The lives of several Yellowknife houseboaters have been caught on film, and producers promise their stories will fascinate audiences, especially those in the south.
Ice Lake Rebels is set on Yellowknife Bay, featuring a cast of houseboaters and characters from around the city. The 10-part, hour-long series begins at the start of freeze-up season and captures the struggles and achievements of a community living off the grid in one of Canada’s toughest climates. Houseboaters are depicted as outlaws who aren’t forced to pay taxes and who live life on their own terms.
“The idea that anyone is living in nature and is sort of ruled by the mood of the lake is a very fascinating component to us as part of Animal Planet,” said Kathyrn Haydn-Hays, an executive producer with This Is Just A Test Productions, the partnering production company for the show.
“I think also what was so interesting to us was how strangely familiar and different it feels from our own lives, from viewers’ lives,” said Melinda Toporoff, an executive producer with Animal Planet. “What it takes to walk your dog in your own backyard versus what it takes to walk your dog when the lake is freezing and you can go through it – those simple things that we take for granted prove how hard it can be, but then be ultimately worth it.”
Residents in the series are faced with daily challenges that many land-dwelling spectators wouldn’t consider, like making sure their houses don’t freeze on an angle for the entire winter. Some characters take their off-the-grid lifestyle to the next level, foregoing trips to the local grocery store to hunt and forage for food independently.
Locals wonder about ‘reality’ show
While many Yellowknifers look forward to seeing their unique local community on television, some wonder whether the depictions of life on a houseboat are going to be realistic or over-dramatized.
Search Ice Lake Rebels on Twitter and a string of comments allude to the less-than-extreme experiences of many houseboaters.
“Fighting elements & starvation on my houseboat but just made an espresso and think we’ll survive another day,” tweeted @indiosaravanja, attaching a link to the show’s press release.
“I’m sure that for a reality TV show they’re going to hype up the drama, because otherwise it’s going to be boring to watch,” said Janna Graham, who has been a part of the houseboating community for several years.
“It’s a lot more work than living on land and during freeze up and break up it can be precarious and you do have to be careful but, at the same time, civilization is literally 10 minutes away,” she said.
Graham, a radio producer, also bristles at the notion of being described strictly as an outlaw.
“A lot of us are professionals like teachers and government workers and everything, but it’s probably not the life or death scenarios that the show would put forward,” she said.
At the same time, Graham said she is excited to see the show and isn’t going to pass any judgment until it airs.
“I think for the most part everything that you’re seeing is really and truly the things that these people go through on the lake,” Haydn-Hays said.
“It may seem to them as if none of it is super fantastic or exciting because they live this lifestyle every single day, but to us it is exciting.”
Haydn-Hays said the cast members were enthusiastic about sharing their lifestyle.
“I feel that their challenges are very realistic and they’re well depicted,” she said.
The show will have its premier on Sunday July 27, at 10:00 p.m. ET on Animal Planet.