N.L. explorer Justin Barbour finds a new adventure in television
Barbour and Saku Through the Woods follows tandem through Bay du Nord Wilderness Reserve
Newfoundland and Labrador's very own survivorman, Justin Barbour, is taking things to the next level with a new television show on Bell Canada's Fibe TV.
Known for his adventures across vast and minimally explored areas of the province with his dogs Saku and Bear in tow, Barbour has found a new way to broadcast his journeys outside of his regular YouTube audience.
"I've been poking around trying to get into the TV market ever since the crossing Newfoundland footage," Barbour told CBC News of his series of videos which brought the audience with him over 700 kilometres across the island in 68 days in 2017.
"I've been talking to a number of different producers and broadcasting groups, some on the island, a lot on the mainland, trying to hit the right buttons, and the stars just weren't aligning."
Barbour said YouTube has been a great avenue for posting his content, but it's difficult to keep feeding the algorithm — used to keep popular channels fresh and highly visible to viewers — when on three and four month excursions.
Getting into television wasn't his initial goal, he said, but he realized it could provide more stability and create a bigger audience.
"I was pretty happy when it went down," he said. "I was over the moon and just happy to be able to go out and do my trips and make a living at it. That's the dream. That's the goal."
An unexpected journey
Barbour's newest series, Barbour and Saku Through the Woods, follows him for two months through the Bay du Nord Wilderness Reserve, somewhere he has explored before but, "there's certainly lots left to explore and see in there," he said.
"It's a great spot in the province, almost 2,900 square kilometres of protected lakes and barrens. Just great wilderness there," said Barbour.
"There's certainly experiences to be had for anyone who wants to get out there and the adventure boils in the blood for them, too."
For fans of his YouTube videos, they'll be happy to know the format hasn't changed. Barbour shot, edited and wrote the voice overs on his own, as he does on his own YouTube channel.
The adventure doesn't end here. Barbour has more trips on the horizon, and another book in the making featuring his memoirs from a 2018 journey from Labrador into northern Quebec.
Whether future trips land on television remains to be seen, Barbour said. If they don't, there's always YouTube, he added.
Barbour hopes to inspire others through his adventures to explore the wilderness on their own, and for those who are curious, he had a simple message.
"There's lots of experiences to be had in the province, on the island, in Labrador and we can't take it for granted if we're outdoor lovers," he said.
"Even if we're not, maybe we will be one day, and the opportunities are there if you want to take the bull by the horns."