POUCH COVE, NL — You may bump into the crew of Hors Circuits in some strange and remote places this summer and fall.
The Canadian French-language TV show brings viewers on an adventure to explore the history and culture of abandoned and forgotten buildings and locations across Newfoundland and Labrador.
From July to October the nine-person crew and the show’s host, Jennifer Breault, will cross the province to highlight and examine places most of us will never get to see in person, explore structures and relics that are decaying, and capture historic tales that may otherwise have been lost forever.
Hors Circuits, which translates roughly to “off the beaten path,” recounts stories of unique and fascinating places before the visual markers of history — dilapidated buildings, shells of boats sitting on the ocean floor, and rusted pieces of equipment — before they are gone and lost forever.
Breault visits these often remote and difficult-to-access locations by boat, ATV, hiking, kayaking and scuba diving, and uncovers their history and lore through interviews with local historians.
Last season the show explored the Basques whaling stations in Red Bay, Labrador, the military ship wrecks of the Pollux and Truxtun in and around St. Lawrence and resettlement of Petites and Grand Bruit on the southwest coast, to name a few of the show’s intriguing destinations.
Hors Circuits is reportedly popular in France.
Xavier Georges, the show’s Pouch Cove-based creator and producer, explained the appeal of an adventure and historical documentary travel show featuring Newfoundland and Labrador to French audiences.
“French people are hungry for adventure, for unexplored places. When you live in France, you can’t drive half an hour without hitting a village, the distances here are so vast. There are not that many abandoned places in Europe, they are all exploited. Also, the history of Newfoundland and Labrador is as much a French story as it is an English (one). You see it in the names of places.”
Georges admitted production of the show, with the crew travelling around the province from July to October, is an adventure in itself.
“Shooting a show mostly outside in the N.L. environment is a bit crazy. We do a lot of travel by boat, which is always tricky to schedule due to weather. We have to rely a lot on rely on local fishers and knowledge to tell us when it’s safe to go out, which makes our days hard to schedule. Also, most of these places are so inaccessible so we can’t scout them out before we shoot there.”
Georges maintained the difficulty of getting to a place is an important part of what makes these locations so unique.
“The adventure that Jennifer experiences is meant to be an expression of how hard it was to actually get and live there.”
Georges is excited for production of season three to get on the road this summer.
The crew will explore an abandoned Hudson’s Bay Company outpost on Georges Island in Labrador, stories of the pulp and paper industry in Corner Brook, mining in Port Au Port, the Vikings on the Northern Peninsula and smuggling ties between the Burin Peninsula and the French islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, to name just a few of their shoots.
Currently broadcast to 160 countries, the show is a big success for Unis TV.
Plans for next year include an expansion of the show’s provincial focus to explore stories in other parts of Canada. Georges is also speaking with broadcasters to produce an English version.
Although he doesn’t have specific statistics, Georges has heard the show is responsible for increasing tourism to the province, that people are coming here to experience some of these locations before they are gone forever.
That makes Georges happy.
“My hope is to draw attention to these places. They are disappearing and it’s important to remember them. They are an expression of another era. We can talk about the human cost of these places.”