Retirement news: Dr. Richard Virr

Dr. Richard Virr with Audubon’s “Birds of America”. Photo: David Sidaway / The Gazette

Dr. Richard Virr announced recently that he is retiring on February 2nd, 2018. Richard joined Rare Books and Special Collections in the Fall of 1984 after a short time in the McGill University Archives where he was the final editor of A guide to Archival Resources at McGill University.  In 1985 he was named curator of manuscripts, a position he continued to hold when appointed Chief Curator in 2006.  The latter position he held for 10 years.
Throughout his time at RBSC Richard left his mark in a number of areas.  He curated numerous exhibitions that were extremely helpful in raising the visibility of the collection, including the recent one on the memorialization of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Richard organized colloquia and other events that allowed for a scholarly analysis not only of material held in RBSC but of books in general.  The proceedings of the recent Meeting with Books: Special Collections in the 21st Century was published by the library with additional material about special collections at McGill. His sharp wit and depth of knowledge of the collection developed over years of erudite thought, was of great benefit to the many students and scholars with whom he worked.  He also authored several works, such as Apud Aldum: Aldines in the Libraries of McGill University, published in the Marginalia monograph series in 2000.  For many years he was co-editor with Hans Möller of Fontanus: from the Collections of McGill University.

One of his professional passions has been collection development.  Richard focused on building on strengths, so he acquired a number of important writers from the Enlightenment era, including securing Patrick Lee’s significant Voltaire collection and numerous works by David Hume.   He also added significantly to the Canadiana holdings. He taught Descriptive Bibliography in the McGill School of Information Studies for many years.  The course was very popular.  Many of his students later went into the field and appreciated the positive impact this course had on their professional development.

Richard has also been active outside the University.  He was editor of the Journal of the Canadian Church Historical Society, and organized the 2007 Anglican Libraries in Canada Conference held at McGill.  He is the Archivist for the Anglican Diocese of Montreal, and a governor of the Montreal Diocesan Theological College.

Photo: Noah Sutton / McGill Tribune

Although Richard’s last day at work will be December 1, he will continue to be active in a number of professional projects, including co-curating an exhibition of medieval books of hours at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in September 2018.

We all thank Richard for his many years of service and wish him well.

 

 

Exhibition: Remembering

In honour of Remembrance Day and to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, McGill Library and Archives has prepared a special exhibition in the Humanities and Social Sciences Library.

This exhibition begins with Battle of Vimy Ridge itself and the memorial dedicated by His Majesty King Edward VIII in 1936. Also on display is the McGIll Book of Remembrance. This illuminated book records nearly 700 names of McGill individuals who died while serving in uniform either during or after World War I and World War II. Each name is handwritten in calligraphy and the pages are illuminated in hues of red, blue, green, gold and silver. To learn more and view the book click here.

Headline History of the Great War scrapbook

The exhibition continues through November on the first floor of the Humanities and Social Sciences Library.

Until November 12th, an interactive touchscreen highlights two of our permanent web exhibitions: the Canadian War Poster Collection, and McGIll Remembers, which provides access to thousands of digitized archival records pertaining to the students, alumni, faculty and staff of McGill University who contributed to the Second World War effort.

Apply now – RBSC travel research grants

We are currently accepting applications for three travel research grants to facilitate on-site research at Rare Books and Special Collections, McGill Library.

Fanny Burney by Edward Francisco Burney

The McGill-American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ASECS) Fellowship is offered by the Burney Centre, in conjunction with Rare Books and Special Collections. The fellowship is designed to assist scholars who need to travel to and establish temporary residence in Montreal in order to use the resources of the Library. The Fellowship is available to scholars interested in any aspect of Frances Burney, the Burney family, and their extended circle. It carries an award of US $3,000 for a one-month stay, at a time to be arranged. Application deadline: November 30, 2017. How to apply

 

 

Raymond Klibansky (1905-2005)

The McGill Raymond Klibansky Collection Research Grant is intended to enable researchers from outside the Montreal area, both established scholars and graduate students, to work on a research project related either to the Klibansky Collection itself or to the history of philosophy in the congenial circumstances of Rare Books and Special Collections, McGill University Library.

