Musings on Place, Travel, Books, Literature, Poetry, Literary Criticism, Collecting, Media, Life and the Arts

The Low Esteem in which Canada holds the book (Part 2 of 3)

Let’s look at the value  Canada’s federal government attaches to sharing with Canadians important historical source documents and works of the imagination, in comparison to other culturally significant objects and artifacts. Here’s  a look at the National Gallery of Canada’s sculpture garden:

and one of its many lovely picture galleries:

Here’s a shot of the Museum of Civilization’s Grand Hall, a vast, spectacular venue for the presentation of First Nations’ cultural artifacts

And the War Museum’s spaceous quarters filled with weaponry and tributes to the sacrifices made

by everyday Canadians who fought to make the world a safer place.

Nothing wrong with this. Quite the contrary.  But it does, when you consider what passes for exhibition space at Library and Archives Canada,


rather strikingly illustrate the relative importance this country assigns to honouring the book.

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3 Responses to “The Low Esteem in which Canada holds the book (Part 2 of 3)”

  1. Jan Kellett Says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes! but I fear you are talking to a brick wall. The Government has no shame.

  2. Finn Harvor Says:

    Hi Nigel,
    Good selection of photos. I’m not sure that it quite follows, however, that this indicates the feds hold the book in low esteem; I certainly hope not. I don’t know the figures, but the amount that gets spent on grants and so forth to the publishing industry must be quite large, and one would think the bureaucrats in charge would themselves be quite keen on making sure that investment is recognized and supported by the public. It may be that it hasn’t occurred to anyone that books, too, can be better presented. Did you talk to anyone at the archives? Do they sometimes have more attractive exhibitions? From the looks of it, you might have caught them during a bad week. Nevertheless, your main point still stands: more energy could be put into promoting books as “objets de musee”

  3. Nigel Beale Says:

    Hi Finn,

    This post relates to a previous one that refers to the fact that, according to the person I spoke to at least, there haven’t been any exhibitions for at least a year and a half, and that there are no plans for future ones. My concern here is not funding of the creative arts, which I think has, on the whole, been something we can be proud of; something, in fact, as I understand it, the Harper government continues to support with reasonable funding. Rather it is the aggregious lack of respect that this and previous governments have shown books and related source materials, by their failure to present them appropriately to the public. LAC has in its possession warehouses full of precious treasures that don’t see the light on day. Unfortunately, Canada is a country that still needs government to lead by example when it comes to culture, unless that is, we wish to continue to be a nation populated by nothing but arenas full of philistine jocks.

    We need a new national library building. For now however, in keeping with austerity measures, the government should at minium give everyone a $1000 annual tax credit to be put toward purchases of books or art by Canadian creators. The only way to get the people to truly care is if they have some personal involvement

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