Kenneth M. Brooke
Kenneth G. Calder
Denis James Cassidy
Patrick Lawrence Cassidy
William Patterson Cheatley
Roy E. Culley
John J. Davidson
Abraham A. Di Cesare
Richard D. Donovan
John I. Fisher
Donald F. Hall
Rita M. Hall
Robert M. Hall
Douglas L. Henderson
Phill P. Hersch
Roy Oliver Irvine
Florence May Kent
Lewis Henry Killick
Harry A. Lake
Henry J. Milligan
Robert A. Milligan
Oliver B. S. Montgomery
Leif B. Pedersen
Joseph L. Pryde
Gwendolyn I. Smith
Claude S. Vanderheym
William F. White
Stanley W. Woodward
In Toronto, prior to 1958, I.A. filmwork was handled by sister Local 58. They crewed television series like Tugboat Annie and The Last of the Mohichans. Local 58 therefore provided the core of what was to become Local 873.
Early in 1958, brothers William White Sr., Bill Finch, and Roy Culley applied to the International Office for a separate film charter. This was granted and the charter was issued June 1, 1958 and signed by then International President Richard F. Walsh. It gave the new Local 873 bargaining rights for all aspects of the film industry in Toronto including television commercials, documentaries television series, and features.
The new local had its offices at 515 Jarvis Street. Spur of the moment meetings called by Business Agent White, resulted in a dues system based on a percentage of gross weekly pay and soon it's first contract characterized the early days.
In the fall of 1958 work began on 873's first television series Cannonball. This series was filmed at Lakeshore Studios and lasted about 26 weeks until May 1959. Next came our first feature contract and the filming of the movie Hudson's Bay at the newly built Toronto International Film Studios at Kleinburg. This film was completed in October 1959.
In the meantime membership in the local increased to 80, a full Executive Board was instituted, quarterly dues were introduced and regular monthly meetings were scheduled.
Television commercials were another growing source of employment for 873 members. Commercial production companies with the help of Local 873 made Toronto into one of the leading centres for commercial production in North America.
1961 was a time of expansion for Local 873. The feature The Canadian was filmed in Calgary. It was the first of many out of province productions to employ our members. Later that year Disney began work on the original Incredible Journey at Lakeshore Studios and on locations around Palgrave, Ontario. Perhaps though the most important event for 873 that year was the opening of the first privately owned television station in Canada, CFTO in Agincourt. Many of our members were put to work getting the station off the ground and then through the work of brothers Culley, Finch, White, and International Representative James Cameron, a contract was signed with the station. In the next decade CFTO was to be a great source of employment, new members, and training for the Local.
Other firsts for Local 873 include:
1963: The Junior Forest Rangers, filmed at Kleinburg, it was the first colour television series produced in North America, lasting for 110 half hour episodes until the fall of 1965 and still in syndication today!
1964: The Seaway, the first one hour television series made in Canada, filmed at Lakeshore Studios and on location in Toronto and Montreal.
1967: North of Superior, the first IMAX film for general distribution, shown at Cinesphere - the first permanent IMAX theatre in the world.
1967: The 360° film shown in the Bell Canada Pavilion at EXPO 67.
Working conditions, one of the major concerns for any union have also come a long way:
The Make-up Department, once also responsible for hair, was split up into the Hair and Make-up Departments.
The Transportation Department was added to the Local to protect ourselves from other unions.
Boom persons got their own department.
As well, conditions on the job improved with craft service trucks, hair, make-up and wardrobe trailers and honey wagons taking the place of more primitive practices and making the business of filming in our temperate climate more bearable.
In conclusion I would like to thank sister Irene Kent and brothers Jack Breeze and Paul Theodore for all their hard work writing their reminiscences from which this work was drawn. I only wish there was room to include everything they wrote. Any errors contained in this brief history are most certainly mine.
- Brother Gary Deneault