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June 15, 2007

Clouds and Gardens in Perspective


Captains of the Clouds Fly Again

 The famous North Bay movie Captains of the Clouds premiered in North Bay at the Capitol Centre in North Bay in 1942 to large crowds.  Now 65 years later the movie returns to the same theatre tomorrow at 2pm. The stars James Cagney, Denis Morgan, Alan Hale and Brenda Marshall briefly stayed at the Empire Hotel in 1941 and created quite a scene until they moved to Len Hughes’ Camp Champlain on Trout Lake and other locations.  The Empire Living Centre housed in the old Empire Hotel is celebrating its 10th anniversary and has arranged for a free public showing of the film on the full screen to anyone interested. 

At the recent Doors Open event at the Empire Living Centre several people told me stories of  Cagney talking to the crowd on the street from his hotel window, visiting the movie set, getting autographs etc.  North Bay artist Lori Grace Johnson told me about her grandfather Sam Generous who worked as Len Hughes’ guide at Camp Champlain showing the stars of the movie around. 

For more details on the movie check my article on the film on August 29, 2003.  I also wrote about Cagney’s plane which crashed in 1953 in Algonquin Park and was later recovered (September 5, 2003).  The articles have some interesting photos included. 

Rudy Mauro who has researched the movie in depth and was part of the movie’s exhibition at the Callander Museum last year will have some of his memorabilia at the Capitol during the film showing tomorrow. 

I got an interesting email recently from the Curator of the Brigham Young University Film Archives in Provo, Utah about the film.  They were having a showing of the Captians of the Clouds film at their Archives Film Series on May 25th and wanted information on the film.  He found my article, mentioned above, on the internet and wanted to find out about the material that I had mentioned that Rudy Mauro had.  I passed the email on to Rudy. 

Cagney was the highest paid super-star in the 1940s and in the same year as the film was shot he won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his film Yankee Doodle Dandy. 

The Captains of the Clouds movie is about the experience of Ontario bush pilots hired to fly planes overseas for Canadian Pilots in England and the adventures in getting there.  Come out and have a look and bring your parachutes. 

Sweetman’s Garden 

I have visited the remarkable garden of Murray Sweetman on several occasions as have numerous others including many painters and photographers.  Murray started his garden in 1962 and it soon spread to the land between McIntyre and Cormack Streets on CPR land.  The city now owns the land and wants to develop it in a way which may destroy the garden.  Many people are trying to save the gardens and there is an Art Show scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday June 16 to support the event.  Watch the Nugget for details.  You should be able to take in the movie and the Art Show without any problem. 

Cathy Dwyer Smith (centre) Co-chair (with Mac McKenzie) of Angele Project.  Dermot Wilson Director/Curator of the W.K.P. Kennedy Gallery North Bay (left) and Frog’s Breath Foundation General Manager Michael Baker who presented a cheque to the Angele Project at the opening on June 1. Doug Mackey photo.

Temagami History 

I have written several articles about the Angele Egwuna Project which opened on June 1 at the Temagami Train Station.  Angele was married to Grey Owl and there are many descendants.  Archie arrived in Temagami 100 years ago this spring and his arrival is also being celebrated. 

Coincidentally the Temagami Train Station is celebrating its 100th anniversary as is the Temagami Public School. 

Before the Angele Opening I visited the local Public School with Actor/Director June Keevil to see the rehearsal of a unique historical play written by teacher Heather Reid.  It includes students at all grade levels and is composed of various segments on historical personalities and events from Temagami’s past.  While June Keevil watched and gave some help to some actors I took some of the photos here. 

Heather Reid (back, standing) teacher, author and director of the historical play A Tale of Temagami at the Temagami Public School.  Gabriel Guppy (Bill Guppy) (left), June Keevil and Jaymark Crate (Grey Owl) together on right. Doug Mackey photo.

Some students did technical work with full screen photos from the past flashing on either side of the stage.  One of Temagami’s best known personalities was Bill Guppy and his role is coincidentally played by Gabriel Guppy, Bill’s great grandson.  I particularly enjoyed the segment on Grey Owl where Jaymark Crate captured Grey Owl’s personality especially when he turns to the director and in a little play within the play sternly chastises her for almost leaving Grey Owl out of the play. 

Younger students practicing their parts for the Temagami play. Doug Mackey photo.

Although I only saw part of the rehearsal I was extremely impressed by the remarkable scope and accuracy of the content, the acting and the direction.  I am sure the people who saw the play in its performances last week had a good time and learned some history about the community and their school. 

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