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FORT NELSON, B.C. — Video-based historian Francois Arseneault has uncovered footage of an oil rig operator in the Fort Nelson area from 1963. 

The video was recovered from a reel of 8-millimetre Kodachrome film and depicts the day of an oil rig worker in the Fort Nelson area in the winter. 

The footage opens with the camera operator driving down a highway. In the description of the video, Arseneault notes that he is fond of videos taken while driving as it allows the viewer to “get a feel for the region.” 

Arseneault told that the film was one of many recovered in the lower mainland, though he is unsure where exactly he found it. 

“Likely a second-hand shop or garage sale.”

Arseneault said his collection contains thousands of film reels, all properly stored and recorded in a database. His collection of reels are from all over the world, with some predating World War I.

He also has other episodes of films from the Peace River region on his YouTube channel. One from the 1960s in Fort St. John, and another from somewhere along the Alaska Highway in 1977. 

A cameraman for almost his entire career, it was Arsenault’s curiosity about old film that drew him to the hobby. For Arsenault, it’s not about the collecting part of it.

Arseneault considers himself the “current custodian” of the reels in his collection and that his goal is to preserve them for a new generation. 

“Education and understanding history is critical to improving ourselves,” Arseneault said. 

“Archeologists study fragments of 2000-year-old pottery to learn how people lived. I study 70 to 100-year-old films. We both learn much.”

Arseneault has around 12,000 episodes uploaded to his YouTube channel, Reel Life. At 16,000 subscribers, he hopes he can eventually monetize the channel so it can be self-funded, thus allowing him to eventually find a successor. 

He is also always looking to expand his collection of film reels. Anyone with any 8mm or 16mm film they would like to submit to Arseneault can contact him via email at

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Katherine Caddel is a recent graduate of Laurentian University's English Media and Rhetoric program. They grew up in Northern Ontario and recently decided to make the North Peace their new home. When not at work, Katherine enjoys horror movies, playing video games and Dungeons and Dragons.