Category Archives: Archival Holdings

Moon Hoax: Collection Highlights (Kennedy fonds)

Our archive largely collects the papers and materials of the University of Saskatchewan’s researchers and professors and because of this we come to possess materials on topics that may surprise you. One such fascinating example is John Edward Kennedy’s papers on the Great Moon Hoax of 1835. This collection of papers includes research materials and photocopied and typed copies of the original articles.

In August 1835, a New York newspaper called The Sun ran a series of six articles describing in detail the new and groundbreaking observations of the moon, made astronomer Sir John Hershel. The first article which was published on August 25th described the new and powerful telescope that Herschel had created, “24 feet in diameter”.1 Tantalizing mentions of what Herschel then saw with the use of his telescope were hinted at, but not revealed to readers in this first installment.

The second article, printed on the 26th, begins to describe the wonderful discoveries Hershel has made – plant and animal life! They describe dark red flowers, trees, a lake, and other stunning geographic features. They then spot “herds of brown quadrupeds, having all the external characteristics of the bison, but more diminutive”.2 They also describe seeing a blue goat-like creature, with a single horn, as well as varieties of birds and fish.

On August 27th they speak more on the geology and fauna of the moon, and describe in detail the charming lunar biped beaver. From the article:

… resembles the beaver of the earth in every other respect than in its destitution of a tail, and its invariable habit of walking upon only two feet. It carries its young in its arms like a human being, and moves with an easy gliding motion. Its huts are constructed better and higher than those of many tribes of human savages, and from the appearance of smoke in nearly all of them, there is no doubt of its being acquainted with the use of fire.3

August 28th is the pièce de ré·sis·tance of this set of astronomical discoveries, in which they describe human-like creatures who “averaged four feet in height, were covered, except on the face, with short and glossy copper-colored hair, and had wings composed of a thin membrane, without hair, lying snugly upon their backs, from the top of their shoulders to the calves of their legs.”4 They name this species Vespertilio-Homo.

Moon HoaxDay five describes a mysterious temple, “built of polished sapphire, or of some resplendent blue stone”.5 The article ends with these cliff-hanging bits of speculation, sure to draw in readers for the finale:

Had the devotees of these temples gone the way of all living, or were the latter merely historical monuments? What did the ingenious builders mean by the globe surrounded by flames? Did they by this record any past calamity of their world, or predict any future one of ours?6

The last article describes a higher order of Vespertilio-Homo, which “were of larger stature than the former specimens, less dark in color, and in every respect an improved variety of the race.” They are described as “eminently happy and polite” and the journalist describes “their happy hours in collecting various fruits in the woods, in eating, flying, bathing, and loitering about on the summits of precipices”.7

As you may have guessed from the title of this blog (oops, spoilers) that of course none of this was true. Sir John Hershel was a real astronomer, but he did not create a new and intensely powerful telescope that allowed him to view life on the moon, and in fact knew nothing of these articles until after they were published. It is widely assumed that the author of the Moon Hoax was the new editor of The Sun, Richard Adams Locke. At first Locke denied that it was a hoax, then denied he wrote the hoax, after the hoax was confirmed. He eventually confessed, but said that he had intended it as satire, not a hoax. Other possible authors have been also been theorized though Locke remains the most likely candidate. (He did confess – sort of – eventually!)

The fact that it is referred to as a hoax suggested that people fell for it – and by many accounts they did. Edgar Allen Poe is quoted as having said “not one person in ten discredited it”.8 It was reprinted in newspapers across the country, and thus the hoax was spread and believed to varying extents, across the country. It was the War of the Worlds of it day – though with less panic.

This is a fascinating piece of history, of a time before journalistic standards had become a thing, and we see the early ancestor of those supermarket tabloids which announce to the world, “Bat Boy Found in West Virginia Cave!”9


The Sun: Aug 25th, 1835. J.E. Kennedy fonds (University of Saskatchewan, University Archives and Special Collections)
The Sun: Aug 26th, 1835., ibid.
The Sun: Aug 27th, 1835., ibid.
The Sun: Aug 28th, 1835., ibid.
The Sun: Aug 29th, 1835., ibid.
6  ibid.
The Sun: Aug 30th, 1835., ibid.
8  Boese, Alex. “The Great Moon Hoax“. Hoax Museum. c. 2015.
9  “Bat Boy Found in West Virginia Cave!” by Bill Creighton, Weekly World News, June 23, 1992, pp 46–47. Reprinted July 16, 1999, pp. 46–47. Reprinted June 20, 2005 pp. 58–59

Also check out the Missed in History podcasts on the topic if you are interesting in hearing more about the moon hoax.

