Lost film on Canada’s Arctic shown in Edmonton
Film premiered in Winnipeg in 1920
A long lost silent film on Canada’s Great White North has been re-cut from old raw footage and was shown in Edmonton Saturday afternoon.
In 1919, the Hudson’s Bay Company commissioned a silent film documentary on the far north called The Romance of the Far Fur Country as it ramped up for its 250th year celebration in 1920.
The feature film depicted the company’s history, as well as its current activities across Canada’s northern landscape, by following Arctic fur trappers in 1919.
In spring of 1919, two cameramen from New York City set out to film Canada’s northern wilderness. On May 23, 1920, the film premiered in Winnipeg.
The film has since faded from memory, with eight hours of film disappearing into the archives of the British Film Institute.
It was rediscovered in the 1990s by Canadian, visual historian Peter Geller, who wrote a book called Northern Exposures. Photographing and Filming the Canadian North, 1920-45 — which included a chapter on the film.
The actual film was lost, but the eight hours of raw footage has been cut to reproduce the original, based on notes and diaries from the time.
Winnipeg-based Five Door Films are behind the production.
"After long being forgotten, it's now been restored for modern audiences in Canada, including communities descended from those featured in the silent film," wrote Five Door Films documentary screenwriter Chris Nikkel in an article.
The first archival screening was held at the Metro Cinema, which operates out of the historic Garneau Theatre near the University of Alberta, and featured a presentation on the history from Geller after the show.