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Bill Mason made many films about the Canadian wilderness and instructional canoeing dvds

Bill Mason (1929 - 1988) filmmaker

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Bill Mason was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1929. A legendary Canadian canoeist, an award-winning artist, and one of the most successful filmmakers in the history of the National Film Board of Canada, Bill Mason's larger-than-life story continues to awe and inspire.

His documentary on the plight of wolves in Canada, Death of a Legend, inspired a public outcry against a then common policy of killing wolves with poisoned bait, forcing the government to re-evaluate its actions.

Bill Mason's infectious love of nature and its magnificent portrayal through the camera lens inspired Canadians to rediscover their own surroundings, giving them a new sense of responsibility for their backyard.

His films Paddle to the Sea, Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes, and Path of the Paddle have made the wilderness experience - canoeing and camping - a rite of passage for many Canadians.

Making us fall in love with his subject, Bill instilled a love and dedication to protect the fragile natural beauty that surrounds us. But his goal was never to be a mere promoter of the outdoor lifestyle. Rather, he wanted us to channel our attachment to our surroundings into concrete and conscientious political will.

The environment is not just something beautiful to remember, but a necessary resource to protect and manage sustainably, ensuring its survival for future generations.

Written by Bogna Haddad, 2006.
 

Blake
Blake: 

Blake
Blake James sheds the trappings of the busy modern life and takes to the skies in his gorgeous well loved vintage bi-plane. We can all relate to simple pleasures of life and Blake lives that dream. Some of his adventures include trying to fly and navigate by roadmap at dusk. He also creates quite a stir when his little plane lands at an international airport on an unscheduled stop. This film will make you laugh until your sides hurt. To top it off there is a lovely guitar strumming soundtrack to go along with this charming semi biographical portrayal of Blake James and his amazing travels. Mostly shot in the Gatineau Hills of Quebec.

Originally shot in 16mm colour.
20 minutes.
1967.
6 International awards, including nomination for Best Live Action Short Film, Academy Awards, Hollywood 1970.

Out-of-stock please go to the www.nfb.ca to buy it.

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Cry of the Wild
Cry of the Wild: 

Cry of the Wild
Bill was crazy about wolves. He loved everything about them! This feature length film is an incredible tale of where his three years of searching for wolves took him. His search spanned from Baffin Island to British Columbia, Lake Superior to the Northwest Territories and back to his home in the Gatineau Hills, Quebec where he built an enclosure in the forest for a pack of captive wolves. Joyce his wife, daughter Becky and son Paul all grew to love them too. It's not just a film about wolves it's a story of how Bill and his family grow to care and learn about the secret world of the wolf.


90 minutes.
1971.
Diploma of Merit,1st International Film Festival of the Human Environment, Montreal 1973.

Out-of-stock please go to the www.nfb.ca to buy it.

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Death of a Legend
Death of a Legend: 

Death of a Legend
This is an strong film. Some would call it graphic in its portrayal of our wanton slaughter of wolves and their natural habitat. Wolves have always had a bad rap and Bill challenges this by exploding the myth that wolves are blood thirsty killers.


Originally shot in 16mm colour.
52 minutes.
1968.
9 International awards including an Etrog for Best Colour Cinematography, Toronto1971 and Red Ribbon Award, New York, 1972.

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Face of the Eath
Face of the Earth:

Face of the Earth
Bill felt there were awesome mysteries to our everyday land. There are spectacular film sequences throughout, Old Faithful spouting, the Rocky Mountains up close and personal, and volcanoes blasting lava. This is accompanied by a splendid music score played by the Canadian Brass. This film leaves you with a sense of awe about the magnitude, raw power and majesty of the earth's creation. If you're interested in geology this is a must see.


Originally shot in 16mm colour.
20 minutes.
1975.
2 International awards.

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In Search of the Bowhead Whale
In Search of the Bowhead Whale: 

In Search of the Bowhead Whale by Bill Mason
It's amazing to think a whale movie could be exicting but I'm on the edge of my seat when I watch this one. The build up of captivating details about a 70 ton mammal that has remained shrouded in mystery over the centuries coupled with superb film making makes this an enjoyable viewing.


Originally shot in 16mm colour.
52 minutes.
1974.
6 International awards including Silver Venus Medallion , Virgin Islands, 1975
and Jules Verne Award, France, 1983.


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The OLand that Devours Ships
The Land that Devours Ships:

The Land that Devours Ships by Bill Mason
The "Breadalbane" was lost in the Arctic as it was searching for traces of the ill-fated mission of Sir John Franklin. This 1983 expedition led by Dr. Joe MacInnis attempts to find the "Breadalbane" under the ice in the Arctic.

Originally shot in 16mm colour.
58 minutes.
1984.
Special Jury Award, Belgium, 1986.

Paddle to the Sea
Paddle to the Sea: 

Paddle to the Sea
The heart-warming odyssey of a hand-carved little canoeist that travels to the ocean via the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence. On his journey Paddle encounters everything from crushing ice, a forest fire and curious wildlife to the many dangerous and toxic perils of the human kind, not to mention having to navigate Niagara Falls! Bill and cameraman Blake James had to quickly come up with a way of making stunt models after losing several of the meticulously hand carved models in the early days of filming.


Originally shot in 16mm colour.
20 minutes.
1964.
10 International awards including a nomination for Best Short Film, Academy Awards,Hollywood 1968.


