From the Editor: On the Radar
Citizen Scientist Participation Requested
On the Trail of the Far Fur Country
Dealing with a Runaway or Breakaway Team of Inuit Dogs
The Chinook Project Returns to Labrador
Website Explores Indigenous People of the Russian Arctic
Book Review: Harnessed to the Pole: Sledge Dogs in Service to American Explorers of the Arctic, 1853-1909
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On the Trail of the Far Fur Country
In celebration of the two-and-a-half centuries of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s (HBC) presence in Canada, a small film crew ventured into the Canadian wilderness to document the history of HBC fur trading activities. The year was 1919. Winnowing down 75,000 feet (eighth viewing hours) of gathered footage to two hours, The Romance of the Far Fur Country premiered in Winnipeg, Canada in 1920 and subsequently was shown on both sides of the Atlantic. But in just a decade’s time, it disappeared. The canisters of potentially explosive silver nitrate raw footage film stock, ‘rediscovered’ in 2011 within the HBC’s London (England) archives, were returned to Winnipeg where the arduous process of recreating The Romance of the Far Fur Country (the original finished film had been lost) began.
The team involved in recreating the original film had the foresight to know that their project was bound to be historic. They also had the collective wisdom to understand just how much the treasured images would mean to people whose ancestors were so much a part of HBC life not only when the 1919 footage was shot but also in the two hundred and fifty years since the HBC first established itself. To better understand what would be necessary in restoring the 1920 film classic and to share the footage, the team travelled to all the regions and communities – which included some in Arctic Canada – where scenes were recorded.
The entire restoration process resulted in the creation of the eighty-minute On the Trail of the Far Fur Country. According to director/co-producer/co-writer/editor Kevin Nikkel of Five Door Films:
“We were fascinated by the stories we heard from communities across the North as they watched the archival film footage for the first time. Their reactions are the heart of our documentary…. As people watched the footage from 1919, something special happened. Images came to life; people recognized their family members, their landscapes, and their lost traditions. Contrasting then and now, On Trail of the Far Fur Country is an intimate portrait of Canada and its Aboriginal people, and a chronicle of how life in the North has changed in the last century.”On the Trail of the Far Fur Country premiered at the Gimme Some Truth Documentary Film Festival at the Winnipeg Cinematheque, March 23, 2014 and will continue to be submitted to film festivals. According to Kevin Nikkel, a DVD is, “…in the works”.
Recreation of The Romance of the Far Fur Country is in its final stages and is expected to be released Fall 2014.
Follow the progress of both the archival and modern documentaries online here where you can also watch trailers.