Since the arrival of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Canada in 1841, the administrative center of the Province of Canada has moved from Saint-Hilaire (1841-1842), to Longueuil (1842-1846), to Bytown (Ottawa) (1846-1864), to Saint-Pierre-Apôtre, Montreal (1848-1951), to 3456, Avenue du Musée, Montréal (1951-2011), then to 460, 1st Street, Richelieu, since June 2011. The center of the Oblate Archives of Montréal has followed the moves of the provincial administration (except maybe in Bytown). This center is the depository of what has been produced and received by the provincial administration since 1841. The collection covers some three hundred linear metres, of which about seventy-five meters are “Special Collections”, either of works and houses, or even of Oblates who have died or left. The following Oblates have worked for varying periods at the provincial archives: in 1937 and 1938, Félix Choquette did a first classification. Since 1947, Jean-Louis Bergevin, Jean-Charles Lapensée, Cyril Bernier, Donat Levasseur, Normand Martel, Jean-Paul Demers, Jean-Claude Beaudet and Gérard Landreville have played a more or less important role. Brothers Luc Fortin, Fernando Thibodeau and Marcel Michaud worked as volunteers. Most of the time, these Oblates joined their function of archivist with other functions. The priority was not always the archives.
A framework for classification was drawn up by Donat Levasseur. In 1987, major changes were made in the premises; mobile shelves were installed making it possible to double the storage capacity. In 1988, a computer system was installed. The General directory was created after that. It is the basic tool to access the documentation. There are indexes and tables to make the documentation more accessible. The filing system for the folders is alphanumeric and chronological.
Series A: “Fundamentalia” concerns the legal documents.
Series B: “Provincial Administration” is the most important part because it contains most of the documents produced by the administration: minutes, appointment of provincials, provincial chapters, norms and guidelines, studies and consultations, statistics, committees, congresses and commissions, services, and financial matters.
Series C: “General Administration and Oblate Conference of Canada” contains the documentation relating to the General Administration and its services.
Series D: “Houses, Works, Ministries and Missions” brings together the documentation on the houses and works under the jurisdiction of the Province of Canada, which became the St. Joseph Province in 1957 and the Notre-Dame-du-Cap Province in 2004. Important documentation on Catholic Action movements can be found in this series. The documentation on the Amerindians and Inuit of Canada is also in this section.
Series E: “Personnel” contains the personnel records. This section is managed by the computer system; The Canadian Oblate Personnel is fully computerized and, as far as possible, kept up-to-date; close to 6,000 forms containing up to 30 items of data on every Oblate, living, deceased or who left, whether of Canadian origin or from abroad, have been indexed. The basic condition to be listed is that they at least had made first vows. (The personnel records of living Oblates are kept at the secretariat).
Series F: “Life and Internal Activities” brings together documentation on vocations and formation, spiritual and community animation, provincial commissions and committees, Province level meetings, anniversaries, Oblate history, the Founder, publications and different forms of belonging to the Congregation.
Series G: “Photos”. They are classified by persons, places and themes. It is fairly easy to navigate with an index of places. Maps, posters, and diplomas are in this section. There are also photo albums.
Series H: Audiocassettes, videocassettes, audio tapes and electronic devices are in this section. Father Henri Beaudoin oversees this section.
Series J: “Provinces and Mission Vicariates Presented by Regions” includes documentation from different regions according to the order established by the 1972 General Chapter. Newsletters and other publications are classified in this series. Considerable material on Chile, Bolivia, Lesotho and other mission territories, as well as material on Northern and Western Canada, can be found here.
Series K: “Relations with the Church” includes relations with the Holy See, the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Canada and the other regional Conferences of bishops, the Canadian dioceses and some dioceses outside of Canada.
Series L: “Relations with Religious Institutes” includes documentation from the Canadian Conference of Religious and other regional religious Conferences, various male and female religious and secular institutes, as well as documentation on various religious associations.
Series M: “Relations with Secular Institutions” contains the documentation from the different levels of civilian governments and certain secular associations and institutions.
Series N: Contains documents on the novitiate, novices, postulants and aspirants.
Series S: “Special Collections” includes collections from detached or merged Provinces, or works that have been discontinued.
Series Y: “Documentation” contains various materials, including news clippings on various subjects.
The library section is in the process of merging with the Deschâtelets Archives. Duplicate books are grouped separately. We have many Codex Historicus of houses that have been closed.
This brief history of the Archives of Notre-Dame-du-Cap Province gives a general overview of what one can find there.
Normand Martel, O.M.I. and Gérard Landreville, O.M.I.