The Klibansky Collection of over 7000 titles reflects the entire range of Raymond Klibansky’s intellectual interests from his early work on medieval thought to his engagement with the concept of “tolerance” and its importance in the post-Second World War World. The Klibansky Research Grant, with a value of up to $4000.00 (Cdn), is open on a competitive basis. Application deadline: December 31, 2017. How to apply. 

 

Frontispiece, Oeuvres complètes de Voltaire, 1819.

The McGill Library Voltaire Research Travel Grant is available to literary scholars, book historians, graduate and post-doctoral students, and to those interested in the arts and humanities of the Enlightenment era.

$2,500 in awards will be made to one or more individuals whose project requires them to spend a minimum of two weeks to come to McGill to consult the rich holdings of Voltaire and other Enlightenment works in Rare Books and Special Collections. Application deadline: December 31, 2017. How to apply.

Occultober exhibition

Scrapbook of Ruth Ena Taylor | McGill University Archives 2017-0042.12.1

This scrapbook was compiled in 1924-1925 by Macdonald Teaching College student Ruth Ena Taylor. It contains dance programmes, diary entries, old pieces of candy, a wishbone, and even a spoon! Ruth very much enjoyed the Halloween dance.

This book is part of our new exhibition, “Occultober” currently on display in our reading room 4th floor McLennan Library Building. Open Monday – Friday, 10am – 6pm until November 10th.

Remembering / Se souvenir : Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge

Regina War Memorial Museum

Design for Regina War Memorial Museum (unbuilt) by Percy E. Nobbs is included in Part II of the exhibition

By Richard Virr, Rare Books and Special Collections

La version française suit
The Great War (1914-1918) left a permanent mark on Canada, both as a nation and as a people. The country had experienced conflict, both abroad on the battlefields of Europe, where Canadian forces had been engaged since September 1914, and at home with the conscription crisis that engulfed the country in 1917 and resulted in a change of government. By 1919, Canada was a very different place from what it had been in 1914.

Headline History of the Great War scrapbook

Headline History of the Great War, a scrapbook compiled by R.C. Featherstonhaugh, is included in Part I of the exhibition

On the Western Front in April 1917, the British army, including the Canadian Corps under the command of General Julian Byng, faced Vimy Ridge, a strongly-fortified seven-kilometre German defensive line in northern France. The military stalemate seemed unbreakable. Earlier French assaults on this position had resulted in over 100,000 casualties without breaching the German defences. Finally, Vimy Ridge was successfully stormed by the Canadian Corps in a three-day battle from April 9th through the 12th. The battle claimed the lives of 3,598 Canadian soldiers, with another 7,000 wounded.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge has become the embodiment of the Canadian experience of the Great War, and provided the inspiration for one of the most enduring images of the war in Canadian memory: the soaring cenotaph on Vimy Ridge. This memorial appears on the verso of our twenty-dollar bill.

The Vimy Memorial

Vimy Memorial, Illustrated London News, July 25, 1936, is included in Part I of the exhibition

This exhibition begins with Battle of Vimy Ridge itself and the memorial dedicated by His Majesty King Edward VIII in 1936. But it has another purpose: to explore how Canadians, in Montreal, at McGill University, and across the country, memorialized the bravery and sacrifices of its men and women during these years of war. Canada remembered by erecting cenotaphs and memorials in its cities, towns, and villages, and Canada remembers today every November 11th. Through objects, drawings, and photographs, these physical memorials are shown in their various stages of conception and realization. Though not all realized, these memorials are the aides mémoire of our national consciousness that served and continue to serve as markers of our national and communal life.

This exhibition will open in two stages: part I, devoted to the battle and the memorial, opened on Friday, April 7th and continues through November; part II, devoted to remembrance, will open on Friday, May 19th and continue to September 22nd.

The exhibition was curated by Jennifer Garland and Richard Virr, Rare Books and Special Collections, with the assistance of Lori Podolsky, McGill University Archives.


Se souvenir : Commémoration de la bataille de la crête de Vimy dans le cadre de son 100e anniversaire

Regina War Memorial Museum

Dessin conceptuel du musée commémoratif de la guerre de Regina (non construit) par Percy E. Nobbs, présenté dans le cadre de la seconde partie de l’exposition.

