Fonds F0071 - Evelyn de Mille fonds.

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Evelyn de Mille fonds.


  • 195-?-2000 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

21.6 m of textual records
1,380 photographs
160 slides
220 negatives
1 painting

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Evelyn (Orser) de Mille was born August 1, 1919 near Ponoka, Alberta, where she was raised by her grandparents until she attended Westmount high school in Edmonton. In 1937, Evelyn moved to Calgary and eventually began working for the Eaton’s book department.

After leaving Eaton’s as department manager in 1956, De Mille opened and operated her own independent bookstores in Calgary and Vancouver under the name Evelyn de Mille Books Ltd. These bookstores specialized in the sale of technical books - most notably for the petroleum industry. For this, Evelyn de Mille is recognized as being the first woman in Calgary to own her own independent bookstore, as well as the first woman in Canada to found her own bookstore chain. In addition, she served as the first female president of the Canadian Booksellers Association and won the Canadian Women’s Entrepreneur of the Year award in 1997.

As a life-long advocate of small businesses, arts, and literacy, she made enumerable contributions and donations to educational and cultural institutions, including the University of Calgary, from which she received her honorary doctorate in 1998.

In 1974, de Mille became involved in a legal dispute with W.H. Smith over an alleged breach of contract during the sale of her company. She settled out of court in 1979 and opened Evelyn De Mille Technical Books Ltd., which she owned and operated until her retirement in 1999.

De Mille’s legal battle with W.H. Smith is an exemplary case study of the emergence of large chain-based corporate retailers and the effect of their expansion and encroachment on small, independent businesses. De Mille’s life and records also provide a unique and comprehensive perspective on the bookselling industry throughout the mid-late 20th century.

Archival history

Donated by E. de Mille in 1979 and 2000.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Fonds consists of business, professional and personal papers reflecting E. de Mille's activities in the bookselling trade. Includes the following material relating to Evelyn de Mille Books Ltd.: correspondence (1961-1975); material relating to staff, advertising, statistics and finances; book catalogues; scrapbooks; newsclippings; newsletters; and miscellaneous material. Material relating to the Canadian Booksellers Association: correspondence (1957-1978), brochures, financial and other reports, contracts, press releases, policy statements and materials relating to conventions and seminars. Personal papers including correspondence, family papers and material documenting professional and volunteer activities.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

The fonds is arranged into the following series:

  • Correspondence
  • Business records
  • Organizations
  • Personal records
  • Research materials
  • Oral history tapes

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

      Text in English.

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      Finding aids

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      Notes area


      Title based on contents of the fonds.


      All accessions in the fonds were intellectually arranged in 2022

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