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Toutes isles

Accession number: 
Production Years: 
1959 to 1960


Film Properties: 
Length (feet): 
1059 (16mm)
Length (minutes): 
Holding Institutions: 

Library and Archives Canada: 16mm, Beta, Digibeta, VHS.
"Interspersed with excerpts from Jacques Cartier's journals, this film examines the region of Quebec where he first landed. Starting east and moving west to Quebec City, Cartier's observations on this area are accompanied by footage from the current Quebec. Starting beyond Tadusac, along the north shore of the St. Lawrence on the island of Anticosti near the tip of Newfoundland, footage includes the abundance of birds noted in the journals. The rough terrain of the area including rocks, cliffs and icebergs is shown along with the people of the region fishing and cutting wood. Nuns are shown fishing for trout along the shore. An island bird sanctuary exists here in keeping with Cartier's notes on the great variety found in the region. Moving further along the journey, the area where the seal hunt once flourished for 200 years is observed. Sealing has since died out here, the exception being in the village of Tabatière where the ancestors of the founding Robertson family continue winter sealing on a smaller scale for the survival of the village. Travelling west Cartier discovered numerous islands naming them Toutes Isles. On one of these islands, part of the Seven Islands, an ore plant now thrives. A cruise ship is shown sailing near Quebec City on the St. Lawrence. Named the Saxonia and originating from Liverpool, England it is contrasted with a group of Montagnais Indians (Innu) canoeing, of whom Cartier wrote: '(the Montagnais showed his group) great love and friendliness as if we had been of this country.' The narration speaks of the Indians perception of whites: 'Did they foresee the triumph of the white man over the forest? He cut down the trees, designed the streets, and built the villages into cities...' Winter proved to be a great ordeal for Cartier's expedition. Deciding not to heed the warnings of the Montagnais, they stayed and endured sickness and malnutrition. By mid-February only ten of the 100 men were healthy, eventually aided by the Indians who told them of a tree that cured the sickness. Harsh winter conditions are shown in a modern Quebec to conclude the film."


Online database National Film Board of Canada.
"Did Cartier dream of making a country from this land of a million birds? In his records of his exploration he certainly marvelled at seeing the great auks that have since disappeared from Isle aux Ouaiseaulx, the razor-bills and gannets that are gone from Blanc-Sablon, and the kittiwakes from Anticosti, all the winged creatures of all the islands which he described as being 'as full of birds as a meadow is of grass'. And that's not even counting the countless snow geese."

"Ce pays de Toutes Isles ressemble à celui des découvrances. On y rencontre les grands cordiers de Lunenburg qui pêchent encore la morue comme autrefois et autant d'oiseaux pour dire l'innommable."