Other resources on gender, sex, and sexuality at UASC

This blog quite frequently highlights holdings from the Neil Richards Collection for Sexual and Gender Diversity as prime examples of intriguing materials collected for the study of sexuality and gender issues. However, the University Archives and Special Collections’ holdings on these topics do not end there.  A number of fonds include materials which would be useful to those pursuing a study of gender and or sexuality from a local perspective.

One of these is the Sexual Health Awareness Center, at one point an office within Student Health Services. The archives holds nine boxes transferred from the Sexual Health Awareness center in 2007. These boxes contain publications on topics ranging from teaching children about sex, to contraception, to sexual violence, disease, women’s rights, and same-sex relationships. What is interesting about a collection like this is the way it encapsulates rapidly changing notions about sex and sexuality during a specific period (in this case, the 1970’s into the 1990’s).  While the materials are generally too outdated to be used within Student Health Services today, they still serve an important purpose in historically framing the discussion of sex and gender on campus. Along these lines also are materials held in the USSU Student Help Centre fonds and the Student Representative Council.


Booklet from the Sexual Awareness Center, 1972


Book from the Sexual Awareness Center, 1983











For anyone interested in studying the impact of HIV/AIDS in the province, University of Saskatchewan University Archives and Special Collections has papers from both the Saskatchewan AIDS Network (est. 1995) and AIDS Saskatoon   (est. 1986). These two organizations played (and in the case of AIDS Saskatoon continue to play) an important role in spreading education about HIV/AIDS within Saskatchewan. Organizations like these have facilitated the creation and maintenance of community partnerships and support networks which serve those living with HIV/AIDS. These two collections supply 6 meters of material relating to the early impact of HIV and AIDS on a local level.


From the Sexual Awareness Center, The Wyeth Baby Book, ca. 1992

With specific reference to LGBTQ issues, the University Archives and Special Collections has gathered the papers of a number of early participants in the gay rights movement in Saskatchewan including Gens Hellquist, Don Cochrane, Donald McNamee, Peter Millard, and Neil Richards. Also noteworthy are the USSU LGBTA Centre holdings which include posters and pamphlets, and materials from the Canadian Rainbow Health Coalition (est. 2002) which was a National organization based out of Saskatoon,  devoted to improving the health care and status of LGBTQ individuals. A more lighthearted look at the province through a queer lens can be found in exploring the Cross-dressing in Saskatchewan collection and the Greystone Secrets fonds.

Women’s issues are also a highlight of UASC’s holdings. For the visually inclined, there is a large collection of women’s and feminist posters acquired from the Avenue Community Centre, and a number of fascinating portraits of Canadian women in the John Reeves collection. The Saskatoon Women’s Calendar Collective fonds contains both visual and textual materials highlighting women of significance. Extensive materials on women’s rights and gender issues can be found in the USSU’s Women’s Centre fonds as well. For more individualized perspectives on women’s rights and forward-thinking local women of the past, the Charlotte Caron, Marie Dunn, S. A. Gingell, Gwenna Moss, M. H. Pattillo, Nan McKay, and Jean Murray papers provide a plethora of material.


Pocket-sized handbook from the Sexual Awareness Center, Sexual Etiquette 101, 1995

These materials represent only a small portion of those available for primary and secondary resource study of gender and sexual diversity from a local perspective. There is always more to be discovered, and always new materials coming in. If you would like to access any of these materials, please contact or phone (306) 966-6029 with details on your research project to receive full finding aids and research advice.

New materials in UASC!


It’s that time of year again : when exhausted archivists, archival technicians and assistants emerge from a chaotic maelstrom of processing work — finely polished finding aid clutched firmly in hand and a trail of beautifully organized boxes left in their wake.

It is my pleasure to introduce you to this year’s newest additions. May the collections intrigue and excite you as much as they have done us.

