Photostory #249: Canadians Discover New Sport Thrill: Jumping for Joy
National Film Board of Canada
February 16, 1960
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography fonds, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives
A small but growing number of Canadians are experiencing the exuberance and high spirits which leave them literally "jumping for joy" at the realization that falling can be fun. In a fast-shrinking world, beset by worrisome dissertations on "exploding populations", increased automation, and the fear of global war, sky-divers have discovered a blissful way to get away from it all. Floating through space, over a placid, patch-work countryside, the parachutist is alone and free, surrounded only by a blessed silence and buoyed up by a marvelous feeling of excitement and joie de vivre. The sport, long popular in Europe, has been gaining in popularity in Canada in the past 15 years. The Parachute Club of Canada, which lists 150 members, is by no means a masculine preserve; 25 of its jumpers are women. Foremost woman parachutist in Canada is petite, red-haired Ilona Berger who fled her native Hungary after the uprising in November 1956. Brought to Canada in the winter of '57, following a month in an Austrian refugee camp, the tiny 20-year-old, who spoke no English on her arrival, set herself the threefold task of mastering a new language, finding a job and re-establishing herself in her favourite sport -- sky-diving. Jumping first with the parachute club at St. Catharines, Ontario, and later with the Toronto Club, Miss Berger made her first circle of Canadian friends through the common bonds of an international sport.