Film and television in B.C. research guide: Special Collections and Rare Books

Poster for "Laugh-o-Rama" benefit for the Cinémathèque, [ca. 1994]

 Looking for archival materials or primary sources about the film and television industry in British Columbia? Start your research here!

Special Collection and Rare Books (SCRB) is home to a number of fonds illustrating the history of film and television production in British Columbia, including the fonds of British Colombian producers, directors, screenwriters, and production companies, including Gemini, Emmy, and other award winning work for the BBC, CBC, Global, and the National Film Board of Canada.

The first film shot in British Columbia (B.C.) was a piece of advertising for the Canadian Pacific Railroad Company filmed from the front of a locomotive in 1899. Soon thereafter, in 1902, the Electric Theatre in Vancouver became the first permanent movie house to open in Canada. There forward the province developed its own rich history of film and television as well as becoming a destination for foreign investment production, earning the label “Hollywood North” along with Toronto.

The early 20th century saw the provincial government fund promotional films, enact the B.C. Motion Picture Act and establish a Board of Censorship of Theatres and Film. In 1920, B.C. set up its own production unit, the B.C. Patriotic and Educational Picture Service (PEPS). Film and television production expanded through the first half of the century, and by 1968, Bill C-204 created the Canadian Film Development Corporation (renamed Telefilm Canada in 1984). By the late 1970s, infrastructure existed for a full film industry. By the 1990s, high-profile Hollywood productions like the X-Files (1993-1997), Rambo: First Blood (1982), and Legends of the Fall (1994) increased British Columbia’s visibility and Vancouver in particular became a destination for special-effects driven, high-budget productions (Michael Walsh, Filmmaking Industry).

Why are some materials "unprocessed"?

The work that archivists do in preparing materials for research use is called “processing.” This involves:

  • identifying and describing materials
  • making the materials discoverable by creating finding aids (like these pages), database records, and other tools
  • rehousing materials in archival-standard enclosures (like acid- and lignin-free boxes and file folders)

Because we want our users to know we have relevant holdings to their research, we list and selectively provide access to our unprocessed collections.

Interested in exploring an unprocessed collection? Contact us as early as possible so we can discuss details.

Archival collections

Daryl Duke fonds

Extent: 8.90 m of textual records and other material
Archival finding aidMsC-120

Film director Daryl Duke’s Emmy Award-winning career spans a wide range of accomplishments in feature films, television dramas, documentaries, and television specials. Over more than half a century, Duke worked as a producer and a director for both Canadian Television networks, for all three major U.S. networks and for most of the major studios in Hollywood. The fonds consists of materials created by Duke from approximately 1946 to 2006, related to all aspects of Duke's life and career.

Dennis Foon fonds

Extent: [ca. 8 m of textual records and other material]
Archival finding aid: MsC-214 [unprocessed]

Dennis Foon is a Canadian playwright, producer, screenwriter and novelist. He was co-founder and artistic director of Green Thumb Theatre in Vancouver, British Columbia. There he wrote and produced a body of plays that continue to be produced internationally in numerous languages. He has received the British Theatre Award, two Chalmers awards, the Jesse Richardson Career Achievement Award, a Governor General's nomination, and the International Arts for Young Audiences Award. In 2007, he was made a lifetime member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada. Foon's screenplays have continued his exploration into the psyche of youth: Little Criminals (1995), produced as a CBC movie about an 11-year-old gang leader, won multiple national and international awards; Life, Above All (2011), is a feature that received a ten-minute standing ovation at Cannes; it was shortlisted for a 2011 best foreign language Oscar. He has won a Gemini Award, two Writers Guild of Canada Awards, two Leos, and numerous other international awards for his screenplays.

The unprocessed fonds consists of records relating to the work of Dennis Foon from circa 1973 till 2014. The records relate to his activities as a playwright, screenwriter for film and television, novelist and producer, including his activities as founder and artistic director of the Green Thumb Theatre. The records include textual records, digital records, moving images and sound recordings. 

