Dr. Jerry DeVries
History on Film - Home Movie
This “home-movie” was shot between 1942 and 1943 by the American doctor Jerry Devries (Illinois) who was stationed in Whitehorse during the construction of the Highway. The unedited film shows construction, scenery, and local activity in the Whitehorse area. There are a number of similar films in the collection of the Yukon Archives and while the DeVries footage can be considered a representative example of this collection and form of documentation, it has been included in the exhibition because of some particularly significant and unique imagery.
Devries’ film includes footage of soldiers huddling in extreme cold and near darkness at Kluane Base Camp and First Nations’ children at an unidentified school. The Kluane Base Camp was close to Sheep Mountain and just below the Highway’s official completion site at Soldier’s Summit. The intense imagery, including fires beneath vehicles to keep them running, speaks to the extreme conditions faced during the construction.; As is documented in the film The Gravel Magnet, the photographs of George Johnston and other materials gathered in this exhibition, the Highway had a profound impact on the economies, health, and cultures of Native peoples. The images of First Nation children gathered together to be “properly educated” is a reminder of the dramatic influence the outsiders had on Native life.