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The Loon's Necklace

Accession number: 
Alternate Titles: 
Le Collier magique
French version
Production Years: 
Release Year: 


Film Properties: 
Length (feet): 
400 (16mm)
Length (minutes): 
Holding Institutions: 

University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario: 16mm.

University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario: 16mm.

York University, Toronto, Ontario: 16mm.

Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec: 16mm.
"This Tsimshian Indian legend tells the tale of an old, blind man unable to provide for his starving family in the harsh winter. He exchanges his precious shell necklace for loon bears the white collar and speckles of the necklace. Ancient wooden masks and animation recreate the legend."

Library and Archives Canada: 16mm, VHS, Digibeta.
"On y raconte la légende indienne du huard qui orne d'un col blanc son riche plumage."

"Describes the Indian legend of how the Loon received its neckband. The story is portrayed by actors wearing the authentic ceremonial masks carved by the Indians of the British Columbia coast from the collection of the National Museum of Canada. The legend centres around Kelora, a blind medicine man who lived in the village of Shalus on the banks of the Nicola River. Only the Loon could arouse him from his idle state for which his wife would scold him. He would walk up the path with his stick in search of the Loon - his father. One year a difficult winter left the village close to famine. Chiefs and medicine men debated whether to trade with neighbouring villages for food. Kelora warned that an unprotected village could fall easy prey to starving wolves. The village ignored his warning and derided him and soon the wolves arrived. Kelora decided to use his magical powers to save the village. He donned his sacred collar of dentalium shells and chanted his sacred songs. Magic arrows shot from his magical bow killed all the wolves. The following spring Kelora set off again to find the Loon. Weathering mosquitoes, crying birds (both portrayed by masks) and a thunderstorm he eventually came upon the Loon and made a final request; that his sight be restored. The Loon had Kelora climb upon his back then he swam four times beneath the surface. After the final swim Kelora's sight had returned and no less a gift than his collar of shells was tossed at the Loon. The collar wrapped itself around the bird's neck and a few shells broke from the cord and scattered on his back. The film begins with the following creeper: "The Story of "The Loon's Necklace" is based on an Indian legend. No one knows when the legend was first told, but it was long before the white man came to the British Columbia Coast. 'It is a tale full of the simple emotions of their primitive life and the spirits of good and evil which they believed surrounded them. "The Indians carved life-like masks to represent these emotions and spirits, then coloured them with native paints, and used them in their rituals and ceremonies. 'This film grew out of a visit to the National Museum of Canada and discussions with Dr. Douglas Leechman, the archaeologist there. The masks used are from the Museum's collection, and though they were carved many years ago the colours have not been retouched. 'In presenting, 'The Loon's Necklace' The Canadian Education Association commends to all the rich inheritance of our country which awaits the visitor in our museums.' The film concludes with the following creeper: 'This film was made available to the Canadian Education Association for showings in Canada through the courtesy of Imperial Oil Limited.'"

Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, British Columbia: 16mm (2 copies).

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia: 16mm.
"Brings to life a British Columbian Indian legend of how the loon received its distinguished neck band. Authentic ceremonial masks from the West Coast Indian Collection of the National Museum in Ottawa are used ti portray specific personalities, concepts and emotions."

University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario: 16mm.
"A charming Indian legend of how the loon, a water bird, received his distinguished neckband. Authentic ceremonial masks, carved by Indians of British Columbia, portray the Indian's sensitivity to the moods of nature."

University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta: 16mm.
"A north American Indian legend which tells how the loon, a water bird, acquired its white neckband. Using authentic ceremonial masks, the film tells the story of the Indian village of Shulus and how Kelara, the blind medicine man, saves the village and has his sight restored."
From the Catalogue of 16mm Educational Motion Pictures. Published by the Educational Media Division, Department of Extension, University of Alberta, Edmonton, 1967.


Online database National Film Board of Canada.
"An Indian legend that explains the white band around the black neck of the loon. The hero is Kelora, once a proud medicine man, but neglected in his feeble old age and blindness. His totem, the loon, remains faithful to him and gives him back his sight. In return Kelora places his necklace of magic shells around the neck of the bird, where it can still be seen today."

Barbara Wade Rose, Budge (Toronto: ECW Press, 1998), 57-61.

