Fonds PR-1834 - Lew M. Parry fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Lew M. Parry fonds

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  • textual record
  • graphic material
  • moving images
  • multiple media

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the contents of the fonds.

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • [ca. 1930-1987] (Creation)
    Parry, Lew M., 1905-1993

Physical description area

Physical description

311 film reels and other material

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Name of creator

Biographical history

Llewelyn Maddock Parry (1905-1993), known as Lew M. Parry, was British Columbia's most prolific film maker. He was particularly renowned for his industrial films. Born in Lethbridge, Alberta, on October 5th 1905 to Welsh immigrant Henry Miller Parry and his English wife Elsie Ann (nee Brook), Parry became fascinated with motion pictures at an early age. In 1909 his family moved to Nelson B.C. where he watched his father at work as a film projectionist. When the family moved again to Revelstoke in 1910 the boy was a regular at the silent movie showings at the local Star and Empress Theatres. After another move to Vancouver in 1917, Parry began to build the knowledge and skills he would eventually apply to film making. He took private art classes and later, night courses, at the Vancouver School of Art. He also took voice training and tap dancing lessons, and developed a short-lived vaudeville act. While still at school he was allowed to experiment with the equipment of the Daily Sheet Metal Works. He later completed a four year program at the Vancouver Technical School, apprenticed as a tinsmith and worked in the sheet-metal trade for four or five years. On Sept 27th 1930 he married Queenie Lofting in Vancouver. In about 1930 Parry joined Neon Products of Western Canada Ltd. as a designer of neon signs, and two years later became art director. He remained with the company for about sixteen years, devoting his spare time to further developing his knowledge and skills in drama and film with the aim of becoming a film maker. In the early 1930s he joined the Vancouver Little Theatre Association and served as art director and set designer from about 1933 to about 1947. In the mid 1930s he designed for, wrote and directed a few “screen ads” for Motion Screenadz Ltd. owned by Leon C. Shelly, a former associate from Neon Products. In 1936 he married Evelyn Hood Parry in Vancouver. During the Second World War Neon Products secured large contracts to produce specialized equipment for the war effort and Parry developed training films to instruct the large numbers of workers required for these projects. In May 1944 he left Neon Products to begin his career in film, joining Vancouver Motion Pictures as production manager but choosing to remain in Vancouver when the company relocated to Toronto. In 1945 he purchased a film studio at 1685 W. First Ave in Vancouver and on October 9th 1945 incorporated Trans-Canada Films Ltd. In 1946 he completed the film Vancouver Diamond Jubilee with the support of the B.C. Electric Company. This was the first of more than 70 films Parry would produce for the company and its successor, B.C. Hydro. This association launched his career as an industrial film maker and led to work for other prominent clients such as Alcan, MacMillan Bloedel, Marwell Construction, Trans-Canada Airlines and the National Film Board, as well as other companies based in Alberta and Quebec. Trans-Canada Films Ltd. was taken over in 1948 by Don Coltman and Wally Hamilton and eventually turned into a film-processing laboratory. That year Parry bought out North American Productions Ltd. on 2nd Ave in Vancouver, and operated as Lew Parry Film Productions. The studios were later relocated to larger premises on Broadway Avenue. On April 7th 1954 he incorporated a production company called Parry Films Limited (BC Company incorporation number 31697) and in 1956 constructed a film studio on Capilano Road in North Vancouver. On April 29th 1954 Parry, with Homer Powell and CKWZ sound engineer Dave Pomeroy, incorporated a sync-sound film recording, dubbing and editing company called Telesound Film Recordings Limited (BC incorporation number 31806, dissolved September 26th, 1988). With the advent of television Parry started North of 53 TV Limited (BC Company incorporation number 44942, dissolved October 15th 1970), which filmed a pilot episode for a half-hour television series North of 53 in 1959. In 1963 Parry was co-producer and location manager for several episodes of the television program The Littlest Hobo that were shot at his studio by Canamac Pictures. He sold Parry Films Limited in 1963 but continued to make films into the 1970s as a freelance producer under the name Lew Parry Film Productions Ltd. (BC Company incorporation number 63563; incorporated February 25th 1965; dissolved August 17th 1981). When B.C. Hydro started its own internal film unit, Parry was brought on staff, running the department from 1975 to 1978. Lew M. Parry died on May 13th, 1993.

