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The Archives nationales du Québec: 100 Years of Preserving Québec’s Collective Memory


Montréal, February 4, 2020 – The Archives nationales du Québec, one of three institutions under the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) umbrella, will celebrate its 100 year anniversary in 2020 under the forward-looking theme, Cette histoire nous mènera loin.

From left to right: Jean-Louis Roy, BAnQ’s Chief Executive Officer; the Honourable Charlie Watt, President of the Makivik Corporation; Nathalie Roy, Minister of Culture and Communications; François Legault, Québec Premier; Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of the First Nations of Québec and Labrador; Dany Laferrière, writer, member of the Académie française; and Hélène Laverdure, Keeper and Director General, National Archives. Photo: Michel Legendre, BAnQ.

The Archives nationales du Québec was created in 1920 after a vote in Québec’s legislative assembly, at which time Pierre-Georges Roy was appointed to maintain the collected archives, some of which dated from the era of New France. His mandate included implementing a policy of selecting, preserving and providing access to government materials as well as private archives of interest to the general public. 

One hundred years later, the institution has 67 linear kilometres of textual materials, millions of photographs, thousands of films and some 13 million digitized items. Each year it receives vitally important materials from 2,300 government departments and agencies. All of these archives combined span over 400 years of history!

As important to the average user as to specialized researchers

The National Archives preserve innumerable stories that, taken together, make up the history of the Québec nation. From the important dates of the French Regime to recent technological upheavals, from culture to politics, from genealogy to sports and leisure, from the complex legal world to everyday life, the Archives bring together tangible and intangible materials that have all contributed to the gradual creation of a truly diverse Québec society. In the reserve collections and on the BAnQ Web portal, public records rub shoulders with private materials. They represent a foundation that must be preserved if we are to remain true to ourselves in today’s ever-changing world.

Members of the general public can search these archives, either online or in person at one of BAnQ's 10 archives centres located throughout Québec. This vast collection is an inexhaustible resource with endless potential for historians, sociologists, geographers, creators, writers, filmmakers, journalists and more.

A kick-off event

A reception to mark the 100th anniversary was held yesterday at BAnQ's archives centre in Montréal, attended by: the Premier of Québec, François Legault; the Minister of Culture and Communications, Nathalie Roy; a number of Québec government ministers; and Sterling Downey, deputy mayor of the City of Montréal representing Montréal Mayor Valérie Plante. Writer Dany Laferrière, a member of the Académie française, gave a stirring speech on the institution’s meaning for the entire Québec population. 

During the reception, a time capsule containing messages was sealed, and will be opened in 100 years. The following people contributed messages for the capsule: the Premier, the Minister of Culture and Communications, BAnQ Chief Executive Officer Jean-Louis Roy, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Québec-Labrador, Ghislain Picard, and President of Makivik Corporation, Charlie Watt.

Celebrations continue throughout 2020

Celebrations to mark the National Archives 100 year anniversary include:

  • open-house days in BAnQ’s eight archives centres located in Gatineau, Rouyn-Noranda, Trois-Rivières, Saguenay, Sherbrooke, Sept-Îles, Rimouski and Gaspé;
  • in May, focus days dedicated to the topic of court records in the digital age;
  • on June 9, special events to mark International Archives Day;
  • special displays to mark June 24, Québec’s Fête nationale;
  • a breakfast-seminar with parliamentarians on the future of archives in the digital era;
  • a September exhibition featuring parliamentarians at work in their communities, on display at the National Assembly;
  • starting in September, an exhibition bearing the same name as the anniversary’s theme (Cette histoire nous mènera loin) in the Grande Bibliothèque’s main hall.

Some of these activities will receive funding from the Fondation de BAnQ.

The 100th anniversary’s digital gateway

The National Archives’ centennial microsite means anyone can discover the Archives’ extensive collections and quality services. For more information on centennial-themed activities, go to: archives100ans.banq.qc.ca(in French).


“One hundred years ago, when the Québec government created the Archives nationales, it showed great vision and boldness. With this initiative, it was doing more than simply preserving our past; it was giving all residents of Québec the resources to dream and build a society that reflects who they are. It’s now up to us to turn the province’s rich history into a source of pride for the next generation. ''

François Legault, Premier of Québec

I pay tribute to the dedicated archivists at the Archives Nationales who, for the past 100 years, have worked to preserve and promote our history and culture so that all Quebecers can use this source of knowledge to enrich their lives. Talent and creativity are an intrinsic part of our cultural DNA. We’re justifiably proud of that fact and acknowledge our duty to sustain this collective memory and to pass it on to future generations. ''

Nathalie Roy, Minister of Culture and Communications

“While people instinctively associate the Archives nationales with the past, we are actually a very forward-looking institution, in that we are preserving a record of today’s activities for tomorrow’s youth. I want to thank the dedicated archivists who, over the years, held onto the hope that what we are doing here is part of the greater whole of historical continuity. ''

Jean-Louis Roy, BAnQ Chief Executive Officer

About BAnQ

Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) brings together three institutions whose purpose is to bring knowledge and culture to the entire province of Québec.

The National Library collects, processes and preserves all materials published in Québec and ensures that as many people as possible can access the heritage collections it has acquired

The National Archives house public and private archives and provide access to them online and through 10 archives centres located throughout Québec. They also provide a framework to help public organizations manage their materials.

The Grande Bibliothèqueis a cultural meeting place in the heart of the city that provides free access to the largest collection of French books and materials in America. Québec’s public library also has a wide variety of digital resources.

BAnQ plays an active role in promoting Québec culture online. In 2018-2019, its Web portal received a total of 7 million hits, resulting in over 1.5 million digital loans and 18.4 million digital materials being accessed.


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Claire-Hélène Lengellé
Media Relations Officer
Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec
514 873-1101, ext. 3199

Contact information:

Bridget Ann Peterson
Massy Forget Langlois Public Relations
514 842-2455, ext. 26
Cell : 514 377-1752