MG 543 – Carlyle Allison fonds

Carlyle Allison was a journalist, and close friend and advisor of Prime Minister John Diefenbaker. Born in Staynor, Ontario in 1907, his family moved to Winnipeg when he was a child. He attended the University of Manitoba (B.A., 1926). His journalism career started immediately after graduation: starting as a reporter and editor with the Winnipeg Tribune, 1926-1928; and reporter, bureau chief and editor with the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 1928-1935. After a brief stint with the Montreal Gazette, he returned to the Winnipeg Tribune, progressing through the ranks as managing editor (1944), editor (1946), and editor-in-chief (1951). In 1958, he was appointed by Prime Minister Diefenbaker as a full-time (and founding) member of the Board of Broadcast Governors, the precursor to the CRTC. He served as Vice-Chairman between December 1960 and 1965, but his term was not renewed by the new Liberal government. Subsequently he worked for CJAY-TV in Winnipeg, until his retirement in 1971. He died in February 1972.

The collection consists primarily of correspondence, photographs and memorabilia documenting Allison’s friendship and political association with John Diefenbaker – starting with Allison’s advice to Diefenbaker about his leadership convention in 1948. In addition to correspondence, there are a few detailed notes documenting conversations between Allison and Diefenbaker, including a 19-page document entitled “Notes on the Election of the Diefenbaker Government” (1957), which also covers the appointment of Diefenbaker’s first cabinet.

MG 163 – David C. Carpenter fonds

The most recent set of materials from one of Saskatchewan’s most well-known authors includes correspondence with a number of other notable names in Saskatchewan’s writing scene. Samples of Carpenter’s own writing and opinion pieces are present.  Notably, materials collected in the writing of Carpenter’s acclaimed book The Education of Augie Merasty including correspondence with the 86 year old residential school survivor are contained within this accrual.  Carpenter has also donated extensive research materials on the literary history of the province, including interviews with several authors. Personal ephemera, as well as material from various writing events are also included.

MG 390 – Dave Glaze fonds

Born in New Westminster, British Columbia, Dave Glaze grew up in Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan. He earned a BA (1968) and B.Ed (1983) from the University of Saskatchewan. He worked for twenty-five years as an elementary teacher, librarian and education consultant. Specializing in juvenile fiction, his books Pelly, Who took Henry and Mr. Z?, Waiting for Pelly, The Light-Fingered Gang, The Last Flight of the Birdman and Danger in Dead Man’s Mine were all published by Coteau Books. Glaze also served on the editorial boards of Green Teacher, Briarpatch and NeWest Review magazines. Thousands of Canadian children have attended his book readings. The material in this fonds deal with Glaze’s life including school and extracurricular interests as a youth and later as a journalist, fiction writer, editor and educator.

MG 354 – B. A. Holmlund fonds

Blaine Adrian Holmlund began working at the age of 12 as a hired farm laborer in 1942. From these humble beginnings, he went on to work with the CPR, and eventually get his degree in Engineering in 1955. After convocation, Blaine worked variously with Shell Oil, Atomic Energy of Canada, and Sask Power. In 1958 he joined the faculty of the University of Saskatchewan, where he remained for the rest of his career, coming to fill the position of Acting President of the University in 1989. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1998, and spent his retirement volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, helping to initiate partnerships with employment programs and to establish  the Re-Store. This fonds reflects Holmlund’s interest in the philosophy of education, his varied career at the University of Saskatchewan, and his concern for an equitable society. It is particularly valuable as a source for university history, specifically for the period of Leo Kristjanson’s tenure; and for issues surrounding health delivery, education, and the College of Medicine; the development of computer / IT services on campus; and First Nations educational opportunities. As a reflection of planning at a post-secondary U-15 institution, this fonds is particularly strong, notably for the materials surrounding the Issues and Options project.

MG 183 – Mac & Beth Hone fonds

This accrual expands on the already fascinating array of personal and art or art-related materials donated to the archives in the past. The materials added this year provide additional materials relating to the Hone’s family, friends, and also expands the collection of their artwork held by the Archives, including materials used in process (sketches, printing blocks, etc) as well as completed pieces.

