Little Burgundy whose interviews tackle questions of race, class, and discrimination.

Fonds consists of 13 open access interviews however 10 can only be viewed at COHDS facilities. Interviews are in English and are available on the COHDS local server. Fonds also consists of textual records such as presentation posters, approach to  interviewing, interview abstracts and research papers from students, along with one slideshow presentation.

The Holy Family Parish is a Roman Catholic Church with a multicultural congregation. Holy Family Parish started out as a basement church in May 1926. The first pastor was Father Walsh. At first, the parish was founded in order to serve the Irish Catholic community of the Villeray district of Montreal. In the 1930s when Holy Family School was constructed, there was a natural link made between the school and the church. At that time the school was attended by Irish Catholics, French Canadians, and many new Italian immigrants in Montreal. From there, Holy Family’s scope changed as it was no longer a parish for the Irish, but for all English speaking Catholics in the Villeray district. As the years went by, Holy Family went from a neighbourhood parish to a city parish.

Parishioners were no longer from close by, but were coming from all parts of Montreal. The interviews in this collection are with parishioners of Holy Family Parish. They discuss the parish father, Father Baxter, the programs offered by the church, sermons, and the congregation at large.

Fonds consists of 9 interviews, 8 are open access. Interviews are in English and are available on the COHDS local server. Fonds also consists of textual records such as interview summaries and transcript of presentation on the final research project, which can only be viewed at the Centre.

The Old Brewery Mission has a rich history spanning more than a century. It was born at the end of the 19th century out of a need to respond to the problems encountered by the first wave of homelessness in Montreal. During the twentieth century, the mandate changed with the times and the Old Brewery Mission accompanied society’s rejected men and adapted so as to alleviate their misery. The Mission has adapted with the times and currently men and women from 20 to 70 years of age live in the shelter.

Some of them have severe mental problems, and have been abandoned by public institutions that can no longer accommodate them. Others are hard drug users, abuse prescription medications or inject themselves with toxic substances. The interviews in this fonds are with those who work, volunteer at, or use the Mission’s services.

Fonds consists of 8 interviews in total; 7 are open access and 1 is limited access. All interviews must be viewed at COHDS facilities. Interviews are in English and French and are available on the COHDS local server. Fond also consist of a textual record through the presentation of the final research project.

This collection consists of interviews that depict cultural and economic transformations due to plant shutdowns in Canada and the United States Great Lakes Region, from 1969 to 1984. These interviews provide an insightful examination of how mill and factory workers on both sides of the border made sense of their own displacement.

Fonds consists of 26 interviews.

This collection examines place identity and attachment in the former paper mill town of Sturgeon Falls, Ontario. Sturgeon Falls was a single-industry town and like many other such towns scattered across the provincial northlands of Canada, it has had to reinvent itself in the face of catastrophic job loss. Weyerhaeuser’s decision to close the Sturgeon Falls Mill in 2002, after a century of production, is therefore part of a far larger story related to the economic crisis facing forestry-dependent towns across Canada. The interviews in this collection provide an opportunity to explore the cultural meaning of displacement from the vantage point of those most directly involved: workers themselves.

Fonds consists of 60 interviews; 52 are open access interviews, 8 are anonymous.

The history of St. John’s, Newfoundland during the Second World War is one that blurs the usual North American distinctions between “war front” and “home front.” So numerous were the soldiers, airmen, and sailors from Canada and the United States, that the residents of St. John’s took to calling their arrival a “friendly invasion” or “occupation.” From the life of the harbour, to volunteer work, to the marriages between St. John’s women and American soldiers, Occupied St. John’s explores the profound effect the war years had on the city through the perspective of its residents. Lead by researcher Steven High, this anthology was sponsored by the Johnson Family Foundation and aimed at filling a void in the scholarship about the history of St. John’s.

The fonds consists of 47 open access interviews however 4 can only be viewed at COHDS facilities.

