Filmmaker’s last work left undone

Published August 22, 2007

Richard Stringer travelled to the Arctic for his film about his grandfather, Bishop Isaac Singer. Bishop Stringer was the first missionary in the western Arctic in the early years of the 20th century.

Richard Stringer, an accomplished filmmaker who recently documented Anglican bishop Isaac Stringer’s missionary work in the Arctic, died on July 27 in Victoria at the age of 62 from cancer.

He was the subject of an Anglican Journal story in May, 2006 that detailed his 16-year quest to finance, write and shoot a film about his famous grandfather. Called The Bishop Who Ate His Boots, the movie details an important part of Canadian Anglican history. Bishop Stringer was the first missionary in the western Arctic in the early years of the 20th century, serving as bishop of the Yukon from 1905 to 1930. His diary and films now stand as a record of a now-vanished Inuit way of life. The film’s title (borrowed from an earlier related book) came from an incident when Bishop Stringer was lost in the wilderness and boiled a pair of sealskin boots to make a thin, protein-based survival soup.

The film is “near completion,” said Mr. Stringer’s widow, Carol, in an interview. “It needs a final edit. Richard was working with a film editor who lives in Ontario,” she said. Mr. Stringer lugged equipment to the Arctic, filmed interviews (including one with the late historian Pierre Berton) and shot rugged scenery while coping with his cancer diagnosis and treatment. “It was really a labour of love,” Ms. Stringer said. 

Over the course of a 35-year career, Mr. Stringer was an award-winning cinematographer and mentor to many in the Canadian film industry. He was director of photography on every conceivable type of film – features, TV-movies, documentaries, commercials, corporate film and docudramas. He also developed filmmaking equipment and played a leadership role in the Canadian Society of Cinematographers, a professional membership organization.

He struggled to complete The Bishop Who Ate His Boots on a minimal budget. Further information about the film’s progress is available from Carol Stringer, 540 Dunedin Street, Victoria, BC V8T 2L6.    


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