Fonds PR3736 - Tom Radford fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Tom Radford fonds

General material designation

    Parallel title

    Other title information

    Title statements of responsibility

    Title notes

    • Source of title proper: Title based on the provenance of the records.

    Level of description


    Reference code


    Edition area

    Edition statement

    Edition statement of responsibility

    Class of material specific details area

    Statement of scale (cartographic)

    Statement of projection (cartographic)

    Statement of coordinates (cartographic)

    Statement of scale (architectural)

    Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

    Dates of creation area


    • [193-?], 1969-2014 (Creation)

    Physical description area

    Physical description

    3.28 m of textual records and other materials.

    Publisher's series area

    Title proper of publisher's series

    Parallel titles of publisher's series

    Other title information of publisher's series

    Statement of responsibility relating to publisher's series

    Numbering within publisher's series

    Note on publisher's series

    Archival description area

    Name of creator

    Biographical history

    Tom Radford is an Edmonton-based film director, writer, and producer who was born in Edmonton on 12 March 1946. He is the grandson of Arthur Balmer Watt, the editor of the Edmonton Journal when the newspaper was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for its opposition to the Social Credit government's Accurate News and Information Act in 1938, and journalist/writer Gertrude Balmer Watt.

    Over the course of his career, Radford has made dozens of documentaries with specific focus on Canada's indigenous peoples, the settlement of the Canadian west, the environment, progressive politics, and science.

    Radford was a student of Canadian history at the University of Alberta when he began making films. He stopped his graduate studies to focus on his film career, founding Film Frontiers, Ltd. in 1970 to produce documentaries for the Metropolitan Edmonton Educational Authority. In 1971, Radford co-founded Filmwest Associates, Ltd. with fellow filmmakers Anne Wheeler and Robert Reese, which was the first independent documentary production company in the prairie provinces.

    In 1980, Radford left Filmwest Associates to found the Northwest Studio of the National Film Board of Canada in Edmonton. He acted as Executive Producer of the Northwest Studio and oversaw production of the early films of several filmmakers who would go on to successful careers, including Anne Wheeler, Gil Cardinal, and Barbara Evans. Radford also served as National Director of the National Screen Institute and its regional training program Dramalab.

    Radford left his position at the Northwest Studio in 1985 to co-found Great North Communications with Andy Thomson. For the next 15 years, Great North was a major producer of documentaries and Radford was active in every stage of film production. In 1990, Radford co-founded Great Plains Productions with Gil Cardinal and several other partners. Great Plains Productions was a film production company devoted to developing an Aboriginal film industry and making films from a specifically Aboriginal perspective.

    Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Radford continued to direct and produce documentary films with a wide assortment of partners including White Pine Pictures, History Television, and the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC). In 2008, Radford co-founded Clearwater Documentary with anthropologist Niobe Thompson. Clearwater Documentary has produced several award-winning documentaries and has partnered with broadcasters around the world, including NHK (Japan), PBS (United States), and Al Jezeera.

    Over the course of his career, Radford has been the recipient of several awards including the Billington Award for lifetime contribution to the Alberta film industry, the Alberta Award of Excellence, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal, and the Gemini Award for Best Science and Adventure Documentary for Clearwater Documentary's Codebreakers. Tom Radford is also an eight-time winner of Best Director at the Alberta Film Awards.

    In addition to his film career, Radford has also had his photography exhibited at the National Gallery of Canada and has authored three books, including Alberta, A Celebration.

    Custodial history

    Scope and content

    The fonds consists of textual and audiovisual records created over the course of Tom Radford’s career, including material created under the Filmwest Associates, Great North Productions, Great Plains Productions, White Pine Pictures, and Clearwater Documentary labels.

    The material includes records related to completed projects such as Inuit Odyssey, Tar Sands, A Scattering of Seeds, The Power of Dreams, The End of Evolution, Ernest Brown: Pioneer Photographer (including audio reels of interviews with early Edmonton photographer Gladys Reeves), Hockey Night in Harlem, Ma Vlast, The Honour of the Crown, Arctic Dreamer, Great Lodges of the Canadian Rockies, The Great Divide, Road of Bones, Alberta Bound, Codebreakers, Roughing It: A Golfer’s Guide to the Universe, and Tipping Point. These records include job files, production stills, scripts, camera tapes, and some masters. There are also numerous records related to incomplete projects, unsolicited script submissions, and administrative records from Great North Communications, Clearwater Documentary, and Great Plains Productions.

    Notes area

    Physical condition

    Immediate source of acquisition

    Tom Radford maintained the records as an independent filmmaker or as a director of a production company and donated the records to the Provincial Archives in 2014.


    Arrangement note: The fonds is arranged into the following series:

    • Series 1: Clearwater Documentary
    • Series 2: Great North Productions
    • Series 3: Great Plains Productions
    • Series 4: Freelance Projects
    • Series 5: Personal Records

    Language of material

      Script of material

        Language and script note

        The material is in English.

        Location of originals

        Availability of other formats

        Restrictions on access

        Audiovisual records must be digitized prior to use.

        Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

        Use Conditions: Permission for use required. Subject to the Copyright Act.

        Finding aids

        File list is available.

        Associated materials

        For more records on Great Plains Productions, see the Gil Cardinal fonds (PR3684). For more records on Filmwest Associates, see the Filmwest Associates Limited fonds (PR1726). For more records on the Clearwater Media documentary Where Time Begins (aka Chukotka), see the Dale Phillips fonds (PR2223). For more records on Great North Productions, see the Great North Productions fonds (PR2466).


        Further accruals are expected.

        General note

        Includes accession PR2014.2368.

        Physical description

        Includes 424 photographs. – 172 videocassettes [131 hrs., 20 min.]. – 57 optical discs.

        Alternative identifier(s)

        Standard number

        Standard number

        Access points

        Place access points

        Name access points

        Genre access points

        Control area

        Description record identifier

        Institution identifier

        Rules or conventions


        Level of detail

        Dates of creation, revision and deletion

        Language of description

          Script of description


            Accession area