MG 282 – David Kaplan fonds

David Leon Kaplan was born in Chicago on Dec. 12, 1923 and grew up in a musical family. His father, Joshua Samuel played euphonium in a Russian army band and later in Chicago brass bands. His mother, Nettie (née Lurie), born in Lithuania, was a student of the piano. David served with the US Army Sothern Command Variety Ensemble from 1942 until 1946 under Major Wayne King, known as the Waltz King of America. Kaplan credited his wartime service for exposing him to new musicians and new musical styles, including jazz. Over the next number of years he earned a series of degrees – Bachelor of Music from Roosevelt University (1948), Master of Music from Oberlin College (1950) and a PhD in Music from the University of Indiana (1958). He taught music in Chicago, rural Illinois and West Texas State University before moving to Saskatoon in 1960 and a two-year term position at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Education. He remained at the U of S for the rest of his career and served as Department of Music head from 1966 to 1982, introducing several new programs. He taught courses in music history, theory and world music until his retirement in 1991. In addition to his academic career, Dr. Kaplan was very active in the music and social life of his newly adopted community. He conducted the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra (SSO) from 1963 to 1969 and again from 1970 to 1971. He also composed music for plays and musical productions, adjudicated at music festivals, gave public lectures and wrote about the clarinet and music education. A number of organizations benefited from Dr. Kaplan’s involvement, including the Canadian Music Council, the Canadian Music Centre, the Saskatchewan Arts Board, the Nutana Rotary Club and the Saskatoon Multicultural Council. He was founding chair of the Saskatchewan Music Council in 1967. He co-founded the Saskatoon Festival of Faith bringing together people of different faiths, including aboriginals, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and others, to express their spiritual traditions through speech, music and dance. He was the festival’s music director from 1985 to 1989 and wrote five choral works on multicultural themes. An impromptu jam session at a bar mitzvah at the Congregation Agudas Israel synagogue led Kaplan to found Zmarim: the Saskatoon Klezmer Band. He went on to write more than 200 arrangements for the ensemble.  The inaugural Saskatoon Klezmer Music Festival was held in November, 2007. He was also an avid collector of musical instruments and donated his personal collection of almost 200 instruments to the University of Saskatchewan in early 2013. Kaplan received numerous honours, including the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, the Saskatchewan Order of Merit and induction into the Order of Canada. In 2009, he was named ambassador of the Canadian Music Centre in recognition of his life’s work. Kaplan Green, in Arbor Creek, a residential neighbourhood in northeast Saskatoon, was named in his honour. He died in Saskatoon on April 6, 2015. This fond documents the life and career of David Kaplan. It contains material related to his family, academic and teaching career and community involvement.

MG 169: Donald Cameron Kerr fonds

Donald Cameron Kerr was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 1936 and educated at St. Joseph’s School, Nutana Collegiate and the University of Saskatchewan where he received an Honours B.A. in English in 1958. He earned an M.A. in English at the University of Toronto in 1960. During his tenure at Saskatchewan, Kerr has been promoted from instructor to lecturer (1965), assistant professor (1966), associate professor (1976) and professor (1983). In addition to serving as acting chair of the department of English in 1985-86, Kerr has served on a number of departmental, college and university committees.

This accrual contains materials related to Kerr’s personal life, including his love of art and drama; his work as an editor with NeWest publishers and the Saskatoon History Review; his interest in heritage societies and imperatives, including Doors Open, the Heritage Canada Foundation, and the Heritage Property Review Board. The accrual also contains extensive materials on some of his historical research projects, including a history of Saskatchewan libraries and a Nutana School history. Finally, the accrual showcases a variety of Kerr’s own poetry and prose dating from his earliest days writing to present.

MG 547 – Jack Lydiard Photograph Album

John Munro (“Jack”) Lydiard attended the University of Saskatchewan between 1926 and 1930, earning a BSc in 1930. During his college years, Jack was an avid photographer, and was dedicated to student athletics. As a math teacher at Bedford Road Collegiate in Saskatoon he also took on coaching duties for the (then) Bedford Road Redmen football team (now the Bedford Road Redhawks). In 1948 he became the founding president of the Saskatoon High Schools Athletics Association, and in 1949 he brokered an arrangement with the Saskatoon Hilltops Football Club to create the Saskatoon Track and Field Club. He later moved to Vancouver where he wrote the Grade 13 math textbook that was used throughout BC, beginning in 1965. In retirement he travelled throughout South America, Africa and Asia. Jack died on 2 May 1981.

This album contains images of University students involved in various activities; interiors of residence rooms; the university campus; and Saskatoon, taken between 1926 and 1930. The majority of images were taken by Jack Lydiard; most of the individuals are identified.

