Fonds PR-2183 - David Flaherty fonds

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David Flaherty fonds

General material designation

  • textual record
  • microform
  • graphic material
  • multiple media

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

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1949-2005 (Creation)
    Flaherty, David H.

Physical description area

Physical description

4.04 m of textual records and photographs, and 1 microfilm reel

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Name of creator


Biographical history

David Harris Flaherty was born in Campbellton, New Brunswick on February 25, 1940 to Edwin and Mary Flaherty. He is an Honours graduate of McGill University (1962) and has an MA and Ph.D. from Columbia University. He married Kathryn Kindellan in 1962 and has three children. He was divorced in 1988.

His teaching career from 1965 to 1993 included Princeton University, the University of Virginia and the University of Western Ontario, where he was professor of history and law from 1972 to 1999 and is now professor emeritus. He was the first director (1984-1989) of its Centre for American Studies. He has held fellowships and scholarships at Harvard, Oxford, Stanford and Georgetown Universities. In 1992-1993 Flaherty was a Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC and a Canada-US Fulbright Scholar in Law. Flaherty has been an adjunct professor in political science at the University of Victoria since 1999.

Flaherty began his involvement with privacy issues as an assistant to Alan F. Westin at Columbia University in 1964. Flaherty's first book was “Privacy in Colonial New England” (1972). In 1974 he started comparative public policy work in Europe and North America that led to a series of books, including “Protecting Privacy in Surveillance Societies: the Federal Republic of Germany, Sweden, France, Canada, and the United States” (1989).

In 1993 Flaherty moved to Victoria, British Columbia and served a six year term as the first Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia (1993-1999). He built an office of 25 staff with an enviable record for successful mediation of access to information disputes. Flaherty wrote 320 Orders under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. He also pioneered the development of site visits to public bodies, hospitals in particular, as a form of privacy auditing.

Since leaving the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia, Flaherty has worked as a consultant in the area of privacy and information policy issues. His services for clients include strategic advice on the management of privacy issues and of relationships with privacy authorities, privacy advocates and the general public; conducting overall assessments of privacy compliance; preparing privacy impact assessments; and developing privacy codes to comply with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and its provincial equivalents.
In the fall of 1999 Flaherty served as a Special Advisor to the Deputy Minister of Industry Canada in support of Bill C-6, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. Since 2000, he has been the Chief Privacy Advisor to the Canadian Institute for Health Information and in 2003 Flaherty testified before the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates of the House of Commons on the qualities required for the next Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds consists of the records of David H. Flaherty created throughout his professional and private life. They include project research files relating to his work with Canadian and international privacy issues during his time at the University of Western Ontario from 1972 to 1987; teaching and lecture files on early American history, and American and Canadian legal and constitutional history from his time at Princeton, the University of Virginia and the University of Western Ontario from 1963 to 1991; and his personal files including diaries, correspondence, photographs and subject files from 1949 to 2017, including those from his time as the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia. Within each series, the files are arranged roughly by date. The personal files have been divided by Flaherty into open and restricted files.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Donated to the BC Archives in to accessions by David Flaherty in 2009 and 2018.


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Location of originals

Microfilm reel contains personal diaries, originals retained by David Flaherty. Microfilm was made by Flaherty through a microform service ca. 1990.

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

The personal files in boxes 11, 12, and 907976-0971 are closed for access until 10 years after the death of David Flaherty, except with written permission from Flaherty or his designate.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Copyright transferred to the BC Archives, Royal BC Museum except published material.

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Further accruals are expected.

General note

Accession number(s): 95-2518, 2018.157

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