Vancouver in 1936: MGM Traveltalk Newsreel


Thursday, February 7th, 2013 — 2:15pm PST
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Travel vloggers eat your hearts out! Back in 1936 James A. FitzPatrick presented a series of newsreels in fantastic new Technicolor called Traveltalks which included profiles of Victoria and Vancouver. Most of Fitzpatrick’s Traveltalks were produced by MGM and featured over a hundred destinations, from Motoring in Mexico (1943) and Chicago the Beautiful (1948) to Over The Seas to Borneo (1932) and Rural Sweden (1938).


Vancouver’s segment begins at around the 5:30 mark.

After completing training in the dramatic arts, [FitzPatrick] worked for a while as a journalist. In 1925 he entered films and specialized throughout his career in travel documentaries. Besides directing, he also wrote, produced, and narrated many of his films. MGM distributed a series of his travel films under the umbrella titles “Fitzpatrick Traveltalks” and “The Voice of the Globe”, as did Paramount as “Vistavision Visits.” The hallmarks of Fitzpatrick’s films were Technicolor photography and stolidity. [Source: IMDB]

In the reel, Vancouver is a budding city of 350,000 inhabitants with “one of the finest harbours in the world”. The Marine Building and the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver dominate the skyline, and The Great Fire was referenced as an event that took place a mere 70 years before the film.


1931. VPL Number: 4260.
Photographer: Leonard Frank.

“By a strange twist of fate therefor, Vancouver – the great lumber port of the Northwest – has fewer wooden buildings than any other city of its size in the Dominion of Canada.”

It’s a quick segment but it’s fascinating to see the city, in colour, at that time – including a moving shot of the same view I have posted here (right).

Credit for this find goes to Steffani Cameron, who recently started up the Victoria-based blog Van Isle Style and profiled Victoria in 1936: MGM Traveltalk Newsreel.

View other movies and clips of Vancouver from 1907 to the 1990s in my previous Vancouver Video post for Vancouver125.

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One comment

  1. It’s always interesting to see Vancouver and its (early) history through someone else’s eyes! Thanks for your post, B!

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