Force Four Entertainment collection

Extent: [9.5 metres of textual records ; 31,000 photographs ; ca. 5,000 films and tapes]
Archival finding aid: MsC-234 [unprocessed]

Force Four Entertainment is one of Canada’s leading television production companies. Force Four has produced over 500 hours of television and is the recipient of a Peabody Award for “Significant and Meritorious Achievement in Broadcasting,” ten Gemini Awards and more than twenty-five Gemini nominations. This unprocessed collection consists of master tapes and DVDs, select raw footage, and audio tapes. Productions include 65 Red Roses, Art Zone, Carbon Hunters, Human Cargo, and documentary films on subjects such as Emily Carr, Rick Hansen, and Terry Fox, among others. 

Norman Klenman fonds

Extent: 3.21 m of textual records and other material
Archival finding aidMsC-101

Norman Klenman wrote for print and television in Canada for four decades, such as Reuters, the BBC, the National Film Board of Canada, and the CBC. Klenman formed a number of production companies in partnership with William Davidson, Daryl Duke, and Edgar Cohen, among others. The fonds consists of correspondence, scripts, screenplays, newsletters, articles, films and other records created or accumulated by Norman Klenman from 1946-2011.

Laurier LaPierre fonds

Extent: 2.7 m of textual records and other material
Archival finding aidMsC-198

The Honourable Laurier Lucien LaPierre O.C., PhD received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1955, a Master of Arts in 1957 and a PhD in 1962. Over his lifetime he was also awarded several honorary degrees, including Doctorates from the University of Prince Edward Island and Brock University. LaPierre began his career as a professor, teaching at several institutions across Canada. In 1962, while an instructor at McGill University, he was approached by Patrick Watson of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to write and co-host a public affairs television show that eventually became the often-controversial, “This Hour Has Seven Days” (1964-1966).

This fonds contains primarily correspondence, photographs, videotapes, and newspaper clippings, as well as research and drafts from a multitude of writing projects LaPierre worked on throughout his life. There is material relevant to many of the key aspects of LaPierre's personal and professional life, including his career as a television broadcaster.

Gerald Newman fonds

Extent: 78 cm of textual records and other material
Archival finding aid: MsC-35

Gerald Miller Newman was TV coordinating producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Vancouver, in 1956, and a CBC radio producer from 1956 through 1967. From 1959 through 1967, Newman was the senior producer in charge of CBC radio drama for the Pacific region. Newman produced and directed numerous drama and music programs for the CBCs A Man at Westminster, Midweek Theatre, Project 66, Saturday Evening, Summer Stage, Sunday Night, Sunday Stage, and Wednesday Night. Newman was an associate professor in Simon Fraser University’s Department of English from 1967 until his retirement in 1991. The fonds consists of radio play-scripts and production scripts, and incidental music score manuscripts for two productions.

Indigenous Media Arts Group (IMAG) fonds

Extent: 3.3 m of textual records and other material
Archival finding aid: MsC-209

The Indigenous Media Arts Group, or IMAG, was a Vancouver based non-profit organization founded in early 1998 to encourage and facilitate the promotion, development and dissemination of Indigenous media, arts and culture. The group grew out of the amalgamation of the First Nations Video Collective and the former First Nations Access Program at Video In Studios. Founding members included Dana Claxton, Cleo Reece, Zachery Longboy, and T’uy’t’tanat-Cease Wyss and membership was comprised of local media makers. IMAG's activities included organizing the IMAGeNation Aboriginal Film and Video Festival, a festival that was held annually in Vancouver from 1998 to 2006, and a traveling film festival that was held in rural communities throughout British Columbia (Prince Rupert, Duncan and Enderby) in 1999 and in 2005. The group also facilitated workshops and training programs in media and arts administration and operated a resource centre for Indigenous people to access information regarding film and video making, media arts, cultural theory and media literacy. The group never received operating funding and functioned from grant to grant. By 2007, key individuals had left the organization and, without an operating grant, the group disbanded the same year.

