In 2007, filmmakers Karsten Heuer and Leanne Allison, along with their 2 year old son Zev and their border collie Willow, set out to explore the landscapes of Canada as immortalized in the writings of Farley Mowat. To do so, they had to canoe, hike and sail over 5000 miles from the midwestern prairies of Canmore, Alberta to the shores of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. Along the way they passed through native villages, went north across the barrens to Hudson Bay, and encountered a great variety of wildlife, including one memorable scene where they have to canoe right past a polar bear. The bugs nearly drove them insane and the deep, muddy portages practically sucked the boots off their feet, but all three pushed on to their final destination. Their two-year-old son, Zev, seemed to take the whole trip in stride, and exhibited a calmness throughout the journey that makes me think about how kids adjust to what’s “normal” in their lives. If a child grows up thinking that pulling a canoe upstream through thickets and rapids is how life happens, he won’t be upset when put in that situation. If a kid is raised in front of a television and never learns to self-amuse, he’ll likely shatter under the strain of such a journey. Since we probably aren’t going to do such a long and involved journey,we’ll have to find some sort of middle ground. It’s this sense of living with the wild as “normal daily life” that we really want to foster in our own kids.
Finding Farley has won awards at several major outdoor film festivals, including the top prize at the 2009 Banff Film Festival. You can watch the entire film at Heur and Allison’s website, Neccessary Journeys.