A few clouds

Winnipeg, MB

22°c A few clouds

Full Forecast

Movies

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Filmmaker wants Winnipeg to hug history to its heaving bosom

Posted: 06/13/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

Advertisement

  • Print

Winnipeg is not known for steamy, erotic fiction, but if Aaron Zeghers had his way, the whole world would find out about the city's best-kept raunchy secret.

Zeghers, along with Ryan Simmons, has directed a documentary, Born Out of Love, that explores the history of Harlequin books, the famous line of romance novels that got its start as a little Winnipeg business in 1949.

The publishing company was started by Mary Bonnycastle, wife of Richard H.G. Bonnycastle, who was the president of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and the chancellor of the University of Winnipeg. Zeghers says the Bonnycastles were already well-known before they started Harlequin Enterprises.

"They were almost part of this old socialite class that existed in Winnipeg, this old money. In the society part of the paper, there were always references to Richard Bonnycastle coming or leaving, or about his marriage," Zeghers says.

After Richard died in 1968, his son, Richard Jr., took over, and built the company into the global powerhouse it is today. The books are still popular these days, despite what Zeghers says are stereotypes attached to them.

"One of the Harlequin editors in the film says, 'Even though publishing in this genre has this stigma, the good thing is the (authors) end up laughing all the way to the bank," he says.

Zeghers says few people know about the Winnipeg roots of the company, which is partly why he wanted to make the movie.

"It wasn't well known, and still isn't. Obviously the people in my life now know, but I think most Winnipeggers don't know.

"And Harlequin started the romance genre in a lot of ways in North America. There wasn't a female-dominated book genre before. The local history has kind of been forgotten," he says.

While researching for the movie, Zeghers says he contacted various local organizations in hopes of getting more information on the Bonnycastles, but no one seemed to know much about them.

"I was shocked that no one could talk to who Richard Bonnycastle was, because he was a very prominent Winnipegger for years."

Harlequin was co-operative with the filmmakers when Zeghers approached them; they even let Zeghers and Simmons attend a cover-photo shoot in Toronto.

"We were amazingly able to get full co-operation. They allowed us to use all the old-school covers and their logos, and all that kind of stuff," he says.

The film premières tonight at 7 p.m. at Cinematheque at 100 Arthur St.

Above everything, Zeghers said he hopes audiences who watch the movie remember a bit about their city and preserve the culture, so that it doesn't get lost again.

"Winnipeg doesn't view itself as anything so special. Often these local histories become forgotten, and I think it's very important to preserve these things and claim them as our own," he says.

 

oliver.sachgau@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 13, 2014 D3

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.