James Beveridge, film maker, co-founder of the National Film Board of Canada and director/producer of more than 80 films was one of the great Canadians of the film industry. From 1940, beginning with On Guard For Thee, Beveridge made short films, all under one hour and most about 20 minutes long. His subject range was vast, covering projects, people and issues in Canada and across the world. Many of the documentaries were about facets of the two world wars, then came a series of films for Burmah Shell in the 50s, then short videos about the arts, religions, human rights – it seems nothing was left out of James Beveridge’s portfolio.
One of his earliest films was a documentary about the Peace Country shot in 1941. Peace River is 20 minutes long and was captured on Kodachrome in order to show “the resources, scenic beauty and industry of the Peace Country for noncommercial distribution to all parts of the English-speaking world” (Edwin Dowell, The Vancouver Sun – November 16, 1940).
This was the era of greatest change in the Peace Country. Natives, missionaries and fur traders suddenly found themselves in company with 10,000 homesteaders ready to make good in the grain, timber and oil industries. James Beveridge was impressed with the area’s history as well as its potential: he saw beautiful scenery, vast farmland, airports shuttling men to the great mining fields of the far north, a new military training centre in Grande Prairie, cattle ranches and the railroad.
Unfortunately, the footage does not seem to be available for viewing today. If anyone knows how to find Peace River please drop us a line.
You can read the full article about the film-making expedition in The Vancouver Sun article from 1940. Also, see the picture of the Sudeten refugee village that accompanies the write up.
James Beveridge was commemorated in an award winning film documentary created by his daughter. Follow the link to find out all about The Idealist.