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Through the Northwest Passage

Accession number: 
Production Years: 
1940 to 1942


Film Properties: 
Holding Institutions: 

Library and Archives Canada: 16mm, VHS, Betacam.
"This film details the voyage of the wooden schooner St. Roch and her eight man crew as they sail from Vancouver, British Columbia to Halifax and Lunenberg, Nova Scotia via the Northwest Passage. Due to severe arctic conditions the voyage took almost 28 months, beginning on June 27th, 1940 in Vancouver and arriving in Halifax on October 11, 1942 and Lunenberg on November 10, 1942. The film describes it as a "unique voyage in the history of navigation". Vancouver Harbour and the beginning of the voyage. Shots include: a map of the route to be taken; ship on the water under gale force winds; waves crashing onto the ship's deck; interior shot of ship and crew member telegraphing; men on deck in parkas; steering the ship; view of ice flows on the water; sun sparkling off the water; view from the ship's lookout; polar bears in water and on ice flows. Cambridge Bay. Shots of Inuit life and interaction with crew members. Includes: shot of an old wooden ship which sank; close-up of dogs; children playing with the dogs; crew members and Inuit people speaking with one another; an Inuit mother and her child; several close-ups of numerous Inuit men. Walker Bay. Camp where crew stayed during first winter. Shots include: a panorama of the land around Walker Bay as seen from the ship; unloading barrels of supplies into row boats; sequence on the art of fishing from the cutting of ice holes with a saw to the catching of fish with nets and spears; shot of the "RCMP St. Roch Ottawa" snowed in; close-up of crew members in parkas; dog sled loaded with blocks of ice; Inuit child and dog; preparing a sled; greasing the sled runners; loading sled; sled team leaving; RCMP camp; building igloos; winter storm; dogs outside in storm; cutting open a seal and removing the inards; various shots of Inuit men eating; dogs being thrown meat; sled being loaded with pelts; women harnessing dogs; crew members breaking up ice in front of boat; sequence on spring in Walker Bay including: men lounging on grass; drinking from a stream; getting the St. Roch ready to sail; hauling in a catch of fish with nets; Canada geese feeding; baby birds; skin tents and Inuit children milling about; cleaning and drying pelts; various shots of boat departing. Tuk Tuk. This seems to be a trading post. Shots include: ice flows on the water; the settlement at Tuk Tuk as seen from the boat; men unloading boat; Inuit boat loaded with furs; the "Hudson's Bay Trading Company" building. King William Island. Inuit boat and St. Roch travelling together. Shots include: crew member in ship's lookout; ice flows on water; polar bear swimming; polar bear roped and harnessed by crew members; polar bear brought on board (we are not shown what happens next); steering the ship; Inuit children and dogs; Inuit boat leaving; a burial monument. Pasley Bay. RCMP camp during the second winter. Shots include: life on board the St. Roch; navigating; playing with dogs; men pulling and pushing sled across the ice; unloading barrels; ship frozen in; men skating; shot of ship looking very small among several ice bergs; Inuit women sewing; Inuit baby; Inuit couple; loading sled and dogs; grave marked by a cross and stone cairn; water flowing in the spring; water rushing over rocks; boat leaving. Pond Inlet. Shots include: various shots of water and ice flows; numerous adult and baby walrus swimming and lounging on beach; boat moving through ice; waves washing over the St. Roch; whale as seen from ship; dolphins jumping; view of the open water dotted with various navel ships; plane overhead; view of a town. Halifax and Lunenberg. RCMP in uniform looking out from ship in [Halifax]; [Halifax] harbour; Lunenberg, Nova Scotia; local shops including "Adams Knickle" and "Lunenberg Sea Product"; RCMP standing at attention. "