The Olympics: an historical perspective  
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Exploring the McGill Olympic Collections

Rare Books and Special Collections, McGill University Library, holds three large and important collections of materials documenting the Olympic Games. Random samples of various types of material have been chosen from these collections to celebrate the opening of the XXIX Olympiad in Beijing on 8 August 2008.

The Canadian Olympic Association Collection was originally housed at its headquarters in Cité du Havre in Montréal; its strength is in material dealing with the Montreal 1976 Olympics and the Calgary 1988 Winter Olympics along with material pertaining to the Olympic Games since the revival of the games in 1896. There is also material on the Pan American Games and the Commonwealth Games. The collection consists of over 4500 items and occupies 60 linear metres of shelf space. There are 400 titles in the monograph collection and documents appear in eighteen languages. There is a website:

The Fernand Landry Collection was the result of the Université de Laval professor's lifelong interest in high performance sport, human biology and the Olympic Games. His involvement in the promotion of human health through sport in Québec, Canada and abroad is well documented by the Proceedings of the International Symposium held at Quebec City in May 1990. Although there are a number of publications by the International Olympic Committee, there is very little duplication with the other collections. The Landry Collection contains about 3000 items with some realia and over 600 posters.

The largest collection is the Richard W. Pound Olympic Collection which comprises some 100 linear metres of archival material (about 350 boxes), with some 700 printed titles and a significant body of realia including over 850 pin sets, medals, statuettes, coin sets and 12 Olympic torches. It provides a wealth of information on the recent history of the Olympic Movement, its public image, a private view of its inner functioning and the role of one of its major representatives from 1983 to 2003.

Pound's papers document his role in the various Olympic organizations and their development, notably his involvement in the IOC Television Rights negotiations, IOC Marketing, Sport and Law and WADA. There is a great deal of correspondence from all over the world, often with personal notes from friends, colleagues, and unknown people who had reason to correspond with him.

His papers of the Canadian Olympic Committee present a varied view of sport in Canada and his support of the many Canadian cities which requested the privilege of hosting the Games, be they Olympic or Pan American. His role in promoting sport activities among Canadians along with Fernand Landry and others had a considerable influence throughout Canada.



Contact Us:

Rare Books and Special Collections [Unit detail]
4th floor, McLennan Library Building, 3459 McTavish Street [Map]
Montreal, Quebec H3A 0C9
Tel.: 514-398-4711 | Fax: 514-398-2139


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