COHDS-10-048 Alfie Roberts Institute fonds

The Alfonso “Alfie” Roberts Institute was an independent research, education, and community centre based in Montreal that worked primarily with communities of African and Caribbean descent. The fonds primarily consists of recorded interviews with members of the Afro and Caribbean diaspora, materials from the United Negro Improvement Association and the African Communities League, the Congress of Black Writers, and radio programs from the CBC on Alfie Roberts.

The fonds consists of 18 audio files in English and are available on the COHDS local server.

This collection is part of the larger Post/Industrial Montreal project underway at COHDS, in partnership with the Canada Research Chair in Oral History. The Mon Canal audiowalk was a collaboration between Parcs (Parks) Canada’s Lachine Canal National Historic site and COHDS. Interviews were conducted between 2010 and 2011 with an audio walk created in 2013. The Mon Canal audio walk uses extracts from these interviews to provide firsthand accounts of life during the industrial age of the Lachine canal. More information, and along with the audio walk and booklet, can be found at http://postindustrialmontreal.ca/.

Collection consists of 30 audio files in English and French, 1 audio file of audiowalk, 1 guide book, and 1 map of the audio walk route. Listing available with partial descriptions. All interviews are open and accessible to the public.

Life Stories of Montrealers Displaced by War, Genocide, and Other Human Rights Violations was an oral history project exploring Montrealers’ experiences and memories of mass violence and displacement. A team of both university and community-based researchers recorded life-story interviews with nearly 500 Montreal residents over the course of five years. Interviews were conducted using the life story method.

The fonds consists of 8 series with 448 different files; a file list of the different series is available. Interviews are available on the COHDS local server.

  1. Life Stories in Education Working Group (2014-01-01) — 87 interviews; English and French
    • The Life Stories in Education Working Group sought to educate youth, teachers, and the broader community about human rights, genocide, war, and displacement through life stories. The group explored the impact life stories have on the intellectual and ethical development of learners and educators in a variety of formal and informal contexts.
  2. Holocaust and Other Persecutions Against Jews Working Group (2014-01-02) — 80 interviews; English, French, and Yiddish
    • The Holocaust and other persecutions against Jews Working Group collected stories with Holocaust survivors, descendants of Holocaust survivors, and Montrealers of Sephardic origin impacted by the Holocaust and post-Holocaust events in North Africa.
  3. Cambodia Working Group (2014-01-03) — 75 interviews; English, French, and Khmer
    • The Cambodian Working Group collected the stories of Cambodians living in Montreal. Of special significance to this working group was the transmission of knowledge from one generation to the next, and the communication between Montrealers and Canadians of Cambodian and other origins.
  4. Haiti Working Group (2014-01-04) — 19 interviews; English and French
    • The Haitian Working Group examined the relationship between state violence experienced during the Duvalier régime and the displacement of Haitian refugees to Montreal. These interviews discuss what led individuals to leave their country and what attracted them to Montreal. Although violence has characterized Haitian society since its birth as a nation, the Duvalier period (1957 – 1994) was privileged in this study because it is this regime, in its totalitarian and systematic perpetration of violence, that resulted in massive Haitian emigration to Canadian soil.
  5. Oral History and Performance Working Group (2014-01-05) — 55 interviews; English and French
    • The Oral History and Performance Working Group drew inspiration from participatory action methodologies to involve participants in socially engaged and self-revelatory performances by, for, and about their respective communities. The Working Group guided the creation of performance projects in collaboration with community groups, the publication of research about the process of creating performances based on oral histories, and the development of ethical, aesthetic, and methodological guidelines. The Working Group also collected life stories of artists living in Montreal because they were displaced from their places of origin by mass violence.
  6. Rwanda Working Group (2014-01-06) — 87 interviews; English, French, and Kinyarwanda
    • The life stories of Rwandan survivors living in Montreal were recorded through interviews with people from different age groups. The group ensured that 20 to 25 percent of those interviewed were young people between the ages of 18 and 30. Recruitment of interviewees took place through a variety of means. Two Life Stories partners, the Association of Parents and Friends of Genocide Victims in Rwanda (PAGE-Rwanda) and Isangano (Rwandan cultural group) were the main organizers of the outreach process.
  7. Experience of Refugee Youth in Montreal Working Group — 45 interviews; English and French
    • Experiences of Refugee Youth in Montreal was a collaborative media project that used personal stories and a range of media tools (video, sound walks, mapping, photograph) to better understand the experiences of youth with refugee experience in Montreal. Using participatory methods, their objective was to produce creative work that would have an impact on policy, education, art, and on the lives of the youth involved.
  1. Events and Activities (2014-01-08)
    • This series consists of video and audio-recorded seminars, training sessions, round tables, and other events held in relation with the Life Stories of Montrealers Displaced by Genocide and Other Human Rights Violations Project.
  2. Julie Norman Project (2014-01-09)
    • More information on this series to come.

