Movie Monday: Boat Construction and River Trips

Image: A film still showing an outing on the Wapiti Queen (SPRA 1974.74.22M, Fonds 138: Griff James fonds)

Movie Monday highlights videos from the Archives’ film collection. Every week, an archival film will be featured on our YouTube channel and here on our blog. The Movie Monday project is made possible with the generous funding support of Swan City Rotary Club of Grande Prairie.

Today’s film tells the story of a riverboat, the Wapiti Queen, presumably built by Griff James circa 1963. The film begins by showing the boat in its very beginning stages of construction and by the end of the film we have seen the boat embark on a number of voyages.

Griff James was an avid outdoorsman and obviously enjoyed carpentry as well. The Wapiti Queen was built by hand from beginning to end. A few minutes into the film, the launching of the Wapiti Queen is shown – an auspicious occasion celebrated with friends. Though conditions appear favourable as the boat launches, shortly thereafter we see scenes of ice in the river, indicating that the building of the boat was a winter project and Griff was eager to test the boat as soon as possible!

The Wapiti Queen’s maiden voyage was a success and the remainder of the film documents the many journeys the James family embarked upon. The trips appear to be of a leisurely nature, though at one point rapids are traversed, and picnics in the sun and fishing along the shore are all part of the experience.

A number of the videos featured on Movie Monday contain scenes of riverboating trips, but this is the only film to show the construction of a boat, making it quite a unique addition to our collection!