Fonds F0552 - Harry and Martha Cohen fonds

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Identity area

Reference code



Harry and Martha Cohen fonds


  • 1960-2010, predominant 1980-2010 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

67.5 cm of textual records. -- 39 photographs. -- 20 architectural plans. -- 4 posters. -- 1 audio cassette

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Harry Cohen, 1912-1990, was born and raised in Winnipeg. He left school early and worked as a theatre doorman and later as a film inspector. In 1932 he and his family moved to Calgary, Alberta where he was Warner Brother's film inspector and his brothers began a small retail business. In 1939 the brothers formed General Distributors of Canada Ltd., later the holding company for the Metropolitan and SAAN stores. Harry joined the new company, eventually becoming vice-president. The brothers also became the distributors of Sony products in Canada with Harry as vice-president. He married Martha Ruth Block, 1920-2015, in 1945 and they had four children, Philip Frank, Cheryl Beth, Faye Patricia, and David Irving. Martha was born and educated in Calgary and received a BA from the University of Calgary in 1940, and a Diploma of Social Work from the University of Toronto in 1945. Harry was active in many community organizations including the Calgary Foundation, Stampeder Football Club (director), Calgary B'nai Brith Lodge No. 816 (president), Calgary Chamber of Commerce (director), and Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (director). He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Calgary, the Tree of Life Award from the State of Israel, and both he and Martha received the Order of Canada. Martha also received the Prime Minister's Medal from the State of Israel, was president of the National Council of Jewish Women in Canada and chairperson of Mount Royal College. In 1980 she formed the Calgary Centre for the Performing Arts Guild Association to raise funds toward the operation of the new centre, and she has been chairperson and president of the centre. The Martha Cohen Theatre was named in her honour.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Gift of Martha Cohen, 1991 and estate of Martha Cohen, 2015..

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The fonds consists of Calgary Centre for the Performing Arts records (1980-1990): programs and brochures, newsclippings, news releases, annual reports, correspondence and reports, speeches given at CCPA events, auditors report and financial statement, lists of committees, architectural plans, sketches of interiors, posters and gala opening promotional package; and CCPA Guild Association records (1980-1990): bylaws and incorporation documents, minutes, membership lists, and list of executives. Includes Harry's certificates and awards (1967-1989), biographical information and passport; a recording and text of his convocation address upon receipt of his honorary doctorate; and correspondence of Harry and Martha regarding community fund-raising (1981-1987). Also includes photographs of Harry receiving awards (1960-1973), Performing Arts Centre models and the Carthy organ (1980s).

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

No restrictions on access.

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

    Script of material

      Language and script notes

      The material is in English.

      Physical characteristics and technical requirements

      Finding aids

      No finding aid

      Allied materials area

      Existence and location of originals

      Existence and location of copies

      Related units of description

      An interview with Martha is in the Junior League Women's Oral History Project at Glenbow (RCT-571). An interview with Harry is in the Charles Ursenbach Oral History Project at Glenbow (RCT-145-17 and M-6972).

      Notes area


      Title based on contents and provenance of records.


      NA 5416 are copy negatives.


      Preliminary inventory available.


      Includes file 294 from M-4843 Riveredge Collection
      Includes tape 100 from RCT-911 Riveredge collection

      Alternative identifier(s)

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      Description control area

      Description identifier

      Institution identifier

      Rules and/or conventions used


      Level of detail

      Dates of creation revision deletion

      Thursday, May 17, 2018




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