This collection is a copy of the Montreal Holocaust Museum’s interviews with survivors of the Holocaust (Shoah) starting in the 1990s and was donated in part to the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling.

Collection consists of 475 interviews in English, French, Hungarian, and Yiddish. These interviews are available in DVD format at COHDS facilities. There are no transcripts for these interviews. All are open access.

Founded in 2000, the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network (QAHN) is a non-profit, non-partisan umbrella organization engaged with its members in promoting the preservation of the built, cultural and natural heritage of Quebec. QAHN aims to promote a greater understanding of the history of Quebec’s English-speaking communities by informing, inspiring and connecting people through its activities. QAHN has a Stories Matter database that hosts oral history interviews collected through their years of existence. Copies of these interviews are accessible in person at COHDS.

This fonds contains 374 interviews separated in 10 series. Some finding aids are available below. More finding aids and listings to come. Interviews are available on the COHDS local server. Contact us for more detailed information.

1- Morin Heights (2015-05-001) — 22 interviews in English

The interviews found in the Morin Heights series were created by the Morin Heights Historical Association. Community member and local historian Sandra Stock conducted the interviews with twenty interviewees from the Morin Heights- Milles Isles region.

Stock has acted as Vice President and President of the Morin Heights Historical Association, the Director of the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network and has been a member of the Westmount Historical Association. The series centers around the local history and development of Morin Heights, recreational activities, tourism, landscape, and local industries. Participants include Olive Byrd Kneeland, Catherine Pollock, Richard Quinn, Diane Opala, Dorothy Kennedy Garayt, Joe Brown, Frances Beames, Kenny and June Binns, Rodney Carruthers, Andy Tellier, Carmen Wood, Lorne Brown, Melvin Day, George Watchorn, Tom Seale, George Gardner, Phyllis Buxton, Maxwell Ruan, Percy Black, and Howard Elder.

In 2011, a collaboration between the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network and the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling, resulted in the digitization of these interviews as part of the Spoken Heritage Online Multimedia Initiative (SHOMI).

2- Missisquoi Historical Society (2015-05-002) — 29 interviews

3- Compton County (2015-05-003) — 13 interviews in English and French

This series consists of interviews and recordings completed by the Celtic Research Group with former residents of Compton County in southeast Quebec. With Compton County dissolving in the 1980s and being absorbed by MRC de Le Haut-Saint-François and MRC de Coaticook, these interviews provide an insight into the life, culture, and residents of Compton County.

4- Greenwood (2015-05-004) — 17 interviews

The series consists of interviews, readings, and talks that discuss Canadian and Quebec local and political history. These recordings were conducted and collected by the Greenwood Centre for Living History, which is a non-profit community-based organization mandated with preserving the history of Greenwood of Hudson. The Centre is housed in a historical house, and has a collection of artifacts ranging from furniture to gardens. A notable interviewer in this series is local historian Phoebe Hyde who played a central role in the development of the Greenwood Centre for Living History.

