When highway signs commemorating folk hero Ginger Goodwin disappear, the documentary Goodwin’s Way finds the nearby Cumberland, B.C. at a crossroads with its history.
Goodwin, a rebellious labour activist, was slain by police under mysterious circumstances almost a century ago, yet his name still elicits wounds that date back to the town’s coal mining past.
Residents weave an oral tapestry of fact and myth - some remember Goodwin as a criminal, while many others admire the ideals of equality and self-determination he fought for. Those ideals have long been overshadowed by Cumberland’s dependency on a resource economy, which are chronicled from boom times to bust.
Now, as young families set their sights on building a sustainable generation, a new proposal for a coal mine threatens to make history repeat itself. Amidst an effort to oppose the project, residents young and old reconnect with Ginger Goodwin’s legacy - his ‘way’.
Goodwin’s Way straddles the dividing line between historical and current-event documentary genres to tell the story of a community fighting for autonomy over its past, and its future.
Founded by coal baron Robert Dunsmuir in the 1880′s as a small coal mining camp, Cumberland quickly grew into Canada’s western-most city, and an epicentre of British Columbia’s early labour battles...
Mine accidents, striker evictions, Chinese exclusion, Japanese internment, and the slaying of Ginger Goodwin were the odds that Cumberlanders stood against. But generations of struggle transformed a ‘work camp’ into a tight knit community with a fierce sense of autonomy.
By the 1960s coal mining was finished in the area – almost 300 had died in the mines, and the surrounding watershed was left contaminated. Dark clouds continued to hang over the town – old wounds went unreconciled…
Now, after decades of post-industrial decline, a new generation of young families have re-discovered the sleepy village, but a proposal for new underground coal mines leave Cumberland's future uncertain.
Albert 'Ginger' Goodwin, affectionately named for his fiery red hair, was an immigrant coal miner from England who came to Cumberland in 1910 to find some of the most dangerous mines in the world. Goodwin's experiences in the bitter 1912-14 Vancouver Island Coal Miner’s Strike shaped him into an outspoken activist and leader in BC’s rebellious early labour movement.
At the height of WWI, Goodwin led over 1000 workers into a strike for the 8-hour day in Trail, B.C. and soon found himself conscripted to join the fight overseas, despite ailing health.
Goodwin returned to Cumberland, where he was aided by local families as he hid out with other conscription evaders in the mountains. But authorities were searching tirelessly for the anti-capitalist, anti-war 'agitator'.
Then, on July 27th, 1918, under mysterious – many say suspicious – circumstances, Goodwin was killed by a lone Provincial Police Constable named Dan Campbell, with no witnesses present. Cumberland mourned, and as news spread to Vancouver, workers voted to ‘down tools’ in protest of their fellow worker’s ‘murder’. The result was the first general strike in Canadian history, and out of it, a folk hero was born.
A section of Vancouver Island Highway near Cumberland was briefly named 'Ginger Goodwin Way', but in 2001 the incumbent Liberal Provincial Government quietly removed the signs. Those who remember Goodwin today gather around his grave every year during 'Miners' Memorial Weekend'.
Past and Present
Past and Present
Neil Vokey is an emerging filmmaker inspired by alternative histories, philosophies, and lifestyles, driven by the belief that storytelling can foster critical thinking, and compassion. Neil grew up in Courtenay, BC, and moved to Vancouver in 2009 to study under full scholarship at the Capilano University Film Centre, His final student project, a short doc about BC Labour hero Ginger Goodwin, got him onto the research team of the 2014 Knowledge Network Series, Working People: A History of Labour in British Columbia. This encounter with labour history led Neil to pursue his first feature documentary Goodwin’s Way, which draws parallels between past and present struggles for social justice.
Tobi Elliott is a filmmaker, journalist and creative producer living on Gabriola Island, B.C., Canada. She has worked in almost every area of filmmaking: research, cinematography, writing, editing, coordinating production and fundraising. She looks for opportunities to engage community and public awareness of social issues through thoughtful documentaries and beauty in storytelling, whether through digital media, longform films or the written word. After graduating from Concordia University (Journalism Spec. 2010), Tobi founded Blue Cyrus Media, a partnership with Charlotte Gentis. They produced “Horses for Orphans Brazil”, a short film about a natural horsemanship program for troubled orphans in Brazil, which was broadcast on U.S. cable channel RDFTV (2012), and other video projects for nonprofit organizations. Now producing independent arts and commercial documentaries under Arise Enterprises Ltd., Tobi also helps entrepreneurs find the right media tools for their business, and fellow filmmakers raise financial backing for their projects. Tobi is a Bell Media Fellow and has attended television markets and festivals since 2010 to continue growing in and learning about the industry.
Anna MacLean hails from the blustery shores of Nova Scotia and spent her formative years relentlessly exploring the arts. Armed with a degree in history she enrolled in Capilano University's Documentary Filmmaking Program and has since worked to combine her love of storytelling, adventure and performance art with her new love of film. This has won her a variety awards and accolades, and landed her with a number of rewarding opportunities with the NFB, Showcase, and YTV. Anna most recently graduated from Ryerson University's Documentary Media Masters Program and her film Boom, Baby, Boom was featured in this years DOC NOW festival in Toronto.
Klint Burton studied documentary film at Capilano University, where he met Goodwin’s Way director, Neil Vokey. During his film studies, Klint discovered a deep curiosity and love for photography, as well as reverence for the moving image. His film heroes, Dziga Vertov and Godfrey Reggio, have left a profound mark on Klint, and influence how he captures images – with intention and responsibility of being a silent observer, capturing life, as it happens, in the spirit of documentary. Since school, Klint has been studying the art, language, and technical aspects of DSLR photography, and has been cultivating his love and knowledge of 60′s era muscle cars.
Janelle Huopalainen, a video content producer and contract editor, is a graduate of Capilano University’s Documentary Production program. Since graduating in the spring of 2011, Janelle has produced a short screened at Doxa Documentary Festival, edited for an online animation school, produced wedding films, and is currently working in video production at My Yoga Online, specializing in post-production. Janelle has a passion for non-fiction film and enjoys sharing the stories of real people. She infuses her own unique style and perspective into her films, while remaining grounded in story and character. Her interests are in the subjects of travel and culture, art, psychology and personal growth. Her greatest aspiration is to make films that allow an audience to think and feel, to be moved, and to inspire them to live, learn and grow. Visit her website HERE
After briefly pursuing a career in front of the camera, Robyn Thomas realized her calling lay in documentary film where she could tell meaningful stories with the possibility to incite change. Her work has had her filming pristine lakes from helicopters, sleeping in snow caves, capturing whale footage from kayaks, and interviewing yogis on mountaintops. While these adventures have been rewarding, she is most passionate about the projects that demonstrate the resilience of the human spirit and inspire social change.