The Romance of Transportation in Canada

The Romance of Transportation in Canada is a 1952 animated short film made by the National Film Board of Canada, as part of the postwar Canada Carries On series, offering a humorous account of the history of transportation in Canada. The film was directed by Colin Low and produced by Tom Daly. The Romance of Transportation in Canada featured animation by Wolf Koenig and Robert Verrall and was narrated by Guy Glover. Noted composer Eldon Rathburn composed the film score.

The Romance of Transportation in Canada
1952 - The Romance of Transportation in Canada.png
Title frame
Directed byColin Low
Produced byTom Daly
Written byGuy Glover
Narrated byGuy Glover
Music byEldon Rathburn
Distributed byNational Film Board of Canada
Release date
  • 1952 (1952)
Running time
11 minutes, 20 seconds


Throughout its history, transportation in Canada was fraught with difficulty especially looking at Canada's vast distances and natural obstacles such as forest, mountains and rivers. Eventually these obstacles were met with unique solutions, beginning with Canada's First Nations whose canoes allowed for transport over inland waterways. Early pioneers faced the same problems but with larger bateau, cargo could be hauled over longer distances on water. On land, the use of ox-drawn carts became the means to cross rough terrain until stagecoaches were introduced.

With the advent of steam power, and the construction of the Trans-Canada Railway finally the great distances of Canada were overcome. In the early 20th Century, the internal combustion engine then made the next step forward for modern travel with the proliferation of automobiles, aircraft, and even "flying saucers" to come.


The Romance of Transportation in Canada was an animated short in the NFB's films Canada Carries On series (first created as a wartime series).[1] The film was a product of the NFB's Unit B production team.[2] The Romance of Transportation in Canada marked the NFB’s first major foray into industrial animation, influenced not by the auteur style of NFB animation studio founder Norman McLaren, but by the United Productions of America (UPA) style.[3]


The Romance of Transportation in Canada was produced for television broadcast on CBC Television. Individual films were distributed worldwide by the NFB and were also made available to film libraries operated by university and provincial authorities.[4] A total of 199 films in the Canada Carries On series were produced before the series was canceled in 1959.[5]

Canadian film critic Dean Duncan reviewed The Romance of Transportation in Canada and considered it one of Colin Low's finest works. "Here, the title lettering is really cool, the ox is a great character, the snow sections are beautiful, you might even say authoritative. That overhead prairie shot looks real."[6]

Canadian film critic Tom Waugh has also noted that the film's commentary; written and narrated by Norman McLaren's lover, Guy Glover, features "a high camp commentary" with "very queer inflections."[7]


The Romance of Transportation in Canada received a special BAFTA Award, the Short Film Palme d'Or for animation at Cannes Film Festival,[8] as well as an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film nomination.[9] It was the NFB's first film to be nominated for an Oscar in the animation category, at the 25th Academy Awards as well as the first international nomination in this category. [Note 1]

See alsoEdit

  • Transitions, a 1986 NFB IMAX film in 3D about transportation in Canada, also directed by Colin Low



  1. ^ Norman McLaren's pixilation film Neighbours won an Academy Award the same year, and was nominated for another, but these were both in live-action categories.[10]


  1. ^ Morris, Peter. "Film Reference Library: Canada Carries On."[permanent dead link] Canadian Film Encyclopedia. Retrieved: February 7, 2016.
  2. ^ Ellis and McLane 2005, p. 167.
  3. ^ "Romance of Transportation in Canada." Archived 2007-10-12 at the Wayback Machine Canadian Film Encyclopedia. Retrieved: February 7, 2016.
  4. ^ Evans 2001, p. 63.
  5. ^ Ohayon, Albert. "Propaganda cinema at the NFB". National Film Board of Canada, July 13, 2009. Retrieved: February 7, 2016.
  6. ^ Duncan, Dean. "Colin Low 1." Film Review by Dean Duncan, March 19, 2015. Retrieved: February 7, 2016.
  7. ^ Waugh, Tom. "The Romance of Transportation in Canada."[permanent dead link] Cinematheque Ontario. Retrieved: February 7, 2016.
  8. ^ "Canadian films honoured abroad." External Affairs 5, No. 9, September 1953, pp. 278–281.
  9. ^ Lenburg 2006, p. 216.
  10. ^ "The Romance of Transportation in Canada." Internet Movie Database. Retrieved: February 7, 2016.


  • Ellis, Jack C. and Betsy A. McLane. New History of Documentary Film. London: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005. ISBN 0-8264-1750-7.
  • Evsns, Gary. In the National Interest: A Chronicle of the National Film Board of Canada from 1949 to 1989. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001. ISBN 978-0-8020-6833-0.
  • Lenburg, Jeff. Who's Who in Animated Cartoons: An International Guide to Film and Television's Award-Winning and Legendary Animators. New York: Applause Books, 2006. ISBN 978-1-5578-3671-7.

External linksEdit