Rosemary Bergeron – Canadian Film History Pioneer

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It is with a very sad and heavy heart to announce the passing of a much loved, and respected friend of the Canadian Film Archival community; Rosemary Bergeron, January 9th, 2023.

I was very fortunate to have worked with Rosemary while employed at Library & Archives Canada (LAC), or as it was known then, the National Film Television Sound Archives (NFTSA), at the time, located at Tunney’s Pasture in Ottawa.

Rosemary’s love for Canadian Film history was unsurpassed in her passion in working tirelessly to gather valuable data related to the people, places, and films that made up Canada’s cinematic past.

Rosemary, or ‘Rosie’, as many of us called her, was always battling the ‘paper mountain’ to “get more history out there before it is too late.”

Rosemary and I both shared a passion for early Canadian animation, and always thoughtful for those behind the scenes as well; “Peripheral to the animation theme, a lot of unsung heroes in Canadian film are the people who did artwork for titles, little graphics, credits, etc.”

Rosemary retired in January 2014 and was looking forward to spending time outside, “So nice to have a big yard to play in!”

Rosemary would continue to pass along information, mostly “…while looking for something else.”

In retirement, Rosemary was happy to share some of her research for posting to the new Canadianfilm.ca website. One of her favourite subjects was Canadian Newsreels. As Rosemary would tell me, “the newsreel cameramen need more attention.”

“I have been digging around on the newspaper sites and the genealogy sites and found some items for George H. Valiquette, who filmed for Fox, etc. and was with Bernier on the 1924 expedition, etc. I found his obituary in Le Droit in 1962. As it is, George’s career highlights were in the 1920s, but I still think he deserves to be remembered.”

“I’m hoping this will lead to a series on other newsreel photographers. There are several more undeservedly obscure guys out there, but the bios will probably be shorter due to lack of sources. The idea is to just get their names out there.”

Even in the great outdoors, Rosemary could not help herself;

“Know what you mean about outside — was outside all day yesterday, cutting the grass, weeding, starting to trim the cedar hedge, and watering. All the while thinking about Valiquette and his fellow newsreelers. I have some newsreel images I saved from screen grabs back in the day.”

Rosemary was also instrumental in maintaining the memory of the Canadian Army Film & Photo Unit ensuring the data was preserved in LAC’s online database;

“Forget to mention earlier — this spring I was wearing the CAFU baseball cap while doing groceries. The cashier said she liked my cap and we lamented about what is happening to Canadian history.

Rosemary was also passionate about her family, and thoroughly enjoyed sharing details in her emails;

“Just finished putting away all the Christmas decorations (I put them all up this year (2021), what the heck, in case I had to spend it by myself.) As it turned out I did not. Everyone in my family who is in the area were so fed up and all are vaccinated except the 3-year-old, so we went ahead and partied on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I did not want to miss out on spending Christmas with my sister’s dear little grandchildren, ages 3 and 5. They are young enough to be impressed by my artistic skills. The 5-year-old asked me to draw Superman. When I held it up for him to see he was amazed. The three year old told me I did a good job, which I am still chuckling over. Made a tortière for New Year’s (yum), using a new pastry recipe, and impressed myself.”

Rosemary sadly joins a long list of former LAC ‘Canadian Film History Pioneers’ who are still sorely missed today; Sam Kula, Bill O’Farrell Jr., Lily Koltun, Pierre Stevens, Dennis Waugh, Brian MacDonald.

When I asked Rosemary for a bio to attach to her article on newsreel cameraman George Valiquette, Rosemary wrote; “As for a bio, well what is there to say. Rosemary Bergeron is a retired archivist who specialized in Canadian film and broadcasting at Library and Archives Canada.”

Rosemary; we miss you so much, and be sure that your legacy in the Canadian Film Archival community is much more than a ‘retired archivist’. Canadianfilm.ca is powered by your spirit and devotion to your love for Canadian Film History and is reflected in every post. You will be missed.

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