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Survivorman: Canadian Reality TV Series

Updated on December 27, 2017
That Grrl profile image

Laura is a quiet, polite, and proud Canadian. She enjoys Canadian history, culture, and Canadiana in general.


Les Stroud is the Canadian Survivorman. An instructor in survival, hiking, whitewater rafting, sea kayaking, dog sledding and winter travel, Les Stroud has more than 20 years of experience as an outdoor adventurer.

The Survivorman series is based on stranding Les Stroud in a remote region of the world without food, water and little more than a pocket knife. His crew drops him off and leaves him alone to face the elements, find food, water and create shelter however he can.

In some episodes he illustrates how to survive scenarios. Such as surviving on an island if you are stranded at sea when your cruise boat leaves without you. Or, how to survive when all you have is a dog sled in the Canadian north. Or, how to survive if your hot air balloon fails in the vast, dry desert somewhere. Each scenario gives Les a few extra tools to use to his advantage. If he can get them to work, there are misfires and mistakes or just bad luck too.

Not only is he alone to struggle for the week, but he is his own film crew too. This means he has to cart around 50 pounds of audio/ video equipment like camera gear, tripods, and batteries. He has to backtrack to pick up the camera once he has used it to film himself walking away. (You can't leave the equipment behind if you hope to use it later). Once in awhile he does leave something behind due to the stress on himself of trying to film when he is suffering from lack of drinking water or sleep and exposure to the elements. At these times he will narrate over the film, letting viewers know the equipment was picked up later by his crew. However, there is no crew there with him at the time.

One Man, Alone, in the Wilderness

I have had a debate with a friend about this in the past. Other survivor shows try to appear as if the host is really alone, but if you watch it becomes clear that is not the case. Les Stroud is the only one I have seen who really is alone and in real danger.

The original Survivorman series went for three seasons. At that time Les Stroud needed a break for his health. However, he didn't sit back and put his feet up. There have been documentaries, books, and music performances too.

The Survivorman series is coming back as a new series of specials which will be 10 day long excursions into the wilderness. So far two episodes have been filmed. I couldn't find a lot of detail about this and I haven't seen them appear on TV myself, so far.

Les Stroud, the Music and Survivor Man

However, there's more to Les Stroud than being the creator, writer, cameraman, host, narrator, director, producer, and survivalist on the Canadian reality TV show. Les Stroud is a musician too. You can see albums and tour dates on his website. There are two DVDs available and singles too.

Les Stroud composed the theme to Survivorman.

If you are Canadian you might remember Les Stroud in the 1980s as a music video producer for the Canadian music video channel, MuchMusic. In 1987 he began traveling Canada as a canoe guide and wilderness instructor. Later he started his own outdoor tourism business and studied at Humber College in Ontario and at Prairie Wolf College in Kansas.

So what could be next?

One interesting thing I read in an interview with Les Stroud was his idea to retrace all the world's greatest explorers for a series which may end up as Stroud's Legends. This would be excellent. We hear about the history of exploration in books and classrooms. But these are dry accounts with words and the odd photo taken from modern perspectives or an illustration which can't really capture the isolation, the harshness or the beauty of the wilderness as it was before people came to settle in and take over.

Seeing the routes taken by the early explorers from the perspective of someone who is an explorer and survivalist in our times would be a unique experience. I'm sure it would bring the journey, the history and the explorer himself (most of them were men) into new light. I hope this project turns out to be another one which Les Stroud produces.


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    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 5 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      Thank you. I hope his idea for the explorer show works out. That would be a great combination of his knowledge and skills.

    • Thundermama profile image

      Catherine Taylor 5 years ago from Canada

      I loved the Survivorman series. He really is quite an incredible human being. And he doesn't just do this for television's sake, you're very right he is the real deal. I understand that he live off grid in Norther Ontario with his family. Definitely someone I would like to face an apocalypse with. Hope his new show goes through, I would watch it. Great Hub!