Fonds F0096 - John N. Smith fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

John N. Smith fonds

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  • Textual record
  • Moving images
  • Graphic material
  • Sound recording

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Physical description area

Physical description

15.63 m of textual records
ca. 536 videocassettes
56 audio cassettes
ca. 434 photographs
ca. 114 DVDs

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

John Newton Smith, filmmaker, was born in Montréal in 1943 and received a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University in 1964. He first became involved in film-making while working towards a Master's of Political Science when he created a film for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) with a fellow student in 1967. In 1968, Smith went to work for CBC Toronto as a researcher. One year later, he moved to Hobel-Leiterman Productions where he worked as a producer/director for several television series on the CTV network. In 1972 he joined the National Film Board (NFB) as executive producer of its television unit. With its closure in the mid-1970s, Smith turned his attention to drama and produced several films for the NFB. He directed and co-wrote "Dieppe" and "The Boys of St. Vincent" for which he received a Gemini Award for Best Direction in a Dramatic Program in 1994. More recently, Smith has directed films and television miniseries such as "Dangerous Minds" (1995), "Random Passage" (2002), "Prairie Giant : The Tommy Douglas Story"(2006), "The Englishman's Boy"(2008) and "Love & Savagery"(2009).

Smith has a long history of defending free speech and artists' rights. He protested the delay in broadcasting "The Boys of St.Vincent" fighting to expand the legal definition of freedom of expression for artists. He also fought efforts to have his miniseries "Prairie Giant : The Tommy Douglas Story" repressed, raising public awareness about de-facto censorship by CBC executives due to protests about the depiction of James Gardiner in the work.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds consists of material related to John Smith's personal life and to his professional career as a writer, producer and director. It includes screenplays, draft notes for works in progress, shot lists, story boards, call lists and shooting schedules, casting and contact lists, correspondence, research files, press clippings, financial records, and selected printing elements for 16mm and 35mm productions, rough assemblies, rushes and outs on VHS and Beta videocassettes and DVDs.

The fonds is organized into the following series:

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Donated by John N. Smith in 1994, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2006 and 2010.


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Script of material

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Restrictions on access

Access to some textual records is restricted. Written permission to consult these files must be obtained from John N. Smith and directed to the University Archivist, York University. All moving image material is accessible only for research use. Some material is located off-site and requests for access must be made in advance of your visit to the archives.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Copies of moving image material in the fonds are made for study purposes only and on an as-requested basis.

Finding aids

Associated materials

Related records are available in the Bernard Zukerman fonds (F0202).

Related materials


The fonds comprises the following accessions: 1994-039, 1996-002, 1998-012, 1999-018, 2001-030, 2006-007, 2010-034. Further accruals may be expected.

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2002/04/08 Jizi Chen:. (Creation)
2002/04/08 Awaiting review by the Data Collection Archivist
2002/10/09 Shannon MacDonald. Update Biographical sketch, Scope and content, accruals, and 'other' notes.
2003/04/09 Shannon MacDonald. Added URL for online finding aid. Added series info to scope & content.
2003/11/24 Sean Smith. Corrected extents and dates of creation.
2003/11/24 Ken Hernden. Updated biographical sketch, accruals note, immediate source of acquisition, and provenance access point.
2006/03/02 Sean Smith. Updated fond level description to incorporate 2006-006.
2006/10/30 Dubeau. Corrected accession number to 2006-007.
2011/03/22 Anna St.Onge. Updated scope note. Updated biographical sketch to include activism re. freedom of information, repression of Prairie Giant broadcast.
2014/07/22 Migrated to AtoM
2019/02/25 KCP, N. Roz. Post-migration metadata clean-up. Addition of GMD and accession numbers. Published description and generated finding aid. Added general note to indicate off-site storage for audio-visual material.
2020/03/26 KCP, N. Somerset. Added subject access points.

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