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Quebec Film History: 1970 to 1989

This entry presents an overview of Québec cinema, from the burgeoning of a distinctly Québec cinema in the 1970s, to the production explosion that followed Denys Arcand’s Le déclin de l’empire américain (1986). It highlights the most important films, whether in terms of box office success or international acclaim, and covers both narrative features and documentaries. It also draws attention to an aspect of filmmaking that still has difficulty finding its place: women's cinema.

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Mr. Dressup

Mr. Dressup was one of Canada’s most beloved and longest-running children’s television series. The program ran for 29 years (1967–96) and more than 4,000 episodes. It starred Ernie Coombs as the jovial Mr. Dressup and was a precursor to the popular American series, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Mr. Dressup was influential in tailoring children’s programming towards developing the child’s emotional and logical intelligence. The series won three Gemini Awards and earned Coombs an appointment to the Order of Canada. A 2017 crowd-sourced online vote unofficially declared Mr. Dressup Canada’s most memorable television program. In 2019, Mr. Dressup was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame.  

Article

Murdoch Mysteries

Murdoch Mysteries is a TV series about William Murdoch, a fictional Victorian-era detective who is ahead of his time and uses forensic science and technology to solve Toronto’s most complex crimes. Often referred to as a Victorian-era CSI, the long-running police procedural features a mix of humour, intrigue, science fiction, history and period production values. Based on Maureen Jennings’s successful series of mystery novels, the show  attracted a cult following after premiering on City TV in 2008. It garnered a much larger audience after being picked up by the CBC in 2013. It was Canada’s highest-rated scripted television series in 2016, 2017 and 2018, and won the Golden Screen Award in 2017, 2018 and 2020. It is seen by millions of viewers in more than 100 countries.

Article

Women's Memorial March

The Women’s Memorial March (WMM) is held every year on 14 February, Valentine’s Day, in cities across Canada and the United States. The WMM started in 1992 in Vancouver, BC, following the murder of Indigenous woman Cheryl Ann Joe. The first Women’s Memorial March began as a small memorial for Joe, but grew to become an annual march to honour all missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The Vancouver march draws thousands of people, while women’s memorial marches have spread to more than 20 cities across Canada and the United States.

timeline event

Whoopi Goldberg Wears Manitoba Artist’s Necklace to Raise Awareness of MMIWG

A beaded necklace made by Mish Daniels of the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba was worn by American TV personality Whoopi Goldberg to raise awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. “I think women need to come together and say: ‘None of us should be gone missing,’” Goldberg said in an episode of the talk show The View. “There has to be a way for us to do this better.” The necklace had been purchased by a customer in Vancouver and given to Goldberg as a gift. “When I first seen it on The View, I lost my voice,” Daniels told CTVNews. “I yelled, I cried, I screamed. It was like winning the lottery. I can’t believe my work has made it that far.”

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Canadian Film History: 1974 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, distributionand 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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Indigenous Women's Issues in Canada

First NationsMétis and Inuit women (collectively referred to as Indigenous women) face many socio-economic issues today because of the effects of colonization. Europeans forced a male-controlled system of government and society (known as patriarchy) on Indigenous societies. The 1876 Indian Act disadvantaged certain Indigenous women by excluding them from band council government and enforcing discriminatory measures that took away Indian Status rights. Many Indigenous women today are leading the way in the area of healing the wounds of colonization, as they grapple with the issues of residential schools, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, abuse and violence, and drug, alcohol and other addictions. (See also Indigenous Feminisms in Canada.)

Article

Murray Sinclair

Murray Sinclair or Mizanay (Mizhana) Gheezhik, meaning “The One Who Speaks of Pictures in the Sky” in the Ojibwe language, lawyer, judge and senator (born in 1951 in Selkirk, MB). Called to the Manitoba Bar in 1980, Sinclair focused primarily on civil and criminal litigation, Indigenous law and human rights. In 1988, he became Manitoba’s first, and Canada’s second, Indigenous judge. Sinclair joined the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2009, before becoming a senator in 2016. The breadth of public service and community work completed by Sinclair demonstrates his commitment to Indigenous peoples in Canada.

timeline event

Quebec Superior Court Rules Parts of MAID Laws are Unconstitutional

A Quebec Superior Court judge ruled that both federal and provincial laws governing medical assistance in dying (MAID) are unconstitutional. Since the assistance is only available to people facing “reasonably foreseeable death,” the laws were deemed too restrictive. Justice Christine Baudouin ruled that the laws violate Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as the right to equality, because “The reasonably foreseeable natural death requirement deprives both individuals and claimants of their autonomy and their choice to end their lives at the time and in the manner desired.” Both governments were given six months to revise the law.

Article

Karlsefni

Thorfinn Karlsefni (Old Norse Þórfinnr Karlsefni), explorer and trader (born c. 980–95 CE in Iceland; year of death unknown). Born Thorfinn Thordarson, this Icelandic aristocrat and wealthy merchant ship owner led one of the Norse expeditions to Vinland, located in what is now Atlantic Canada. He is usually referred to by his nickname, Karlsefni, meaning “the makings of a man.” Karlsefni appears in several historical sources. A long passage in The Saga of the Greenlanders is devoted to him, and he is the chief subject of The Saga of Erik the Red. There are also short accounts in the Old Norse manuscripts known as the Arni Magnusson codex 770b and Vellum codex No. 192.