Custodial history

F1981:17 was transferred to the Archives on November 25th 1981 from the Film Library of the British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority in Vancouver. The films, which consist mainly of non-Hydro material produced by Lew M. Parry, had been stored by Hydro on his behalf. F1984:11/083-F1984/089 and F1984:11/100 were acquired from Lew Parry by the British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority and became part of its Film Library. They were transferred to the Archives in about October 1984. F1987:12/001 was donated to the Archives by Lew M. Parry on June 12th 1987. V1987:32 deposit copy is a video transfer made for the BC Archives and Record Service by Gastown Productions from a composite print loaned by Lew M. Parry in 1987. F1992:05/47-F1992:05/54 were donated by the British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority, and acquired by the Archives on January 10th, 1992. Accession 2009.74 was transferred from the West Vancouver Archives in June 2009, their accession number was 2002-021.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of records generated by Lew M. Parry between about 1930 and 1987 in the course of his activities as a film maker based in Vancouver, including records generated by the companies Trans-Canada Films Ltd., Lew Parry Film Productions and Parry Films Ltd. The fonds also includes records generated by Lew Parry through his activities as art director and set designer for the Vancouver Little Theatre Association in Vancouver from about 1933 until about 1947. Also included are a few personal records such as photographs of Parry's home, family and friends. The fonds consists of Parry's films and library footage, comprising industrial films of bridge, power plant and dam construction, and of the mining, logging and fishing industries, as well as documentaries, travelogues, promotional films, newsreels, educational and training films, dramatic short films, docudramas, theatrical trailers and television programs and commercials. The fonds also includes photographs of Parry's activities making promotional films, and making industrial films of the mining industry and of bridge, dam and power plant construction projects. There are also photographs of the filming of the pilot television program North of 53 and of The Littlest Hobo program; of film studios, film sets, and recording studios; photographs of actors (including actors from Paramount Studios) and a few personal photographs of Parry's home, family and friends. In addition the fonds includes a scrapbook containing Vancouver Little Theatre Association programs (1933-1947), correspondence, notes, newspaper clippings, black and white photographs, including some of the Vancouver Diamond Jubilee parade, graphite sketches and colour drawings of set designs, art sketches (including possibly a storyboard for a “screen ad” for Roger's Sugar), invitations and an invoice. The fonds also includes four award certificates (1957, 1986-1987).

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Restrictions on access

  • Conservation restriction: use preservation photocopy of scrapbook.
  • Conservation restriction: if no video reference copy of a film is available, researchers must consult with Reference Desk to determine best method of access.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Copyright restriction: Crown copyright and BC Hydro and Power Authority copyright exist on some film productions.

Finding aids

Inventories for F1981:17, F1984:11/83-89 and F1984:11/100 are available in the reference room.

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No further accruals expected.

General note

Archives code(s): 2009.74, F1981:17; F1984:11/083 - 89; F1984:11/100; F1987:12/001; F1992:05/47 - 54; V1987:32.

General note

Accession number(s): 2009.74.1; F1981:17; F1987:12; F1992:05; V1987:32; F1984:11


Moving image originals may be in cool or cold storage. Contact staff for specific details.

Physical description

Includes 3 video reels, 19 cm of textual records and ca. 186 photographs. Photographs comprise: 1 photograph : b&w ; 28 cm x 36 cm 82 photographs : b&w ; 20 cm x 25 cm 49 photographs : b&w ; 13 cm x 18 cm 38 photographs : col. ; 13 cm x 18 cm or smaller 1 photograph : acetate negative, col. ; 6 x 6 cm 1 photograph : acetate transparency, col. ; 6 x 13 cm 14 photographs : acetate negative, col. ; 4 cm x 16 cm or smaller

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