A documentary about local legend Frank Kuiack, who was known as Algonquin Parks last fishing guide, has won the Paddling Film festivals People’s Choice Award. The festival calls the film “a love story for Algonquin Park and a testament to one man’s effect on a wilderness area and the communities that care for and enjoy it”
The movie was directed by Cristian Gomes and centers on Franks experience being a guide in the park since the 1940’s, as well as his path to sobriety, passing knowledge to his niece Sharleen and his love of his wife Marie.
Many people in the area knew Frank Kuiack who grew up in Whitney and was only 8 years old when he started guiding.
Director of the film Gomes says he only learned about Frank when he saw Ron Corbetts book “The Last Guide” on a Canadiana table at a bookstore in Ottawa.
He says after reading the book he contacted Frank, went to visit him, hit it off and not long after they started filming.
“So many people in the Algonquin area who were just so warm, willing to invite us into their homes, willing to share their stories of Frank and the footage that they had of Frank” Said Gomes, “You’ll see that in the film there’s tons of archival clips and clips from phones, and those were all donated to us by people who just love the park.
He also spoke about why he thinks the story of Frank resonates with so many people.
“I think they see a man who is totally intuitive to his environment” Gomes said, “He has kind of found his purpose in life, this man who’s always lived in this community and has found a way to be in tune with the land, but also finds a purpose in showing other people his unique perspective on how he sees Algonquin Park and what value he puts on traditional values of being able to sustain yourself and live off the land. Things you can only learn from those who pass down knowledge. I think that’s that’s something that when people watch the film, they get that.
Gomes said his experience with Frank unlocked a huge part of Algonquin Park that he had never thought about before.
“On a personal level” he said, “That was a great thing”
Frank passed away in 2021 during filming of The Last Guide.
The movie can be streamed on youtube or CBC gems.
More can also be learned about Frank Kuiack at The Algonquin Park Visitors centre.
The Last Guide is the 2023 Aqua Bound People’s Choice winner
Directed by: Cristian Gomes
Producer by: Aidan Cheeatow, Kerim Banka
Screened globally by Paddling Film Festival World Tour Hosts.