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Covered bridges and cabinetmakers: Documenting the Eastern Townships

Covered bridges and cabinetmakers: Documenting the Eastern Townships

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March 20th, 2020

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Covered bridges and cabinetmakers: Documenting the Eastern Townships

A still from Louise Abbott's film, The Ahiarmiut: The Out of the Way Dwellers.

Filmmaker Louise Abbott has spent most of her career chronicling the history and culture of rural and Indigenous communities in eastern and northern Canada. FRIENDS was proud to present her short film The Ahiarmiut: Out of the Way Dwellers as part of our Tell Our Stories series, which launched on March 16, 2020. We are pleased to share with you more of Abbott’s documentary work, which connects Canadians to our past, and to each other.

When I first watched Abbott’s The Ahiarmiut: Out of the Way Dwellers, my immediate thought was, “why weren’t we taught about this in school?” I grew up in Penetanguishene, Ontario, a small town with an Indigenous name and history. As a francophone student, I learned a lot about explorer Étienne Brulé and the Jesuit missionaries, but not much about Canada’s many First Nations communities. Today, filmmakers like Abbott helped me close that knowledge gap. Her 2014 documentary Nunaaluk is another story about forced Inuit relocation in Northern Quebec, this time from their homes on the Cape Hope Islands on James Bay, in 1960. Abbott follows Inuk Mini Aodla Freeman as she returns to the islands and shares her memories of life there more than fifty years ago. It’s another essential Canadian story that needs to be told. — Liisa Ladouceur


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Louise Abbott shares some of the history of her Eastern Townships with the first documentary on the subject of Quebec’s charming covered bridges, and introduces a group of passionate preservationists from different generations working to restore this unique feature of Quebec’s rural landscape. — LL


Niels Jensen is a sixth-generation cabinetmaker of Danish origin who has been working with wood for nearly 40 years. This short documentary profiles Jensen as he retrieves an ancient birch log from the bottom of Lake Memphremagog and then transports it to a sawmill, a kiln, and then to his workshop, where he transforms it into a dining table. As I watch this film, sitting at the 1940s wooden kitchen table I inherited from my grandparents which has become my work-from-home desk, I’m reminded of the importance of celebrating handmade things that last. — LL


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