The Grand Seduction

14 Nov

This Saturday night’s picture show at the DRA hall is a 2013 Canadian film by Don McKellar entitled The Grand Seduction. Here’s how a leading Internet movie site sums up the plot: “The small harbour of Tickle Cove, Newfoundland is in dire need of a doctor so that the town can land a factory which will save the town from financial ruin. Village resident Murray French leads the search, and when he finds Dr. Paul Lewis he employs — along with the whole town — tactics to seduce the doctor to stay permanently.”

Now, if you think this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. The plot line is hauntingly similar to a movie I saw fifteen years ago calledSeducing Doctor Lewis.In the original 2003 film (the French version of which was titled La grande seduction), the tiny fishing village of St. Marie-La-Mauderne is promised a new factory, provided they could convince a doctor to set up a practice on the island. Before calling the copyright police, I checked and it turns out that the same individual wrote the two films: Ken Scott. In other words, The Grand Seduction (2013) is a remake of Seducing Doctor Lewis (2003). This explains why the plots are twinned, but not why the original film was remade just a decade later.

Regardless, I figure the 2013 remake is worth a shot — if for no other reason than to get a dose of Newfoundland charm. If we can, Terry and I hope to attend Saturday’s screening, which starts at 7:00 PM. The hall is located at 19053 County Road 24. As always, the DRA will provide the venue and hot popcorn, while the audience is expected to bring a comfortable seating option and refreshments of their choosing. Admission is free, but goodwill offerings are always welcome. Downright encouraged, in fact.

Euchre: DRA Hall reopened

I’m happy to report that this month’s Euchre Luncheon on Friday, November 16thwill be held in the DRA Hall. The new exterior stairway and ramp is complete and, while the landscaping will have to wait until spring, both the steps and the ramp are fully functional. Our November tournament will also see the return of our popular “Soup & Sandwich” format, which includes a bowl of piping hot soup with Saltine crackers, heaps of freshly-made sandwiches and a tray of sinful sweets by Sandra Daigle. Admission is only $5 and a 50/50 draw is part of the fun. Held in the DRA Hall at 19053 County Road 24, the luncheon/euchre tournament starts at 12:00 noon and wraps up around 3:30 PM. Everyone is welcome to join us.

For want of a thank you

When it came to ferreting out important documents that reflected Ontario’s rich history, the late Hugh Pearson MacMillan had few, if any, equals. He was a man with a mission, so driven that in a 2005 book review in the Globe & Mail, D’Arcy Jenish reported that Hugh P. MacMillan had once earned the backhanded accolade: “Hugh is a con man with a heart.” One of his most impressive finds were the genealogical records of Ottawa Valley settlers. The collection extended back generations to France and Ireland, and included over two million names. Another was a collection of films produced by the former Ontario Motion Picture Bureau that contained footage of Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s funeral and the Prince of Wales’s 1919 Canadian tour.

Closer to home, it was Hugh P. who tracked down Duncan Donovan’s original glass plate negatives. Duncan Donovan (1857 – 1933) operated an extremely successful photographic studio in Alexandria. The old brick building still stands today, tucked between the former Stedman’s store and the old Royal Bank branch, now Jean-Marc Lefebvre’s law offices. In 1924, Peter Charlebois took over Donovan’s photographic business and, to his credit, took on the responsibility of preserving Donovon’s glass negatives. No mean feat, given that the collection consisted of nearly 4,000 plates.

When Charlebois retired in 1963, he had the negatives moved to the garage behind his house at the corner of Bishop and Peel streets in Alexandria. And it was there that Hugh P. uncovered them in 1970 and arranged for Archives Ontario to purchase the entire collection. As the majority of the photographs were unidentified portraits of people from Glengarry County, southern Prescott and western Quebec, the Ontario archives only kept 709 of the images. The remaining 3,249 negatives were returned to the Glengarry Historical Society and entrusted to the Glengarry Pioneer Museum in Dunvegan; a deal brokered by Hugh P. MacMillan. Fittingly, a few years ago, Donovan’s original glass plates returned to Alexandria when the Dunvegan museum deposited them in the new Glengarry County Archives.

The story doesn’t end there, though. When Hugh P. cleared out the Charlebois garage, he overlooked some of Donovan’s negatives. The bulk of the collection (primarily consisting of 3” x 6” glass plates) was in the attic. And that is what was shipped to Toronto. However, there was at least one box that had never made it up the stairs; it contained large format (8” x 10”) glass negatives. The box remained undiscovered in the back of the garage until Peter Charlebois died in 1991 and Donat and Jeanne Boisvenue purchased his property. The Boisvenue’s then sold the house to their son Roch, proprietor of Boisvenue Paints. It was Roch who, in 1999, discovered the forgotten box of negatives. Knowing full well these important artefacts needed to be preserved, Roch decided to donate the 8” x 10” negatives to the Glengarry Pioneer Museum. Brenda Kennedy of Baltics Corners was curator of the Dunvegan museum at the time and she recalls the acquisition vividly.

“… when Mr. Boisvenue donated the glass plate negatives, I wasn’t sure what we had. But Dane Lanken identified them as the work of Duncan Donovan. (Dane and I) arranged to have Andy Shott print the plates using a large-format enlarger he had access to in Ottawa. And Dane organized an exhibit of the prints in an empty building that is now the Quirky Carrot. I think it ran for a couple of weeks and the opening was very well attended.”

The problem is that when Roch Boisvenue donated the Donovan plates, he did so with the proviso that, in the event prints were ever made and exhibited, his parents Donat and Jeanne were to be acknowledged as the donors with a sign or plaque. To his dismay though, when Roch toured the Donovan exhibit in 2000, he could see no public acknowledgement of his parent’s generosity.

So I had GPM curator Jennifer Black check the files and she came across what appears to be the actual display panel that was used at the Alexandria exhibit. There is even tape residue from when it was mounted to a black background of some kind. At the bottom of the text block is the following line of text… “Donors: Donat and Jeanne Boisvenue, Alexandria  #99-9-9.” The number matches the accession number on form that Brenda filled out when Roch dropped off the glass negatives and other Duncan Donovan photographic paraphernalia.

Obviously Roch Boisvenue sincerely believes there was no public acknowledgement at the time of the exhibit. That’s extremely unfortunate. And while I can’t go back in time and suggest that the “donor credit” be featured more prominently, I can publically acknowledge here and now that the Duncan Donovan items itemized on accession form #99-9-9 in 1999 were donated by the late Donat Boisvenue and his wife for 67 years, Jeanne Boisvenue. Thank you.