York’s archives take centre screen

Two collections from York’s Archives & Special Collections have been showcased in the latest virtual exhibit launched by ARCHEION, the Archives Association of Ontario component of Archives Canada.

mary young leckieThe two featured collections relate to material on the careers of York Fine Arts graduate Mary Young Leckie (BA ’78), producer of the made-for-television film “The Arrow”,  and Canadian composer and arts administrator Louis Applebaum. These exhibits are part of ARCHEION’s larger Virtual Exhibit entitled “Canadian Identity Through Artistic Expression.”

Right: Mary Young Leckie

ARCHEION is a searchable gateway to online descriptions of archival records such as diaries, letters, photographs, genealogical records, maps, films, audiotapes and electronic records located in archives across Ontario. Users of ARCHEION can search the descriptions and find contact information for where the documents can be accessed.

Known for her commitment to bringing Canadian stories to the screen, Leckie is responsible for producing television programs such as “Gzowski in Conversation”, “Tagged : The Jonathan Wambak Story”, “Shattered City: The Halifax Explosion”, and “The Arrow”. After studying fine arts, film and literature at York, Leckie began her career as a line producer for a variety of Canadian and international clients. Currently, she is a partner with Heather Haldane in the independent film production company Tapestry Pictures, a relationship that dates from 1989 and their successful collaboration on the award winning feature “Where the Spirit Lives”.

Since 2001 Leckie has been depositing records of her career as a filmmaker with York’s Archives and Special Collections. Her records include production, administrative and research files, copies of outlines, drafts and completed scripts, and publicity materials. York’s archives are particularly strong in resources related to moving images due to the fact that the Faculty of Fine Arts houses a Department of Film & Video Studies.

louie applebaum

Left: Composer Louis Applebaum

Applebaum was the first music director of the Stratford Festival and composed scores for more than 70 of its plays. Musician, composer and cultural administrator, Applebaum “helped to create the soundtrack of Canadian culture in the 20th century.” Exceptionally talented and internationally respected in his field, he could have lived anywhere but he was passionately and completely Canadian. His vision was the development of a strong and uniquely Canadian culture north of the 49th parallel.

The documents of Applebaum’s remarkable life are deposited in the York archives and consist of more than 45 metres of textual and other records pertaining to his musical career and his work as an arts administrator. As an important player in Canada’s cultural development, Applebaum’s archives offer insight into the development of institutions that have come to be identified with Canadian culture at home and abroad.

Applebaum was exposed to the potential of composing music for film at New York’s Juilliard School. He was attracted to the documentary film genre with its power to influence social policy. He also knew that an effective score could focus the attention and heighten the emotional response of the viewer.

Applebaum’s return to Canada in 1940 closely followed the creation of the National Film Board. Talented young filmmakers with a mandate to help Canadians understand themselves began to make documentaries and in many cases Lou Applebaum provided the score.

In its early years, the NFB concentrated on patriotic documentary films which supported the war effort. One of these was the 1944 film “Proudest Girl in the World” (music by Louis Applebaum and words by Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster).

York University Archives & Special Collections acquires, preserves and makes available archival materials and special collections which are generally unique and therefore irreplaceable. In keeping with its acquisition mandate, the library holdings include the archival records of York University, private archives from individuals and outside organizations, and special collections.