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Welcome the Canadian Heritage Photography Foundation to VITA

chpf003608618One of our newest VITA agencies is the Canadian Heritage Photography Foundation, a charitable organization created to honour the legacy of George Hunter.

The CHPF has spent the summer digitizing the George Hunter collection and are now uploading batches to their new VITA Toolkit site, thanks to a DHCP grant and several summer student funded positions.

When George Hunter founded CHPF in 2001, he and his colleagues had a mandate to preserve the great works of Canada’s photographers for the future. Building upon that legacy, CHPF uses contemporary archiving best practices along with current-day technology to digitize, preserve, and display these images through our website, social media and the VITA Digital Toolkit to share these amazing images of Canada to anyone interested in viewing history from this unique perspective.   

– Nicole Plaskett, CHPF Foundation Administrator

You can check out some sneak peeks at the collection on the Foundation’s blog and take a look at the first 500 items uploaded to VITA for today, World Digital Preservation Day!


Nicole Plaskett, the Foundation Administrator, answered a few of our questions about why they chose VITA and where the project is heading:


ODW: Why did you initially start searching for a digital collections platform?

I started searching for a collection management software as soon as I was hired at CHPF in the fall of 2018.  We were completing grant applications for digitization projects and there were specific questions regarding CMS software and hosting platforms for our collections.  I researched and had conference calls with very large, expensive software utilized by top museums which were totally out of our price range.

When applying to the B.C. History Digitalization Program from the University of British Columbia’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, they suggested a number of digital asset management systems – one of which was OurDigitalWorld’s VITA Digital Toolkit.  I spoke to Jess many times in our research phase, as well as sharing the website with a friend in the industry who suggested that it would be a good fit for our small, not-for-profit foundation.  Jess was very easy to talk to and answered all of our questions.

What interested you in the VITA Digital Toolkit?
We liked that it was an Ontario-based product.  I liked that I could communicate with Jess over email or phone with any questions that I had, as opposed to open-source software where you could never find an actual human to speak to!

We liked the payment options and the level of programs that we could choose to meet our needs.  We had VITA in mind for two projects that we were attempting to secure grants for to showcase a collection of images that we had digitized.

George Hunter shot black & white, colour, and even digital – what will this first collection consist of?
The first collection posted on our VITA site is George Hunter’s Images of Ontario, funded in part by Library and Archives Canada under the Documentary Heritage Communities Program. This is a collection of images including black & white and colour – dates ranging from the 1950s to the 2000s.

Our team of archivists with the assistance of interns from the Young Canada Works in Heritage Organizations program as well as some students from the Canada Summer Jobs initiative assisted us in scanning over 4,000 images over the summer months.  Once we have reviewed the ingest for accuracy, we will begin to showcase these works on the site – gradually uploading them all by January 2020.

What other materials do you plan on sharing with the toolkit? 
After we become familiar with the process of posting on VITA, we will look at the other projects that we currently have in progress – such as a slideshow titled “Oh Canada” created by Hunter, or a community virtual exhibition of works that we are in the process of completing a grant application for.

What do you have planned for the next steps of this digitization project?
Next projects will include more digitization of the collection and engagement of the community so we can share our beautiful photographs of Canada!

We would welcome user comments on the images – such as details of individuals featured in the images, places and location details.  We encourage any personal stories that relate to George’s photographs.

Will the CHPF doing similar work outside of the George Hunter fonds?
Yes.  We are currently communicating with other photographers and holders of photographic collections for future donations to the archive.  Our mandate will continue to be digitizing and preserving the images for future generations.

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