In 1962 my dad, George McLachlan, bought a used Bolex 8mm movie camera. All of my family’s early home movies were shot using it. In this day and age of digital technology it’s hard to imagine how precious movie film was, and how careful one had to be when shooting, so as not to waste any. Because of this, the clips I have today are very short, but very special.

One precious clip is only about 30 seconds long; it was taken at various places driving across the island in 1962. It shows a few places that still exist (such as the community hall, and the cemetery), and some that are gone. Who knew that such “mundane” clips would be so fun to see years later. 

One of my favourite sections of footage is of getting to Hornby Island on our first trip here. There are scenes of my mother, brother and me on the CPR ferry going under the Lion’s Gate Bridge, and then waiting for the eight-car ferry at Buckley Bay on Vancouver Island, followed by a scene where we’re boarding the Hornby Island ferry, the Lorraine S 2

The footage that my dad shot, though short, has taken on much more weight. Happenings and scenes, which at the time appear to be nothing special, end up taking on the most value as the years pass. 

Lorraine S 2 leaving Hornby Island in 1967 (video by George McLachlan)

A particularly poignant scene is one where my grandfather is standing on the ferry, as he and my grandmother leave after their visit, waving back. As a kid, this was just another summer afternoon; now, I see his waving from 1967, almost as if he’s waving to the future me. I see a man who is only a few years older than I am, as I write this, transported in time.

So, the parts of the Call It Home show with images and movies taken by my dad are such a huge part of it. It’s like he is a co-creator even though he had no idea when he shot it all that this would ever happen.

Solo version of “Standard 8” by John McLachlan (old home movies by George McLachlan)
Studio recording of “Standard 8” by John McLachlan

Standard 8

Snap the cover, wind and roll
Capture light through a tiny hole
Lay down action in your view
Catch your life passing through

There goes Rob and there goes John
Hat flies in the wind and it’s gone
Look at Nancy standing there
Waving wind back from her hair

Yesterday is gone, yesterday took flight
Sprockets spinnin’ film captures the light
Taking it all in before it’s too late
Saving time in Standard 8

Flip the film in the shadow
Twenty-five feet, two minutes to go
Frame your shots so carefully
They become your memory

Ferry pulls out of the bay
Pop stands on deck and gives a wave
A vision caught and made to last
For the day when he has passed


[ Instrumental ]

To capture time is a foolish game
Makes you think life stays the same
Days grow old that once were new
Film runs out like I will too

But in the meantime here I stand
With this Bolex in my hand
It is a witness to my life
My two sons and my dear wife

Robert McLachlan with the Bolex camera in 1966 (photo by George McLachlan)