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A Forgotten Story

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 Nunaaluk:  A Forgotten Story
A Documentary by Louise Abbott

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 Nunaaluk: A Forgotten Story resurrects the story of a group of resourceful, independent Inuit who lived on Cape Hope Island (Nunaaluk, they called it--the big island) and got along well with their Cree neighbours in southeastern James Bay. They were forced to abandon their beloved island home when the government relocated them north to Kuujjuarapik (Great Whale River) in 1960. The film features Mini Aodla Freeman; George Kudlu; the late Arctic photographer Fred Bruemmer; and Elizabeth Mark Maiczan. Louise Abbott directed the film and also did the principal cinematography. COTA (Cree Outfitting and Tourism Association) produced it. The film was premiered at the McCord Museum in Montreal on December 17, 2013.

Background to the Film:

During the halcyon days of the fur trade in northern Canada, the Hudson’s Bay Company sometimes hired Inuit to work in eastern James Bay because of their skills at running dog teams, hunting seals, and making skin boots. Over time, small groups of Inuit began to settle on coastal islands in the region. One of those islands, Charlton, was the terminus for HBC ships serving fur-trading posts in James Bay. Among the Inuit who settled there was an exceptional HBC ship’s pilot named George Weetaltuk.

george weetaltuk_carving

Weetaltuk later moved his family to Cape Hope Island. Other Inuit families followed him. By the early1930s, a small, but thriving, community had been established, with a boat-building and canoe-building business. It was the southernmost Inuit community in Canada. The HBC set up a post in Cree territory at Old Factory River and eventually on Old Factory Island. Some of the Cape Hope Inuit worked alongside Crees on Old Factory Island, which lies south of Cape Hope.

Cree-Inuit relations were, by all accounts, harmonious. The Inuit learned to speak Cree to communicate with their more numerous neighbours, and the two groups celebrated weddings and Christmas together. In the late 1940s, the Cree Old Factory band voted unanimously to permit the Cape Hope Inuit to take a beaver quota from the Old Factory Preserve.

But the lives of both the Crees and the Inuit were disrupted when the government decided to relocate them to a permanent settlement. In 1959 the Crees moved to Paint Hills (Wemindji); some Inuit families joined them. In 1960 the Inuit who had moved to Paint Hills and those remaining on Cape Hope Island were transferred to Kuujjuarapik. In the ensuing decades, the story of the Cape Hope Inuit and their Cree neighbours at Old Factory has been forgotten ... until now.

 What People are Saying about the Film:

The response to Nunaaluk: A Forgotten Story has been heartwarming! Here are excerpts from a few viewers' email messages:

"The film is so creative, from weaving in Fred Bruemmer's memories of George Weetaltuk and the lasting impact that relatively brief encounter had on him, to Mini Freeman's and George Kudlu's poignant memories about Nunaaluk. The filming is just superb, surely leaving no doubt in viewers’ minds that Cape Hope [Nunaaluk] really is a very special place. I will watch Nunaaluk many more times for sure." M. 

 "You did a wonderful little film; I was smitten during the whole thing by the beauty of this story and by the quality of images and moments created by your video." C. 

"[We] felt very privileged to attend the showing of your video and hear firsthand the reflections and memories of Mini and George, who are such an important part of this story. Their love of Cape Hope, their courage, and the skills they were able to impart to the Cree was very meaningful. The fact that these two communities, Cree and Inuit, once sworn enemies, learned to cooperate and respect one another is a lesson for all of us.  

"Your film was also photographed with great sensitivity and aesthetic taste. Congratulations. You and Niels obviously have great empathy with these people. How sad that Fred Bruemmer passed away on the very day this film was shown to the public for the first time. His legacy will live on in the memory of the aboriginal people whose lives he touched, and in his photography."  J.
 
"It was a pleasure to meet you and see your perfect little film. It really was just right." I.
 

Le coeur de la ferme

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Georgeville Press annonce la parution du livre 

Le coeur de la ferme :

l'histoire des granges et clôtures des Cantons de l'Est du Québec.

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   La Tribune (Sherbrooke) June 16, 2012

Le cœur de la ferme est le premier livre publié en français sur les granges historiques dans la province depuis 1963, et le tout premier livre publié à ce jour sur l’histoire agricole des Cantons de l’Est. Le texte provient de l’historienne des Cantons Louise Abbott et a été traduit de l’anglais par Stéphanie Pépin. Il comprend également 350 photographies prises par Louise Abbott et Niels Jensen, de même qu’une généreuse sélection d’images d’archives. Cette séduisante édition spéciale de 306 pages a été publiée par Georgeville Press, une maison d’édition sans but lucratif nouvellement établie à Georgeville (Québec).

Le cœur de la ferme est offert au coût de 60 $ (plus TPS). Si vous souhaitez vous procurer ce livre,  n’hésitez pas à communiquer avec Studio Georgeville au 819-843-9992 ou par courriel à This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it pour l'acheter.

Vous pouvez également vous procurer Le cœur de la ferme en personne à la Galerie d'Art Courtemanche, située au 820, rue Principale Ouest, Magog (Québec). Vous pouvez communiquer avec la Galerie d'Art Courtemanche au 819-843-2834 pour l’acheter par téléphone. Enfin, vous pouvez le commander par courriel studiorc1947@yahoo.ca . Pour connaître les heures d’ouverture de la Galerie d'Art Courtemanche, veuillez téléphoner ou visiter leur site à www.galeriecourtemanche.com .

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Lighting the Way

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Molson Island Lighthouse, 1896 (Williams Family Collection)

 Excerpts of oral history interviews will form an important part of the upcoming book  Memphremagog: An Illustrated History. Here's the opening of a chapter titled Lighting the Way (A short history of lighthouses on Lake Memphremagog by Louise Abbott.) Do you have any stories or pictures of lighthouses on the lake? Please contact us!

 A steel rod and fragments of a concrete foundation are all that remain of a lighthouse that once stood on the southwestern shore of Molson Island. But Edna (Camber) McKelvey can still picture the white wooden tower with its natty red tin roof and the brilliant beam of light that shone through the three windows of the lantern room over the lake after nightfall. 

Edna lived at Fern Hill, an estate established by the Molson family south of Georgeville, from her birth in 1927 until her departure for Montreal in 1949. “My father [Erwin Camber] worked for Ella Molson—he was the foreman,” she recalls. “There were two or three hired men to keep the place going. They were the lightkeepers.

In those days there were no outboard motors, so they would row  across from the Molson boathouse [on the mainland] to the island.”

Read more...
 

The barn is born again!

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The barn that Neil Manson dismantled in Knowlton's Landing in 2010 and resurrected on Fisher Road in Austin had its official inauguration on Saturday, September 8. Louise Abbott has been following the progress of this project in video, and she showed eleven minutes of excerpts from her documentary in progress. She hired a colleague, Vito DeFilippo, to videotape the inauguration so that she could enjoy the event. But she still assisted Vito from time to time with the shotgun microphone. Louise took the photo above in the fall of 2010 when Neil Manson was just starting to put up the timber frame.  Niels Jensen took the photos below during the inauguration. The barn will be used as a reception hall for weddings and other special events. Hats off to Neil Manson for this remarkable feat of restoration!

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