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Canadian Film History: Notable Films and Filmmakers 1980 to Present

Filmmaking is a powerful form of cultural and artistic expression, as well as a highly profitable commercial enterprise. From a practical standpoint, filmmaking is a business involving large sums of money and a complex division of labour. This labour is involved, roughly speaking, in three sectors: production, distribution and exhibition. The history of the Canadian film industry has been one of sporadic achievement accomplished in isolation against great odds. Canadian cinema has existed within an environment where access to capital for production, to the marketplace for distribution and to theatres for exhibition has been extremely difficult. The Canadian film industry, particularly in English Canada, has struggled against the Hollywood entertainment monopoly for the attention of an audience that remains largely indifferent toward the domestic industry. The major distribution and exhibition outlets in Canada have been owned and controlled by foreign interests. The lack of domestic production throughout much of the industry’s history can only be understood against this economic backdrop.

This article is one of four that surveys the history of the film industry in Canada. The entire series includes: Canadian Film History: 1896 to 1938; Canadian Film History: 1939 to 1973; Canadian Film History: 1974 to Present; Canadian Film History: Notable Films and Filmmakers 1980 to Present.

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Moravian Missions in Labrador

In 1771, Moravian missionaries were the first Europeans to settle in Labrador. Over a 133-year period, they established a series of eight missions along the coast which became the focus of religious, social and economic activities for the Inuit who gradually came to settle near the communities. Moravians had a huge impact on the life and culture of Labrador Inuit. What emerged was a unique culture rooted in Inuit traditions with indigenized European practices. The last Moravian missionary left Labrador in 2005, but the Moravian church, its customs and traditions are still very much alive in Labrador.

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The Deaf-Blind Lack Comprehensive Support, Advocates Argue

Advocates for deaf-blind people in Canada called for better and more comprehensive support services across the country. To get the help they need, a large number of Canada’s 360,000 deaf-blind people have moved to Ontario  — the only province to provide financial support and assistance services. “That’s not fair. They have a right to live in the community with their family,” said Sherry Grabowski, executive director with CNIB Deafblind Community Services. “We need to fill that gap. We need to make sure that people across Canada have the services like we have in Ontario and that they’re not living in isolation.” 

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Alfred Kunz

Alfred Leopold Kunz, composer, conductor, administrator (born 26 May 1929 in Neudorf, SK; died 16 January 2019 in Kitchener-Waterloo, ON). Alfred Kunz studied composition and conducting 1949–55 at the RCMT and for several summers in the 1960s with Stockhausen and others in Europe. In 1965 he completed the state examinations in choral conducting at the Musikhochschule in Mainz and was assistant conductor of the Mainz City Opera Theatre. He began teaching in Kitchener, Ontario, in 1955. He organized the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Orchestra and Choir in 1959 and was organist-choirmaster 1959-64 at Mount Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church.

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Heartland

Heartland is a family drama that airs on CBC TV on Sundays at 7:00 p.m. Based on novels published by Working Partners under the name Lauren Brooke, it premiered in 2007 and is the longest-running one-hour drama in Canadian history. Set on a family ranch called Heartland, the Alberta-shot series follows Amy Fleming’s (Amber Marshall) relationships with her family, with ranch hand Ty Borden (Graham Wardle) and her special abilities as a horse whisperer. Winner of five Directors Guild of Canada Awards for best family television series, Heartland has averaged more than 1 million viewers per episode and is broadcast in more than 100 countries.

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Reserves in Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador is home to two First Nation groups: the Mi’kmaq living on the island of Newfoundland, and the Innu, living in central and northern Labrador. The province has three reserves. Two of the reserves are Innu: the Sheshatshiu and Natuashish reserves are home to the Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation and Mushuau Innu First Nation respectively. The third, Miawpukek Mi’kamawey Mawi’omi (commonly known as Miawpukek, or in English, Conne River), is Mi’kmaq. Indigenous people live in these communities, as well as in other, non-Indigenous communities throughout the province. As of March 2019, there were 28,293 registered Indians living in Newfoundland and Labrador, 12 per cent of whom lived on reserve. One reason the province has a relatively small on-reserve population is because the Qalipu Mi’kmaq, a band from the West Coast of Newfoundland and one of the largest in the country, does not have reserve lands. Labrador is also home to many Inuit communities who, like Inuit living in other parts of the country, do not have reserves.

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Argentia

Argentia, NL, Unincorporated Place. Argentia is located on the west coast of the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland.

