Documentaries

Visit 8 stunning Canadian landscapes from your couch: documentary road trip

From BC’s magical Spotted Lake to the world’s highest tides in NB, Canada’s amazing natural beauty is showcased in documentaries on CBC Gem

Canada’s amazing natural beauty is showcased in documentaries on CBC Gem

Visit 8 stunning Canadian landscapes from your couch: Documentary road trip

1 month ago
Duration 2:00
Canada is home to some of the most incredible landscapes in the world – it would be impossible to visit all of them in a lifetime. Luckily, CBC Docs crews have captured incredible footage of this country’s stunning coastlines, lakes, mountains, grasslands and urban parks.

Canada is home to some of the most incredible landscapes in the world – it would be impossible to visit all of them in a lifetime. Luckily, CBC Docs crews have captured incredible footage of this country's stunning coastlines, lakes, mountains, grasslands and urban parks. 

Take a trip across Canada from your couch this summer: visit these eight amazing places through our documentaries, now streaming (for free!) on CBC Gem.

Spotted Lake, British Columbia

Throughout the winter and into spring, Spotted Lake looks like any other body of water nestled in the heart of British Columbia's Okanagan Valley.

But as the summer sun grows hotter and the its rays beat down on the lake, water evaporates to expose a beautiful secret. Giant circles — which had been invisible and lying just below the surface — reveal themselves in gorgeous hues of yellow, blue and green. Spotted Lake has no river or creek to drain it and receives all of its water as run-off from the surrounding hills. As the snow melts and flows into the basin, it brings minerals and salts which have accumulated over centuries. As the lake water evaporates, the spots change in size and colour creating beautiful fluctuating hues depending on the mineral composition of each one. 

Nahanni River, Northwest Territories

Nahanni River: River of Forgiveness 

For years, Herb Norwegian, Grand Chief of the Dehcho First Nations in Canada's Northwest Territories, wanted to follow the route of the ancestors, who spent the winters hunting and trapping near the headwaters of the great Nahanni River. 

One spring, 12 Dene men and women built a boat out of moose skins and spruce. As soon as the ice broke, they traveled down the Nahanni, portaging around Virginia Falls, and whistling through canyons with walls 1200 metres high. 

This territory is now called Nahanni National Park Reserve, 30,000 square kilometres of protected wilderness, co-managed by the Dehcho and Parks Canada. Nahanni: River of Forgiveness is a journey through a magnificent landscape, and a search for forgiveness and reconciliation for what has happened to the people and to the land. 

Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta 

The Wild Canadian Year: Summer

Alberta's Dinosaur Provincial Park is an other-worldly place, full of fantastically-shaped hoodoo rocks set amidst an intricate network of narrow winding gullies. Seventy-five million years ago, the Badlands had a sub-tropical climate with lush forests and great rivers that flowed into an inland sea (and of course, there were dinosaurs). The skeletons of over 50 dinosaur species have been discovered here.

 Mackenzie River, Northwest Territories

I Hold The Dehcho In My Heart / Sedze Tah Dehcho E'Toh

In the summer of 2017, a group of Indigenous students and elders embarked on a six-week canoe trip down Canada's longest river, in an effort to reconnect with Dene land and culture.

The Mackenzie river is known as the "Dehcho" in the Dene language and it spans over 1,738 kilometres of the Northwest Territories, stretching from Great Slave Lake to the Arctic ocean.

Leslie Street Spit, Toronto

Accidental Wilderness: The Leslie Street Spit

There's a hidden natural world in the unlikeliest of places: in the heart of Canada's largest city. Here, the distinction between city and wilderness disappears: a coyote roams freely in a cottonwood forest while in the distance, the CN Tower looms on the cityscape.

"The Spit," or Tommy Thompson Park as it's officially called, was initially conceived of as a breakwater to protect Toronto's bustling shoreline. To build it, construction waste was dumped into Lake Ontario starting in 1959, eventually creating a five-kilometre concrete peninsula. Soon, the heaps of rubble gave way to plants and wild animals proving that, when given the chance, nature can take root anywhere.

Grasslands, Alberta

Grasslands: A Hidden Wilderness 

When most Canadians think of the prairies, they think of roads stretching kilometre after kilometre with barely a curve, or symmetrical lines of corn, canola and wheat reaching the horizon. But hidden just beyond our country's croplands lies an unknown wilderness where a rich web of life relies on the specific conditions available only in the heartland of the continent.

Today, however, the wild prairie is a shadow of its former self. And temperate grasslands, as a whole, are now considered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to be the most endangered — and least protected — habitat type in the world. Though much has been lost, there is still enough wildness that exists in these flatlands to inspire some optimism. And there are people across the Canadian prairies working to help keep them wild.

Haida Gwaii, British Columbia 

Retake

The islands of Haida Gwaii, off British Columbia's west coast, have been home to the Haida people for thousands of years — the land, sea and forest sustain them. 

The documentary Retake follows the journey of co-directors Gwaai Edenshaw (Haida) and Helen Haig-Brown (Tsilhqot'in) as they work to produce Edge of the Knife, a feature-length film told entirely in the critically-endangered Haida language. To make the film, a 56-person cast and crew gathered in the historic Haida village site of Yan.

Retake offers an intimate behind-the-scenes look at the filming of Edge of the Knife, including the challenges of working in a remote, formidable location and in a critically-endangered Indigenous language.

Pecks Cove, New Brunswick

Kingdom of the Tide

Behold, the largest tide on Earth!

Every day, 160 billion tons of water flow in and out of the Bay of Fundy (that's more than four times the combined flow of all the rivers in the world). During high tide, the water rises by as much as 18 meters. During low tide, the sea retreats up to 5 kilometres, leaving behind a 1000-square kilometre sea of mud. 

Kingdom of the Tide uncovers the beauty, drama and wonders of this amazing intertidal zone.

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