"First Annual Canadian Awards - Film of the Year. The Loon's Necklace," Film News (April-May 1949): 7.
"'Shot from a magical bow...' Though not in competition there, this film was enthusiastically acclaimed at the Edinburgh International Film Festival which screened over 100 films from 20 countries. It has just been awarded the highest honor in the first annual Canadian Film Awards. But, having made these two important statements, we have still said little about this unique subject, fascinatingly presented through the use of superb, genuine West Coast Indian masks. . . . Theme of THE LOON'S NECKLACE is an ancient Indian legend as reconstructed by Dr. Douglas Leechman, Curator of Canada's Museum of Natural History where the masks are preserved. Thus, not simply the novelty but the authenticity of its Indian and nature lore make it an educational as well as an artistic triumph. We understand too that an old French Canadian guide acted as naturalist expert; and that F.R. Crawley, himself a naturalist as well as movie maker, photographed the loon in its native haunts for scenes in which it features. The call of the loon, the terrible cry of the wolves, the Indian chanting, all are real, and the 'keening' of the famine sequence, so disturbing in its subdued intensity. Sound effects, incidentally, are a study in themselves. . . Photography and extremely clever cell animation combine in unusual color and lighting arrangements to produce a mysteriously wonderful atmosphere. It is strange also, what a thrill there is in such simple scenes as that when the old Indian, his sight restored, flings to the loon his most cherished possession, a magic-propertied collar of sacred dentalian shells, and the collar wraps itself handsomely about the neck of the bird. 'Surely it was then,' the excellent narration concludes, 'that the loon received his necklace.' . . . Producer Crawley Films Ltd. (Ottawa); director F.R. Crawley; camera and art, Grant and Graham Crabtree; editor, Judith Crawley. More Indian stories like this one, please!
1-reel; Commercial Kodachrome. In Canada (courtesy, Imperial Oil Ltd): from Canadian Educational Assoc., 206 Huron St., Toronto. U.S. and elsewhere: Encyclopaedia Britannica Films Inc., Wilmette, Ill: Sale price $100 less ed. discount. Rent from your local film library."

"...Film Clips...," Film News (September 1949): 20.
"THE LOON'S NECKLACE (Film News Apr-May/49) won an Oscar at the Cleveland Film Festival; has been entered in the Film Festival at Venice. About 100 prints are already in distribution in Canada, a phenomenal number for that country. We understand that sales in the U.S. via Encyclopaedia Britannica Film Inc., Wilmette, Ill. are high and mounting daily."

"EBF - Patriarch at Twenty," Film News (November-December 1949): 14.
"Other recent subjects, produced in collaboration, or by outside makers and taken on for distribution [by Encyclopaedia Britannica Films] include: [...] the Canadian prize winner, THE LOON'S NECKLACE (by Crawley) [...]"

"Sponsored Film Production On the Rise in Canada," Film News (July-August 1950): 11.
"That private motion picture producers in Canada can turn out top flight films capable of holding their own anywhere in the world is evidenced by THE LOON'S NECKLACE, chosen most distinguished film of the year in Canada in 1949, and recognized in six international competitions. Canadian rights to THE LOON'S NECKLACE were purchased by Imperial Oil which, in the interests of education, is distributing 125 prints through the 200 community film libraries of the Canadian Education Association."

[Encyclopaedia Britannica Films advertisement], Film News (September 1950): 2.
"As unique as is the number of EBFilms so honored, even more noteworthy is the range and scope of the four EBFilms included. The Loon's Necklace, winner of numerous other awards...produced in Canada by Crawley Films, Ltd., and brought to you exclusively as one of EBFilms' twenty-five films on the arts."

"New Canadian Filmstrips," Film News (April 1951): 18.
"MASKS OF THE NORTH AMERICAN INDIANS (color) gives us a beautiful reproduction of the masks used in the religious and secular ceremonies of the Bering Sea Eskimos, the Haida, Nootka, Kwakiutl and Iroquois. These masks are of great interest to all groups studying art and anthropology, and the strip is an excellent one to recommend for secondary school classes. It also appealed to us as splendid correlation material to use in connection with a showing of the film THE LOON'S NECKLACE."

"Canada - 50 Entries for Annual Awards," Film News (April 1952).
"No 'Film of the Year' was made last year, but the winner for the previous year was THE LOON"S NECKLACE, which like this year's winner, NEWFOUNDLAND SCENE, was produced by Crawley Films for Imperial Oil."

Walter Herbert, "The Canadian Film Awards," Film News 13, no. 5 (1953): 4.
"In addition to giving recognition to the winning films in each of the categories each year, the judges have made a number of 'Special Awards' which are of more than ordinary interest. THE LOON'S NECKLACE, declared the 'Film of the Year' by the C.F.A. judges in 1948, has become one of the world's most famous documental films."

"What They Are Showing," Film News 13, no. 5 (1953): 8.
"The World of Modern Art. William Chapman and Stanley Kuniz introduced the films in a ten-week course at The New School, New York City, entitled 'Art in Motion.' Topics and films were: Aspects of the Primitive: WALKABOUT, LASCAUX - CRADLE OF MAN'S ART, BUMA: AFRICAN SCULPTURE SPEAKS, DANCES OF THE KWAKIUTL INDIANS, THE LOON'S NECKLACE."

