Fonds P128 - La Centrale fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

La Centrale fonds

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  • Multiple media

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the content of the fonds.

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  • 1971-2013 (Creation)
    La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse

Physical description area

Physical description

ca. 20.3 m of textual records
Over 24 000 photographs
363 moving images
67 sound recordings
250 posters
7 objects
1 drawing
1 artist book

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Archival description area

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Administrative history

La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse is a not-for-profit organization founded in December 1973 in Montreal, Quebec. La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse, then known as Powerhouse, was the first feminist art gallery in Canada. The gallery was the initiative of a group of women artists that grew out of The Flaming Apron, a shop and gathering place located in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (NDG). The gallery was officially incorporated in April 1974 under the name Galerie et atelier La Centrale électrique - Powerhouse Gallery & studio. Today, it is generally known as La Centrale.

Powerhouse Gallery started with two exhibition rooms, and was located on the 2nd floor of a four-room apartment at 1210 Greene Avenue in Westmount, Quebec. It moved to 3738 St. Dominique Street, Montreal, in 1974. In 1976, a performance space was opened at the same location. In 1987, the gallery moved to 4060 Saint-Laurent Boulevard, where six other arts-related organizations were located. Together with DARE-DARE and Skol, La Centrale relocated to 279 Sherbrooke Street West in 1991. In June 1996, the galley moved again to 460 St-Catherine Street. Since July 2004, La Centrale is situated at 4296 Saint-Laurent Boulevard.

From 1990 to 1996, La Centrale was part of the Société du 5 avril. Since 1986, the gallery is member of the Regroupement des centres d’artistes autogérés du Québec (RCAAQ).

La Centrale is one of the oldest feminist artist-run centers of Canada. Originally, the objective of Powerhouse Gallery was to stand up against the under-representation of women in the visual arts in Canada by supporting and presenting the works of women artists who could not afford the cost of exhibiting elsewhere. Over the years, La Centrale has become an important exhibition space focusing on contemporary art created by women, presenting works from artists in all stages of their career. In 2007, La Centrale changed its mandate to serve not only women, but any groups marginalized in dominant cultural institutions.

Programming at La Centrale integrates works from different artistic fields, including sculpture, painting, drawing, intervention, performance, installation, 3D animation, audio art, and new media. Programming consists of art exhibitions, video presentations, book launches, conferences, studio visits, artist talks, and round tables. In addition to the general programming, La Centrale was involved in Mois de la performance, which was held every two years between 1994 to 2004. In 2006, Mois de la performance was replaced by the citywide biennial event VIVA! Art Action, of which La Centrale is a founding member and partner. La Centrale also participates in the HTMlles festival organized by Studio XX in Montreal since 1997. In addition, the gallery supports research on art practices, feminism, and gender theory, among other subjects. In response to the changing art world and the interests of its members, La Centrale is in permanent evolution and encourages the development of new ways of artistic expression.

In order to be able to represent the interests and the dynamism of its community, La Centrale implemented an organizational structure based on member participation. All members form the general assembly and are invited to participate in gallery committees. Permanent committees correspond to the main functions of the gallery, while ad hoc committees are established by the Board of directors on a temporary basis to support specific activities.

Custodial history

The fonds was transferred from Concordia University's Records Management and Archives Department to Concordia University Libraries' Special Collections February 24-25, 2016, March 8, 2016, March 16, 2016, March 24, 2016, April 6, 2016, April 12-13, 2016, April 19-21, 2016, May 5, 2016, May 10-11, 2016 and May 17-18, 2016.

Scope and content

The fonds provides information on the administration, programming, and activities of La Centrale. It covers the gallery’s development from its beginnings in 1973 until 2013. The fonds documents the gallery’s history, as well as its role in the Montreal art scene. In addition to events and exhibitions, the fonds includes documentation concerning the Mois de la performance, Viva!, the Mois de la photographie, and HTMlles, and other Montreal-based events. It also contains biographical information on a significant number of artists based around the world.

The fonds contains a wide variety of documents, including but not limited to, meeting minutes, newsletters, reports, press clippings, publications, artists’ CVs, correspondence, photographs, posters and other publicity, programs, audio recordings and moving images, contracts, financial records, and objects.

The fonds is organized into the following series:

P128/A. Administration
P128/B. Financial Records
P128/C. Programming
P128/D. Communications
P128/E. Artists and Events
P128/F. Publications
P128/G. External Relations
P128/H. Facilities Management
P128/I. Legal Affairs
P128/J. Membership
P128/K. Human Resources
P128/L. Surveys

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The first part of the fonds was donated to the Concordia University Archives by La Centrale in 1998. Further deposits were made from 1999 to 2004, in 2006, 2009 and 2012. Donations to Concordia University Library’s Special Collections were made in 2015, 2019, 2021, and 2023.

Donations also were made by the following members of the Gallery:
Celine Boucher (1999)
Gail Bourgeois (2000, 2001, 2002, 2006)
Sheena Gourlay (2000)
Margaret Griffin (2002)
Suzanne Harwood (1999)
Gail Lauzzana (1999)
Pauline Morier (1999)
Joanna Nash (2003)
Ann Pearson (2001)
Petronella (Nell) Tenhaaf (2023)


The first three accessions were arranged by the archivist(s) working at the Concordia University Archive. Later accessions are arranged in the order of receipt. Posters and audio-visual materials are stored separately.

Language of material

  • English
  • French

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    Location of originals

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    Restrictions on access

    Access restricted to employee files, salary and other confidential information.

    Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

    Reproduction for research or private study is permitted. Use of material in publications cannot be done without permission of the copyright holder.

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    Box listing available.

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    Further accruals are expected.


    Copyright belongs to the creator(s).

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      Script of description


        • La Centrale : Partie C : Profil de l’organisme. – Concordia University Library, Special Collections. P128 La Centrale fonds, box HA 3973, folder 14 – Subvention CAC – Fonctionnement, 1998-1999
        • La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse. - (consulted 2018-03-15)
        • Concordia University Library, Special Collections. P128 La Centrale fonds, box HA 4814, file 50- Moments marquants dans le développement organisationnel du centre 1973-2004

        Accession area