Sunday, February 23, 2014

The 1907 William Harbeck film of Victoria from a streetcar and then a boat on the Gorge

There are a number of good websites with lots of information about this film and William Harbeck.

The film is out there in two different forms, one is only three minutes long and ends when they reach the Empress.  The full version is just about six minutes long and goes up the Gorge to the Tillicum Bridge

What I am adding is the full article that appeared in the Colonist on May 5th 1907 about William Harbeck's filming day on May 4th 1907

From the Daily Colonist of May 5th 1907 - page three

Views of Victoria in Realistic From
Many Pictures of City and Surroundings Taken by Cinematograph Expert

The beauties of Victoria, just as they really are, will in future be shown for the benefit of stay-at-homes in half a hundred places throughout the civilized world.  By means of a lifelike cinematograph pictures they will represent will be spread over the whole of the States, as well as throughout the principal cities of the old country and of Europe, and the work of the Tourist association in drawing attention of the world to the capital of the west will be supplemented by views showing the city and its surroundings realistically.

All day yesterday there toured round the city a man.  On a street car specially loaned for the purpose by the British Columbia Electric Railway company he traveled through the streets, and on a launch he journeyed up the Arm and along the water front, and all the while he devoted himself to a queer box-like piece of apparatus, turning a crank and adjusting it so that the powerful lenses situated at the front could command the best views that were to be had.

The man was W.H. Harbeck, traveler for the Hales Tourist association of Portland, and the apparatus was a camera for the taking of films for use in cinematorgraphs.  When the sun set and it was impossible to take any further pictures, Mr Harbeck had exhausted some six hundred feet of film and had transferred to the long ribbon  some of the most beautiful scenes round Victoria.

On his street car tour, Mr Harbeck started out from Douglas street.  He caught a picture of the city hall, and then travelling along Yates street he went down to Government, whence he journeyed, taking pictures all the time to the postoffice.   At this point My Harbeck was so struck with the view that he stopped the car, and starting at the Empress Hotel, swung his camera so as to take one huge panoramic picture, including the government buildings, James bay and the harbor.  Thence he went on past the government buildings and there terminated his street car ride.

In the afternoon Herbert Cuthbert, secretary of the Tourist association, took possession of Mr Harbeck and his machine, and carried him out to the Point Ellice Bridge.  There Mr Harbeck took a picture of the harbor and the sealing fleet, and then J. Hinton opportunely appeared on the scene.  Mr Hinton was immediately much interested in the proceedings and offered to take the camera and operator for a ride up the Arm in his fine electric launch.  The offer was gladly accepted and up the beautiful stretch of water went the moving picture man and the machine.

My Harbeck was delighted at the beautiful vista which was opened as the launch carried him up the Arm, and had it not been for the fact that it was too busy "sawing wood" the very machine would probably been moved to speak.  As it was it occupied itself transferring to the film the splendid scenery.

On arrival at the Gorge bridge, it was found that the tide was running out and that it would be impossible to go any higher.  My Harbeck, however, was delighted.  The reversible water falls was something he had never previously struck in his travels and he had to have a picture of it.  Accordingly the little launch was pushed in among the whirling waters, and while the vessel racked and pitched, Mr Harbeck steadily turned the handle, and obtained a truly unique picture of the fall and the turbulent current that sweeps under the bridge.

On his way back Mr Harbeck took pictures of the east side of the Arm, including the Isle of the Dead and the saw mills, which were obligingly in full operation.  Altogether he was immensely pleased at the results of his trip.

Today he is going along the line of the E&N to Nanaimo.  Starting from the deport on Store street, he will get pictures of all the beautiful scenes along the railway on the way to Nanaimo.  Arrangements have been made for the train to stop for a few minutes a Shawingan Lake, and there a picture will be obtained of the glittering sheet of water, and the pretty little hotel.  In particular Mr Harbeck promises himself some interesting pictures of the scores of fishermen who will leave the city this morning for the lake.

From Nanaimo, he will go on to Vancouver, where he will take some 400 feet of pictures, and thence he will travel up the CPR until he has exhausted about 1,000 feet of film.  He expects to get splendid views of the Fraser canyon, and the glorious scenery between Yale and Lytton.

On his travels on railways, Mr Harbeck places his machine in the last carriage, and by turning the crank backwards, obtains just such a picture as unrolls itself before a traveler on the cars.

"The only trouble," said he, in describing his method to the Colonist reporter, "is that if you happen to pass a man on the tracks he appears to be walking backwards.  Otherwise the illusion is perfect."

Mr Harbeck is kept continually travelling, getting views for exhibition all over the world.  Of the pictures of Victoria alone, some hundred different ribbons will be made, and these will be shown in all the four corners of the earth.  Mr Harbeck has recently returned from a trip to Mexico, where he had some hair-raising experiences in taking pictures from railway trains hanging over cliffs 3,000 feet in height.  He even ventured into the arena while a bull fight was on, and almost came to conclusions with the bull.  He is now planning a trip across Canada on the CPR and next month expects to be going to Europe, where he will obtain pictures of the cities and sights of the old country and the continent.

The pictures which are thus obtained are exhibited in such a way as to give the illusion of a railway journey.  The room in which the cinematograph works is fitted up like a railway car, noise, rocking and all, and as the panorama is unfolded the passing scene are explained to the audience.  Mr Harbeck states that this form of amusement has become very popular in American and Europe, and that exhibitions are running in all the chief cities of the States and in the capitals and large towns of Europe.  It is anticipated that the exhibition of the films of Victoria will prove a splendid advertisement for the city.

Sites related to the film
Hallmark Society
Welcome to Victoria 1907 at UVic
Ross Crockford's 2007 piece on the film
Ross Crockford's 2008 update
Bio of William Harbeck on the Titanica website

This is the footage from Vancouver

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