Movie Monday: Farming

Image: A film still showing a combine in the field, circa 1954 (SPRA 449.01.08, Fonds 449: Foster Family 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

Welcome back to Movie Monday! Today’s film offers a spectacular look at life on a farm in the mid-1950s. Not only do we see a wide variety of farm machinery at work, such as tractors, combines, grain trucks, and a very early model of a self-propelled swather, but we also see much of the labour that goes on behind-the-scenes, away from the fields, to establish and maintain a working farm.

Raymond and Iva Foster specialized in raising purebred Herefords and seed crops. As their efforts were met with success, they were able to add to their operation new machinery and a new barn (the construction of the barn can be seen in this film). Horticulture was also part of their rural lifestyle, as evidenced by the tilling of a garden and a close-up of Iva’s flowering bush. Maintenance of the gardens, yard, buildings, and machines would have been an ongoing project.

Without a doubt, weather would also have played a significant role in the Fosters’ lives. The temperature, precipitation, humidity, and wind would all have been a factor in the success – or failure – of the crops. In the winter, snow and cold were always an obstacle, and seem to have been especially so during the winter of 1955-1956! This film shows the Fosters clearing both rural roads and sidewalks in town; after the road has been opened, the snow banks rise well above the top of the car!

Farmers in the ‘50s and ‘60s faced many challenges, but they also lived in an era that saw significant breakthroughs take place in the world of agricultural research and innovation.