25th February 2010

By: Gini Woodward

The Boundary County Historical Society is sponsoring a showing of George Sibley’s film “Shadows of David Thompson” on March 11 at 7 pm.

The program will be held in the Boundary County Community Events Center at the south end of the museum complex.

Sibley will be on hand to introduce the film and answer questions. David Thompson was one of the undeservedly forgotten figures of North American history. First as a western fur trader and later helping mark the boundary between the US and Canada, Thompson paddled, rode and walked from Hudson Bay to the Pacific Ocean, crossed and recrossed the Rocky Mountains, and wound up in Montreal, making maps that were unsurpassed for a hundred years. Much of his most important work was done in the Columbia River country, locating trails and setting up trading houses for the North West Company, a fur-trading business based in Montreal. He passed through the Bonners Ferry area several times, beginning in 1807, when Thompson opened the first trading posts in what are now British Columbia, Montana, Idaho and Washington State.

David Thompson surveyed and mapped, among other things, the sources of the Columbia River. He retired from the fur trade and finally left the west in 1812.The bicentennial of those events is now being celebrated by a loosely affiliated group of historical societies, museums and Thompson fans organized as the David Thompson Bicentennials in Canada and the United States. As part of the Bicentennials, filmmaker George Sibley (Gale Force Films) produced this hour-long documentary about Thompson’s life and work, aimed at broadcast on public television stations in both countries and showings at many historical parks and museums in the areas where Thompson traveled.

The film features original music and interviews with modern-day Thompson historians and archivists across Canada and the U.S., and follows Thompson’s travels from Hudson Bay to the inland northwest, winding up in Montreal. Period scenes recreating key events in the story have been staged with the cooperation of state and regional historical societies and local fur-trade re-enactors in Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Alberta.

Sibley has been a filmmaker for over 40 years, mostly making educational films and documentaries. In 2001 he started Gale Force Films to help increase the use of video programs by environmental and historic preservation groups. His films have been widely used in “anti-sprawl” land use campaigns all over Florida and in several other states and provinces, and three of his Florida conservation films (“Six Fairy Tales About Growth in Florida”, “Changing Lanes” and “Phantom Future”) were shown nationally on the DISH network satellite channel “Free Speech TV” in May and June of 2005. In June of 2006 his film “Lewis and Clark and US” was broadcast on Montana Public Television. The following year George continued his history-oriented work by making “Smyrnea Lost and Found”; a lost colony story about the origins of what became the Florida town of New Smyrna Beach. That film is in residence at the local historical society museum and involved extensive overseas filming as well as work with historic re-enactors in Florida and Georgia. “Shadows of David Thompson” is available on DVD, which can be purchased after the screening, and George will be available to sign copies.

A donation of $10 to the Boundary County Historical Society programs fund is requested.

Written by Museum staff for Publication
Shadows Of David Thompson

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