Documentary filmmaker Mark Collings is currently working on a documentary about Red Deer's history.

New doc sheds light on historical culture divide

With French farmers north of the river and English settlers south of it, Canada’s ‘two solitudes’ were once all-too evident in Red Deer. While it’s not widely known today, Red Deer was once a microcosm of this country’s cultural and linguistic divide, said city resident Mark Collings, who’s producing a documentary on the city’s history.

With French farmers north of the river and English settlers south of it, Canada’s ‘two solitudes’ were once all-too evident in Red Deer.

While it’s not widely known today, Red Deer was once a microcosm of this country’s cultural and linguistic divide, said city resident Mark Collings, who’s producing a documentary on the city’s history.

With these historic rivals staring at each other across the Red Deer River, “there must be some drama in there somewhere, just waiting to be drawn out…” he added, with a chuckle.

The Francophone neighbourhoods that sprang up around St. Joseph’s Convent in the late 1800s eventually became “absorbed” into a predominantly English-speaking community — like what happened in many other places in Alberta, said Collings.

But Red Deer retains connections with its Gallic past through a local Francophone association, the all-French Ecole La Prairie School, and highly popular French Immersion programming in public and Catholic schools.

Collings, of Hwy2.TV, is making a one-hour documentary about Red Deer along with camera operator/director Marcelo Vilhena, a student in Red Deer College’s Motion Picture Arts Program.

The filmmakers are planning to interview local historian Michael Dawe, Ian Warwick of Sunnybrook Farm, Jim Robertson of the Kerry Wood Nature Centre, and other city residents about little known but “fascinating” aspects of Red Deer’s past.

Collings hopes to complete the documentary in 2017, and make it available for possible airing on PBS, Shaw TV or the CBC.

But he will also be providing shorter local history lessons to the public starting this fall.

Collings is completing a series of filmed vignettes about destination points along the city’s walking tours. He will be adding them to an interactive map he is creating at www.reddeercrossings.

By going to the website and clicking on each charted destination point along the walking tour map, people who are taking self-guided tours of Red Deer will be able to see one-to-two-minute films about various landmarks — including historic businesses, Ghost sculptures, downtown hotels, the former railway station, war memorials and old military sites.

Collings estimates about 10 vignettes per walking tour will be on the site by September.

The idea is to “flesh-out” the historic factsheet for local residents as well as tourists, said Collings, who took filmmaking at Algonquin College in Ottawa.

Having previously made a documentary about Hull, Que.’s gangster-ridden past, Collings believes this city has its share of colourful characters — such as Rev. Leonard Gaetz, who pulled a fast one when he gave some of this own land to the railway, altering the course of Red Deer’s history and his own financial profitability.

“We want to connect people to the city by exploring some of the stories. We want to engage people in their environment,” said Collings, who has applied for various grants to make the longer documentary.

He said he’s already received a letter of support for the projects from the City of Red Deer.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Red Deer woman lives 102 years with humour, ‘gentle strength’ — and porridge

Minnie Deibert was surrounded by family and friends at her birthday party Sunday

Boy escapes serious injury after falling from third-storey window

SURREY, B.C. — A little boy is very lucky to have escaped… Continue reading

Harmonic singing for young women will be taught at a fall workshop in Red Deer

The Hearts of Harmony Chorus is presenting the Nov. 16 session

‘Crying out for help:’ Calgary radicalization program evolves to help others

CALGARY — The soft-spoken young man wasn’t being recruited by neo-Nazis or… Continue reading

Victoria pledges to plant 5,000 trees as part of United Nations challenge

Victoria is promising to plant 5,000 trees on public and private land… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Tuesday Bower Place Community Association Seniors Card and Coffee party at 1:30… Continue reading

Liberals pitch middle-class savings as second full week of campaign beckons

OTTAWA — The Liberals tried to turn the page on Justin Trudeau’s… Continue reading

Democrats blast latest Trump crisis. But what will they do?

WASHINGTON — A whistleblower’s complaint over President Donald Trump’s interactions with a… Continue reading

Face transplant recipient’s donor face now failing

MANCHESTER, N.H. — A woman who was severely burned in a domestic… Continue reading

Charity boat with 182 migrants waits to dock in Europe

A non-profit-run ship carrying 182 migrants rescued on the Mediterranean Sea sailed… Continue reading

Singh-Trudeau meeting will be private, say Liberals, but no time set yet

OTTAWA — The Liberal Party pledged Saturday to keep private the details… Continue reading

Glen Assoun calls for reform in how Ottawa considers cases of wrongful conviction

HALIFAX — Tethered to an ankle monitor and alone in a British… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Saturday nights $9 million Lotto 649 jackpot

TORONTO — There was no winning ticket for the $9 million jackpot… Continue reading

Most Read