Walking in a Winter Wonderland with Borealis

McMahon’s Borealis beautifully shows us this world rarely touched by humans. About 5% of this presentation has an individual interacting in this world and the footage is breathtaking.

BorealisOn TVO Docs YouTube and streaming on NFB.ca
9pm (PST) on December 15th

Bing Crosby sang about “Walking in a Winter Wonderland,” but it’s Kevin McMahon’s Borealis—a fascinating and cinematographic look into Canada’s iconic boreal forest—which makes the words comes alive. Instead of O Tannenbaum, to which the opening scenes begin with, it’s the evergreens which make the world go ’round. Without them–anywhere around the world–Earth would not be as rich in oxygen.

This documentary’s arrival during the cold season shows there are certain types of foliage that this planet safe year-round. This story details the life cycle of many trees which dot in this northernmost landscape. It’s easy to joke about Canada being cold, but in the wilds–the spring and summer season also brings wildfires! That’s hard to believe, but when controlled burning is required, this unmonitored part country handles it pretty well.

We hear the voices of scientists, Indigenous people, harvesters and herbalists discussing why this tundra exists and must continue to. There’re lots of names to mention and each of them discuss what this particular ecosystem represents. The leaves of many an evergreen give life–we go into the microscopic realm to see little mouths and its hardly creepy at all. It’s fascinating to see, let alone learn. In essence, this documentary is a classroom lecture about the botany and ecology of this region.

But it’s not just the trees that this documentary focuses on. The flora and fauna share a symbiotic relationship. As they species live and die, the cycle begins again. McMahon’s examination beautifully shows us a glimpse of Nature at its most pristine. To not see an individual interacting in this world is rare and I can understand why this filmmaker do doesn’t want anyone in the view of the camera. The footage is breathtaking when we don’t have homo sapiens in the shot.

But when they are there, some of them know how Nature can offer its bounty to heal.


Others know how to hurt this world. This presentation cries too; there’s development in the lower regions. It shouldn’t fall like the Amazon. Both regions of the planet are invaluable to the Earth.

When considering the focus is on the stretch of land from the Yukon-Alaska to Labrador, viewers must also remember the Borealis is continuous. These isolated forests also exists throughout much of Europe and into Russia. They are known as the Taiga.

But for those people curious and wanting to know where this documentary was filmed, the astute can recognize a few provincial parks. Other parts were recorded in Ontario on the territories of the Fort Albany and Weenusk First Nation. Other areas include the Algonquin, Quetico, Wabakimi and Woodland Caribou parks. Even peeks into Banff and Jasper in the Albertan side of the Rocky Mountains and the Wood Buffalo National Park are included. When this pandemic is over, I’m thinking a camping trip is necessary, but I’m more inclined to visit during the summer!

5 Stars out of 5

Author: Ed Sum

I'm a freelance videographer and entertainment journalist (Absolute Underground Magazine, Two Hungry Blokes, and Otaku no Culture) with a wide range of interests. From archaeology to popular culture to paranormal studies, there's no stone unturned. Digging for the past and embracing "The Future" is my mantra.

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