Michael Spencer

The other director/producer of Peace River, a 1941 documentary about the Peace Country filmed by pioneers of the Canadian film industry was Michael Spencer (see Thursday’s post to start at the beginning).

In 1939, Spencer came to Canada from Britain and joined the Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit.  It was the first step in a long and productive career.  His Air Canada Genie Award for Lifetime Achievement and Bill Hilson Award for outstanding contribution to the development of the motion-picture industry in Canada by the Canadian Society of Cinematographers (CSC) are a much abbreviated but symbolic version of his life history.

The story of how he became the founder of Telefilm Canada is an interesting one; told in summary in this article, and in long form in Spencer’s biography, Hollywood North: Creating the Canadian Motion Picture Industry (reviewed in the article).  You can find the book through your local library.

Does Michael Spencer’s time in the Peace River Country feature in his memoir?  Probably not extensively, if at all.  But perhaps the people who saw the film about the far away land of promise in western Canada were more impressed by the place.  Possibly some of them came here, to see in person what the flickering black and white images gave glimpses of.  And those who never came… perhaps they held those images in their minds for a lifetime, captivated by the Peace Country and all of its bright promise.

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