Par Richard Virr, Livres rares et collections spécialisées

La Grande Guerre (1914-1918) a laissé une marque indélébile sur le Canada, en tant que pays et en tant que peuple. Le pays avait connu des conflits, non seulement sur les champs de bataille en Europe, où les forces canadiennes étaient mobilisées depuis septembre 1914, mais également à l’intérieur de nos frontières où la crise de la conscription a secoué le pays, en 1917, et entraîné un changement de gouvernement. En 1919, le Canada était très différent de ce qu’il avait été en 1914.

Histoire de la Grande Guerre

Histoire de la Grande Guerre, album de découpures de grands titres préparé par R.C. Featherstonhaugh, présenté dans le cadre de la première partie de l’exposition.

En avril 1917, sur le front ouest, l’armée britannique, y compris le Corps canadien sous le commandement du général Julian Byng, se trouvait devant la crête de Vimy, une ligne défensive allemande puissamment fortifiée qui s’étendait sur une distance de sept kilomètres dans le nord de la France. Ce bastion semblait insurmontable. Les assauts précédents menés par les Français à cet endroit avaient entraîné la mort de plus de 100 000 soldats, mais n’avaient pas permis de percer la ligne défensive allemande. Finalement, le Corps canadien a réussi à s’emparer de la crête de Vimy au terme d’une bataille qui a duré trois jours, soit du 9 au 12 avril. Cette bataille a coûté la vie à 3 598 soldats canadiens et en a blessé 7 000 autres.

La bataille de Vimy incarne maintenant la participation du Canada à la Grande Guerre et elle a inspiré l’une des images les plus mémorables qu’ont les Canadiens de la guerre : le cénotaphe qui est érigé sur la crête de Vimy. Ce mémorial figure au verso de nos billets de vingt dollars.

Mémorial de Vimy, Illustrated London News, 25 juillet 1936, présenté dans le cadre de la première partie de l’exposition.

L’exposition commence par la bataille de Vimy elle-même et le mémorial offert au Canada par Sa Majesté le roi Édouard VIII en 1936. Elle présente aussi comment les Canadiens à Montréal, à l’Université McGill et partout au pays commémorent la bravoure et les sacrifices que les hommes et les femmes ont consentis pendant ces années de guerre. Le Canada se souvient grâce aux cénotaphes et aux monuments commémoratifs qui ont été érigés dans ses villes et villages, et au jour du Souvenir célébré chaque année, le 11 novembre. Par l’entremise d’objets, de dessins et de photographies, ces monuments sont présentés aux étapes de leur conception et de leur réalisation. Bien qu’ils n’aient pas tous vu le jour, ces monuments sont notre aide-mémoire collectif national et continuent de servir de marqueur au sein de notre existence en tant que nation et collectivité.

Cette exposition est présentée en deux étapes : la première partie, consacrée à la bataille et au mémorial, a commencé le vendredi 7 avril et se poursuit jusqu’en novembre, tandis que la seconde, consacrée au souvenir, commence le vendredi 19 mai et se poursuit jusqu’au 22 septembre.

L’exposition a été organisée et préparée par Jennifer Garland et Richard Virr de Livres rares et collections spécialisées, avec l’aide de Lori Podolsky, d’Archives de l’Université McGill

On this day: William Blake (d. August 12, 1827)

Blake

One of William Blake’s illustrations of the Book of Job, pulled from the McGill plate by Miss Van Hoogandycke, 1969. RBSC (Lande Blake Collection), Blake 5.2 B64T57 1969 elf.

William Blake (1757–1827), English painter and poet, made his living as a commercial engraver and was best known for that work during his lifetime. He was later recognized for his original work as an artist and poet, which included lyrical compositions of spiritual imagery inspired by his interest in theology and philosophy, and an innovative method of “illuminated printing” that combined text and image on a single copperplate.

