Trafalgar’s Own Magic Shadows
Many of us have paused to gaze upon old black and white photographs of the school and marveled at those early images of May Court Festivals past or girls on horseback. Imagine watching these static images come to life! In an old box, amidst tarnished trophies, lay two antique 16mm film canisters. These two ‘cans’ represent a fraction of the film shot by O.L.C. Principal Dr. Carscallen during his tenure (1928-1948).
There is a science to preserving early film, but the cleaning, lubricating and frame-by-frame capture is very expensive. We chose a recommended company in Ajax called Clearlight Visual Communications. There, films are run through a high-quality period projector and recorded onto digital video using a broadcast-class television camera. We were thrilled with the result and the cost.
Watching the raw footage is interesting, but what is really striking is the diversity of the school life represented. We did not know how rich these two reels were and much can be learned about the school. We had not expected to see the toboggan slide and astronomical observatory standing, as both are pictured in the 1890s!
One of the trials of historians is not in recovering the past but in introducing it to the present. This film is a lens for revealing and contextualizing the school’s history for our scholars, alumnae, faculty and friends. Much has changed since then, but the importance really lies in the things that have not. Watching our girls gleefully dancing around the May pole or staging their multinational performances for the 102nd consecutive year shows they enjoy it as much now as they did back then. Some things will never change.
The Alumnae Archive & Memorabilia Centre was much-needed, as these films, photos and ephemera need protecting; however, conserving the records we create daily is as important. History seldom looks like history to those alive in the moment.