Cesar's Bark Canoe Entire Folkstreams

Making The Film

Cesar's Bark Canoe

Film by Bernard Gosselin
Produced by Paul Larose
Cinematographer: Bernard Gosselin
Sound: Serge Beauchemin
Editing: Monique Fortier
Copyright: 1971, National Film Board of Canada
57 minutes, Color
Original format: Film: 16mm, 1971
More Film Facts
Home streaming only. For other permissions apply to Bernard Gosselin or to the distributor, National Film Board of Canada.

This documentary shows how a canoe is built the old way. César Newashish, a 67-year-old Attikamek of the Manawan Reserve north of Montreal, uses only birchbark, cedar splints, spruce roots and gum. Building a canoe solely from the materials that the forest provides may become a lost art, even among the Native peoples whose traditional craft it is. The film is without commentary but text frames appear on the screen in Cree, French and English.

This is one of my favourite films. There is no narration, and very little dialogue, which feels like a revelation. Especially for a documentary created in 1971 about an Aboriginal person and traditional knowledge. I think the lack of interpretation and the simplicity of this film inspires viewers to be more present. Rather than being caught up in description, we can participate through witnessing César's engagement with the contours and rhythms of the materials and the way life weaves in and out of the entire process.

— Lindsay Dobbin, 11 Mar 2015