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Archival description
Bella Coola, BC
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Al Elsey Moving Images Collection

  • 2006.25
  • Collection
  • 1961 - 2000, predominant 1961-1967

Fonds consists of original, silent 16mm reels that portray the natural, social and land use history of the Bella Coola and Chilcotin regions named the "Natural and Guiding History of the Bella Coola and Chilcotin Regions".

Possible locations that Al Elsey filmed include: Bella Coola, Bella Bella, Anahim Lake, Alert Bay, Nimpo Lake, Bulkey Valley, the Rainbow Mountains, Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, Dean River, Bella Coola River, Tchaha Lake, the Chilcotin region, the Ulkatcho Mountains, Lassard Lake, Fenton Lake, Atnarko River, Wells Gray Park, and Holt Homestead.

Fly-fishing for Steelhead, Elsey's Cabin, Wildlife and Crab Fishing

The first portion of the film begins with a map of Tweedsmuir Provincial Park and then cuts to a motor boat on a lake, possibly Fenton Lake, and men fishing on the lake. The next clip is of more men fly-fishing on a river, possibly the Bella Coola River or the Dean River. A short clip follows of two children in a boat with a man pushing them along with a rod. There is footage of the scenic landscape, which is most likely the Bella Coola Valley, and a cabin, which is believed to be Elsey's. A woman believed to be Mrs. Elsey sits on the porch and then arranges her flowers. The film shows some ducks on the lake, two squirrels playing and the Elsey's dog in a boat. Mrs. Elsey pulls the boat ashore in the next clip and then the film shows her working in her vegetable garden. There is more scenic filming of the valley and a man cutting down a tree with a chain saw. There is footage of a grouse beating it's wings, chipmunk looking for seeds, birds in a marsh, three moose in a marsh, and a bald eagle perched and flying.

There is a break in the film and the second portion begins with footage of cabin in the mountains, a baby in a cradle, an elder First Nations woman, and a gathering of First Nations peoples by a tent. There is a shot of a picnic site sign labelled "Burnt Bridge Picnic site Parks Branch" and another sign that reads "Kalyskt Creek." There is then footage of the creek and a truck driving down a dirt road. There is then a group of people boarding a motor boat in a river and driving up and down the river, which could possibly be the Dean River or the Bella Coola River. There is then more filming of a cabin in the mountains, possibly Elsey's, and a man cleaning a large fish he caught. Then there is footage of men in a rubber raft floating down a river and fishing from the raft, and then some other men traveling in a motor boat.

There is an another break and the third portion of the film begins with footage of birds on a lake and footage from a boat showing the mountains. On land there is filming of two bears walking, men hunting the bear, killing the bear, and skinning the bear. The film cuts back to the boat and the filming the mountains along the water. The people on the boat then pull up crab traps from the water and cook the crabs on the boat. The film ends with footage of salmon jumping and a man filleting his fish catch.

Footage of Bella Coola and Chilcotin Regions, and Ooligan Production

Begins with footage of maps of the Bella Coola area, Tweedsmuir Park, and Wells Gray Park. Then there is a title slide that reads "Steelhead Unlimited on the Bella Cover River". There is general scenery footage of mountains, streams, rivers, a black bear, a white robin, Eagles.

Footage of men floating down minor river rapids in a rubber boats the men banking their boat and fishing from shore.

Footage of Ooligan fishing and processing : paddling the long dugout canoe with the nets in the water, hauling the fish to shore, placing them in "stink boxes" to extract the grease, and wrapping up the nets .

Possible locations of the footage is Bella Coola, Bella Bella, Bella Coola River, Dean River, Chilcotin region, Tweedsmuir Provincial Park or Wells Gray Park.

Footage of Ooligan Harvest and Production of Ooligan Grease

Footage of thee men in dugout canoe bringing in ooligan nets full of ooligan fish on what is believed to be the Bella Coola river. Two of the men bring in the net while the third bails water. The men then bring in the canoe to shore using long poles. Women then join and help transport the fish to shore and then place the fish in large "stink box" where they are stirred with a stick.

Footage of Wildlife, Fishing from River Shore, Backyard BBQ

Footage includes salmon jumping in a river, men filleting fish in fishing boat in tide water, a beaver in the water, and a bird, probably a heron, flying.

Recordings from the boat on a river, some loons on a lake, either Anahim or Fenton lake, and a panoramic view of the lake with mountains in background.

Also some footage of men fishing from the shore of a river, children catching fish, children swimming, some river rapids, footage of an eagle, a pelican on the lake, a group of birds, probably sand pipers, in water.

There are two young girls playing on a boat near shore, a view of white and brown house, and an older boy pulling a young girl in a wagon.

Include is footage of a backyard BBQ picnic, two young girls fishing, a cabin at a lake, and general scenery of birch trees, a boat house, and a dock at lake.

There is also a sign that reads "Breezy Cove," people relaxing on porch in front of cabin, and footage of a woman believed to be Mrs. Elsey and a friend walking on a forest path.

The film ends with footage of more fishing off a motor boat and unloading the motor boat at a dock.

Possible locations of the filming include the Bella Coola River, the Bella Coola Valley, the Bulkley Valley, the Hagensborg area, and Nimpo Lake.

Grease: Ooligan Oil Production on the Bella Coola River, Including BBQ Spring Salmon

Al Elsey compiled this commercial video using footage he filmed in 1964 and 1965 in the Bella Coola area. The video provides a compilation of film footage shot by Elsey and is narrated by him describing the activities related to the Grease Trail. Description verso of VHS commercial box reads:
"Al Elsey's friendship with Margaret Siwallace with other people of the Nuxalk Nation dates back over fifty years. This, his premier documentary, produced from vintage 16 mm movie film taken in the Bella Coola Valley in 1963, invites us to witness their tradition of making Ooligan Grease. The process, followed for centuries by the Nuxalk and other coastal First Nations people, was of such importance that their trading routes from the Coast to the Interior of British Columbia were called Grease Trails. The Ooligan were netted by the ton each year, returning from the ocean to spawn in early spring. The destruction of the Ooligan runs in the Bella Coola and other coast rivers of Southern B.C. probably resulted from over-fishing by shrimp trawl draggers during the late 1990s. GREASE shows catching the Ooligan with conical nets and dugout canoes, rotting them in "stink boxes," then rendering and purifying the Grease. Elsey's captivating narrative and brilliant footage transport us back to another time on the shores of the Bella Coola River."

Loading Freight, Horses in Corral, Hay Wagon

Winter footage at a ranch, believed to be "Pan's." Film includes recordings of the men loading a tractor with an attached flatbed with gear, putting horses in the corral, and feeding cows hay from a flatbed sleigh pulled by a horse.

Location is believed to be Bella Coola or Tchaha Lake.

Loading Gas Barrels on and off Boat on the Dean River

Film begins with aerial footage of mountains believed to be around Bella Coola. Then recording of men loading barrels, supposedly of gas, into a boat using a "home made" winch and boom construction. They ferry the barrels up stream, the river is assumed to be Dean River. and use a similar construction to bring the barrels to shore.

There is also footage of men fishing in the river.

Mountains, Wildlife, Fishing on a River and Robson's Deer

Footage of mountains, spring flowers, a white robin, a butterfly, and eagles flying. Footage of men, believed to be Elsey's sons-in-law, in a rubber raft fishing on a river. Also footage of Robson's Deer.

Locations are speculated to be either Bella Coola River or Dean River, Atnarko area, Bella Coola Valley, Chilcotin area, Paradise Valley or the Rainbow Mountains.

Nedra Jane Paul collection

  • 2001.15
  • Collection
  • 1964-1971
Fonds consists of the personal records of Nedra (Ginty) Jane Paul [b. ca.1920-d. 1990]. Personal records include the 1938 Lord Byng High School Annual, 2 teaching certificates, and 1 photograph. Paul worked as a teacher in the Chilcotin and Bella Coola regions of BC and the primary items of the collection are 8 recordings generated by her with members of First Nations Communities at Alkali, Red Stone, Kleena Kleene and Bella Coola from 1964-1971. There are 8 original audio reel to reel recordings (and 2 tapes which are copies of the recordings later created by P.J. Thomas, who accompanied Paul on the interviews). Recordings include stories and songs.

Paul, Nedra Jane

Ooligan Production, Fly-Fishing, and Robson's Deer

Footage of a "stink box" used in Ooligan grease production in what is assumed to be Bella Coola. Also there is footage of some men fly-fishing on a river shore, either the Bella Coola River or the Dean River. There is a close-up clip of them baiting a hook, and then a shot of the men using gaff and hook to haul fish to shore. The men display their catch for the camera and there is a panoramic view of the mountains behind them. Included are some clips of Robson's deer, and a white robin.

Possible other locations in this film include the Atnarko region, Rainbow Mountains, Ulgoatcho Mountains and Chilcotin area.

Packing Up after a Fishing Trip

The footage begins with a man hauling a rubber boat to shore. The man displays the fish that he has caught to the camera. The film cuts to a pontoon plane for Coast Mountain Flight Services Ltd., and then back to the man placing his fish into a bag. The filming then returns to the plane taking off over water. There is aerial footage of the river and mountains, most likely the Bella Coola Valley. Also include is footage of duck with ducklings.

Possible other locations that are seen in the footage are Gitcha Mountains, Ulkatcho Mountains or Rainbow Mountains.

World War II Polar Bear Training Exercise Photograph Collection

  • 2019.11
  • Collection
  • 1945
These photographs were taken by an unknown photographer from Department of National Deference Public Relations (Pacific Command) during the 1945 Polar Bear Exercise. This exercise was held in northern British Columbia in February and March 1945, using some 1,150 soldiers of the 6th Division. The intent of the exercise was to test the effects of "wet cold" conditions on military men and material. The scenario for the Polar Bear Exercise was that: "Action will be based on reports of a Japanese force having been landed at Bella Coola from submarines, having rendered useless RCAF installations at Bella Bella, and giving positive indication that this force is composed in great part of construction personnel with a comparatively small protective element; the assumption being that it will try to construct a useable road from Bella Coola to permit movement inland of a larger fighting force to follow at some later date". The exercise itself was conducted in three overlapping phases. Between 12 February and 5 March the force moved from Prince George to Anahim Lake, chiefly using an array of motor transport but with some pack horses. The second phase ran from 4 March to early April. This was a series of marches from Anahim Lake to Bella Coola and return; a secondary force of 19 men split off from the main body and, travelling by snowmobile and snowshoe, traversed the Rainbow Mountains to Bella Coola; on the return march this detachment was increased to 120 men and dubbed "Y" Force. The third phase was removal of all troops by vehicle from Anahim Lake to Williams Lake. These photographs are believed to document the return from Bella Coola.
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