Berwick and the Beach Canal



Film Review

This short documentary advocates the efforts of the Burlington Lighthouse Canal Group (BLCG) to restore and preserve the Burlington Canal Lighthouse in Hamilton, Ontario.  The lighthouse still stands at the entrance of the Hamilton Harbour, where it was built in the 1800’s, to provide guidance and light to ships in darkness and unsettled weather conditions.  In the film, the rich history of the Burlington Canal Lighthouse is explored in order to promote its historical and educational significance to the surrounding community.

Captain George Thomson, the lighthouse keeper for nearly 30 years, kept a diary in which he recorded weather observations so meticulously that they are regarded as the official historical weather records for that period.  Captain Thomson’s great-great grandson, George A. (Sandy) Thomson, narrates the film as a modern-day link to the lighthouse, emphasizing the historical and educational importance of preserving this significant monument.


Recorded in Canada, this film highlights the area surrounding the lighthouse, including the lift bridge that was constructed adjacent to it.  It also includes shots from Berwick Upon Tweed, England, which is the town that Captain Thomson came from before moving to North America to become the lighthouse keeper at the Burlington Canal Lighthouse.


This documentary runs at 9 minutes in full HD.  The film made its debut at the Burlington Central Library on March 8, 2015, and is now available here via YouTube.





Film Review

The MS Nordstjernen ship was built for the Coastal Voyage fleet in 1956 and extensively modernised in 2000 for exclusive Arctic sailing. Today she takes explorers on adventures in the waters around Spitsbergen. Despite modernisation, she still retains the aura of an old Atlantic ship, restored to her former splendour with new brass, classic wooden interiors and all her original art. Out on deck you come extra close to the untouched nature of the Polar Arctic and with roofs over a lot of the deck space you can enjoy being outside, even in rough weather.

MS Nordstjernen is named after Stella Polaris or the North Star, famous for helping the Vikings to navigate the north and seafarers find out their way back home.


Filming starts in Hamburg, sailing north to and exploring several fjords along the Norwegian coast along the way, including the stunning Lysefjord and the famous Hardangerfjord. The Geirangerfjord is considered to be the most beautiful fjord in the world, and the scenery will take your breath away.

After seeing Ålesund’s beautiful Art Nouveau architecture, Trondheim's Nidaros Cathedral and a traditional fishing village in Lofoten, we visit Tromsø, the Gateway to the Arctic. The MS Nordstjernen will sail around Europe’s northernmost point, the North Cape, and then heads for Svalbard.


This documentary runs at 8 minutes in full HD.  



Film Review

If you like vintage machinery, American history and/or old ships this film will be a delight to watch. Built in 1906, the steamer "St. Mary's Challenger" has sailed for over a hundred years on the Great Lakes in continuing commercial service. As the last surviving steam powered bulker on the lakes, she represents the end of an era.Scenes from the pilot house to engine and boiler rooms and all between, show this grand lady at her best for even though she is truly in the autumn of her life, the owner maintains the vessel in immaculate condition. This ship truly represents a working tribute to mechanical engineering; a living, working museum.


The Challenger steams out of her home port of Charlevoix, Michigan carrying cement for terminals in the ports of Lake Michigan. Not only is the machinery of this hard working ship a symphony in motion, but its crew comprises many who have been on board for up to thirty years. They know the ship as an old friend. Come with us as we sail into and out of some of the intriguing commercial ports on the lake and get acquainted with daily life on board. Take a trip back in time as we capture what to the crew is routine but to us is an adventure.The Great Lakes are usually well mannered, but not always, and when nature decides to make life difficult, watch how this crew and their trusty steamer deal with it. It's man and machine against nature.Maneuvering in tight spaces demands frequent calls for "Full ahead" and then "Full astern", with none of the smoke, hesitation and uncertainty common to a modern diesel.


Sadly, this film is incomplete. We took the trailer and plan to several networks and were unable to find a buyer. Depending on the success of KA114 we might take another crack at it.In 2013 the ship was transformed into a barge. The engine room was destroyed. But we have two years of footage in the can along with some superb on-board content captured mainly on Super-16 film.An effort by marine historians to “Save the Ship” failed, but we at least captured during the sailing seasons of 2006 and 2008, a real record the last working years of her life, and that film will survive.Someday, we will finish the story and it will not be a “reality show” of the crew but the story of a proud survivor of the age of steam.