Leaving a legacy: Art used in SENS classes finds a new home at the U of S

The University of Saskatchewan has announced a nationally significant donation to its archives from Sherrill Miller, wife of the late Courtney Milne, the renowned Saskatchewan photographer. The gift includes Milne’s entire personal collection, which consists of over 550,000 original images in slide and digital format, 2,000 prints, textual records, as well as audio, other visual media, Milne’s reference library and websites created using his work.

"We are honoured that Sherrill Miller chose the University of Saskatchewan’s Library as the recipient of this incredible gift," said Vicki Williamson, dean of the University Library. "The size, breadth of subject and quality makes this an extremely valuable collection to us. It is the largest photographic collection ever donated to the U of S and also the work of one of our very own alumni," she added. 

The donation will add to the already impressive collection in the U of S Archives and Special Collections of both national and local importance, and will also attract graduate students and faculty to the U of S by providing unique research opportunities. 

"This donation is one not only to our library, but to our entire university community. Our faculty and students will have access to the collection in their teaching and research pursuits. Its impact will be appreciated across a number of disciplines, including geology, biology, education, Native Studies, philosophy, art therapy, medicine and psychology, making this donation representative of the scope of Milne’s work," said President Ilene Busch-Vishniac.

Students in the School of Environment and Sustainability are already using images from the collection in ENVS 811 and ENVS 804 classes, and have also created a film that communicates the importance of using multiple ways of knowing for environmental decision-making.

"Courtney envisioned his work to be a living legacy, cherished and protected in Saskatchewan by his alma mater," said Sherrill Miller. "I am thrilled that the U of S will not only be the caretaker of this bequest, but will find innovative ways to keep his dream alive." 

Courtney Milne, a lifelong resident of Saskatchewan, earned international acclaim for his photography during his career, spanning from 1976 until his death in 2010. His work is part of the permanent collections of over 30 galleries, and has been awarded numerous honours, including the Gold Medal for Distinction in Canadian Photography (1993) and a nomination for the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts (2004). He was named as one of the College of Arts and Science 100 Alumni of Influence and was posthumously invested into the Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 2011.

The U of S is planning on making the collection widely available in the future. Ken Ladd, associate dean of the University Library explains, "By showcasing Courtney’s work both online and in physical exhibitions on campus we hope to make this unique collection accessible to community members and to people around the world, while preserving the collection for future generations."