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The Romance of the Far Fur Country - Arctic Canada caught on 1919 silent film - YouTube

Arctic Canada caught on 1919 silent film

One of the world's early documentaries featured unique footage of the lives of Arctic fur trappers in 1919. After long being forgotten, it's now been restored for modern audiences in Canada, including communities descended from those featured in the silent film.

In July 1919, the RMS Nascopie departed Montreal. It carried supplies bound for Arctic fur trade posts.

But the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) ice-breaker had extra cargo on its annual trip. A film crew is on board.

The ship headed north. As they travelled, a cameraman filmed the Nascopie crashing through ice floes.

When the ship anchored, he went overboard, trudging across the ice with a tripod cradled in his arms. A second camera rolled from the deck, recording it all.

The film crew had orders from the HBC headquarters in London. They were to make a film capturing the company's workings and commercial land holdings, holdings that once covered one twelfth of the earth's surface.

But the HBC wanted rid of the land, and were looking for people to settle on it. What is remarkable is that this unique footage has survived into the 21st Century”

Peter Geller Visual historian

And thus a memo from HBC executives - the film should be "advertising the Company and incidentally its lands, without appearing to do so".


BBC News - Arctic Canada caught on 1919 silent film