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Accession number: 
Production Years: 
1959 to 1960


Film Properties: 
Length (feet): 
1075 (16mm)
Length (minutes): 
Holding Institutions: 

Library and Archives: 16mm, Beta, Digibeta.
"Follows the Otis brothers, Rosaire and Henri, seal hunters from Anse aux Basques, a village on the north shore of the St. Lawrence between Tadoussac and les Escoumins. An area dominated by lumber, paper mills and iron mines - the brothers make their living hunting seals in June and July selling the skins and oil from between two and three hundred harbour seals. They are shown heading off in a homemade chaloupe - a 16 foot boat with an outboard motor. They surround the seals with a wall of sound from the boat, driving them closer to the shore where they eventually shoot them with repaired rifles. To economize, they make bullets from lead melted over an open fire and cast in a bullet mould forged by an ancient blacksmith. The brothers are shown looking for work in town, since seal-hunting is a difficult living. They observe a monument in Baie Comeau to the founder of the town and owner of the paper mill, Colonel McCormack of the Chicago Tribune. Back at sea they prepare harpoons, spears, buoys and ropes to hunt white whales in an effort to diversify. The adult whales reach 18 feet in length, weigh 5000 pounds and are referred to by various names; Beluhka by Russians, Beluga by the French, Marsouin by the people of the river, and as the film says, 'the English say, with accuracy, White Whale' They are shown pursuing, harpooning and tracking a wounded whale until its death. The brothers are the last whale hunters on the river."


"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."

"Savent-ils, les frères Otis, de l'Anse-aux-Basques, chasseurs de loups marins et de marsouins, qu'ils sont les derniers descendants des chasseurs basques du XVIe siècle ?"