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Path of the Paddle
Path of the Paddle: 

Path of the Paddle-compilation DVD
The Path of the Paddle series of films; solo basic, solo whitewater, doubles basic and doubles whitewater introduced new skills to the canoeists of the 70's and 80’s. These skills still form the backbone of modern paddling and canoe tripping techniques. These 4 films are still considered an essential part of any canoeist's collection.


Originally shot in 16mm colour.
Each of these four film classics is approximately 27 minutes long.
1976.
7 international awards.

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Pakaskwa National park
Pukaskwa National Park: 

Pukaskwa National Park
This film explores Pukaskwa National Park on Lake Superior northshores. It provides a background of it's geological past and plant life. It also shows hikers hiking the extremely rough coastline trail plus there is a party of four women canoeist that run the challenging Pukaskwa River. We see them hoist packs set up camp and paddle the crysal clear waters. When Bill completed this film Parks Canada told him they didn't want to show it in their visitor center because they said the film depicted the vaste hordes of black flies too well. It is a fun canoe trip to watch espeaical since it's showing how it really is in the deep woods in June. Of course it's a popular film to watch at Hattie Cove Visitors centre now


Originally shot in 16mm colour.
16 minutes.
1981.

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The Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes
The Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes: 

Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes
This is a humorous yet poignant look at the geological and ecological evolution of the Great Lakes. Blake James is the lone canoeist who paddles through time and unwittingly and unwillingly experiences all the natural and man-made changes which have taken place since the lakes were formed. This film contains hilarious scenes of Blake falling out of the sky in a canoe, running out of water mid-rapid and mistakingly slurping a cup of foaming polluted water. A must see for kids and adults alike.

Originally shot in 16mm colour.
17 minutes.
196
6.
10 International awards including Best Specialized Film, England, 1971.


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Song of the Paddle
Song of the Paddle: 

Song of the Paddle
Bill and his family loved to go canoe tripping on the the north shore of Lake Superior and Georgian Bay. This is a charming film about the four of them living out on the land in a tent and travelling by canoe for a summer. It's about the simple pleasures to be found in the wilderness and learning to take the time to see all the hidden delights along the way. It does have some exicting moments when the Masons are caught in a spectacular storm but even that shows how a family can turn a potentially dangerous situation into a postive experience. This film is about learning to respect the wilderness and what it can teach us if we stop to look and listen. The whole family will love watching this film and it is guaranteed to inspire viewers to plan new trips and adventures of their own.


Originally shot in 16mm colour.
41 minutes.
1976.
9 International Awards.


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The Voyageurs
The Voyageurs:

The Voyageurs
Bill Mason loved canoeing and was so excited to be a cameraman for this film. It was a dream come true for him to travel and record the travels they had in their birchbark voyageur canoe. These big canoes opened up our wilderness in the days when the fur trade was Canada's biggest business. The film recreates scenes of the early nineteenth century on the 5 000 km river trade route to the Athabasca. It is a fascinating re-enactment of Canadian canoe history.

Originally shot in 16mm colour.
1964.
19 minutes and 50 seconds.


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Waterwalker
Waterwalker: 

Waterwalker
In his final film Bill Mason takes us on a canoe odyssey to one of his favorite places, the north shore of Lake Superior. His love and concern for the land is reflected in his filming, as well as his on site sketching and painting. Quotes from great native leaders cause us to re-examine our relationship with the land and its creator. This is an environmental film of hope that grows out of Mason's deep spiritual beliefs. Bill considered this his masterpiece and wrestled with the editing of this film for years as the subject matter was so important to him. The result is a powerful, poignant film full of spectacular images that most of us would be considered lucky to ever experience first hand.

Originally shot in 16mm colour.
87 minutes.
1984.
1 International Award.


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Wilderness Treasure
Wilderness Treasure:

Wilderness Treasure
This was Bill Mason’s first film and it took four years to complete as it was a one man production.  He learned many of his film making techniques while making this film. It portrayed young boys from camp Manitoba pioneer on a camp canoe trip. Their eyes are opened to the beauty of creation and to the idea of enjoying the wilderness rather than treating it as an adversary. It is a very candid look at the wide array of experiences one can have on a canoe trip.
 
Originally shot in 16mm colour.
20 minutes.
1962.
2 International Awards.
Included on the DVD with the Wilderness Treasure film is Manitoba Pioneer Camp 60th Anniversary film. You can order the DVD from:

Manitoba Pioneer Camp,
Email: mpc@pioneercamp.com
Website: manitobapioneercamp.com

or

Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship of Canada
PO Box 56376 Stn Brm B
Toronto On
M7Y 9C1
www.ivcf.ca


 

Wolf Pack
Wolf Pack:

Wolf Pack
This film is a brilliant portrayal of a life of a wolf pack. The wolf pups steal the show starting as newborns and growing into independent rascals. Throughout the film Bill Mason captures the unique inner works of a wolf family, the joy of living, love, and the tough lessons wild animals have to learn to survive.
Originally shot in 16mm colour.
20 minutes.
1971.
3 International Awards.


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All images and text on this site are copyrighted by the Mason family or by the artist. Please ask for our © permission if you copy.
More detailed information on Bill's life is available in the book "Fire In The Bones" by James Raffan
Ken Buck's, " Bill Mason: Wilderness Artist From Heart to Hand ", describes their start and cooperation in filmmaking.
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