Tag Archives: History

Preview: History Channel goes hunting for gold in Deadman’s Curse

Growing up, I loved to read about treasure. It was in a copy of Children’s Digest that I first learned about Oak Island and the supposed treasure buried there. (They’re still looking for it on that other History Channel show.) I’m still fascinated by these tales of lost loot, and the people who search for them. And History Channel’s latest is a doozy.

Deadman’s Curse, debuting Sunday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on History Channel, follows a quartet determined to find gold in Pitt Lake, B.C., despite the supposed curse associated with it. In the first of eight episodes, prospector Kru Williams, mountaineer Adam Palmer, Indigenous explorer Taylor Starr and her father, Don Froese, recall the legend of Slumach’s lost gold mine.

The story goes that Slumach, an elderly Katzie First Nations man, died on the gallows in New Westminster in January of 1891. Before he died, Slumach is alleged to have uttered the words, “Nika memloose, mine memloose,” or “When I die, the mine dies.” For over 100 years, many have tried to find the mine, to no avail. Well, that’s not quite true. According to Walter Jackson, he discovered the mine in 1901 and, weighed down with too much gold to carry, buried it. Jackson died after returning home, but not before writing a letter to a friend with clues to the spot he buried the gold. It’s gone undiscovered ever since.

My biggest beef with series like these is they’re packed with stories, conjecture and assumptions, and frustratingly light on actual discoveries. Deadman’s Curse begins with plenty of backstory and research done by Kru and Adam sufficient to pique my interest, especially when Adam seems to have a line on a copy of Jackson’s letter. Meanwhile, Taylor does research into Slumach, who he was, and why he was hung. These two storylines are compelling, and really add legitimacy to Deadman’s Curse and what the producers are trying to achieve.

And, by the time the first 44 minutes are complete, enough information has been unearthed for the group—and me, the viewer—to continue the quest.

Deadman’s Curse airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on History Channel.

Image courtesy of Corus.

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History and Hungry Eyes Media present a groundbreaking exploration of Canada’s Black history in BLK: An Origin Story, premiering February 26

From a media release:

HISTORY® and Hungry Eyes Media Group announce the groundbreaking four-part docuseries, BLK: An Origin Story, premiering Saturday, February 26 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The limited series, consisting of four 60-minute episodes, reveals the deep historic impact of Black presence in Canada. Executive produced by Jen Holness and Sudz Sutherland, BLK: An Origin Story is helmed by Hungry Eyes’ award-winning production team, who takes viewers on a nationwide journey through time to discover the untold story of Black people in Canada and their legacy, which dates back to 1608.

BLK: An Origin Story is steeped in riveting, enduring, and multi-faceted historical Black Canadian narratives. Each episode transports viewers to a different Canadian location, and provides chronologically significant insights into the consequences of Black presence in the areas. Featured outposts include Nova Scotia, Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec. The series also highlights the legacy of Black contributions to the larger story of Canada itself, dating back to when explorer Mathieu de Costa first set foot on shore, more than 400 years ago. BLK: An Origin Story acts as an immersive and informative chapter of Black Canadian history, elevating remarkable Black Canadians previously unacknowledged in mainstream social, academic, and cultural circles, normalizing their unique stories as a matter of general record. 

BLK: An Origin Story elevates the unsung heroes who substantially contributed to Canada’s nation-building and to Black Canadian history. The series shines a spotlight on the origins of diverse and deeply entrenched Black Canadian experiences, which range from being transported, escaped, or freely traveled within Canada. Part history book, part geography lesson, each of the four episodes leverages compelling footage, art, locations, archival materials, and interviews from some of the country’s best known and under known experts of Black Canadian lore, facts, and pedagogy. The list of authors, academics, musicians, historians, community leaders, activists and elders include George Elliot Clarke, Lawrence Hill, Charmaine Nelson, El Jones, May Q Wong, and Stephanie Allen, among others. 

Episode Synopsis:

Episode 1: Three Epic Migrations, One People (NS)
Descendants of The Black Loyalists, Jamaican Maroons and The Black Refugees represent Canada’s largest Black population today. Their incredible story begins in Nova Scotia in the 1700s and challenges our understanding of what should be considered a distinct society.

Episode 2: John “Daddy” Hall (Owen Sound, ON)
Born free of an Ojibwe father and an escaped-slave mother in Upper Canada, John “Daddy” Hall fought in the war of 1812, was captured and sold into slavery. Thirteen years later he makes a daring escape and finds his way back to Canada.

Episode 3: Hogan’s Alley (Vancouver, BC)
Before Urban Renewal, before displacement, and before dispersal, there was life. For many years Hogan’s Alley was the heart of Vancouver’s Black community. But that community began in the 1850s, when James Douglas, (the father of British Columbia) invited Blacks to settle Vancouver Island in an effort to stave off American annexation.

Episode 4: Little Burgundy (Montreal, QC)
Tucked between Griffintown and St. Henri in Montreal’s Sud Ouest is Little Burgundy, home to a Black population led by Black men who worked in Canada’s railway industry as sleeping car porters. They were the first Black trade union to organize in North America and were among the leaders in the struggle for civil rights.