The fonds consists of materials generated by the operations of the Indigenous Media Arts Group (IMAG), including administrative and financial records, publications, correspondence, meeting minutes, grant applications, teaching materials, festival schedules and guides, publicity materials, press clippings and records relating specifically to the IMAGeNation film festival, including films submitted for the festival, and films created by IMAG staff and students. The fonds contains festival posters and photographs from festivals and other events.

Moving Pictures fonds

Extent: [ca. 90 cm of textual records]
Archival finding aid: MsC-264 [unprocessed]

Moving Pictures presented an annual travelling program of Canadian films in the genres of drama, documentary, animation and experimental, in diverse lengths (features, mid-length and shorts), and in the formats of 35 mm, beta SP and DVD. The rationale of the festival was to disseminate work by Canadian artists and to develop an appreciation of Canadian cinema as an art form and cultural product. The unprocessed fonds consists of records relating to the administration and organization of the Moving Pictures film festival. Records include board of directors manuals, financial records, correspondence, and minutes.

Nora D. Randall fonds

Extent: [ca. 2.3 m of textual records and other materials]
Archival finding aid: MsC-262 [unprocessed]

Nora D. Randall is a lesbian feminist writer whose work ranged from radio, film, and print. Together with her partner Jackie Crossland, they founded the theatre and storytelling company, Random Acts, in 1988. Together they wrote, produced and directed stories about lesbians and working women that were presented in festivals in Canada and the United States.

The unprocessed fonds includes recordings of performances, scrapbooks, press releases, promotional material, scripts, newspaper clippings, reviews, contracts, and art journals. It also includes documentation from Women Against Budget, a feminist organization inside the Solidarity Movement that opposed the Bennett government restraint budgets. 

Paul St. Pierre fonds

Extent: 17 m of textual records and other material
Archival finding aidMsC-88

Journalist and novelist Paul St. Pierre was also principal scriptwriter for the award-winning CBC series, Cariboo Country, a Canadian western set in central British Columbia that aired for eight years during the 1960s. He also wrote, among other television dramas, the acclaimed Sister Balonika (1969), and his play How to Run the Country was produced by the Vancouver Playhouse in 1967. The fonds consists of manuscripts of books, radio and stage plays, television series episodes, and speeches; film scripts; newspaper columns; essays; reviews and articles about St. Pierre and his writing; and photographs, among other material

Michael Turner fonds

Extent: 2.05 m of textual records and other material
Archival finding aidMsC-107

Michael Turner is a musician and writer of prose, poetry, opera librettos, and screenplays.. He is most well known for his 1993 novel Hard Core Logo and its subsequent motion picture adaptation. The fonds consists of drafts of manuscripts of poetry, essays and articles, short fiction, and experimental screenplays. 

Eleanor Wachtel fonds

Extent: 94 cm of textual records ; 107 audio reels
Archival finding aidMsC-21

Eleanor Wachtel, CM is a Canadian writer and broadcaster best known for hosting the weekly literary show Writers and Company on CBC Radio One. The fonds consists of typescripts and audio reels of CBC radio reviews of stage plays, motion pictures, children's books and popular culture events and festivals, especially those held in the Lower Mainland area of B.C. Fonds also includes related publicity materials.

Other useful links: Beyond SCRB


Some books in the general SFU Library collections that are useful in researching film and television in British Columbia include:

Special Collections and Rare Books and SFU Library’s larger general collection areso home to a number of monographs and journals that focus on Film and Television production in British Columbia. Here are some sample subject heading searches to get your research started.

SFU Library research guides

Need other resources beyond Special Collections and Rare Books, including current resources on this topic? SFU's subject specialist librarians create research and subject guides to recommend the best resources for your discipline, and the best search strategies, whether you are looking for books or searching specialised databases. Related subject guides include:

Reference works + websites

Lastly, other resources outside of SFU Library iclude: