Every Saturday Night, Tom Radford, National Film Board of Canada

Hat tip to Dan Overes over at DanOCan for digging up this gem from the vaults of the National Film Board called, Every Saturday Night. Filmed in 1973, Alberta’s generational changing of the guard is captured in grainy technicolour, as the last vestiges of our pioneer-era culture struggle to remain relevant amidst the formidable social and political shift that accompanied the Lougheed-era and the boom .

Throughout the video, the hardy oldtimers of the Hanna-Drumheller region reminisce about sod huts, hard times,  and the Dirty Thirties, while telling tales and playing tunes hailing from the homestead era. Captured within are glimpses of classic roadsters, cowboy hats, and prairie outposts like Garden Plain, Munson, Hand Hills, and Dorothy, as well as several elevators and other landmarks, many of which likely no longer exist. There may even be some jello salad mixed in there somewhere for good measure.

This documentary evokes a strange familiarity for me, as the people and events portrayed could have easily been those from my own childhood, transposed on to film. What strikes me most is the fact that Every Saturday Night was filmed in ’73–the year I was born–in places not far from where I was raised. As I travel the province today, particularly during my periodic journeys to the southeast, I marvel at how much Alberta has changed from the time when it was all about the wheat. In fact, I find it hard to reconcile that we were ever like this at all, especially during my life time.

Watching Every Saturday Night. I can’t help but feel a nostalgic longing for an Alberta I barely knew,  old-time fiddling and all.

2 Replies to “1973: I barely knew ye”

  1. Isn’t this film just a complete gem? I was born a year earlier and it amazes me as well how much we have changed in less than a single lifetime.

    Out of everything in the film, seeing multiple elevators in the background at Dorothy is the most stunning to me.


  2. Once again, great find, Dan. Dorothy was a hopping place back then, I love the “Hussar” school sweater one of the ladies is wearing in the video. The elevator at Garden Plain gets me, I’ve driven past so many times, and I never could have pictured it. There are a few other elevators in the video that I’d love to learn their location, I’m sure they’re long gone as well.

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