Hamilton Harbour's struggle and success hits small-screen

By Jane Christmas, October 19, 2007

    Ken Cruikshank and Nancy Bouchier aboard the Hamilton Harbour Queen.
As cities around the world deal with the remediation of their waterfronts, Hamilton is putting its harbour up for scrutiny, thanks to an informative and entertaining DVD produced by McMaster University's L. R. Wilson Centre for Canadian History and Pixel Dust Studios.

The People and the Bay is an historical, social and environmental tour of one of Canada's oldest and most popular water playgrounds. Hamilton Harbour was cherished for its beauty, its boundless recreation opportunities and enormous economic potential. But like waterfronts around the world, it succumbed to pollution and, as a result, public derision.

"This should be of interest to those living in North American cities such as Toronto, Vancouver and Boston, who, like Hamilton, have struggled to balance industrial and recreational uses while sustaining a healthy environment," says Ken Cruikshank, chair of McMaster's Department of History.

Shot in the spring and summer of 2006, The People and the Bay incorporates live footage and historical images. Some of the images are quite rare, including some reproduced from glass negatives by the Library and Archives of Canada.

"This DVD was done as part of our outreach to high school students who, for a number of reasons, cannot take field trips that involve water transportation," said Cruikshank. He and Nancy Bouchier, associate professor in the departments of Kinesiology and History, wrote, narrated and appear in the 47-minute production. "It fits the curriculum for history, but it can also be used by students of geography and environmental studies."

The People and the Bay will be distributed free to high schools in Hamilton and the surrounding region, says Cruikshank.

The film will be screened at an invitation-only event tonight (Thursday, Oct. 18) at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Parks Canada Discovery Centre, appropriately on Hamilton's waterfront.

Funding for the production of the DVD was provided by the L.R. Wilson Centre for Canadian History.