A few months ago, my dad was on a quick visit to Edmonton and before leaving he handed me a hard drive. On it is hours and hours of footage of home videos from our childhood (which I'm glad Nicole laid eyes on after agreeing to marry me since it's full of my awkward-years self with a mushroom cut, decidedly not rocking it). It's incredible to have access to all of this footage. My dad filmed everything, religiously, even occasionally setting the camera on a tripod and recording for full 20 minute increments during birthday cake cutting and story time and so on, giving the feeling of being a fly on the wall. At my own life. In the past. It's surreal and wonderful.
The real gift, though, is a file on the hard drive called "Old Movies", containing a full two hour video of scanned standard 8mm film (like, before super 8 even existed), which was captured by my grandpa Martin in the mid-fifties to early-sixties. Being so passionate about video captured on film, and so fascinated with family history, this video clip, to me, is worth more than gold.
I spent hours going through the material.
My dad and his brothers were all born in Calgary between 1951 and 1959. Their childhood was quintessentially Albertan, as mine later was as well. Road trips to Banff and Radium Hot Springs, camping and Stampeding in the summer, and making the most of long winters, either by embracing the snow or getting the heck out of the country. It's beyond magical, to me, to be able to watch living footage of my dad and uncles growing up and being both sweet and rough with each other, playing, fishing, finding animals (there's footage of them holding: a rabbit, two snakes, a dog, a cat, a pig and a large bird of some kind). To see footage of what must be the beginning of Standard Medical Supplies, the family medical supply business which still exists today, as STAT Healthcare. To see Calgary, so much tinier than it is now, during the construction of the Calgary Tower. Seeing the mannerisms of my grandma Alice and grandpa Martin, who were gone before I arrived, is the greatest gift. My heart's full.
For my dad's 66th birthday, I put together some of the best moments from the 2 hour video into a short 12 minute film. If you're from - or familiar with - Alberta, I hope it brings you a sense of nostalgia. And as it certainly does for me, I hope it serves as a reminder that it pays to capture the people you love, even if that footage stays unwatched for awhile. It's more valuable than anything.