Tag Archives: Bill Mason

The Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes

In honor of World Water Day, I present this post and video from 1968.

In this short documentary from conservationist Bill Mason, he illustrates that although the Great Lakes have had their ups and downs, nothing has been harder to take than what humans have done to them lately. In the film, a lone canoeist lives through the changes of geological history, through Ice Age and flood, only to find himself in the end trapped in a sea of scum.

Some background on the film from the NFB

The film was conceived and produced for the educational market. It was to be on the evolution of the Great Lakes (the working title was Evolution of the Great Lakes) and man’s impact on them. Mason agreed to a lighter approach for the film but was disappointed when the producer made several changes to his finished work. Test screenings proved to be very successful with children and teachers, who appreciated the humorous approach to the subject. The feedback was so positive that the film was blown up to 35 mm for theatrical distribution. Nevertheless, Mason was not happy with the finished product, feeling he had lost creative control over it.

All I could think of while watching this is that if this was bothering him back in 1968, it’s condition right now much really devastate him.

Of course if a musical educational video doesn’t capture your mood today, here is a full length documentary by Jacques Cousteau on the St. Lawrence Seaway.