Article

Ellen Page

Ellen Philpotts-Page, actor, activist, producer (born 21 February 1987 in Halifax, NS). Ellen Page is a serious, soulful and intelligent actor, and one of Canada’s biggest movie stars. A seasoned child performer, she started out in Canadian feature films and TV series, winning two Gemini Awards by the time she was 18. Her intense performance in the American indie Hard Candy (2005) led to high-profile roles in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and the indie smash Juno (2007). Juno earned her an Independent Spirit Award and an Oscar nomination and made her a household name virtually overnight. Adept at quirky comedy (Whip It, Super), intimate drama (Marion Bridge, Mouth to Mouth) and big-budget blockbusters (Inception, the X-Men franchise), she is equally well-known for her environmental activism, her advocacy for LGBTQ rights and her grounded, socially-conscious persona.

Article

Hockey Night in Canada

Hockey Night in Canada (HNIC) is a weekly Saturday night broadcast of National Hockey League (NHL) games. It is Canada’s longest-running television program and the Guinness World Record holder as the longest-running TV sports program. It was first broadcast on the radio in Montreal and Toronto as General Motors Hockey Broadcast on 12 November 1931, with play-by-play by iconic sports broadcaster Foster Hewitt. The first televised airing of HNIC — one of Canada’s earliest television broadcasts — was on 11 October 1952. The program was produced by the CBC from 1936 until 2013, when the rights to broadcast NHL games were acquired by Rogers Communications. A staple of Canadian television for more than half a century, HNIC has long been the country’s highest-rated series. It regularly averaged more than 2 million viewers for decades. Recent seasons have averaged around 1.3 million viewers per episode. The theme music is seen by many as Canada’s second national anthem. The series has won 21 Gemini Awards and three Canadian Screen Awards.

Article

The Handmaid's Tale

Margaret Atwood’s sixth novel, The Handmaid's Tale (1985) is a chilling dystopian vision of the future. It is set in the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian America in which fundamentalist Christians have killed the president and Congress and imposed a puritanical theocracy. The Handmaid's Tale portrays a loveless police state that oppresses women and regulates all aspects of human life with constant surveillance. The novel won the Governor General's Literary Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Science Fiction Literature. It has sold more than eight million copies in English. The Washington Post’s Ron Charles called it “the most popular and influential feminist novel ever written.” It has been adapted into a feature film, an acclaimed opera, a ballet, an Emmy Award-winning television series and a graphic novel. The Testaments, a highly anticipated sequel written by Atwood, was published in September 2019. It was awarded the Booker Prize in a rare tie with Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other.

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Newfoundland and Labrador and Confederation

Attempts to bring Newfoundland into Confederation in the 1860s and 1890s were met with lukewarm interest in the colony. In 1934, Newfoundland was in bankruptcy during the Great Depression. It suspended responsible government and accepted an unelected Commission Government directed by Britain. In a 1948 referendum, Newfoundlanders were given the choice to either continue with the Commission Government, join Canada, or seek a return to responsible government as an independent dominion. The independence option won the first vote. But the Confederation option won a run-off vote with 52.3 per cent support. The British and Canadian parliaments approved of the union. Newfoundland became Canada’s 10th province on 31 March 1949. In 2001, the province’s name was officially changed to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Article

David Gardner

David Gardner, actor, director, educator (born 4 May 1928 in Toronto, ON; died 8 February 2020 in Toronto). David Gardner was a theatre professional who brought a passion for Canadian drama to performance, education and political forums. He had a long and distinguished career as an actor, director, teacher and historian, and was a major player in the development of Canadian theatre. He played some 800 roles on stage, radio, film and television and directed for both stage and television. He taught at the University of Toronto and at York University. His work has been published widely in Canadian encyclopedias and journals.

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Deepa Mehta

Deepa Mehta, OCOOnt, director, producer, screenwriter (born 1 January 1950 in Amritsar, India). Deepa Mehta has received international acclaim for her moving and provocative films, which often explore issues of human rights and social injustice. She is perhaps best known for her epic “Elements trilogy” — Fire (1996), Earth (1998) and Water (2005). The latter was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Mehta has received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Order of Ontario and Queen’s Jubilee Medal. She was made an Officer of the Order of Canada for “challenging cultural traditions and bringing stories of oppression, injustice and violence to the fore.”

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Rights Revolution in Canada

The time between the end of the Second World War and the signing of the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms in 1982 is often referred to as the “Rights Revolution” in Canada. During this period, awareness of and support for human rights increased across Canada. At the grassroots level, women, queer communities, Indigenous peoples, and disability activists pushed for greater inclusion and made significant rights gains. At the same time, both federal and provincial governments passed laws that prohibited discrimination and protected human rights for more people across Canada.

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Sir Ambrose Shea

Sir Ambrose Shea, diplomat, politician, businessman, newspaperman (born c. 1815 in St. John’s, Newfoundland; died 30 July 1905 in London, England). Sir Ambrose Shea was one of the most influential Newfoundland politicians of the 19th century. He served in the colony’s House of Assembly for 34 years, including six as Speaker. He was a key player in both Liberal and Conservative administrations, having crossed the floor twice. A skilled orator and diplomat, he was admired for his attempts to mend political divisions between Catholics and  Protestants, and for his promotion of the island’s economic development. His enthusiastic support for Confederation following the Quebec Conference in 1864 hurt his career in Newfoundland, as Confederation did not gain popularity there until the mid-20th century. He is nevertheless considered a Father of Confederation. He also served as governor of the Bahamas.