Super 8 home movies can be super important, archivists say

If you have memories stored on eight millimetre or Super 8 film, archivists and local film lovers in Saskatoon want you protect and preserve your film stock.

Saskatoon film lovers encourage people to preserve their old films

Home movie footage from a Soap Box Derby in 1966, preserved at the Saskatoon Public Library. (Courtesy of the City of Saskatoon) 0:53

If you have memories stored on eight-millimetre or Super 8 (two popular home movie formats) archivists and film lovers in Saskatoon want you protect and preserve your film stock.

"They're original historical documents," says Cheryl Avery, an archivist at the University of Saskatchewan. "You see the everyday [and] they're candid, so when you're looking even at a street scene or a parade ... it tells you something quite a bit about how we were living then as a community."

The university's collection of amateur movies includes footage from the Queen's visit in 1959. The Saskatoon Public Library also has several films depicting candid moments of Saskatoon life, including parades from the 1950s and 1960s. 

Alex Rogalski is the executive director of Paved Arts, an organization in the city devoted to audio and visual culture. 

"If you think about the institutions of the National Film Board of Canada, they made documentaries in Saskatchewan, but it was someone coming from away from Saskatchewan, maybe from down east, and giving us maybe a view from Saskatchewan that maybe wasn't our own," said Rogalski. "The value of home movies is that it was what we found interesting about ourselves."

He says many people have inherited films from parents or older relatives and are looking for ways to preserve them and transfer the films to a digital format. 

Rogalski has been working with the Saskatoon Public Library this past week hosting several events where members of the public could view some of their own home movies and ask questions about how to preserve and transfer the films to new formats.

Today Paved Arts will host an event dubbed "Home Movie Day". That event is held in locations around the world to celebrate amateur film. Several locally made films will be shown at Paved Arts on Saturday. 

More about Saskatoon's home movies

You can check out some of Saskatoon's historic amateur film attached to our story. Here is some more information about them:

  • Footage of the 1953 Children's Parade: From the Saskatoon Public Library: "For almost 40 years – from 1949 to 1985 – the Children’s Day Parade kicked off Exhibition Week in Saskatoon. These parades were organized by the Saskatoon Playgrounds Association and each recreation unit entered a float. The Playgrounds Association also sponsored Freckle Contests and city-wide marble competitions (dib derbies). The Local History Room collection includes rare 16mm film footage from these events, which has been transferred onto DVD for presentation in Saskatoon on Parade." The footage may have been captured by someone in the city's parks department at the time. (Copyright: The City of Saskatoon). 
  • 1966 Soap Box Derby: From the Saskatoon Public Library/Local History (Copyright: The City of Saskatoon)

  • 1959 Queen and Prince Philip visit: From the University of Saskatchewan, Archives and Special Collections. This film was shot by someone associated with the U of S, but the person's name is not known.