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CBC Digital Archives

Preservation and Restoration

One of the most famous CBC news broadcasts of the first half of the 20th Century was J. Frank Willis's coverage of the Moose River, Nova Scotia mine disaster in 1936. His marathon series of hourly reports ran just short of three days. It was broadcast on 58 Canadian and 650 US radio stations.


Such restoration and preservation miracles havelong been the core functions of CBC Archives. However, within the past decade, as people's appreciation for the archives has grown, so too has the amount of emphasis and activity in preservation and restoration. Several key projects began in 1994, and the efforts expanded greatly with the start of the Archives Project in 1998. While there is still more catching up to do, the CBC Archives have never been in better shape.

The Music Library's collection of musical scores from original CBC commissions are also archival. Original works have been commissioned by the CBC since 1936, as part of its mission to promote and nurture Canadian arts and culture. The types of works housed in the Music Library include light classical, full-length musicals, chamber music, operas, concertos, choral music, vocal music, music for full orchestra and other kinds of instrumentation, including electronic media.

Preservation and restoration are separate, but closely related, acts. Preservation work ensures that archival materials are captured as they are created, that they are accurately and thoroughly catalogued and filed, and that they are stored in conditions that prevent deterioration while keeping them accessible and within reach.

Restoration work deals chiefly with original, one-of-a-kind materials that have been neglected or damaged or are simply growing old. The goal is to return them as close to their original condition as possible. If that's not possible, they are restored to a point where, in the case of video, film and audio, the originals can at least be copied to new formats where they live on and can be used and appreciated for many years to come.