Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cree Hunters of the Mistassini

I just finished re-watching the fantastic 1974 film, Cree Hunters of the Mistassini which is available on the National Film Board of Canada's new site. This outstanding bushcraft film shows 3 Cree families in their winter hunting camp living off the land for 6 months. Amongst the amazing footage of trapping beaver, building a lodge for 17 people, construction of Mistassini style snowshoes, are some fantastic scenes of the men paddling their canoes.

A few screen shots show the main focus of the film, Sam Blacksmith, paddling with a Cree style paddle. It's been painted a deep green colour (which contrasts very well in the winter snow). The shots of the men skillfully navigating white water in their canoes is especially exciting, as the narrator mentions that none of them know how to swim since the water temperature is so cold year round. Despite not having any lifejackets and such, these skillful paddlers handle the river rapids with utter confidence.

Sam Blacksmith paddling his winter hunting grounds

Sam paddling a creek in the midst of an early snow


Clarke Green said...

Thanks you for pointing me to this film. I am fortunate enough to travel to Ontario once a year with our Scouts to paddle the waters of Algonquin Provincial Park. There are many hours of films that interest me at this site.

Murat said...

You're welcome Clarke. The site has some other fantastic films that until recently could only be viewed at the Film Boards headquarters in Downtown Toronto. Now the whole world can view some of these fantastic gems.

My cottage is just 30km from Algonquin Park's West gate, just off Highway 60. The whole region really is a canoeist's paradise.

Happy paddling!

Anonymous said...

Nice find on the NFB site. I am sure you have watched Cesar's Birchbark Canoe. If not you will enjoy it. Not one word of dialogue but it is a comprehensive description of how to build a bb canoe. Cesar was an awesome craftsman. Also in Cree Hunters I loved the modified paddles they used as shovels. Looking forward to seeing you attempt one of those. Love your site keep up the good work.


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