On Monday morning I went over to the Media Commons in Southam Hall at Carleton U. where I collected the camera, lights, tripods, microphones, etc for the filming trip to Chatham that is now underway. Hasi Eldib was really helpful giving me a briefing on how to use the new cameras and audio equipment.
My husband, John, and I left Ottawa yesterday morning and got close enough to Chatham by 5pm to get some footage of fields, trees, birds and rivers in the late afternoon sunshine. This morning we got up and out the door before 7am to shoot dawn footage of a bunch of 1850s and 1860s houses in the east end of old centretown Chatham, which was the Black neighbourhood at that time. At 10am we filmed our first interview with an elderly lady, Gwen Robinson, who is a great great niece of Mary Ann Shadd, and who has been a big mover and shaker on a range of issues in the Black community here. In the afternoon we filmed another interview with Shannon Prince, curator of the Buxton Settlement and Museum. We shot the interview in an original restored cabin from the Buxton Settlement. After that we got some footage of the exteriors of the cabin, the school and the barn.
Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy with thunderstorms so we will be doing two indoor things: an interview with Maxine and Ed Robbins who have the letters archive that I’ve been examining, and a meeting with the President of the Board of the Black History Museum, where there are some photographs that I’m interested in. So all up, I think I’m going to come away from this trip with some great material for the film.
Last Sunday my secondary literature review led me to discover that the archive I was examining, that I previously thought was a new find and as yet unstudied, had been seen and written about in the past. Tomorrow, when I meet Maxine and Ed Robbins, I will have my first chance to see the actual archival letters in their original format. At that point I will be able to determine if any of the letters are, in fact, new finds. But even if they are not, this film will be able, I think, to present a new perspective on the stories of Mary Ann Shadd from the points of view of communities, both past and present. This blog post falls in the middle of a very pivotal week, both for filming as well as archival discovery.