Farewell Oak Street

Farewell Oak Street

| 17 min

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This documentary presents a before-and-after picture of people in a large-scale public housing project in Toronto. Due to a housing shortage, they were forced to live in squalid, dingy flats and ramshackle dwellings on a crowded street in Regent Park North; now they have access to new, modern housing developments designed to offer them privacy, light and space.

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Farewell Oak Street, Grant McLean, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

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  • director
    Grant McLean
  • producer
    Gordon Burwash
  • script
    Gordon Burwash
  • executive producer
    Guy Glover
  • photography
    Robert Humble
  • sound
    Clarke Daprato
  • editing
    Fergus McDonell
  • sound editing
    Kenneth Heeley-Ray
  • narrator
    Lorne Greene
  • music
    Eldon Rathburn
  • cast
    Roxanna Bond
    Bonnie Brooks
    Gerald Campbell
    Eric Clavering
    Andy Halmay
    Cosie Lee
    Edgar Marshall
    Douglas Masters
    Jim McRae
    Kate Reid

  • aohayon

    Thank you for your comment. This film is typical of films from the early 1950s in the Canada Carries On series. The series shifted its focus after the war to Canadian contributions to science and welfare, industry and crafts, and music and art. This film falls in the welfare category. The NFB was mandated to make films about all aspects of Canada including social problems. There was a very conscious effort not to sugar-coat problems and I think this film is a great example of showing that there was a great need to make affordable housing available for the most vulnerable. As far as the documentary aspect is concerned, the films of this era often used actors to enact sequences to better tell a story. This is a few years before direct cinema radically changed the way documentaries were made. In the early 1950s, the film equipment available was large and cumbersome. Because of this, most documentaries of the time had a very detailed script and were planned to a T before anything was shot. If you want to know more about the post-war Canada Carries On series, please have a look at my blog post here: https://blog.nfb.ca/blog/2014/05/14/canada-carries-on-postwar-years/ More information on Farewell Oak Street can be found in my blog post on theatrical short award winners, here: https://blog.nfb.ca/blog/2020/07/16/5-best-theatrical-short-award-winners-curators-perspective/ Albert Ohayon, English Collection Curator, National Film Board of Canada

    aohayon, 16 Oct 2020
  • Gary M.

    This is a fascinating film, but at this distance, it cries out for context, as a propaganda piece for the aggressive clearance policies of post-war Toronto. If it is a documentary, it's only because we let the genre definition relax to allow for melodramatic re-enactments. I've not researched this yet, but I'd love to know how this film came to be made.

    Gary M., 15 Oct 2020
  • domnfb

    What strikes me in watching this flm is how much pride in Regent Park the original dwellers seem to have. It was a perfectly functional decent place to live. Today , most tenants of public housing seem to lack this pride in their homes, and instead of trying to instill it, the government response it to blame the physical architecture and destroy it ...only to build what? will it really be an improvement?

    domnfb, 13 Jul 2015
  • LordDufferin

    Mom,grandma and me lived in a one room plus a small kitchen with an ice box in a rooming house. 2 bathrooms for 10 units on Pembrooke street. Moved into north Regent 1955 and was heaven for a 9 year old.Lived there 11 years and we took pride in this. When we moved out the drugs were coming in. 7 years later a hooker was murdered in my bedroom. I think when the east Asians moved in it was starting a comeback.Now they're tearing them down and building a mixed sterile community and being a prime development area I foresee eventually getting the poor out of here because there is no money to be made here.Living in Barrie I see the same thing happening. There is no money in building these units rather building a 20 floor condo generates more taxes and profits while half of these buyers mortgage themselves to death.SCREW THE POOR-WHO NEEDS PUBLIC HOUSING-LET THEM IT FOOD BANK CAKE!

    LordDufferin, 4 Nov 2012
  • Shawn

    Wonderful film. I now live in the same neighbourhood in Montreal that my mom's family couldn't wait to move out of. A single floor in my 100-year old condo triplex is worth more than the suburban home I was raised in! How times and attitudes change...

    Shawn, 3 Oct 2011

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