BLK: An Origin Story is produced by Hungry Eyes Media in association with Corus Studios for HISTORY. Executive Producers are Jen Holness and Sudz Sutherland. For Corus Studios and HISTORY, Kathleen Meek is the Executive in Charge of Production, Rachel Nelson is Vice President of Original Scripted, Factual and Kids Content, and Lisa Godfrey is Senior Vice President of Original Content and Corus Studios.

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Preview: History’s Big Timber hits the water in Season 2

Debts and detonations. That’s a key message delivered in Thursday’s Season 2 return of Big Timber on History.

The reality series once again rides alongside logger Kevin Wenstob and his team of family and staff as they work deep in the heart of Vancouver Island. This time the stakes are even higher than before. Aside from pulling down and shipping timber—and the dangers and drama associated with that—mounting debts at the mill, and possible bankruptcy, cause Kevin and his crew to forge into uncharted waters. Literally.

During the last timber season, Kevin purchased a new claim and heads there … with a little help from his mini ‘dozer and grader. With snow too deep to cut much-needed red cedar, Kevin is on the financial ropes, especially after receiving some mail from the government. As with many documentary series of this type, drama is presented via situations like the aforementioned two problems—usually just before a commercial break and often ad nauseam—and I have to bite my tongue and soldier through the storytelling trope to get to the good stuff.

Thankfully, Big Timber is full of good stuff—like Kevin plotting to use a beloved old boat in the timber process—and I’m looking forward to watching the full season.

Big Timber airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on History.

Image courtesy of Corus Studios.

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Jesse Fawcett launches independent production company, Fireworks Media Group

From a media release:

Prolific award-winning television producer Jesse Fawcett has launched Fireworks Media Group, a North American-based production company to develop and produce premium unscripted and scripted content.

Fawcett is well known in the entertainment business as a co-founding partner of global content company Essential Media Group where he helmed North American operations until the company was successfully sold to Kew Media in 2018. In 2020, Fawcett and Greg Quail re-acquired the assets of Essential from Kew and relaunched as EQ Media Group. Now, Fawcett is poised to inaugurate his own venture, Fireworks Media Group, together with a cross-border team of veteran production professionals.

Under the new banner, the company is producing the new original series Pamela Anderson’s Home Reno Project (working title) for HGTV Canada with iconic Baywatch star Pamela Anderson returning to her Canadian roots to rebuild the family home of her dreams. The series is executive produced by Brandon Lee, Fawcett and Firework’s new President of Canada, Robert Hardy. Corus Studios will distribute the series internationally. Pamela Anderson is represented by Chris Smith at ICM Partners. Fireworks Media Group has also secured an exclusive first-look scripted development deal with social media sensation Kris Collins, who has amassed over 32 million followers and 1.4 billion likes.

In addition, Fireworks Media Group is currently in production on sophomore seasons of the real estate unscripted series Selling the Big Easy for HGTV in the US as well as Corus Studios’ Big Timber which airs on HISTORY in Canada and Netflix in the US and internationally. A top performer on HISTORY and Netflix, Big Timber. follows the high-stakes work of logger and sawmill owner Kevin Wenstob as he and his crew go to extremes to keep the family sawmill, and their way of life, alive.

Some of the other successful shows completed during Fawcett’s tenure at EQ Media Group include No Demo Reno which recently launched on HGTV as the #1 cable premiere in the Thursday 8-9pm timeslot, multi-season hit series Restored airing on Discovery+, the paranormal reality series Ghost Loop for Travel Channel and 165 episodes of Texas Flip N’ Move, perennial #1 series on DIY Network.

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Preview: Big Timber hauls wood—and drama—on History

I was a big fan of Timber Kings and its spinoff, Carver Kings. Both series, which aired on HGTV Canada, delved into the lives and projects created and carved by the folks at Pioneer Log Homes in Williams Lake, B.C.

Now I’ve got a new show to fill the void left by the cancellation of that duo: Big Timber.

The reality series—which bows Thursday at 10 p.m. ET on History—rides alongside logger Kevin Wenstob and his team of family and staff as they work deep in the heart of Vancouver Island. Kevin has sunk $1.5 million into a remote piece of timber on the side of a mountain and is determined to cut down and ship out red and yellow cedar, fir and hemlock to his customers. Aside from dangers like weather and injuries at the hands of sharp machinery and thousand-pound chunks of wood are the logistics of creating your own roads in and out of the site you’re cutting.

When viewers catch up with Kevin, he’s got 200 loads of wood to get off the mountain and to Wenstob Timber before winter shuts him down for the season. If he pulls it off, Kevin will make millions. Miss that deadline and his business could go out of business.

Logging like this is an intricate dance between team members cutting up trees which are then hauled up the mountainside by a contraption called a yarder, a machine that is an octopus of cables pulled taut. Kevin’s right-hand man, Coleman, and rookie Gord walk down the claim—wary that any wrong step would mean a broken leg—to affix 50-pound choke chains to logs pulled up the incline by the yarder.

Once hauled into place, the logs are inspected, evaluated and trimmed prior to transport to a sorting area and then down the hill and over 200 km to the mill where final cuts are made. This is the domain of Sarah, Kevin’s wife, who makes the sales critical to the mill’s survival and Erik, their son, who keeps the machinery working.

Boasting stunning drone shots and a spectacular natural setting, Big Timber is the latest in a series of must-see programs about the unique jobs available and the folks who do them.

Big Timber airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on History.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail