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The Don Haig Foundation

For donations, please address to the Toronto Community Foundation, with a reference to The Don Haig Award and mailed to:

Toronto Community Foundation
33 Bloor Street East
Suite 1603
Toronto, Ontario M4W 3H1
Tel: 416-921-2035
Fax: 416-921-1026

Don Haig, July 22, 1933 – March 2, 2002

Don Haig turned his love of film as a boy in Winnipeg into a lifetime of filmmaking.

A boy of twelve, on his way home from school he’d detour to the lane behind the local theatre where he’d pick through discarded scraps of 35mm film. He’d sneak out of the house after dinner to return to the theatre where he persuaded the projectionist to teach him his trade – and race home to meet his 9 o’clock curfew. He bought a 16mm projector, put it in the family’s coal shed, used a white sheet for a screen and called his set up The Ace Theatre. There he showed films to his brothers and the neighbourhood kids.

Don left school after Grade 9 to work at MGM’s Winnipeg office. In 1956, he joined the editing staff at CBC Television in Toronto. He received several awards for editing including the Anik/Wilderness Award forVietnam: The Mills of the Gods. In 1963 he formed Film Arts Limited where he continued to provide editing and post-production services to major CBC TV productions This Hour Has Seven Days, The National Dream, the fifth estate.

In the 1970s, Don’s activities broadened to include the roles of co-producer and executive producer on a vast array of projects. His credits include the feature films I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, Dancing in the Dark and Alligator Shoes  – all of which screened at the Cannes Film Festival. Among his documentary credits are Anatomy of a Writer: Timothy Findley  and the short,  Track Stars, both Gemini Award winners; Comic Book Confidential (Berlin Film Festival);  Twist  (New York Film Festival); and  Artie Shaw: Time is All You’ve Got , which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1987.

In 1992, Don joined the National Film Board. By the time he left in 1998, he had overseen the production of 135 films in Vancouver, Montreal and Atlantic Canada. Don returned to Toronto where he resumed his role as an executive producer in the independent filmmaking community.

Throughout his life, Don gave generously to emerging filmmakers. He contributed his time, his knowledge, his money, the use of the editing facilities he had built, and his faith in the filmmakers and their talent. He considered it a privilege to do so.

Don received many awards and honours for his outstanding contribution to Canadian film and television culminating in the prestigious Governor General’s Performing Arts Award.

Honoured and touched as he was by such public recognition, Don most treasured the respect and acknowledgement he received from his fellow filmmakers. “We couldn’t have done it without him,” they’d say. Don came to be known affectionately as “the godfather of Canadian film.”

Don Haig’s Honours & Awards

1963 – Wilderness Award, One More River, Editor
1964 – Canadian Film Award, Summer in Mississippi, Editor
1965 – Wilderness Award, Mills of the Gods, Editor
1979 – ACCT Genie Award, Outstanding Independent Film, Track Stars, Executive Producer
1980 – CFTA Award, Best Overall Production, A Path of His Own, Executive Producer
1982 – Chicago International Film Festival, Gold Plaque, A Helping Hand, Executive Producer
1984 – Yorkton Short Film & Video Festival, Golden Sheaf Award, Alex Colville: The Splendour of Order, Executive Producer
1985 – Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, Air Canada Award
1985 – Canadian Film & Television Association, Jack Chisholm Award
1987 – CBC Producers’ Association Award
1987 – Ontario Film Institute, Special Award for Excellence in Film
1987 – Cannes, Prix de la Jeunesse, I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, Executive Producer
1988 – Yorkton Film Festival, Special Award
1990 – American Film & Video Festival, Comic Book Confidential,Executive Producer
1991 – City of Toronto, Media Arts Award
1992 – Women in Film & TV, Special Friend Award
1993 – York University, Honorary Doctor of Letters
1993 – Governor General of Canada, Performing Arts Award
1993 – Academy of Cinema & Television – Gemini/Donald Brittain Award, Timothy Findley: Anatomy of a Writer, Executive Producer
2000 – AV Preservation Trust of Canada, Masterworks Honourarium, The Mills of the Gods, Editing
2001 – Hot Docs, Special Achievement Award

Don Haig’s Film & Television Credits

There is an extensive list of Don’s credits at: The Film Reference Library

For a hi-res copy of Don’s photo, click here (don_haig.bmp 2.8MB)

Consider sponsoring the Don Haig Foundation. Please use this form.

Hot Docs and the Don Haig Foundation are pleased to announce the 2013 Don Haig Award presented by




Throughout his life, Don Haig gave generously to emerging filmmakers. He contributed his time, knowledge and resources to helping filmmakers nurture their talents.

documentary‘s Don Haig Award is presented annually to a Canadian documentary filmmaker.

For more information on the nominations process or award criteria please visit the Hot Docs Don Haig Award website, or contact:

Jennifer Hobbs
Associate Director, Sponsorship Marketing
Hot Docs Festival
T. 416-203-2155 ext. 226
E. jhobbs@hotdocs.ca


Joan Schafer
Chair, The Don Haig Foundation
T. 416-564-1277
E. joan@theredcar.ca


The Don Haig Award was established in 2002 by Don’s life companion Bill Schultz, his family, colleagues, and the filmmakers he so vigorously supported. Together, they started the Don Haig Award.

The annual award is given to a documentary filmmaker. The award is the legacy of Don and a unique opportunity for members of the Canadian film and television community to “give back” in his spirit.

On February 6, 2006, the Don Haig Award Committee announced a new partnership with the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in which Hot Docs became our partner and our home for the Don Haig Award.

And, in 2009 the Don Haig Foundation and Hot Docs partnered with the documentary Channel. They graciously donated $20,000 for five years and the award is now presented by documentary -the documentary channel owned by the CBC.

Joan Schafer and Bill Schultz share the Chair of the Don Haig Award as well as take care of the foundation and with great help from Hot Docs (Jennifer Hobbs Tworkowski) and documentary – the award.