MG 106 – Allison Mitcham fonds

An addition to a pre-existing fonds, this accrual continues the extensive and unique family documentation that is such a hallmark of the Mitcham holdings. Elizabeth Allison Mitcham (nee Brown) was born in Tisdale, Saskatchewan, on 9 June 1932. Her public and high school education was taken at schools across Canada: Saskatchewan, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, and Alberta. She earned her first degree from the University of Saskatchewan (BA 1952) and there also began her teaching career. Mitcham continued her education at the University of New Brunswick, earning both her MA (1954) and PhD (1972). She taught at Mount Allison University, prior to accepting a position as professor of English and Comparative Canadian Literature at the University of Moncton in 1968. In 1978. When Mitcham was made full professor, she was one of the few women in North America at that time to have achieved that academic rank. Mitcham was a prolific author, having written over 30 fiction and non-fiction books and children’s literature, as well as scores of poems and articles. She received an honorary degree from the University of Moncton and was named professor emerita upon her retirement in 1989.

During the period covered by this accrual, several major events occurred. Peter Mitcham, Allison’s husband, died on 30 November 2010, shortly after his 84th birthday; and she eventually moved out of The Pond Shore, the family home. Material relating to Peter’s work as an illustrator is particularly well documented in this accrual. Similarly, materials relating to Mitcham’s work as an author continue with this accrual, including some (as yet) unpublished manuscripts and stories.

MG 223 : R.H. D. Phillips fonds

This accrual expands on previous holdings relating to Robert Howard Daniel (“Bob”) Phillips, who spent most of his career as a journalist and editor/publisher with the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool’s Western Producer. He also served as a research analyst for the Wheat Pool for many years This fonds contains materials created or collected by RHD Phillips, particularly during his tenure with the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool. In particular, it contains extensive materials documenting the work of the Research Division. Additionally there is documentation relating to the running and operations of the Western Producer, Modern Press, and Western Producer Publishing.

MG 212 – Nik Semenoff fonds

Another addition to pre-existing materials donated by the eminent printmaker and innovator. This accrual contains samples of Semenoff’s artwork and designs for prints, jewelry and sculpture; material from his work with electronics; professional correspondence; text on various printmaking processes, and personal material. A number of candid photographs of projects Semenoff worked on, or of Semenoff and his peers are also included.

MG 554 – Westcott-Hurley Collection

Robert Hurley trained as an apprentice printer-compositor before serving in the Suffolk Regiment (1917-1920). In 1923, Hurley immigrated to Canada and moved to Saskatoon in 1930. Finding himself unemployed at the age of forty during the Depression, Hurley learned to paint with berry juices and a toothbrush. Largely self-taught with only a few classes from Ernie Linder, he quickly became well known in Saskatchewan and other parts of Canada for his treatment of the prairie landscape. Jim Westcott met Robert Hurley sometime around 1949 and they remained friends till Hurley’s death in 1980. Westcott was active in promoting and selling Robert Hurley’s artwork. This collection contains materials created by Robert Hurley, and sent to (or, in the case of some paintings, purchased from Hurley by) Jim Westcott over the course of their friendship, including four watercolour paintings by Robert Hurley, a pencil sketch, and correspondence.

MG 216 RG Williamson fonds

This accrual contains material created or collected by Dr. Williamson and wife Karla (executive head of the Arctic Institute of North America, and Inuk educator). Although primarily documenting Dr. Williamson’s work for and with the Inuit of northern Canada, this fonds includes material relating to all circumpolar countries, other aboriginal groups in Canada, international affairs, and a very broad range of topics as they relate to the north, including art and culture, physical geography, sport, environment, botany, zoology, economics, defence, etc.   It includes his personal and professional correspondence, research data, articles and scholarly writing, as well as a substantial collection of reference publications. A large portion of the material (both written and recorded) is in Inuk, or Greenlandic languages.

MG 559 – Norman Zepp and Judith Varga Collection

A stunning contribution to the University and the University library, this collection primarily reflects Zepp’s interest in Inuit art and artists. It includes interviews with artists, images taken over the course of several years of the northern landscape, community and individuals. Importantly, Zepp and Varga spent time at fishing and hunting camps or in the homes of artists, and the resulting material reflects that friendship and intimate relationship. Material created or acquired during Zepp’s career as a curator is also evident, including a significant photo resource of Inuit art from major collections. The reference library is an uniquely complete set of articles and major works relating to Inuit art in Canada. Additionally, the collection includes material relating to a number of other artists, predominantly from Saskatchewan, whose work Zepp admired (in many instances, Zepp organized the first major exhibition of their work).