The Archives

Author: Achille Fortin (0082)
Last update: Avril 10, 2018


Per the Code du patrimoine (heritage code of procedure)- “Archives are a set of documents, regardless of dates issued, their retention site, their format and support, either produced or received by an individual or a corporation, and by any service or public or private organization in the practice of their activity”.

Thus, all documents produced or received are considered archives. However, this doesn’t mean that all documents deserve the same high level archival value. In fact, there are three sorts of archives that correspond with three levels of document life cycle.

  • Current archives: any document required for the daily functioning of an institution, enterprise, etc. it is mostly found on the operations premises so that it can quickly be accessible.
  • Intermediate archives: all documents having no current utility, but that must be kept for judicial management needs.
  • Definitive archives: any document or file no longer representing judicial or economic value. However, it may be kept for its historical value.

Thus, these three aged categories identify the life cycle of a given file converted into archives. Of these archives, few are kept and many are removable and are removed after a given period defined by legislation. The only ones kept are those documents, papers, images, photography’s, and electronic documents which may represent historical interest.


What’s the difference between digital archives and scanned archives?

Digital archives are document originally created in digital format, sometimes called born-digital archives. Scanned archives are documents that were originally in a classic format (for example, paper, parchment, plate-glass photography), and are copied over to a digital format afterwards, most often via a scanning process. Scanned archives are therefore copies.

Why do we keep archives?

Archives are kept for legal reasons (refer to the (cf. loi sur les archives under the heading Cadre légal), but also for administrative raisons and good governance. Archives allow an organisation to justify its decisions and activities when facing political decision makers and citizens/customers. They are the proof supporting decisions having an administrative or judicial purport for those concerned. Thus, they prove rights and obligations. There cannot be any democracy without archives! They are the support to information necessary for the functioning of any organisation and are a knowledge management’s essential tool. Finally, once they’ve lost their administrative and judicial utility, they can have historical and/or cultural heritage interest.

Reference : 2014 Regroupement des organismes communautaires des Laurentides 342, rue Parent, Saint-Jérôme QC J7Z 2A2