Archives manager Hugh Ellenwood handles a White Rock Museum photograph from the early 1900s.

Archives manager Hugh Ellenwood handles a White Rock Museum photograph from the early 1900s.

Digital records far from cheaper

I am greatly concerned about the recent funding cuts resulting in the elimination of the National Archival Development Program.

An open letter to South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale MP Russ Hiebert.

In both my capacity as archivist for the community of White Rock and as a Canadian citizen concerned for the documentary heritage of Canada, I am greatly concerned about the recent funding cuts resulting in the elimination of the National Archival Development Program.

The support that the NADP has provided for small archives everywhere in Canada – including White Rock – is extremely valuable. In 1993, the White Rock Museum & Archives was organized according to Canadian Archival standards with the support of the Archives Association of B.C. under the auspices of the NADP. What this means is that the records of the past entrusted to us by the people of White Rock are stored and indexed in the best possible way.

Without the NADP, this would not have been possible.

Over my years as archivist for the WRMA – since 2004 – I have taken 15 courses and seminars provided by the AABC instructing me on best practices for storage, indexing and providing access to the archival material in our collection. Also, the consultants who have been made available to me time and again through the AABC, and the NADP, are world-class and will be greatly missed by our organization if these funding cuts are not reversed.

One of the reasons the federal government  implemented these funding cuts seems to be the belief that digitization of conventional records – such as paper documents and photographs – will reduce costs and staff requirements in archives.

This could not be further from the truth.

Anyone with a modicum of knowledge on the subject knows that digital records are extremely expensive to store and maintain and are not a suitable surrogate for other forms of media.

Unfortunately, it seems the important role of archivists and archives in Canadian communities is unclear to some members of the Canadian government.

I urge you to speak with your colleagues to make them understand the great danger the loss of the NADP presents to the documentary heritage of small communities across Canada, like White Rock.

Hugh Ellenwood, White Rock Museum & Archives


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