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First Winter

First Winter

| 26 min

This historical drama features the first winter spent in Canada by a family of Irish immigrants deep in the Ottawa Valley. The year is 1830. Because the father is working in a logging camp, the mother has sole charge of the family. Sickness overtakes her, and she dies. The children are left on their own to survive. The film graphically illustrates the enormous hardships endured by the first settlers who had to cope with a climate with which they were unfamiliar. A beautiful, moving film.

  • director
    John N. Smith
  • producer
    John N. Smith
    Sam Grana
  • executive producer
    Roman Kroitor
  • script
    Gloria Demers
    Cynthia Scott
  • photography
    David De Volpi
  • sound
    Jacques Drouin
  • editing
    Richard Todd
  • sound editing
    Jackie Newell
  • music
    Tadhg De Brun


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Ages 10 to 15

Study Guide - Guide 1

Family Studies/Home Economics - Aging/Death and Dying
History - Early Colonization/Settlement
History and Citizenship Education - Population and Settlement (1608-present)
History and Citizenship Education - Struggles in the British Colony (1791-1850)

Warnings: Loss of a parent could trigger some students.

What are the push and pull factors involved in this family’s decision to immigrate to Canada? Describe the day-to-day life of this family while the father is in a logging camp. Interview an  immigrant to Canada and compare/contrast their experience with this family. How does the loss of a parent impact the development of a child? How is this depicted in the film? What role does religion have in this family and their culture?

First Winter
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