Sneak peek: History Canada’s “Klondike Trappers”

Ahead of the Canadian net's debut of Klondike Trappers (pictured) on October 6, realscreen offers a sneak peek of the Paperny Entertainment-produced series, about a group of fur trappers who risk their lives to support a family in the frozen Alaskan and Yukon wilderness.
October 6, 2015

Ahead of History Canada’s premiere of survival adventure series Klondike Trappers on October 7, realscreen presents an exclusive clip of the Paperny Entertainment-produced series, which chronicles a group of fur trappers who risk their lives to support a family in the frozen wilderness bordering Alaska and the Yukon.

The 8 x 60-minute series – which is being presented to international buyers under the title Great Wild North at this week’s MIPCOM market – follows 64-year-old legendary trapper Cor Guimond as he and a group of other hunters pursue an ancient and often dangerous life of subsistence.

“We spent a long time talking with these guys and Cor to convince him that it was a good idea to cooperate with us, convincing him that we would be true to his story and that he would be portrayed authentically,” David Paperny, series executive producer and president of Paperny Entertainment, tells realscreen.

Initially, the Yukon Gold producer was in discussions with History Canada for further filming opportunities in the northern tundra when similar off-the-grid living series – Discovery’s Yukon Men, History’s Mountain Men and National Geographic Channel’s Life Below Zero – began to find an audience. Shortly thereafter, the prodco was given the go-ahead to begin production on the series.

A month later in January 2015, a 20-person crew descended on the city of Whitehorse, Yukon, to begin intensive snowmobile courses and winter survival training before setting out on a rigorous two-month filming schedule that saw five hours of daylight and temperatures that often plunged below 40-degrees Celsius.

“When [we] arrived in those temperatures, it was really challenging,” said series producer Michael Sheehan for Paperny Entertainment. “Part of the process at that stage was to get a crew on the ground that not only had the skills to follow the plot and help us chronicle these stories of amazing people, but also had the physical ability to be out on snowmobiles going over mountains and rivers to access these five camps we had running.”

While battling the elements was admittedly tiresome, the most challenging aspects of production instead came with keeping up with the senior trappers over trap-lines that could span more than 100 square miles and require a two-day journey to reach.

“For a TV crew to keep up with a trapper is difficult – they’re often ahead of you, they’re better on their snowmobiles, they don’t get stuck as often and when they do, they know how to get out quicker, so we were running hard and fast just to keep up,” Sheehan says, laughing. “You want to be in front of the action, but it was difficult.”

What differentiates the series from similar wilderness-living programs, Sheehan says, is that it documents a very ancient way of living.

“This whole country was founded on trapping and it’s an important thing to chronicle in terms of the history of this country.”

  • Klondike Trappers premieres tomorrow (October 7) on History Canada at 10 p.m. EST/PST.
About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for HMV.com. As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.