Allan Hawco is a renaissance man. The creator, writer, executive producer and star of television’s hit show, Republic of Doyle, he is also frequently seen in feature films, other television programs, and on stage. Imparting his high-wattage celebrity and trademark charisma into his keynotes, emceeing, and endorsement activities, Allan ensures that whatever he undertakes shines. Allan is currently involved in a new documentary, The Trail of the Caribou, a CBC production which is taking him through Turkey, France and Belgium, following in the footsteps of a Newfoundland Regiment during its campaigns in the Great War:
“It’s quite a spiritual experience to make that trek,” Hawco told the St. John’s Morning Show.
“We’re so lucky that we’re going to be able to go. Any way we can share this story with Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada and the world is good — because this documentary is going to be really big.”
The caribou, the symbol of the Newfoundland Regiment, is at the centre of the documentary. Caribou statues are erected at five sites where the regiment fought significant battles in Europe. One stands in Bowring Park in St. John’s.
“Growing up in Newfoundland you always had that connection with the caribou in the park,” said Critch.
“As you get older, what that represents kind of resonates with you.”
More to regiment’s history than just Beaumont-Hamel
Most Newfoundlanders and Labradorians know of the tragedy of Beaumont-Hamel, which claimed the lives of 324 men in the regiment on July 1, 1916. The producers of The Trail of the Caribou hope to shed light on the other battles as well, many of which — unlike Beaumont-Hamel — were hailed as great victories.
“It’s great to tell the whole story of the regiment, because Beaumont-Hamel kind of overshadows all of the great successes they had,” said Critch.
“A lot of people know about Beaumont-Hamel,” said Hawco. “What people often forget is that the Newfoundland Regiment went on a number of very successful campaigns and had quite a legendary status in the allied forces during the First World War.”
The Trail of the Caribou is currently on schedule to premiere on the 100th anniversary of Beaumont-Hamel. While July 1 is also Canada Day, Hawco hopes the documentary will clue people in to what is arguably the most tragic day in Newfoundland and Labrador history.
“Our Memorial Day is July 1 and its always sort of bothered me that in the province we’ve never really marked it in the way that we could,” he said.
“Our sacrifice was not only in human lives, but in our nation. These people could have gone on to be our leaders, our prime ministers, our great athletes.”