McGill’s Blake Collection was established in 1953 with a donation of some 250 items by Dr. Lawrence Lande (1906–1998), a major Canadian collector and bibliographer. It has grown to include more than a thousand monographs, facsimiles, engravings, drawings, and slides. Editions of Blake’s own literary works are here, as are copies of books in the editions owned or read by him. Continue reading

Remembering Corridart

By Fin Lemaitre*

This month marks the fortieth anniversary of Montreal’s Corridart exhibition—a project that promised to turn Sherbrooke Street into a linear, open-air art museum for just over a month in the summer of 1976. The centerpiece of the cultural programme of the XXI Olympiad, Corridart stretched from Atwater Avenue to Pie IX Boulevard. Organizer Melvin Charney, a Montreal-based artist/architect, envisioned the project as a critical intervention in Montreal’s recent urban development. From a pool of 306 submissions, the competition jury selected for inclusion 22 artists[1] whose proposals addressed collective life and its relation to the built environment.

Cover of our copy of the limited edition, artist proof copy, of Corridart 1976-. [Montréal : Graff, 1982] 72x52cm.

Cover of our copy of the limited edition, artist proof copy, of Corridart 1976-. [Montreal: Graff, 1982] 72x52cm.

Charney sought artworks that would enter into dialogue with the street and its history. Montreal’s streets deserved special attention, as he saw it, because more than those in other North American cities, they had historically served as meeting spaces. They had transcended their apparent purpose as transportation routes and achieved importance foremost as places of contact between the city’s diverse sub-populations. The decision to mount Corridart on Sherbrooke Street was significant in this regard. As a main avenue connecting economic, linguistic, and cultural enclaves, it was an ideal host site for the exhibition. Installations would begin near the wealthy, Anglophone borough of Westmount and pass McGill University before crossing some of the city’s more working-class, Francophone areas. Continue reading

Exhibition: Alcuin Society Book Design Awards 2015

AwardsLogo-215x300We are pleased to unveil the newest edition of the Alcuin Society Awards Exhibition for Excellence in Book Design in Canada. Since 1981, The Alcuin Society organizes a friendly annual competition to appreciate and enjoy the best-designed books across the nation.

Books are chosen from 8 different categories: Children’s, Limited Editions, Pictorial, Poetry, Prose: Fiction, Prose: Non-Fiction, Prose: Non-Fiction (Illustrated), and Reference. Chosen from over 200 submissions, the award-winners are celebrated because of their ability to demonstrate exceptional visual design concepts corresponding with the intellectual nature of the content itself.

The travelling exhibition will be showcased from coast to coast across Canada, from June 2016-March 2017, as well as in several international venues, including the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo and international book fairs in Frankfurt and Leipzig. A complete list of exhibition venues is available on the Alcuin website.

The 2015 exhibition is on display in the lobby of the 4th floor of the Humanities and Social Sciences Library, McLennan Library Building until the end of July. Enjoy!

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Award Category: Children’s

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Award Category: Prose Non-Fiction Illustrated

Chora 7 Book Release and Exhibition Vernissage

chora_image

Chora 7

Chora, the Greek word for space, is the title of a forum created by Alberto Péréz-Goméz along with Stephen Parcell in the form of seven books (1994–2016). Including seventy-eight authors and eighty-seven essays, these volumes—much like the historic works they reference—explore the capacity of language to address fundamental issues of meaning in architecture.

In collaboration with McGill-Queen’s University Press and the McGill School of Architecture, the McGill University Library and Archives’ Rare Books and Special Collections will be hosting a book launch on Wednesday, March 30 at 6pm for the final volume of CHORA: Intervals in the philosophy of architecture.

The event will also act as a vernissage for the accompanying exhibition, “CHORA: The Space of Architectural Meaning”, curated by Youki Cropas and Evan Pavka. Drawing on the numerous essays, along with the holdings of Rare Books and Special Collections, this exhibition brings together a selection of works addressing themes of communication, culture, myth, harmony, perception, instrumentality, history, and desire. Though emerging from works across a broad historical spectrum, the questions posed in each volume continue to permeate contemporary architectural discourse and to inspire explorations of meaning in the built world.

Event location: McLennan Library Building Rare Books and Special Collections, 4th Floor, 3459 rue McTavish, Montreal, QC, H3A 0C9

For more information on the CHORA series, please click here.