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Welcome to Pine Point – Gone but not forgotten

Welcome to Pine Point is a documentary made in 2010 by Mike Simons who lived in Yellowknife until the age of 10 and his creative partner Paul Shoebridge, known as The Goggles.

Welcome to Pine Point is an interactive documentary that uncovers a place frozen in time and discovers what happens when an entire community is erased from the map.

After a memory of the town spiked his interest, Simons soon realized the town he remembered visiting as a kid, was no longer there.

At first when I couldn’t find things about it, I kind of questioned my memory a little bit, although I knew I’d gone there. And then I came across Richard’s website, Richard Cloutier the main person in the documentary and he had developed a website for the community. It was a big site that had lots of people participating in it, lots of people sharing their photographs.

What initially started as two people trying to capture what it would be like if your hometown disappeared, eventually developed into something much more layered.

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Because their town only existed for one generation, how was that time seen through their experiences? That’s what became more interesting to us is that they had this very defined memory in a sense that they were sort of generous with how they looked back at things. What became the main part of our story was what happens when everything goes away and you can’t go back to your hometown.

The documentary, which won 2 Webby Awards, was incredibly well received around the world. Simons believes the universality of the story was the reason why.

People being able to visit and go backwards, almost everybody in the world can do that except for these people. It’s very non-typical that a town gets burned and bulldozed and removed, and then eventually even taken off the map. So I think other people around the world, they all have a hometown too, and they all have their friends and their memories, so that’s what made it relatable.

Welcome to Pine Point can be found on the National Film Board of Canada website, and was recently rebuilt to make it accessible on mobile and desktop devices.

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