LAST OF THE
One Alberta man’s return to the north, sixty years later.
Hugh Kroetsch is one of the last surviving members of the Hudson Bay Company’s Western Arctic Fleet. In the 1950s, his adventures included trading in some of the world’s most isolated areas, getting his ship stuck in ice, surviving countless ordeals, and even helping to prevent the Cold War from escalating. At the time, he was one of the few people anywhere to travel with a motion picture camera. For decades, that footage has remained unseen.
Ten years ago Edmonton-area filmmaker Frederick Kroetsch was stunned to discover an old ammunition case filled with reels of 8mm film. The footage dated back a quarter of a century before his birth. They featured a dashing young man working on wooden ships in remote icebound outposts. That man was his father; that footage contains a unique glimpse into a key part of Canada’s history that few remember and many more have never seen.
More than 60 years after the original footage was taken, Hugh Kroetsch’s fascination with Canada’s North has not faded. In the summer of 2017 he returned to the places he learned some of the hardest and most important lessons of his life. The 85-year-old, accompanied by his son, brought cameras, experience, courage and curiousity to several areas Hugh used to visit in his travels as an engineer for the iconic Canadian company. Hugh had hoped to discover how the land and people have changed, and to see Canada’s great north one last time. What he got was much more emotional than he ever imagined.
With a small crew, the father and son duo travelled across the western arctic: from Inuvik to Kugarruk, and everything in between. They used trucks, planes, boats, their own legs and any other mode of transportation available.
This project premiered in November 2017 on AMI-TV and TELUS Video on Demand.
View the trailer here: