James Freer

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James Freer
Born James Simmons Freer
January 4, 1855
Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England, UK
Died December 1933
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Resting place Elmwood Cemetery, Winnipeg
Occupation Film director, farmer
Years active 1897-1902
Spouse(s) Emily Jenkins (1878-1933)
Children 8, incl. Spencer, Oswald, Fred, Joseph, John, Leonard

James Simmons Freer (January 4, 1855 – December 1933) was a Canadian film-making pioneer.

Born in Woodstock, Oxfordshire Freer was a newspaper reporter who emigrated to Manitoba, Canada in 1888 from Bristol and became a farmer, settling south of Winnipeg, in the Brandon Hills district. Less than two years after the Lumière Brothers exhibited the first film in France, Freer became the first Canadian filmmaker. He made films about the Canadian prairies, especially themes of farming and railways, which were shown as early as 1897. The Canadian Pacific Railway Company noticed Freer's films and began to tour them throughout the United Kingdom in an effort to promote immigration to Canada. Ten Years in Manitoba was shown through the British Isles in 1898.[1][2]

The tour was so successful that a second tour of Freer's films took place in 1902. The second tour was sponsored by Sir Clifford Sifton, Canadian Minister of the Interior, who was eager to promote immigration to the Canadian west, especially those from English speaking countries. The second trip was not as successful a recruiting device because people had heard that Freer had downplayed Manitoba's mosquito problem and cold winters.

This ended his film career and he later worked for the Winnipeg Free Press and died in Winnipeg in 1933.


  1. ^ Morris, Peter (1978). Embattled Shadows: A History of Canadian Cinema 1895-1939. Monteal: McGill-Queen's University Press. p. 30. ISBN 0 7735 0323 4. 
  2. ^ Handling, Piers, Peter Morris, Wyndham Wise, Ted Magder. "History of the Canadian Film Industry". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica. Retrieved March 22, 2017. 

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