Return to tiff.’s home page

Canadian Film Encyclopedia

Shopping Cart

The Boy Who Stopped Niagara

Year: 1947
Language: English
Runtime: 33 min
Director: Leslie McFarlane
Producer: Leslie McFarlane
Writer: Leslie McFarlane
Cinematographer: John Norwood
Editor: Jean-Yves Bigras
Sound: Joseph Champagne
Music: Louis Applebaum
Cast: Jeffrey Martin, Norah McFarlane, Marjorie Chadwick, Robert Christie, Earle Gray, Rex Devlin, George Patton
Production Company: National Film Board of Canada


Six-year-old Tommy Twidgett (Jeffrey Martin) and his sister Penny (Norah McFarlane) go on a guided tour of the Niagara Falls Hydro plant. When Tommy, against explicit instruction, touches the main switch, the handle falls off and the power is cut off. Angry housewives lack hot water to wash clothes, radios are dead and hot dogs cannot be grilled. Tommy and his sister attempt to return the handle and are pursued by angry people lacking electricity. The chase ends with everyone crashing through the roof of a hall where the mayor (George Patton) is giving a speech. Tommy manages to switch the power back on again – and then wakes up to discover it was all a dream.

This film for children, financed and released by the Rank Organization and produced at a time when there was considerable debate about the future of the NFB, reflects the interest held by some filmmakers within the Board in producing fiction films or dramatized documentaries. Weakly scripted and somewhat heavy-handed in its attempts at humour, the film’s interest lies more in its highly conservative message: don’t tamper with the way things are or disaster will result.

By: Peter Morris