Dale Gervais at the Gatineau Preservation Centre, 2018.

Ever since Dad purchased a Minolta Zoom 8, film camera to record home movies with, I was destined to somehow find myself working with this expressive medium. Living in Mount Kisco, NY at the time as a teenager, I remember attending a class where we would divide into groups, and go out and using the school supplied S8mm movie camera; make a movie . I vaguely recall us coming across an old, worn-out rubber tire somewhere on the school grounds. We shot footage of the tire as it rolled around the campus, attracting a crowd that chased and followed the tire as it finally came to its end. Years later, I brought back this idea when, as a student at York University, in the Film Program, I did a film entitled ‘Roundabout’.

Before finishing my four years at York, I was lucky enough to land a spot as a summer student at the National Archives of Canada (NAC) in Ottawa. One of the first people I met there when I arrived for my interview was Bill O’Farrell, former head of the Moving Image and Audio Conservation section at NAC as it was known at the time.

Over the years, I have had the pleasure of working on some of Canada’s earliest motion picture film collections, as well as working alongside an incredible team of professionals, trained in the art of film treatment and preservation copying.

I recall my first job, setting up on a workbench with a set of rewinds, and a 16mm film splicer, repairing old and dried out splices within the Minter and Jubenvill collection. (I remember it took me a whole week to go through one of the reels, needless to say, I became really good at making clean cement splices!).

Other noteworthy film collections that come to my mind are the Canadian Army Newsreels, Crawley’s, Bellevue Pathé, Associated Screen News, Graphic Consultants, National Film Board, and the enduring and fascinating nitrate collection.

It is within these collections and more that I hope to share stories and resources, so that visitors to the Canadianfilm.ca website may learn more about our rich film heritage, to celebrate the achievements and accomplishments of the men and women that recorded our nation’s cinematic past.

© Dale Gervais – Ottawa, CANADA – 2021

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