Canada is a vast country, covering almost ten million square kilometers. It has the largest intact forest on the planet, more than two million lakes and rivers and the longest coastline on Earth.
This wild outpost is home to some of the world’s most astonishing wildlife, such as polar bears, Arctic foxes, semipalmated sandpipers, coastal wolves, Pacific salmon, Canada lynx, southern flying squirrels, great grey owls, caribou and harp seals.
Our film begins in high summer in Hudson bay in Canada’s Far North, where polar bears have learned to ambush beluga whales, which visit warm river estuaries to breed. It’s a crucial time window, at a difficult time of year. In the vast swathes of tundra a pair of Arctic foxes gather and bury snow geese eggs, and hunt the chicks, for their fast growing pups. And in Canada’s Bay of Fundy, which has the most extreme tides on Earth, vast flocks of semi-palmated sandpipers arrive on their journey from the Arctic to South America, to feed on mating mud shrimps. But they must beware hunting peregrine falcons.
As Canada warms, its Pacific coastline comes alive. Among the blossoming kelp forests a male sea otter goes hunting for a huge Pacific clam or ‘geoduck’. While on a remote island a pack of wolves uses unusual hunting and feeding techniques to get the best from Pacific salmon migrating inshore to spawn. Further upriver, where the salmon spawn and are hunted by black bears, their decaying carcasses help sustain the Great Bear Rainforest.
Winter sets in, and temperatures plunge, across the vast boreal forests that cover much of central Canada. A Canada lynx hunts a snowshoe hare in an age-old duel, a great grey owl uses its impeccable hearing to try and catch a red-backed vole, northern flying squirrels share their collective warmth to survive in tree holes, and a pack of wolves work together to strategically drive a herd of caribou from a frozen lake in to deep forest snow. Survival in this land of boom and bust is all about helping one another, being totally in tune with the environment, and knowing how and when to act.
The film concludes on the sea ice off Newfoundland, where a harp seal mother teaches her newborn pup how to swim for the first time, before spring finally arrives across the whole of Canada. With windows of opportunity opening up again, it brings relief to all.