Preview: Tripping the French River is the latest episode in TVO’s successful franchise

The advent of spring marks several things. Warmer weather. Flowers growing and trees budding. It also means a new instalment in the excellent Tripping franchise.

And, after previous jaunts on the Rideau Canal, the Bruce Peninsula, the Niagara River and Train 185, the French River is getting the spotlight in Tripping the French River.

Airing Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern on TVO, TVO’s website and YouTube channel, executive producer Mitch Azaria’s franchise has become hugely popular thanks to its “slow TV” approach of taking viewers on a trip through Ontario in real-time.

The three-hour instalment begins with a babbling waterfall and chattering birds before a long drone shot joins a couple paddling a cedar-stripped canoe on Lake Nipissing at the mouth of the French River. The duo traversing the first part of the river, called Canoe Pass, are retracing those of European explorers (guided by Indigenous peoples who had used the waters for millennia) 400 years ago. And, much like it must have been back then, the only sounds here are birds, a breeze in the trees and the soft kerplunk of paddles dipping into the water.

It isn’t all just languid strokes on the river to Georgian Bay. Some rapids require a portage that follows trails established by generations of wildlife, and side trips that use animation to explore other facts about flora and fauna along the way.

As with past Tripping excursions, facts about the river, its environs, and the people who used it are spelled out with facts shown on screen. Among them:

  • In 1986, the French River was named the first Canadian Heritage River, in recognition of its place in Indigenous history and role in shaping Canada
  • Its waterways are protected within the boundaries of a provincial park
  • The French River was a vital travel and trading link between Quebec City, Lake Superior and points west
  • The pictographs on Kennedy Island were created hundreds of years ago and are one of three pictograph sites on the river

The 100-kilometre paddle is marked by several stops along the way, most notably the aforementioned pictographs, Dokis First Nation, Five Finger Rapids, Recollet Falls, Old French River Village and Old Voyageur Channel.

If you don’t have access to a canoe to do this trip yourself, Tripping the French River is the next best thing to being on the water.

Tripping the French River airs Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern on TVO. Stream it and the TVO YouTube Channel.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.