In 1930 the Port Arthur Cinema Society began production on The Fatal Flower and it was one of the last silent movies to be made in Canada. However, before it was finished talking movies arrived and the film industry was changed forever. 75 years later, a group of researchers, filmmakers and enthusiasts were brought together by ShebaFilms to finish the film.
The Port Arthur Cinema Society had completed two films prior to attempted The Fatal Flower. In 1928-1929 they made history by producing A Race for Ties, Canada’s first feature-length amateur film. The success of A Race for Ties led them to produce a short comedy entitled Sleep Inn Beauty. Their success caused the Port Arthur Amateur Cinema Society to invest in new equipment and seek out new talent for what was to be their most ambitious film project. Unfortunately, The Fatal Flower was the last film that the Port Arthur Cinema Society would attempt. Although they managed to get it shot, the advent of “talkies” and the Depression prevented them from finishing the film.
While conducting research for Rosies of the North, Kelly Saxberg “discovered” the footage for The Fatal Flower in the Library and Archives of Canada. With the support of a Burrit/Thompson Award, and a grant from the Audio-Visual Preservation Trust of Canada, a new group of filmmakers undertook the task of finishing The Fatal Flower.
Along with the finishing of the film, Ron Harpelle spearheaded “The Fatal Flower Project.” This was an effort to bring the films of the Port Arthur Amateur Cinema Society back into circulation, and produce an educational website that allows teachers to use the films in the classroom. To compliment the project, Ron Harpelle and Michel Beaulieu edited The Lady Lumberjack: An Annotated Collection of Dorothea Mitchell’s Writings. To discover more about this fascinating piece of Canadian history, visit our Lady Lumberjack website.