The film footage of the construction and collapse of the Second Narrows Bridge that Parksville’s Peter Hall has stored for nearly 60 years has now been converted into a digital copy.
“I have looked at it and I even surprised myself,” said Hall, after viewing it in digital form for the first time. “It was (shot) 59 years ago, and when I looked at what I’ve got they’re pretty amazing.”
During the 59th anniversary this year of the worst industrial disaster in Vancouver’s history, Hall brought out the rare footage with the intention of sharing it to the world. He didn’t want the material stuck in storage forever and wanted a documentary created out of the footage.
The story on Hall that appeared in The NEWS on June 20th for the anniversary of the bridge collapse drew the attention of a former filmmaker and journalist for the CBC, George Orr, who offered his expertised to Hall.
To preserve the fragile raw data, the 3,000 feet of 16mm film, containing random footage of the bridge being constructed and of the collapse, have now been digitized. It’s close to an hour-and-a-half long.
The next step is to make a documentary. Orr confirmed to The NEWS that he and Hall are going ahead with the project.
“He feels that we’ve got some really good film,” said Hall, who became the owner of the film when the company he worked for, Dominion Bridge, closed down.
While working for Dominion, Hall was assigned to film construction of the bridge, located in the Burrard Inlet in Vancouver. It collapsed on June 17, 1958, killing 18 men. Hall has kept the film for 59 years and has stored it well.
The historic film features not only the disaster, but images focused on the technical and engineering advancement involved in the building of the bridge.
Hall counts himself blessed because on the day the bridge collapsed he was supposed to be on it, filming. He missed the collapse by five or 10 minutes due to some work he had to finish at the office. The disaster happened while he was driving to the bridge.
To be able to share this invaluable film of Vancouver history to Canadians and the world has been Hall’s long-time wish. Now he and Orr are mapping out the direction they want to take on the documentary.
“We haven’t determined what kind of a story it will be,” said Hall. “We want to tell a story and we’re not quite sure what that would be right now. We’re working on that. In a way I am happy about all of this. It’s like letting Pandora out of the box.”