19:00 — 21:00
Canmore Museum
Canmore Museum, 902B 7th Ave, Canmore, AB, T1W 3K1, Canada
Free – $5.00
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Hosted by Canmore-based Creative Director and Cultural Amplifier Bridget Ryan, Novel Ideas brings people together to explore ideas and perspectives related to Canmore culture, history, place, and identity with local authors, spoken word artists, historians, and musicians.

As part of our Family Day Big Weekend events, host Bridget Ryan welcomes musician Phillip Alexander Nugent, John Snow, and author Mary Graham to the Canmore Museum. Bridget and Mary Graham will discuss her new book, A Stunning Backdrop: Alberta in the Movies, 1917 – 1960, which tells of the unconventional, untold story of Alberta’s film history, defined by the terrible beauty of its pristine landscape, surprisingly important to Hollywood, and recaptured in lost or ignored Indigenous perspectives and stories. Stories of the Stoney Nakoda First Nations’ near 100-year history in movies will be highlighted by Stoney Nakoda guest John Snow. A book signing will follow.

Doors open at 6:45 pm, with live music by Phil Nugent from 7:00 to 7:30 pm, followed by a book talk from 7:30 to 8:10 pm with an opportunity for audience questions and discussion afterward. Refreshments and appetizers catered by our Canmore culinary team of Chef Dallas Suttie and Chef Darcy Price will be available throughout the evening.


Alberta’s magnificent landscape has served as a popular location for filmmakers since the dawn of the movie industry. For film pioneers, Alberta embodied the myth of the Great Northwest, a primeval mountain wilderness and the last western frontier. In turn, Canadian entrepreneurs were eager for American studios to drape the Alberta landscape across the backdrop of their movies, an advertisement without equal.

A Stunning Backdrop is the untold story of six rollicking decades of filmmaking in Alberta. Mary Graham draws on twelve years of exhaustive research to reveal a film history like no other, illuminating the deep importance of the province to Hollywood. She explores the often friendly partnerships between American filmmakers and Indigenous communities, particularly the Stoney Nakoda, that provided economic opportunities and, in many cases, allowed them to retain religious and cultural practices banned by the Canadian government.

Beautifully illustrated with archival photography and featuring century-old set stills alongside photographs of the locations as they appear today, by Jean Becq, Solomon Chiniquay, Jeff Wallace, George Webber, and Paul Zizka, A Stunning Backdrop is the fascinating, often surprising, always unconventional story of film in a province whose rugged, compelling, multifarious, terribly beautiful landscape continues to inspire filmmakers and audiences around the world.


Mary Graham is a writer, documentary journalist, and film historian. She has appeared as a feature film specialist at CBC Radio and ARTE, the European Culture Channel. She presents frequently about her ongoing work on the importance of Indigenous contributions to Alberta film history in the media, and at universities, museums, and other public venues.


The seeds of Phill Nugent’s folk-rock sound – sometimes whimsical and sometimes gritty – took root in the northern Canadian wilderness where he was raised. The Yukon-born artist’s background in musical theatre (he first took to the stage at age 5) later evolved into songwriting and self-taught guitar. The juxtapositions that inspire Phill’s songs, like the comfort of family and the freedom of travel, or the solitude of nature and connection with an audience, weave rich storylines into his lyrics. Many of the songs on his first studio EP, self-titled Phillip Alexander Nugent and released in the fall 2019, are inspired by his wife Michelle and his sons Miles and Beck.


Since 2018, Bridget has called the Bow Valley home, where she and Jason Carter own and operate The Carter-Ryan Gallery & Live Art Venue; a gallery by day featuring the amazing work of Indigenous artist Jason Carter. But by night, you guessed it! Wonderful cabaret fills the walls of the gallery with song and story and yes, there is even dancing allowed!! After 16 years hosting a morning show on television, a published author of 5 children’s books, numerous accolades and awards for various MC/Hosting and charitable events, she finds herself EXACTLY where she hopes to be – bringing so much insight, fun and laughter to those who join the Canmore Museum’s Novel Ideas events!


February 17
19:00 - 21:00
Free – $5.00
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Canmore Museum
(403) 678-2462
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