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VIDEO: Rare film footage offers glimpse of Southern Interior life in late 1930s

This is what Okanagan Lake beach looked like in Penticton in 1939, part of the "We Drivers" trio of films made in the South Okanagan in the late 1930s.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK
September 18, 2017 - 9:00 PM

PENTICTON - Penticton and the Arrow Lakes were different places back in the 1930s as shown in some rare promotional film footage posted to Facebook.

The video is comprised of segments taken from three films called We Drivers produced for Vancouver’s Trimble Service Garage between 1936 and 1939. The film was released in 1939.

Jeannie Hounslow with the City of Vancouver Archives noted the film's "excellent quality for the era," an observation echoed by Penticton historian Randy Manuel, who called the film clip "great stuff."

"I think this film would have been shot in 16 mm because of the clarity, and if I recall, 8 mm was not available at the time," he said in an email.

"Excellent shots," he added, noting the film could not be older than 1936 as the new post office on Main Street at Nanaimo Avenue is shown in the Penticton street scene, as well as the The Three Gables Hotel, which was also finished by then."

Manuel says he knows of one National Film Board film and a well known film taken by Lymon Morrison, who shot classic scenes of the Kootenay sternwheelers and railways in the 1940s and later. We Drivers is the first Manuel has seen of films from the Columbia and Okanagan shot in the 1930s.

The clip offers an interesting look to much earlier days in both the Arrow Lakes Valley and Okanagan Valley, when sternwheelers and railways ruled the transportation corridors.

In the video, we're taken on a sternwheeler journey down Arrow Lake, stopping at Nakusp, Arrow Park, Carrolls Landing, and Burton, in addition to making whistle stops along the way to pick up cargo

Shoreline scenes include sternwheeler landings, work parties using horse drawn labour and scenic landscapes of the surrounding countryside.

The film also touches base in Penticton, with a visit to Okanagan Lake beach, following some mountain scenes of a train ride from the Kootenays to the Okanagan.

The city’s reputation for its lakeside amenities was well known even then, as we see the beach crowded with sun seekers, in 1930s beach garb, cavorting in the lake.

Beach entertainment wasn’t quite as sophisticated in those days as today, with one scene showing youngsters floating on a log.

The film concludes with some footage of Penticton’s Main Street.

Originally posted to the Old Kelowna Facebook page, the film clip has generated more than 27,000 views.

The complete film can be found on the Vancouver archives website.


 
1939 Arrow Lake Steamships and Penticton Beach Scenes

Part of a 1939 film containing a rare look at everyday life in southern BC. The segment shown is part of a series of three flims called We Drivers that was produced for Vancouver's Trimble Service Garage. Film contains footage showing the sternwheeler S.S. "Minto", Nakusp, scenes of lakes and towns, a steamboat, Arrow Park, Carrolls Landing, Burton, Penticton, and beach scenes. This film is in the public domain and was sourced from the City of Vancouver Archives. (The Penticton part is at the end of the video.) Posted by Old Kelowna on Thursday, September 14, 2017

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
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