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Al Elsey Moving Images Collection
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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."

Anahim Lake Stampede, Caribou Hunt Fenton Lake, Burton Josephine Robson and their Deer

Al Elsey compiled his original footage from 1964 to produce this commercial film that deals with the Anahim Lake Stampede, Caribou Hunting around Fenton Lake in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, and Burton and Josephine Robson with their domestic deer. The video provides a compilation of film footage shot by Elsey and is narrated by him describing the activities documented in the footage

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.

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.

Pack Train and Herd of Caribou

Footage of large animal, most likely a moose, along a steep bank. Two men and their pack horse traveling along an open landscape, a close shot of their campfire at night, then footage of them preparing for a journey early in the morning. Also a view of a herd of caribou, the men traveling in a pack train over a stream and through upper valleys of the mountains, various sunset shots, a lake full of birds feeding, and finally the men packing the horses with killed game meat, most likely caribou.

The location of the filming is most likely the Rainbow Mountains.

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.

Anahim Lake Stampede, Loading Pack Horses, Caribou Moose Hunt, and Children Playing

Film begins with recording of geese flying in sky as introduction. Then there is footage of community life in the general store, believed to be "Christensen's General Store," including a man lighting a pipe, children buying snacks and families buying groceries. Afterwards there is filming of the Anahim Stampede, depicting wild cow riding, bronco riding and the spectators.

The second portion of the film begins with the title slide "Caribou Return" and in consists of clips of ducks on a lake, scenery of trees and the lake, men packing up horses as they prepare for a journey into the high country. They travel as a pack train up into the mountains and eventually set up camp. There is footage of the men cooking, and also various shots of wildlife including a white grouse, herd of caribou, moose wandering through the snow, and a porcupine. The hunting party eventually kills a bull moose and there is footage of them examining the kill and loading the pack train with meat.

The third portion of the film begins with two young girls playing in a boat and then playing in a garden, and then a young boy pulling his sister in a wagon. There is a family barbeque and more footage of children playing and going fishing in a lack. The film ends with a recording of a grouse or pheasant in a bush.

Locations believed to be filmed in on this reel include Gitcha Mountains, Ulkatcho Mountains, Holt Homestead, Lassard Lake, Rainbow Mountains or Tweedsmuir Provincial 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.

Caribou herd

Footage of a caribou herd.

Probable locations of filming include the Chilcotin area, Rainbow Mountains, or Tweedsmuir Provincial Park.

Chilcotin Landscape

Footage of lake and surrounding landscape. The location is believed to be "Small Lake" would could possibly be located in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, Chilcotin area or the Rainbow Mountains.

Tom Engebretch on Motorcycle at East Ranch

Footage of Tom Engebretch loading a Honda motorbike with gun and gunny sack and driving off through a creek and up a hill.

Location is believed to be East Ranch, possibly located in near Bella Coola, Tweedsmuir Provincial Park or Chilcotin area.

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.

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.

Map of B.C., Bella Coola Valley and Caribou Trophy COPY

Film begins with short introduction of girl pointing to a map and drawing a line to where the men will be hunting.

Footage from a small plane overlooking the landscape of what is believed to be either the Bella Coola Valley, Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, Rainbow Mountains, or Chilcotin area.

Footage of hunting party setting up camp in the high country of the mountains. There is a herd of caribou and footage of caribou trophy kill. There is filming of two marmots and additional recordings of camp cooking and socializing.

The film ends with the hunters entering the plane again and returning to their original camp, believed to be Nimpo lake.

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.

Anahim Lake Stampede

Footage of the Anahim Stampede. The film includes recordings of the people at the stampede, bronco and bull riding, the area surrounding the arena, wild cow milking, children games such as sack races, horse racing around the arena, the concession stand and wild cow riding.

Map of B.C., Bella Coola Valley and Caribou Trophy

Footage from a small plane overlooking the landscape of what is believed to be either the Bella Coola Valley, Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, Rainbow Mountains, or Chilcotin area.

Footage of hunting party setting up camp in the high country of the mountains. There is a herd of caribou and footage of caribou trophy kill. There is filming of two marmots and additional recordings of camp cooking and socializing.

The film ends with the hunters entering the plane again and returning to their original camp, believed to be Nimpo lake.

Sawmill at Cless Pocket Ranch and Anahim Lake Stampede

Footage of a horse ranch called "Cless Pocket Ranch" and hay fields surrounding. There is men at work using a sawmill to cut wood into planks and men working in the hay field with their young sons on the ranch. Cless Pocket Ranch is located in the Chilcotin area of BC near Anahim Lake.

Also included is footage of the Anahim Lake stampede, the people watching and playing, the arena and the concession stand.

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