Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Manitoba's oldest moving pictures kept safe, but mostly forgotten

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The oldest known motion picture in the province features horse-drawn fire engines racing down a crowded Winnipeg downtown street and some guys jigging to a couple of banjo pickers.

What the two segments have to do with one another is anyone’s guess.

It’s called Brigade on the Run and was shot by French filmmaker Leo Lefebvre in 1906.

The Manitoba Archives is the keeper of Brigade on the Run and about a dozen other old moving pictures that depict in black and white a province and city trying to find its place in the world.

Viewed by hundreds, if not thousands, at the time, they now sit mostly forgotten on shelves.

Reporter Bruce Owen visited the Archives of Manitoba and dug up some of the best archival pictures to bring to Free Press readers.

There's the 1925 production Seaport of the Prairies. Essentially a promotional film following a train trip of politicians and businessmen (and Manitoba Free Press reporter H.B. Guest) from The Pas north along the Hudson Bay rail line that hugged the Nelson River.

And from 1939 the first ever Winnipeg Free Press video production, about a school safety patrol program sponsored by the newspaper. 

Read about the archive's moving pictures in Saturday's Winnipeg Free Press, and watch the films online.

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