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Bill Mason and his camera

"The medium of film is for me a means of expressing my love and enjoyment of the natural world, and of sharing my concern for what's happening to it with anybody who looks and listens.

Bill Mason (1929 - 1988)

Bill Mason grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He graduated from the University of Manitoba School of Art in 1951 and went on to a creative career, as a commercial artist, animator, filmmaker, author and painter.

Bill Mason and wolf
wolf charlie
bill mason, camera, bowhead
making of film breadalbane
Bill and Paul Mason paddling
bill mason filming
rise and fall of the Great Lakes

Blake James sheds the trappings of the busy modern life and takes to the skies in his one of a kind well loved vintage bi-plane. We can all relate to simple pleasures of life and Blake lives that dream. His adventures include navigating by roadmap and landing his little plane at an international airport on an unscheduled stop. This is a  charming doc of the amazing travels for a bush pilot. 
20 minutes. 1967.
6 International awards, including nomination for Best Live Action Short Film, Academy Awards, Hollywood 1970.

Cry of the Wild

This feature length wolf film is set from Baffin Island to British Columbia, Lake Superior to the Northwest Territories and back to Bill's home in the Gatineau Hills, Quebec.  He built an enclosure in the forest to get up close to a pack of wolves. He and  Joyce his wife, daughter Becky and son Paul all grew to love them too. It's a story of how Bill and his family grow to care and learn about the secret world of the wolf. 
90 minutes. 1971.
Diploma of Merit,1st International Film Festival of the Human Environment, Montreal 1973.

Death of a Legend

This is an strong film. Some would call it graphic in its portrayal of our wanton slaughter of wolves and their natural habitat. Wolves have always had a bad rap and Bill challenges this by exploding the myth that wolves are blood thirsty killers.

52 minutes. 1968.
9 International awards including an Etrog for Best Colour Cinematography, Toronto1971 and Red Ribbon Award, New York, 1972.

Face of the Earth

Bill felt there were awesome mysteries to our everyday land. There are spectacular film sequences throughout, Old Faithful spouting, the Rocky Mountains up close and personal, and volcanoes blasting lava. This is accompanied by a splendid music score played by the Canadian Brass. This film leaves you with a sense of awe about the magnitude, raw power and majesty of the earth's creation.
20 minutes. 1975.
2 International awards.

In Search of the Bowhead Whale

It's amazing to think a whale movie could be exciting but I'm on the edge of my seat when I watch this one. The build up of captivating details about a 70 ton mammal that has remained shrouded in mystery over the centuries coupled with modern day search  makes this an enjoyable viewing.

52 minutes. 1974.
6 International awards including Silver Venus Medallion , Virgin Islands, 1975
and Jules Verne Award, France, 1983. 

The Land that Devours Ships

The "Breadalbane" was lost in the Arctic as it was searching for traces of the ill-fated mission of Sir John Franklin. This 1983 expedition led by Dr. Joe MacInnis searches for the "Breadalbane" under the ice in the Arctic.

58 minutes. 1984.

Special Jury Award, Belgium, 1986.

Paddle to the Sea A heart-warming odyssey of a hand-carved little canoeist that travels from Nipigon to the ocean via the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence. On this epic journey Paddle encounters everything from crushing ice, a forest fire and curious wildlife to many dangerous  perils of the human kind, not to mention having to navigate Niagara Falls! 

20 minutes. 1964.
10 International awards including a nomination for Best Short Film, Academy Awards,Hollywood 1968.

Path of the Paddle

The Path of the Paddle series of 4 films; solo basic, solo whitewater, doubles basic and doubles whitewater introduced new skills to the canoeists of the 70's and 80’s. These skills still form the backbone of modern paddling and canoe tripping techniques. These 4 films are still considered an essential part of any canoeist's collection. Each of these four film classics are 27 minutes. 1976.
7 international awards.

Pukaskwa National Park

This film explores Pukaskwa National Park on Lake Superior northshores. It shows hikers hiking the extremely rough coastline trail and a party of four women canoeing the challenging Pukaskwa River. We see them hoist packs set up camp and paddle the crystal clear waters. When Bill completed this film Parks Canada told him they didn't want to show it in their visitor center because they said the film depicted hordes of black flies too well. It is a fun canoe trip to watch especially since it's showing how it really is in the deep woods, it is shown now.

16 minutes. 1981.

The Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes

This is a humorous yet poignant look at the geological and ecological evolution of the Great Lakes. Blake James is the lone canoeist who paddles through time and unwittingly and unwillingly experiences all the natural and man-made changes which have taken place since the lakes were formed. This film contains fun scenes of Blake falling out of the sky in a canoe, running out of water mid-rapid and mistakenly slurping a cup of foaming polluted water. Kids and adults alike will enjoy.

17 minutes. 1966.
10 International awards including Best Specialized Film, England, 1971.

Song of the Paddle

Bill and his family loved to go canoe tripping on the the north shore of Lake Superior and Georgian Bay. It's about the simple pleasures to be found in the wilderness and learning to take the time to see all the hidden delights along the way. It does have some exciting moments when the Masons are caught in a spectacular storm but even that shows how a family can turn a potentially dangerous situation into a positive experience. This film is about learning to respect the wilderness and what it can teach us if we stop to look and listen.

41 minutes. 1976.
9 International Awards.

The Voyageurs

Bill Mason loved canoeing and was so excited to be a cameraman for this film. It was a dream come true for him to travel and record the travels they had in their birchbark voyageur canoe. These 36' canoes opened up our wilderness in the days when the fur trade was Canada's biggest business. The film recreates scenes of the early nineteenth century on the 5,000 km river trade route to the Athabasca. It is a fascinating re-enactment of Canadian canoe history.

20 minutes. 1964.


In his final film Bill Mason takes us on a canoe odyssey to one of his favorite places, the north shore of Lake Superior. His love and concern for the land is reflected in his filming, as well as his on site sketching and painting. This is an environmental film of hope using the subject matter of how to appreciate canoe tripping. The result is a powerful, poignant film full of spectacular images that most of us would be considered lucky to ever experience first hand.

87 minutes. 1984.
1 International Award.

Wilderness Treasure

This was Bill Mason’s first film and it took four years to complete as it was a one person production.  He learned many of his film making techniques while making this film. It portrayed young boys from camp Manitoba pioneer on a camp canoe trip. Their eyes are opened to the beauty of creation and to the idea of enjoying the wilderness rather than treating it as an adversary. 20 minutes. 1962.

2 International Awards.
Wilderness Treasure film is included in the MPC 60th Anniversary DVD. Order from: Manitoba Pioneer Camp, Email:
Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship of Canada, PO Box 56376 Stn Brm B, Toronto On, M7Y 9C1,

Wolf Pack

This film is a portrayal of a life of a wolf pack. The wolf pups steal the show starting as newborns and growing into independent rascals. Throughout the film Bill Mason captures the unique inner works of a wolf family, the joy of living, love, and the tough lessons wild animals have to learn to survive.

20 minutes. 1971.
3 International Awards.

 Each documentary of Bill Mason's was unique in style and subject matters they ranged from paddling canoes, whales and wolves and telling a story was key to all Bill Mason films. 

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