Just up the Rideau River from Ottawa you’ll find the small village of Burritts Rapids. Once a bustling hamlet when the Canal was a common travel route, Burritts Rapids is now a quiet “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” community nestled between the larger centres of Smiths Falls and Kemptville. But on National Canadian Film Day 150 (NCFD 150), Burritts Rapids will be anything but quiet. The village will gather in the historic Burritts Rapids Community Hall to screen THE BOY IN BLUE.
This early Nicolas Cage film holds a special status in the community, having been partially filmed in Burritts Rapids in 1984. Everyone in town seems to have a story about being around during the filming of THE BOY IN BLUE! The film tells the true story of Canadian rowing legend, Ned Hanlan, whose teenage feats of sculling (rowing with an oar in each hand) made him a champion around the Toronto Islands and the area there bearing his family name. A colourful and internationally known personality, Hanlan’s fame came almost as much from his showmanship as from his considerable skill. In 1880, he went on to become Canada’s first world champion for a solo event when he bested Australian champ Edward Trickett in front of 100,000 spectators in London.
The up-and-coming Cage was only 20 when he made THE BOY IN BLUE, perhaps his last role as a relative unknown before breaking out in films such as PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED and RAISING ARIZONA. He starred opposite Canadian actors Cynthia Dale and Christopher Plummer, who was at that point already a veteran of stage and screen twenty years after THE SOUND OF MUSIC.
The production of THE BOY IN BLUE was a true event for the people of Burritts Rapids, and this screening is a cause to look back and celebrate with townsfolk who were not only around during filming but some of whom actually appear in the film. The film shoot was a boon to the town, not just for the excitement of having a film crew around: The production company contributed many of the building materials the town used to create an extension to the historic town hall, a building that was already over a hundred years old by 1984.
This is just one of countless stories about how Canadian film has touched the country in even the most unlikely of spots. Join Burritts Rapids and all of Canada on April 19th as we celebrate NCFD 150!