Helping to film Canada's past
I have such an amazing life! I just got back from a job that entailed helping a film crew from BBC, and bush craft expert, Ray Mears, complete a TV series on Canada's exploration of our northern wilderness. The crew had just finished 25 days of filming in western Canada and they decided the perfect way to end was on the French River, highlighting the life of the voyageurs. We paddled the upper French and spent the week filming, shooting Ray tackling class two-tech rapids in a birch-bark canoe (as a helicopter hovered overhead, equipped with a fancy camera rotating on its belly — that was really cool) and getting footage from the top of a make-shift crane (that we had to carry over all the portages by the way) of the Canadian Canoe Museum paddling and lining up the French in their birch bark voyageur canoe (Jeremy Ward and fellow voyageurs were absolutely amazing and we should be honoured to have such a dedicated bunch at the Museum). The crew also filmed scenes of the wild landscape and especially the bush craft skills the voyageurs would have had to exist out on the river. And even yours truly was interviewed, chatting about the differences and similarities we have today with canoe tripping and the life of the voyageurs. There was also a scene where Ray showed me how to sharpen a knife — which was part of the payment for having me help organize the shoot; sharpening a knife is one skill I never could get a handle on.
Of course, there were other highlights, what my friend and canoemate for the trip, Scott Adams, likes to call "Callan Bloopers." I packed spoons rather then forks for everyone and then fed them meals like steak and pasta, food that can only be eaten with a fork. One morning I stepped in the canoe backwards, facing the complete opposite direction. I almost cut myself with my dull knife during the knife-sharpening scene with Ray. I asked the crew what tartan they were so I could ship them one of Nova Craft's specialty tartan canoes, and then was instantly reminded by the crew that with them all being English, not Scottish or Irish, they had no tartan. And I forgot the cooking pots (but that's such a good story I'll keep it for a separate blog).
The entire crew was amazing to work with. Not only were they generally nice people to trip with, they were all professionals in their field. And Ray Mears was awesome. That guy knows his stuff. He is totally dedicated to bush craft skill and has a marvelous way of sharing it. I learned a great deal from him and I'm forever thankful.
The only negative part of the trip was that the entire time I was out there with the BBC filming Ontario's historic waterway, I kept pondering over reasons why are own television broadcasting wasn't doing such similar film work. I think that's something we as Canadians, especially the ones who love to paddle a canoe, should seriously question.