Most Canadians are pretty proud to say they’re from our home and native land. Between free health care, a strong multicultural population and all the beautiful landscapes across the country, there’s a lot we have to celebrate.
But if you look back in history, there are also some pretty dark and gruesome times that we’ve kind of swept under the rug. Particularly when it comes to our past treatment of the Native American population.
One of those periods is the focus of the upcoming Discovery series Frontier, which will also appear on Netflix around the world, following its debut later this fall. The scripted drama takes place in the late 18th century and tackles the cutthroat world of the fur trade, from which famed Canadian retailer the Hudson’s Bay Company emerged.
That’s just the beginning of the story though. Frontier stars Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones), Landon Liboiron (Hemlock Grove), Alun Armstrong (Braveheart), Zoe Boyle (Downton Abbey), and Allan Hawco (Republic of Doyle). Throughout the course of the first season, the political dealings, brutal in-fights and overall fight for power between various interest groups is examined in full, making this a bloody good watch.
It’s also the first time the fur trade has been showcased in a TV series to this extent, making it a historical series in its own right.
“It was certainly a dark time in the history of North America. At the time the border or the idea of these two nations was not really fully formed — what’s fascinating about that is that it creates a drama filled with tons of conflict,” Hawco, who is also on board as an executive producer, tells us. “We’re not making political statements. It feels like we’re making a piece of drama that hopefully will engage our audience and doesn’t shy away from a lot of the issues. In the first six episodes we touch on a lot of things, but there are so many years and volumes and volumes of history that we can tap into for fascinating drama.”
For his part, Hawco plays Scotsman Douglas Brown, one of three brothers who are trying to make their own mark in the fur trade with the Low River Company. When his brothers make a mess of things though, it’s up to Brown to use his political know-how to sort things out.
“His brothers occupy a lot of testosterone and machismo and temper and flying by the seat of their pants; following their instincts and quite frankly getting our family into a hell of a lot of trouble,” Hawco previews. “Douglas is the key who’s the intellect. He’s in charge of the business and he has a big plan to form a treaty with one of the other groups to help bank their position.”
Most of the Canadian actor’s scenes were shot in Montreal on sound stages and sets, meaning the Newfoundland– where most of the outdoor landscapes were shot– native got to escape the cold outdoor conditions of his home province for a change.
“You’ve gotten to the quick of why I wanted to play Douglas so badly! Every scene he’s standing by a fireplace all warm and cozy,” Hawco jokes. “No, it’s true though, I was spared a lot of the harshest of the Newfoundland winter in terms of what we were shooting. That just was a luck of the draw really. After six years of Republic of Doyle, shooting right into December, I was very happy with the idea of standing by a fireplace.”
We can’t blame him.