Landing : Athabascau University

First look at the archives and content!

Today I had a very productive visit to the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, after a quick stopover at Random U to watch their cheating cheaters take another exam. (Actually, it was a 4th year class, so there were far fewer cheaters and they were nicer to be around than the 900 first year students last week. I do need to locate and ditch the flashing neon sign hovering, apparently, just over my head that says "PUSHOVER." I think it's because I look so cheerful, but that was just cause I had cramps and was doped up on codeine. At heart, I'm a big meanie who would have gleefully recorded the ones who refused to stop writing when their time was up as declining to turn in their exams, or at least sent the ones who had to be asked repeatedly to the academic integrity office for a firm talking-to. But, to the disappointment of big giant meanies everywhere, Random U has a seriously lax exam policy.)

Then I met Alan, librarian extrodinaire, and we went for a tour of the archives. On the way, Alan gave me all kinds of exciting (note: YMMV in the excitement department) information about the archive's location. It seems it was a bit of a lucky break that the archive got a location at all. The Toronto Children's Aid Society wanted to move, but had a historic building they could only unload if they gave it to another charitable organization. And there was a developer who wanted the project building the new CAS building, who wanted everything to move faster. With the help of a friendly municipal politician (clearly not the current city council), arrangements were made for the CAS to donate their house to the CLGA and for the development company to donate $250,000, which, as it turned out, came in handy for much-needed repairs. The archive is in the same location today, operating without any government funding (which means they're not vulnerable to cuts from city council, as Pride has been, or to cuts from the federal and provincial governments). 

But then it gets really neat: because the house was designed to be a house, things like the beams and floors can actually get in the way of community access. Some of the archive's collections are stored at the house, in an area where they've built a reinforced "load-bearing" floor. And in the meantime, a brick beam, which almost collapsed when they used a non-reinforced area for storage (had it collapsed, it would have brought the house down with it!), has been replaced with a metal beam, so now the building is structurally sound.

But it's a structural issue that definitely would never have occurred to me. While the archive's warehouse is uncomfortably cramped, the house is full of empty space that just can't be used for the archives because they weigh too much. 

As mentioned, YMMV on excitement here, but for me these are the juicy details of archival structure that make going to the CLGA all summer worth doing.


Alan also gave me a couple of duplicate issues of On Our Backs, which is my first look at my research content as an actual print periodical. (Needless to say, lesbian pornography was not stocked in my home while I was growing up and the magazine was originally in print.) The two issues are from 1988, early in the magazine's run, and from 1999, an issue after the first sale of the magazine. I think I will have to take a closer look at who the owners were, because, while the content is still racy in 1999, it seems to shift directions from a porn magazine to a lifestyle magazine. 

I want to look at it closely and take a few pictures, and I likely will tonight, but I can't do it while I'm on the train. (Not because I have a problem with looking at porn in public, but I'll get motion sick.) So now I'm waiting. Did the GO Train always take this long??