Topics covered include Canadian political history and the history of Quebec and the Hudson area. The recordings touch upon themes relating to the settlement of Hudson, First Nations communities of Kanesatake and Kahnawake, religion, language, and politics.

5- Gatineau Valley (2015-05-005) — 11 interviews in English

The interviews in the Gatineau Valley series were conducted by the Gatineau Valley Historical Association. The Association was founded in 1962 to promote and preserve the history and heritage of the Gatineau Valley. The series consists of twenty-one sessions with sixteen interviewees from the region. The interviews discuss the built and natural history of the Gatineau Valley. The digitization of the Gatineau Valley series resulted from a collaborative effort between the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network and the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling, as part of the Spoken Heritage Online Multimedia Initiative (SHOMI).

6- Colby Curtis Museum (2015-05-006) — 14 interviews

7- Hudson Historical Society (2015-05-007) — 12 interviews

8- Eastern Township (2015-05-008)

8.1.     Depression Years Subseries (2015-05-008-S1) — 14 interviews

8.2.     Ian Tait Subseries (2015-05-008-S2) — 39 interviews

8.3.     Eastern Township during WW2, Tom Martin fonds Subseries (2015-05-008-S3) — 43 interviews

8.4.     Eastern Township women during WW2 Subseries (2015-05-008-S4) — 32 interviews

8.5.     Depression Years (1929 – 1939), Tom Martin fonds Subseries (2015-05-008-S5) — 28 interviews

8.6.     Oral Histories of Sutton Subseries (2015-05-008-S6) — 10 interviews

8.7.     Celtic Research Group Subseries (2015-05-008-S7) — 7 interviews

8.8.     Landscapes of the Past, interviews Subseries (2015-05-008-S8) — 72 interviews

8.9.     Malca and Ruby Friendman Subseries (2015-05-008-S9) — 2 interviews

9-        Council for Anglophone Magdalen Islanders (2015-05-009) — 18 interviews

9.1.     Oral History Veterans’ Museum Subseries (2015-05-009-S1) – 20 interviews

10- Hemmingford (2015-05-010) — 31 interviews

2016-01 COHDS Workshop fonds

Training is at the core of our mission at COHDS. As a result, we offer a wide-range of free training workshops, seminars, and roundtables for affiliates and the general public. The COHDS Workshop fonds allows those who have missed the workshops offered in 2013 and later the chance to watch and listen to the workshops.

Fonds consists of 47 workshops split into 3 series and are available on the COHDS local server

1- 2013 Workshops (2016-01-01) — 6 workshops

2- 2014 Workshops (2016-01-02) — 19 workshops

3- 2015 Workshops (2016-01-03) — 22 workshops

The Balconville to Condoville is one series from an ongoing interdisciplinary research project called Pointe-Saint-Charles. The collection consists of interviews with residents who grew up in the Pointe during its industrial heyday. More information to follow.

Series consists of 32 audio files, with 2 interviews from Parcs Canada as part of the collection in French and English. A listing with brief descriptions and transcripts are available. Interviews are open to the public with some restricted to consultation only at COHDS.

This open fonds currently includes work created by student Julia Dyck in her capacity as a researcher during the Edgy Women Festival in 2016.

1- Edgy Oral History Project (2016-03-001) — 9 interviews in English and French; available on the COHDS local server

The Edgy Oral History Project was created to document the stories, memories, and reflections of those involved in the Edgy Women Festival. As programming came to an end in 2016, the Edgy Oral History Project was created to preserve the memories of those involved in the festival, including participants, performers, and the founder of the Edgy Women Festical. The Edgy Oral History Project was presented at La Fin/The End Cabaret on 5 Mar 2016, as part of one of Edgy’s last events centered around mourning and preserving the Edgy Women Festival.

The Edgy Oral History Project series consists of seven interviews with eight interviewees conducted by Julia Dyck. Participants include founder Miriam Ginestier, performance artisits Geromin Mathilde, Nathalie Cluade, Alexis O’Hara, Hannah Murrow (Lilac Poussez) and Dayne McLeod, Susana Cook, and

T.L. Cowan. These interviews discuss topics such as the birth of the Edgy Women Festival, the Edgy community, favourite performances and memories, the end of Edgy, and its legacy.

