Hailey’s Gift

When I was a child I was a regular at the Hamilton YMCA on Saturday mornings. True to the Y’s “spirit, mind, and body” ethos, that included everything from basketball to tumbling to swimming to model car racing to arts & crafts.

And watching a lot of 16 mm films.

Most of those were Laurel & Hardy comedies, Disney cartoons, and the like, but there was an outlier, a film I recall viscerally to this day that, until this morning, I couldn’t recall the name of.

I knew two things.

First, it starred well-known Canadian actor Barry Morse; there was a scene featuring him standing on the edge of the Burlington Bay Lift Bridge as it came down that is burned into my memory (my father worked at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters, right beside the bridge, so this was particularly significant to me).

Second, it had a memorable score, music that today, 40 years later, still runs through my head often.

I woke up this Sunday morning determined to identify the film, and, perhaps aided by foggy-headedness resulting in a different search strategy, I did it: the film was Hailey’s Gift, and it was directed by Bruce Pittman in 1977.

Armed with this wonderful revelation, I reached out to Bruce on Facebook (where, it turns out, we have two friends in common), and he told me it was the first dramatic film he ever directed, and that the music was by Hagood Hardy.

Bruce has had a career of enormous breadth in the years since Hailey’s Gift: he co-founded Saturday Night at the Movies for TVO (a staple in our family for years), founded the Revue cinema in Toronto, and has directed heaps of episodic television.

I’ve requested a copy of the film via interlibrary loan, and I’m so looking forward to revisiting it.

I’ll be needing a new Holy Grail now.


Olle's picture
Olle on November 29, 2021 - 17:33 Permalink

Wow, that sounds like a good search strategy - oblique, if you will.

Chelsea 's picture
Chelsea on January 18, 2023 - 23:55 Permalink


I’m just wondering if you ever managed to track down a copy of Hailey’s Gift. My dad has been trying to find it for years, he grew up on the Hamilton Beach strip and remembers them shooting it down there when he was a kid. Even had a friend of his be cast in it.
Anyways I’d be interested to know if you found it and how I might too.