Canada themovie is a journey that started long before we shot the first frames. For me, this journey started over twenty years ago, in long conversations about Canada with long time friends Doug Lennox, Bob Gardiner, and my father-in-law, Charlie Graham. The journey became much more focused when Bob suggested I talk to a man named Kirk Wipper whom he had met and worked with in 1967. Bob thought Kirk had a connection with the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough Ontario, and might be contacted through them. My phone call to the Museum, inquiring for Mr. Wipper was met with the response, “No he’s not here today, would you like his home phone number?” That reply and the subsequent meeting with Kirk, was the beginning of a great friendship and the expansion of my 20-year journey into the thousands of years story that is Canada themovie.
The first conversation with Kirk lasted an afternoon. I had a five-minute DVD demo that was mostly pictures and the very beginnings of an idea. That first conversation grew into many and Kirk and his wife Ann introduced me to so many wonderful people, who contributed so much more: William Commanda (Grandfather), Ralph Ireland, James Raffan, Peter Adams, Cory Demitruk from Cambridge Bay. Kirk’s contribution to Canada themovie is significant but that contribution is dwarfed by his continuing contribution to this country.
Canada themovie is a story told by people from all parts of Canada. So many made a contribution, from Louis Kamookak in Gjoa Haven who lives on the land and shakes his head at Franklin’s folly, to Peter Adams in Peterborough, Ontario who calls Franklin’s mission “presumption” because he didn’t understand or failed to accept the harshness of the environment he was entering despite the fact that Europeans and Inuit had been whaling these waters for hundreds of years.
We crossed the country many times, I have lost track of how many thousands of kilometers we drove, mostly in Ontario. All our journeys started just outside of Toronto, one reality; 4 hours to Quebec, 16 hours to Nipigon, 1 more hour to Thunder Bay and another 6-7 to Manitoba.
One of the frequent stops on our way back from Quebec or Eastern Canada was with David Anderson, who along with his wife, live in David Thompson’s former home on the shore of the Raisin River in Williamstown, Ontario. Anderson’s generosity and enthusiasm bring insight into David Thompson and his relationships with First Nations peoples, the North West Company and the British, their garrisoning of Quebec, and so much more.
My understanding of this country has grown, but I am still bewildered by the continuing manipulation of our different languages and cultures, and of the First Nations peoples. I know that for some, the story that the Brits won on the Plains of Abraham is still a big deal. It seemed to work during the 1800s and early- to mid-1900s “when everything on the map that was pink was ours.” But this country began the process of reviewing our British colonial past in the 1940s, and this is a much different country today. Canada themovie is a reflection of that journey, and the cultural tapestry that is becoming Canada. - John Thomson