Finch, Ontario, is where the Canadian Pacific railway crosses the New York Central, a tiny but important link in Canada's railway network. This film looks at the daily duties of station master Dalton Henry and his staff.
This short documentary is a delightful trip back to an era in which railroad was king. The small community of Melville, Saskatchewan, is a railroad town. Long-time CBC host Fred Davis visits with various railway workers and learns about the operation of one of the vital service stations which keep the Canadian National Railway running smoothly.
This is a short documentary about winter railroading in the Canadian Rockies and the men who keep the lines clear. The stretch between Revelstoke and Field, British Columbia, is a snow-choked threat to communications. The film shows the work of section hands, maintenance men, train crews and telegraph operators.
This short documentary from the Canada Carries On series celebrates the contribution of Canada’s railroads to the war effort. The film includes a sequence from Buster Keaton's 1926 silent comedy The General, as well as a re-enactment of Lord Strathcona driving the final spike into the Canadian Pacific Railway Line.
This documentary short offers a nostalgic look at the steam locomotive as it passes from reality to history. In its heyday, the big smoke-belching steam engine seemed immortal. Now, powerful and efficient diesels are pushing the old coal-burning locomotives to the sidelines, and the lonely echo of their whistles may soon be a thing of the past.
This 1996 documentary takes a nostalgic ride through history to present the experiences of Black sleeping-car porters who worked on Canada's railways from the early 1900s through the 1960s. There was a strong sense of pride among these men and they were well-respected by their community. Yet, harsh working conditions prevented them from being promoted to other railway jobs until finally, in 1955, porter Lee Williams took his fight to the union.
Claiming discrimination under the Canada Fair Employment Act, the Black workers won their right to work in other areas. Interviews, archival footage and the music of noted jazz musician Joe Sealy (whose father was a porter) combine to portray a fascinating history that might otherwise have been forgotten.
This short film from director Gerald Potterton (Heavy Metal) stars Buster Keaton in one of the last films of his long career. As "the railrodder", Keaton crosses Canada from east to west on a railway track speeder. True to Keaton's genre, the film is full of sight gags as our protagonist putt-putts his way to British Columbia. Not a word is spoken throughout, and Keaton is as spry and ingenious at fetching laughs as he was in the old days of the silent slapsticks.
For more background information about this film, visit the NFB.ca blog.
In this film, Paul Tomkowicz, Polish-born Canadian, talks about his job and his life in Canada. He compares his new life in the city of Winnipeg to the life he knew in Poland, marvelling at the freedom Canadians enjoy. In winter the rail-switches on streetcar tracks in Winnipeg froze and jammed with freezing mud and snow. Keeping them clean, whatever the weather, was the job of the switchman.
These vignettes from 1954 cover various aspects of life in Canada and were shown in theatres across the country. Subjects included here are: Ball Stars Start Young: In Vancouver's Little League, baseball players, diamond and equipment are junior size, but not the boys' coaches or the eagerness of teams and fans. An Auto a Minute: This is just about the rate of output seen in one of Ontario's automobile assembly plants. A Railroad Goes to Sea: Swapping steel rails for ocean waves is routine for British Columbia's Pacific Great Eastern Railway, travelling the forty-mile leg between Vancouver and Squamish by railway barge.
This film presents a breath-taking view of Canada from coast to coast. Besides showing the varied terrain, from craggy coast to towering glacier, the film illustrates something of the development of the land from its virgin state to today's intense and complex industrial exploitation. Filmed for the most part from a low-flying aircraft, there is evidence of space everywhere: in the caribou streaming across the snowy tundra, in the serried ranges of the Pacific mountains, in the distant horizons of lakes and seas, and in the spacious grain fields of the prairies. Equal to the grandiose natural scenes are the projects of Canadian industry, such as Quebec's great Manicouagan power dam, and the endless ribbon of the Trans-Canada Highway. This view of the land is surprising in its diversity.