Prints by Group of Seven artist A.J. Casson, along with hundreds of letters, photographs and artifacts dating back to the 17th century, have gone missing from the Archives of Ontario, according to the Auditor-General's annual report

Art, 17th-century artifacts missing from Ontario Archives: A-G

By Natalie Alcoba and Jordana Huber,  National Post, with files from CanWest News Service  Published: Tuesday, December 11, 2007  

In his 2007 report, Jim McCarter identified two “significant weaknesses” in the Archive’s inventory-control practices that may have resulted in losses over the years. He said records and other materials stored in more than 380,000 containers are not catalogued, and the number of items inside each estimated; also, containers are not sealed when in storage or transit.  Mr. McCarter noted that the archives has been making progress in improving its operations, but “it did not yet have adequate systems and procedures to ensure that information of historical significance is being identified, stored or archived safely and securely and made readily accessible to users.”  Mr. McCarter recommended the Archives undertake a “thorough assessment” of its inventory and security controls to correct any deficiencies. He also suggested it come up with a plan to be able to deal with electronic documents and records produced by ministries and agencies that will need to be archived.  The Archives promised to act on the Auditor’s “useful recommendations.” “We are pleased to note that the Auditor has recognized that the Archives is making progress in improving its operations,” it said in its response, published as part of the Auditor-General’s report.  According to the report, the Archives’ collections were appraised in February, 2005, at more than $411-million. That includes about 354,000 containers of textual records, valued at $308-million, about 180,000 maps and architectural drawings, worth about $43-million, and 2,500 works of art, valued at $16-million.  Mr. McCarter said hundreds of letters, documents, artifacts and photographs, primarily from the 17th and 18th centuries and belonging to prominent families and individuals, were listed as missing in a document dated April, 2001, and revised in February, 2004. “We were informed that the losses were likely the result of thefts during the 1970s,” the report states. Also, the Auditor-General said Archive records show more than 100 artworks could not be found or had been stolen. There was no policy for tracking down missing collections, and any effort to that end was not consistent. The Archives said it has developed a “more rigorous” inventory-control system and that it will continue to look for ways to improve.  Mr. McCarter’s report included 13 other detailed “value-for-money audits,” noting the overarching theme was that a lack of information resulted in poor decision-making. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure,” Mr. McCarter wrote.  He said the Ontario Provincial Police diverted more than $9-million from the province’s sex-offender registry into other police initiatives, leaving the registry without the resources to implement necessary upgrades. Mr. McCarter also found several areas of deficiency in the sex-offender registry, including hundreds of offenders who should have been registered and who were not. He said the province did not have an up-to-date list of the estimated 1,000 sex offenders who were released from federal custody and live in Ontario, and that there was no mechanism to track sex offenders who moved to Ontario from other provinces. “The Ministry essentially relies on the offenders themselves to come forward,” the report said. The report found that registry records did not include photographs of 140 offenders, and there was no detailed case information on more than 1,200 registered sex offenders. In addition, the addresses of 650 offenders were not verified, inhibiting police abilities to quickly track down offenders during an investigation.

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