CBC - The Canadian History Project

Our speakers tonight were Jim Williamson, Director and Ron Krant, Researcher for the CBC's ambitious new series on Canadian History

This is a two year project dividing Canadian History into segments. Jim has the Confederation era 1860 – 1880. Ron is researching this and some other segments. Jim's efforts cover the times of D’Arcy McGee, Louis Riel and Lord Monk.

The series is high end documentary with some docudrama. It will show in French as well as English in 14 episodes (30 hours) beginning October 2000, and continuing October 2001. Tentative scheduling is prime time Sunday evenings. The series spans the earliest pre confederation days through the 1980s. First portion of the project covers to 1873. 

The series is based on actual written records and images from diaries, newspapers, Hansard etc. Research sources have included national and provincial archives here, plus sources in France, UK and USA. For Jim's portion of the series, the Gray Nuns (Montreal, Ottawa, Manitoba) have provided a wealth of images and information from diaries. Actors tell the exciting story of our history as if they were living the stories. The series is careful to place Canadian events in the context of world history during the various episodes.

Jim began the evening with the showing of a low resolution version of the promotional video used to sell the project to CBC management. The video adds  excitement to our notion of early Canadian history (so much of our story is drowned out by the flood of commercial materials emanating from Hollywood and New York).  

You can be part of the project too! Jim and Ron are seeking out family and small archive sources for original information since the series is a people’s history based on written records and vintage images. They welcome any leads and sources. Most collections of archival images are studio shots of middle or upper class folk who could afford professional photographs. Jim and Ron need images of all people and especially pictures of people at work and home. If you can help, contact Jim at jim_williamson@cbc.ca.   

Jim showed 10 of the thousands of still images used in the project to date and discussed why these new and fresh images are important (besides the fact they are new and  fresh... :-)

They included:

- An old man and child working a machine (use of child labour).
- Chippewa mother and child (showing a different perspective on First Nations)
- 14 year old Louis Riel (from his time with the Gray Nuns in Montreal).
      Riel was considered full of promise and sent to Montreal to be educated.
      He showed a great skill in story telling at an early age.
George E. Cartier’s mistress Louise Crevier in her early years.
      Most books show her as an old woman, not the vibrant young lady
      who caught Cartier's wandering eye at the start of their lengthy
- Thomas Scott both a traditional image and as a youth.
      This individual was
a drunk and a bully. He was eventually court-marshalled for abusing the Metis while he was their prisoner!

Jim noted that 1861 was a pivotal year in Canada's history. 1861 tipped the equation when for the first time the population of Canada West (Ontario) exceeded that of Canada East (Quebec).




The images on this page were taken with a Nikon Coolpix 900s digital camera directly from the screen during the video. As a result, while the images are acceptable on the web, they are not suitable for printing. I did considerable adjustment to the images to compensate for a combination of the slow speed of the camera and the quality of the video image. The darkroom I use is Corel Photo-Paint, a very able competitor to Adobe Photoshop. Its a pleasure to be able to adjust the image parameters and see the effect instantly on screen. 

Click on any of the thumbnails at the right, to bring up a larger version of the photo. Use your browser's back arrow to return to this page.


by Robert Carter











we get questions

Jim and Ron

ship in promo video

project sets sail

old and young at work

everybody pitches in

mother and child

Chippewa mother

apple of his eye

eye appeal.

native actress from promo video

Native in Video.

a versatile image

wheat field.

gray nuns photo

gray nuns.

abandoned children near death

little lost souls.

Native artifacts

Native "Burial".

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