Collection RBSC-ARC-1729 - Al Sens collection

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Al Sens collection

General material designation

  • Textual record
  • Graphic material

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Title notes

  • Source of title proper: Title based on name of collector.

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Edition area

Edition statement

Edition statement of responsibility

Class of material specific details area

Statement of scale (cartographic)

Statement of projection (cartographic)

Statement of coordinates (cartographic)

Statement of scale (architectural)

Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


Physical description area

Physical description

16 cm textual records
9 cm graphic materials (ca. 200 drawings, ca. 20 filmstrips, ca.15 animation celluloids, ca. 10 prints)
1 audio disk

Publisher's series area

Title proper of publisher's series

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Al Sens was born Albert Sens on December 27, 1933 in Vancouver, British Columbia where he remained for the majority of his life. He had his first professional illustration experience while he was in high school, drawing cartoons for local newspapers under a pseudonym. In the early 1950s he went on to attend the Vancouver School of Art, now known as the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. After his studies, Sens illustrated cartoons for a variety of Canadian and American magazines including the Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, Liberty and Macleans.

Concurrently Sens started to make animated films. He produced his first film, "The Puppet's Dream," in 1958. In the same year Sens opened his own animation studio, Al Sens Animation Limited, in Vancouver. He would go on to produce several notable animated films including “Hard Day at the Office,” “Problems on an Imaginary Farm,” and “Political Animals.” Each of these featured political themes, for which Sens became well known. He also produced animations for the National Film Board of Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and BC Hydro. Through his experiences Sens developed the “spit technique,” which consists of drawing and erasing directly under the camera.

After working at Parry Films in North Vancouver for five years, Sens accepted a position at Simon Fraser University to produce informational short videos in 1967. He continued working in academic settings through the 1970s and 1980s when he taught animation at the University of British Columbia in the Film and Television Department.

Al Sens continued to produce animated films through to the early 2000s, with one of his most famous works being “Dreamtime,” which he produced in 1999. In 2014 Al Sens received the Vancouver Film Critics Circle Ian Caddell Award for making a significant contribution to British Columbia’s film industry.

Custodial history

Collection was given to Jason Vanderhill by Al Sens. Vanderhill donated the material to Rare Books and Special Collections in 2015.

Scope and content

Collection consists of Al Sens’ professional records, produced and received in the process of his career in cartoon and animation illustration. Material spans his career from the 1950s to the 2010s. The collection is arranged into two series according to record type: publications series and original illustration series.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The collection was donated to Rare Books and Special Collections by Jason Vanderhill on April 17, 2015. Jason Vanderhill received the collection from Al Sens.


Collection is not in original order. Records were arranged by archivist according to record type and specific project and/or publication.

Language of material

  • Czech
  • English
  • French

Script of material

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No further accruals expected.

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Control area

Description record identifier

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

RAD compliant finding aid prepared by M. Hunter, May 2015.

Language of description

  • English

Script of description


Accession area

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