Edgy Women Festival was launched in 1994 by founder Miriam Ginestier and organized by Studio 303. The Festival’s 23 year run showcased experimental performance pieces, cabarets, workshops, publication, and screenings that centered around feminist and queer aesthetics and themes. The Edgy Women Festival was housed in venues that ranged from theatres, cabaret stages, ice rinks, boxing clubs, to sidewalks. This multilingual and multidisciplinary festival featured hundreds of local and international artists. In 2013, funding for the Edgy Women Festival was cut, which resulted in the shortening of Edgy programming for three weeks to three events. With this change made to the programming, the Edgy Women Festival was renamed as Edgy Redux.

This collection consists of interviews with members of the architectural preservation group called Save Montreal. Interviewees discuss the personal experiences in protest movements as well as the political climate around urban development in Montreal, compared to other major cities, in the 1970s-80s. Interviewees discuss the formation of the group, their motivations, the successes and failures in their preservation efforts, and their overall social significance in changing misguided perceptions around architecture and urban development. Interviews were conducted between 2013 and 2015 by Eliot Perrin as part of his masters thesis in History under the supervision of Steven High.

Fonds consists of 15 audio interviews, 6 transcripts, and 1 copy of the final thesis (also available through Spectrum- Concordia’s thesis repository), all in English. Full listing and description available. Interviews are open to the public, with some restricted to viewing only at COHDS.

This collection consists of interviews that discuss how improvisation helped two members of Montreal’s LGBT+ community express their gender identity and issues related to the community. The interviews were conducted by undergraduate student Eloi Savail-Lacoste as part of his coursework in the Oral History Methods class with Steven High in the fall of 2018. Collection also consists of records related to oral history methodology.

Collection consists of 2 audio interviews, 2 transcripts/chronologies, 3 reflections, and 1 term paper. Collection also consists of elements from the ethics package submitted to the History Department in order to conduct oral history research. These items include 1 project proposal, 1 consent form template, and 1 interview guide. All items are in French and available to the public. Full listing, with some descriptions, available.

This project sought to publicly share senior Montrealers’ knowledge of urban change, specifically the Shaughnessy Village neighbourhood. With the participation of members of the Living History research group, two “talking walks” were developed and presented at the Oral History Association conference in October, 2018. The primary researchers for this project were Dr. Cynthia Hammond and Dr. Shauna Janssen with student assistants.

Collection consists of 16 interviews, two videos of the walks, 28 weekly reports, and various other planning documents. Interviews are conducted in English. Full listing and description available. Interviews are open to the public, with some restricted to viewing only at COHDS.

Interview of academic Dr. Trinidad Gonzales, co-founder of academic-awareness group “Refusing to Forget”. This interview was conducted for Dr. Steven High’s HIST 665AA Oral History seminar. La Rinchada was a period (1910-1920) of state-sanctioned violence against Mexicans living on the Texas-Mexico border. Dr. Gonzales is the creator of “Refusing to Forget”, an educational non-profit that is seeking to bring greater awareness both to this event and to ongoing civil rights issues in this area today.

Collection consists of two interviews and a transcript for the first session of interviewing. Full listing and description available. Interviews are open to the public, with some restricted to viewing only at COHDS.

This collection consists of interviews conducted with members of the Innu community of Nutahskuan. The primary topics covered are the impact of the creation of the reserve and the occupation of formerly Innu territory. The reserve was created following the creation of the James Bay hydro-electric project. The interviews were conducted by Master’s student Aude Maltais-Landry as part of her dissertation research.

Collection consists of 10 interview transcripts, an interview guide and an academic research paper produced as a result of Maltais-Landry’s research. Interviews are conducted in French and Innu. Full listing and description available. Interviews are open to the public, with some restricted to viewing only at COHDS.