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Denis Villeneuve

Denis Villeneuve, filmmaker (born 3 October 1967 in Gentilly, QC). Denis Villeneuve is one of Canada’s best-known and most acclaimed filmmakers. His visually inventive, atmospheric and sombre films frequently focus on themes of trauma, identity and memory. His Canadian films, including the searing psychological dramas Maelström (2000), Polytechnique (2009), Incendies (2010) and Enemy (2013), have won 22 Genie Awards, five Canadian Screen Awards and 26 Prix Iris. His Hollywood films — Prisoners (2013), Sicario (2015) and Arrival (2016) — have enjoyed critical and commercial success. He is the only Québécois filmmaker to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Director. With Blade Runner 2049 (2017) and an upcoming adaption of Frank Herbert’s Dune, Villeneuve has become one of the most sought-after filmmakers in the world. In December 2019, the Hollywood Critics Association named him the Filmmaker of the Decade.

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Simon Streatfeild

Simon Nicholas Streatfeild, conductor, violist (born 5 October 1929 in Windsor, England; died 7 December 2019). Simon Streatfeild was an accomplished violist and conductor. He began his career in his native England with London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sadler’s Wells Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra. He also helped found the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields chamber orchestra. He moved to Canada in 1965 and held many positions with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra while also conducting across Canada and internationally. He was a founding member of the Baroque Strings of Vancouver, the founding director of the Courtenay Youth Music Camp, and a founding member of the Purcell String Quartet. In his later years, Streatfeild served as principal guest conductor and artistic advisor of Orchestra London Canada, Symphony Nova Scotia, and the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra. He received the Canadian Music Council Medal in 1987 and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.

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Cupids

Cupids, Newfoundland and Labrador, incorporated as a town in 1965, population 743 (2016 census), 761 (2011 census). The town of Cupids is located in southwest Conception Bay on the Avalon Peninsula, about 80 km west of St. John's. Originally known as Cupers Cove (1610), other early variants of the name include Cuperts Cove and Kibby's Cove. However, the name Cupids Cove appears quite early: Sir William Alexander referred to it by this name in his An Encouragement to Colonies (1624). No one knows the origin of the name, but it may be an anglicized version of a Spanish or Basque name.

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Film Distribution in Canada

Film distribution is one of the three main branches of the film industry. It provides the link between film production and exhibition. It is also the most profitable of the three sectors and is dominated by large multinational conglomerates. Film distribution companies supply movies, television programs, videos and new media to outlets such as cinemas and broadcasters. They do so in territories where they have acquired rights from the producers. Traditionally, distribution companies are the prime source for financing new productions. The distribution sector has been called “the invisible art.” Its practices tend to only concern industry insiders and go unnoticed by audiences. American companies dominate film distribution in Canada. They have controlled access to Canadian screens since the 1920s. (See also: Canadian Film History: 1896 to 1938.)

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John Cabot

John Cabot (a.k.a. Giovanni Caboto), merchant, explorer (born before 1450 in Italy, died at an unknown place and date). In 1496, King Henry VII of England granted Cabot the right to sail in search of a westward trade route to Asia and lands unclaimed by Christian monarchs. Cabot mounted three voyages, the second of which, in 1497, was the most successful. During this journey Cabot coasted the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador, possibly sighted the Beothuk or Innu people of the region, and famously noted that the waters teemed with cod. At the time, the land Cabot saw was thought to be the eastern shore of Asia, the fabled island of Brasil, or the equally fabled Isle of Seven Cities. Cabot and his crew were the second group of Europeans to reach what would become Canada, following Norse explorers around 1000 CE. Despite not yielding the trade route Cabot hoped for, the 1497 voyage provided England with a claim to North America and knowledge of an enormous new fishery.

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Robert Pickton Case

From 1978 to 2001, at least 65 women disappeared from the Downtown Eastside district of Vancouver, British Columbia, prompting the largest serial killer investigation in Canadian history. Robert Pickton was charged with murdering 26 of the women, and was convicted on six charges. In a jail cell conversation with an undercover police officer, Pickton claimed to have murdered 49 women.

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Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland, the youngest of the Canadian provinces, joined Confederation in 1949. Some portion of its coast was undoubtedly one of the first parts of the continent seen by Europeans. Its total area is 405, 720 km2, of which Labrador makes up almost three-quarters (294,330 km2). The island of Newfoundland is the easternmost region of Canada, while Labrador is located on the mainland to the northwest. Since John Cabot's arrival on the “new isle” the island has been referred to as Terra Nova, or in English, Newfoundland. Labrador probably received its name from the Portuguese designation, "Terra del Lavradors."