Court métrage documentaire réalisé par René Bonnière et écrit et produit par Pierre Perrault. Le film suit Henri et Rosaire Otis, de l'Anse-aux-Basques, deux chasseurs de loups marins et de marsouins, amoureux des grands espaces. Le savent-ils, les frères Otis, qu’ils sont les derniers descendants des chasseurs basques du 16e siècle?
Ce film fait partie de la série documentaire intitulée Au pays de Neufve-France.
On the North Shore of the St. Lawrence, the Otis family hunts for white whales and seals with rusty old rifles in hand-crafted boats. This is the traditional method of the Basque whalers who frequented the coast in the 16th century.
Did Cartier dream of making a country from this land of a million birds? In his records of his exploration he certainly marvelled at seeing the great auks that have since disappeared from Isle aux Ouaiseaulx, the razor-bills and gannets that are gone from Blanc-Sablon, and the kittiwakes from Anticosti, all the winged creatures of all the islands which he described as being "as full of birds as a meadow is of grass". And that's not even counting the countless snow geese.
Life in a north-shore village where everybody's name is Robertson and where everyone hunts for seal. In December the seals come in great herds from Greenland, and for two weeks in this peaceful village it's all hands to the lines.
This short documentary looks at the deep gorge of the Fraser River, shadowed by the mountain ranges of British Columbia. It is a highway for the mysterious migration of the Pacific salmon. The river shallows appear red with the flailing fish as they push up-river to spawn and die. A natural wonder puzzling to the scientist, the fish migration of spring and summer provides renewed activity for fishermen and cannery workers.
When Cartier wintered at Cap Rouge near Québec City in 1641, he claimed to have detected diamonds in the surrounding hills. Was he so very wrong? Three centuries later, 15,000 men have come to excavate the iron mountains of the Canadian tundra where the rust of those diamonds still sparkles.
On an island the road ends where it begins, at the wharf. The wharf is the link to the rest of the world, until winter cuts it off. But the islanders know the winter sea and its movements. They judge the ice by its colours, avoiding the open channels, fighting through the slushy fragil ice, catching their footing on the chunk ice, and running all-out across the solid ice to the North Shore.
Three communities at the foot of the Charlevoix cliffs, Petite-Rivière, île-aux-Coudres and Les Éboulements, practise the myriad trades of the sea. Its men are sailors, stevedores, longshoremen for the coasting trade. In winter, they becomes caulkers, carpenters and timer-cutters who will build a new vessel if required, or repair, caulk and paint the over 150 wooden schooners that ply the St. Lawrence River.
The building of a goélette, the wooden coastal freighter of the St. Lawrence River. Although ships of steel may replace these sturdy wooden vessels, the Jean Richard, shown in construction in this film, is still one ship built with all the old pride in craftsmanship.
In a valley on the North Shore of the St. Lawrence, the seasons unfold with their chores and pleasures: children gathering roses for honey, an old uncle's wine, pressing apple cider, three brothers shelling broads beans, their flails beating time, grandmother's spinning wheel, the old stone mill, the rushing rivulets of spring, a silvery catch of capelin washed up on shore by the May Moon.
A virtual prisoner of the winter snows that block its roads, the village of St.Hilarion, to justify its name, revels in the joys of the jig and the "turlutte", the lilting songs that tell the humorous tale, ever new and yet essentially always the same, about the sorry fate of the one who gives into temptation.
Ages 6 to 11
Geography - Human Geography
Geography - Physical Geography/Geology
History and Citizenship Education - First Occupants (to 1500)
Exploring the waterway that has shaped our history, the St. Lawrence, we can trace the story of the Basques who came to North America to fish for cod, well before Cartier and Champlain. Have students draw the river between Montreal and Gaspé, including the many colourful islands, and identify places that have Basque-sounding names. Some, in the estuary, still bear the traces of their travels. Which ones?