Archives welcomes more than 1,000 pieces of gay and queer history

The Aveline-Vazquez LGBTQ+ Library Archive Collection was donated by sociology professor David Aveline, PhD




On the fourth floor of Mount Royal University’s Riddell Library and Learning Centre hundreds of books, magazines, posters and even matchbooks have found a new home in the MRU Archives and Special Collections.

The items are part of the Aveline-Vazquez LGBTQ+ Collection, donated by Dr. David Aveline, PhD, a professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

Aveline has been amassing all sorts of materials over the last five decades. It started in 1967 when he bought his first book about homosexuality. After that he just started collecting various ephemera.

“Once I was out and living my life as a gay man in the community, everytime I went to a bar or a book store I just picked up all of the free stuff on the way out and it just started piling up,” he explains. “I got a lot of stuff from the 1985 International Conference on AIDS in Montreal,” Aveline says, adding that the collection also boasts hundreds, if not thousands, of safer sex pamphlets from the 1980s and about 80 HIV/AIDS information posters.

Prior to the Internet, Aveline also had an interest in the materials coming from religious and political groups advocating for  “praying away the gay” and the so-called ex-gay movement. So he put himself on the mailing lists of those groups and started receiving their newsletters, which he kept and are now a part of the collection. He points out that the practice of conversion therapy is now illegal in Canada.

For scholarly purposes, Aveline says these materials provide a lot of insight. Even some of the more eclectic items like lapel pins and 1970s and ‘80s erotica magazines can be analyzed.

“These are historic,” he says, noting that what was considered erotic in 1970 may be different than what is considered erotic today. 

Associate Professor and Archivist and Special Collections Librarian Peter Houston says the items in the collection are, in many cases, irreplaceable. “They are materials that may otherwise have been lost, destroyed or forgotten, were it not for Aveline's vision and care.”

Houston adds that having this collection available to researchers and community members both locally and beyond helps to teach students and others how to ethically and skillfully engage with records of the past.

Preservation is at the heart of what the Archives does, says Meagan Bowler, dean, University Library, noting that archives include items that tell us the best and worst about our past.

“This collection invites people to confront both the wonderful and the terrible moments in our history. In accepting this gift, we acknowledge our responsibility to keep these materials preserved and accessible to the campus and to the public for teaching, learning and research.”

Aveline emphasizes the importance of having these aspects of 2SLGBTQIA+ history stored permanently and publicly accessible.

“I have the sense that in 100 years it will still be here and we will have students who are going to be able to look at our history and the history that I and others lived through from the ’60s through the ’90s,” he remarks.

He also wants to ensure that those in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community can know the history and struggles of those who came before them.

Sociology student Sydney Morrissette says this collection brings opportunities to educate, learn from and reflect on the past.

Morrissette started working in the Library around the time the collection was being brought and has been the primary person cataloguing and documenting each item. As a result, they have an in-depth knowledge of the collection and its contents.

“There’s so much positive history and so much negative history and it’s really reassuring to know that we have this here on campus,” Morrissette says. “It is so important to preserve this and it will be interesting to see how future researchers and scholars utilize this information for their studies.”

The collection is accepting donations of relevant materials, especially of those relating to 2-spirit, intersex and asexual histories and experiences. The hope is to expand its breadth to incorporate the full 2SLGBTQIA+ spectrum. If you have content to add, contact David Aveline via email at

Read more about the MRU Archives and plan your visit to see the Aveline-Vazquez LGBTQ+ Collection. Anyone can drop in during open hours (currently 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the spring semester, by appointment during the summer), or email with questions or to book an appointment. You can also call 403.440.7046. An online finding aid containing searchable descriptions of the collection's contents should be ready by the end of the summer.