"The 6th Annual Canadian Film Awards," Film News 14, no. 5 (1954): 15.
"Canada's top cinematic distinction, the title 'Canadian Film of the Year', has been won for productions released in 1953 by Christopher Chapman of Toronto, with his 18-minute color study THE SEASONS. The coveted honor has been conferred only four times in the six years of the Canadian Film Awards. The other winners are THE LOON'S NECKLACE (1948); a Norman McLaren experimental film in third-dimensional technique (1951); and ROYAL JOURNEY (1952)."

"Festival at Woodstock," Film News (October 1957): 4.
[Still shot from The Loon's Necklace; caption reads:] "THE LOON'S NECKLACE, based on Indian legend, was made in Canada, is distributed in the U.S. by Encyclopaedia Britannica Films. Top honors were won by three French films, two Italian, two from Canada, one from the U.S."

National Film Board of Canada, Films by Other Producers Distributed in Canada by the National Film Board of Canada/Films de divers producteurs distribués au Canada par l’Office national du film du Canada (Montreal: National Film Board of Canada, c.1968), 6, 10.
"An Indian legend concerning a blind old medicine man shunned by his village, who, later, aided by the loon, saves the village from starvation."

"Légende indienne racontée à l'aide de masques et centrée sur l'étrange histoire de Kelora, médecin aveugle du fleuve Nicola, en Colombie Britannique."

Crawley Films, Free Films: Directory of Sources of Free 16mm Sponsored Films in Canada (Ottawa: Crawley Films, May 1952): 9.

Imperial Oil, Selection of 16mm Films Available Without Charge to Schools, Church Groups, Service Clubs and Similar Organizations (n.d.: Imperial Oil).
"Among the legends that have come form the North American Indians is one which tells how the loon acquired the white bands around its neck. Steeped in antiquity, the legend is familiar up and down the north-western coast of the continent.
The film, 'The Loon's Necklace', tells the story of this legend through a narrator and 35 actors wearing carved wooden masks. These Indians masks are more than 100 years old and are still brilliant in their original pigments. They were lent to the producers of the film by the National Museum of Canada. Dr. Douglas Leechman, archaeologist of the anthropological division of the museum, suggested the film, based on his studies of the Indians of British Columbia.
'The Loon's Necklace' is considered one of the most unusual films ever produced for technique, action and design and has won many awards at home and abroad. It was selected the Canadian Film Awards' 'Film of the Year' for 1948, and was named one of the 'world's most outstanding' non-commercial films of that year. More than one-and-one-half million Canadians have seen it."

Imperial Oil, Un choix de films 16mm prêtés, à titre grâcieux, aux maisons d'enseignement, clubs sociaux et autres groupements (n.d.: Imperial Oil).
"Au nombre des légendes venant des Indiens de l'Amérique du Nord, il y a celle qui raconte la façon dont le huard a orné son riche plumage d'un col blanc. Au cours des âges, cette légende et demeurée vivace sur toute la côte nord-ouest du continent.
'Le Collier magique' raconte cette légende par la voix d'un narrateur et avec le concours de 35 acteurs coiffés de masques en bois sculpté. Vieux de plus d'un siècle, ces masques indiens au riche coloris conservent toujours leu pigmentation originale. Le Musée national du Canada les a prêtés aux réalisateurs de ce film. Suggéré par M. Douglas Leechman, archéologue à la division d'anthropologie du Musée national, le scénario s'inspire des études de ce savant sur les Indiens de la Colombie-Britannique.
'Le Collier magique', en raison de sa conception, de son action et de sa technique, est considéré comme l'un des films les plus extraordinaires jamais tournés. Il a remporté plusieurs prix au pays et à l'étranger. Désigné en 1948 comme 'le Film de l'Année' au Grand Prix du Film canadien, il a alors également été classé comme 'l'un des plus extraordinaires au monde' parmi les films non-commerciaux. Depuis on l'a montré à plus d'un million et demi de Canadiens."

Service de ciné-photographie de la province de Québec, Films 16mm: édition 1956-57 (Quebec City: Service de ciné-photographie, 1956): 121-122.
"Une vieille légende indienne, de celles qui ne savent pas mourir, malgré les siècles qui passent. Et, pour illustrer cette simple histoire, on a reconstitué les masques étranges et baroques que fabriquaient autrefois les indiens. C'était là leur costume d'apparat, le visage des grandes cérémonies. Ces masques grimaçants, aux traits hideux, aux couleurs brutales, ont une signification propre. Ils sont le symbole de toute une croyance, de tout un culte. Chose étrange, ces visages de bois acquièrent au long du film une personnalité troublante. Ils trahissent les émotions, donnent au récit une atmosphère à la fois vivante et féérique.
Et si vous voulez savoir comment un jour, il y a très longtemps, le huard a acquis son collet blanc, il vous faut voir 'Le collier magique'."