November 3, 2016

A Banff Love Story Comes to the Silver Screen

If you spend any time in Rockies, you eventually run across the story of a most unlikely romance – the late 1920s pairing of Banff local Peter Whyte and Boston socialite Catharine Robb. The two met at art college in Boston, and eventually settled in Banff, where they painted some of our favourite canvasses. The eventual outcome of Pete and Catharine coming together, along with a prodigious output of paintings, was the creation of the Whyte Museum and Archives in Banff, a beloved local institution.

Pete & Catharine Whyte in front of their house in Banff in the early 1930s.
PhotoV683 – Courtesy of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies.
We've known and shared the story of Peter and Catharine for years, but last night we got to see it recreated at the world premiere of Drawing Home, a biopic focussed on their life and legacy. It was as close to a red-carpet experience as we're likely to have around here: the producers and the two leads were both in attendance, the Lux cinema was packed with locals, and we whooped and hollered when Brad White, the great-nephew of Pete and Catharine, had his cameo in the film.

A scene from Drawing Home being filmed in Larch Valley, above Moraine Lake.
Photo courtesy of
A lot of big movies have been filmed here, without being set here: the Rockies have played Norway, Austria, Alaska, Switzerland, Wyoming... you name it! So it was wonderful to see the Rockies playing the Rockies. The filmmakers took advantage of some dramatic spots, like Lake Louise, Larch Valley, Moraine Lake, Skoki Lodge, and, of course, Pete and Catharine's beautiful home in Banff.  It was fun to try to pick out all the locations used in the movie.

The film is a romance, and even the back story of how it came to be is romantic. The producer, German Margarethe Baillou, told the sweet tale after the premiere. She came to the Rockies as a tourist in 2007, and fell in love with the place. When she happened across an exhibit of Pete and Catharine's paintings at the Whyte Museum (an unbelievable stroke of luck – it was the first retrospective of their work in the museum's history), she was hooked. From there it was a nine year journey to have it fall into place. The filming took place in 2011 and 2012, and post-production took four more years.

Our autographed poster of Drawing Home.
Since world premieres of feature length films are a rarity around here, we stuck around to get an autographed movie poster.

If you're keen on more, the Calgary Herald's piece about the movie is excellent.

And our local paper, the Crag & Canyon wrote a story about the movie a couple of days ago.

We hope Drawing Home shows up in your hometown. Make sure you bring a kleenex or two: you might shed a tear.