Viewers are invited to discover ‘a beautiful, prehistoric landscape’ in TVO’s ‘Tripping the Bruce’

A prehistoric panorama. Primitive shores which have seen greater than a thousand shipwrecks. A area that’s residence to among the oldest timber in japanese North America.

For its newest real-time journey documentary, TVOntario is “Tripping the Bruce.”

When it debuts April 15, viewers will take this journey aboard an 11-metre ketch hugging a 34-kilometre stretch throughout the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula. The tour set sail final summer season and finally arrived in Tobermory earlier than its ultimate vacation spot, Flowerpot Island.

The crew is not any Gilligan and the Skipper. They are Randy Hines, an assistant dock grasp at Lion’s Head Marina, and retired Toronto police officer Dave Mansfield. “They’re really keen and great sailors, and know the waters,” mentioned Mitch Azaria, govt producer.

Previous “Tripping” docs took viewers on a river journey aboard a classic Great Lakes runabout (“The Rideau”) and airborne alongside a hawk (made doable by an aerial drone in “Niagara”). A sailboat works greatest for the Bruce, mentioned Azaria, as a result of there actually is not any different solution to safely discover these rocky, primitive shores.

“None of the commercial boats are licensed to go across the entire northern peninsula because it’s that treacherous,” mentioned Azaria. That turns into shortly obvious as cameras enterprise under the floor to discover among the many shipwrecks — greater than a thousand reported over time on the waterways. The chilly waters have helped to protect the world’s largest assortment of intact wood shipwrecks.

The first wreck, the aptly named W.L. Wetmore, went down in a storm in November 1901. That all 27 males survived is among the many “factoids” that pop up onscreen in what’s in any other case a narrator-less expertise.

The factoids are an essential a part of these “Tripping” docs, mentioned John Ferri, TVO’s vice-president of programming and content material. “We have an educational mandate … These factoids are very educational; they take you a lot deeper.”

As in Azaria’s different “Tripping” documentaries, animator Mathew Knegt renders high-definition recreations which can be seamlessly woven into the journey. One illustrates the sudden storm that sank the Wetmore, which was towing two giant barges of lumber when it left Parry Sound for Buffalo.

“We wanted to give viewers a sense of what these ships were like in their heyday, when they were under full sail, and to recreate what it was like when it was wrecked,” mentioned Azaria.

Later within the doc, cameras dive under the floor and discover the Niagara II, a 55-metre decommissioned cargo ship sunk on goal 22 years in the past to create an lively dive website as a vacationer attraction.

Some of the shipwreck scenes are captured on tethered, underwater drones. Others had been shot by scuba divers, together with one by security diver Kelly McGowan, who saved the day with a reasonable, waterproof GoPro when a key drone malfunctioned.

Hugging the shoreline by boat additionally permits for super views of Ontario’s most dramatic Karst landscapes. The excessive, limestone cliffs have eroded over time into watery grottos and quite a few bat caves. The area, dominated by among the oldest timber in japanese North America, can be residence to 150 species of migrating birds, a subspecies of black bear and massasauga rattle snakes.

These “Tripping” movies have change into an essential franchise for the provincial public broadcaster.

“They’ve done extremely well for us,” Ferri mentioned. The first one, “Tripping the Rideau Canal,” premiered over Easter weekend 2020, “the first big holiday weekend of the pandemic,” he recalled. That weekend it reached near one million viewers and has since drawn 538,000 views on TVO’s YouTube channel.

“Obviously, it really resonated with viewers.”

Viewership for final 12 months’s “Tripping the Niagara” was virtually as strong and Ferri has commissioned extra journeys past “The Bruce.”

Azaria admits he was no professional on the Bruce Peninsula regardless of having “explored a lot of Canada.” As a filmmaker, he’s been accountable for greater than 200 hours of factual leisure for Good Earth Productions.

After “Tripping the Bruce” was recommended to him as a possible subsequent undertaking (by this author, who has a cottage there), he grew curious in regards to the area. Azaria scouted it and instantly noticed the potential.

“You know the moment you get to Tobermory, and you see that water and you see how crystal clear it is, it might as well be the Caribbean.

“Then you’ve got the escarpment,” he continued, “these soaring cliffs coming down and sea stacks. We knew within 30 seconds this had to be our next episode.”

Azaria and firm did their homework and at the moment are consultants on the area, which is the ancestral residence of the Saugeen First Nation, an Ojibway First Nation with reserves on the peninsula.

Unlike “The Rideau” and “Niagara,” “The Bruce” isn’t only a TV staycation, it’s more likely to encourage actual, in-person exploration. Tourists, in reality, are already tripping the Bruce. Even through the pandemic, in 2021, there have been half one million guests to the Bruce Peninsula National Park, a part of the longest stretch of undeveloped land on the Niagara Escarpment.

As Azaria says, “It’s just such a beautiful, prehistoric landscape. What you get is the ability to see it and what you are seeing has been seen for a millennium.”

“Tripping the Bruce” debuts April 15 at 7 p.m. on TVO, TVO.org and YouTube.

Bill Brioux is a contract author. Follow him on Twitter: @BillBriouxTV


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