Two Leasiders are diving into the area’s history, armed with a video camera and a crew of experts, to make a documentary celebrating their neighbourhood’s centennial.
Barry H. Samuel and Anthony Regan wanted to make a film to showcase how special and unique Leaside is.
Regan moved to Leaside in 1996 and immediately noticed something different about the area. He soon learned it was not just his street, but that most streets in Leaside have neighbours like this.
“We know all the neighbours down to the corner up and down the street, it’s a very unique environment,” he says. “This is a really unique community they really get to know each other and care for each other.”
The pair decided to make a documentary focusing the neighbourhood’s history to coincide with Leaside’s centennial on April 23, 2013, and since filming began in the summer, Regan says he and Samuel are really enjoying the process.
“Every single day we learn something new and something even more interesting to share even with long-time residences,” he says.
The duo chose the documentary format to give Leasiders and other interested viewers a more dynamic medium than a history book.
“Not everyone has the time or the patients to pick up a book,” Regan says. “[A documentary] doesn’t give as much information [as a book] but it certainly draws peoples interest.”
The film, 100 Years Inside Leaside, will likely be released in 10, five-minute chunks and will be available online once it’s complete.
“If you put it on TV you have to catch it between 4:00 and 4:30 on such and such a channel,” says Regan. “That’s lovely but … anyone can see it when it’s online.”
The documentary has been largely self-funded but the duo hope that others will invest too once they hear about their plans.
“We’ve been in the process of appealing to the business community,” says Samuel.
“I call it the Field of Dreams approach,” Regan says smiling. “They built the ball park knowing that people would find it later.”
Financial help isn’t all the pair is looking for. Samuel says they would love anything people can contribute the project.
“We want to appeal to the community to come forward if they want to share a story or photo,” he says. “We’re open to meeting with people and interacting with the community.”
Samuel is excited that the project is getting off to a great start.
“It’s a thrill to be a part of,” he says. “It’s a medium that sparks me.”
The pair plan hold a launch party in March or early April to screen the final cut of their documentary. The website that will host the documentary and when it will be available to the public was unknown as of press time.
So what’s 100 Years Inside Leaside going to be about?
1. The Lea Family: With the guiding wisdom of Jane Pitfield, author of Leaside, the documentary will look at the Lea family and the original settlement in the area.
2. The Official Plan: The original plan on paper looks very different from the Leaside known today.
3. Leaside 1913: Regan says Bonnie Byford Real Estate has been helpful in gathering information about early Leaside.
4. The War Effort: The years after Leaside was incorporated, Canada and the rest of the British Empire was at war twice in Europe. Leaside was very active, from the aerodrome to munitions plants. Overseas the Leaside Bomber Squadron 432 was the group for Leaside lads to join.
5. Welcome Home Lads: The post-war years were Leaside’s boom years. Leaside High School was built, as was the arena and many of the houses. Regan says they sat down with history teachers at Leaside High School to really get a feel for this time in Leaside’s history.
6. Airplanes, Trains and Automobiles: From Canada’s first air mail, to the Durant car company, this section will look at the industrial side of Leaside on the east side of Laird.
7. A Place to Call Home: The documentary will look at the architecture of the neighbourhood’s oldest homes and the new changes to the homes in the area.
8. Places to Reflect and Worship: Churches have had a big influence on the area.
9. Family Ties: Leaside has been home to many famous Canadians over the years. Samuel says that although they hope to talk to one time Leaside resident Stephen Harper, Margaret Atwood and a host of famous hockey players, they also want to look at the not so famous community members that have made a mark on Leaside.
10. A guide to Leaside 100 Years later: Wal-Mart and Dollarama will wrap up the documentary looking at the areas updates throughout the years and what the area is like now.
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