Former ICA President (2008-2010)
Executive Director, The Stratford Institute, Canada
Dr. Wilson served as National Archivist of Canada, 1999 to 2004, and then as head of the newly amalgamated Library and Archives Canada. He retired in 2009 and received the unusual honour of being named Librarian and Archivist of Canada Emeritus. He is currently working with the University of Waterloo in establishing the Stratford Institute for Digital Media and has just completed a two year term as President of the International Council on Archives (2008-2010).
Dr. Wilson began his career as an archivist at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. His MA thesis was an analytical study of Canadian cultural policy as exemplified through the history of the national archives of Canada. He has served as University Archivist of Queen’s University (1970-76), Provincial Archivist of Saskatchewan (1976-86) and Provincial Archivist of Ontario (1986-99), with responsibility for the Ontario public library system for four years. In 1999 he was appointed as the 7th National Archivist of Canada. With the then National Librarian, Roch Carrier, he planned and led the amalgamation of the two institutions as Library and Archives Canada. Dr. Wilson was appointed the first head of the new innovative institution, focused on developing the country’s documentary heritage in all media and on providing suitable access to citizens, exploring the extensive use of web-based services.
On the international scene, Dr Wilson was elected President of the CITRA in 2000, as a vice-president of the International Council on Archives and chairing the CITRA meetings in Iceland (2001), Marseilles (2002) and Cape Town (2003). In 2008 he was elected President of the ICA, representing the international archival community in conferences from Seoul, to Tamarasset to Riga, Trondheim, Oslo, Paris, Austen, and Tokyo.
Dr. Wilson’s career spans many areas, including archival and information management, university teaching and government service. He has worked diligently to make archives accessible and interesting to a wide range of audiences. While helping to safeguard the integrity of archival records and library services, he has encouraged public involvement and outreach. He has published extensively on history, archives, heritage and information management and has lectured nationally and internationally. He holds three honorary doctorates, is a Member of the Order of Canada, and was appointed Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Government of France. He is also a fellow of the International Council on Archives, the Association of Canadian Archivists and the Society of American Archivists.
Why I had a nice experience serving ICA
Over the past decade and through the efforts of many, I have seen ICA become a more diverse and inclusive international body. It strives to include and give voice to all the great archival traditions around the world and is increasingly representative of the different types of archives and of the variety of archival specializations. As such, working in ICA, attending its meetings and participating in its sections and branches provides a unique professional perspective.
Countries, rich and poor; archives large and small; and archivists in all their diversity are inspired by similar values and deep commitment and are adapting traditional principles and practices to current demands. This provides a fruitful dialogue in formal sessions but also in the corridors and countless informal discussions. At all ICA meetings, archivists with common interests discuss and debate; explore other approaches to similar problems; work to develop standards and to define best practices and to plan joint projects. These are lively and engaging occasions, helping each of us to renew our thinking and to learn from colleagues. They reinvigourate the archival soul. The discussions continue in emails and local meetings; friendships are formed and together we move the international archival agenda forward. And, in retrospect; much has certainly been accomplished—never as quickly as one might like—and the friendships remain vivid.
Defining the ICA
In a global society, with the close interaction of many societies and cultures, the world documentary heritage is a shared heritage. The documentary heritage is no longer confined within institutional or national borders but collectively constitutes the shared memory of humanity. This is the true legacy of one generation to another and its proper care defines our humanity. The ICA is vital to fulfilling this responsibility.