Memorial University of Newfoundland Publication
by Frantic Films
The television show Quest for the Sea provides a glimpse
of life in outport Newfoundland during the 1930s, said show
participant Ralph Wheeler, shown here on set with his children
Anna (L) and Elliot. Dr. Wheeler is an associate professor
in the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation.
|By David Sorensen
Life at sea was quite an adventure, according to one of the
players in the Newfoundland-based reality show Quest for
the Sea. Ralph Wheeler, an associate professor in the School
of Human Kinetics and Recreation, spent the summer on a remote
island in Placentia Bay as one of the participants in a reality
television show now airing on the History Channel. But the show
is unlike the current crop of U.S. network reality shows that
favour backstabbing and bikinis. Quest for the Sea has
attempted to recreate life in rural Newfoundland in the 1930s.
“I think it will be an outstanding educational package,”
said Dr. Wheeler of the series. “They’ve got the
(footage shot during the 10 weeks), they’ve got the historical
footage, and they’ve got the interviews with the old folks.
That’s all overlapped and woven together.”
issues and conflicts were really just minor parts of
my overall experience.”
Not that there wasn’t a fair share of internal politics,
obvious to anyone who watched episodes three and four. “The
episodes are called The Storms of August and they weren’t
just referring to the weather,” said Dr. Wheeler, who
participated with his daughter Anna, 14, and son Elliot, 10.
Since the show started to air, Dr. Wheeler has been the subject
of a great deal of media interest and has been interviewed by
newspapers and radio stations across Canada, including a string
of 13 interviews on one afternoon with CBC Radio shows across
the country. Aside from that,
and the occasional needling from friends and family, life is
back to normal for the 51 year old.
The show’s 10 participants spent June 22 to Sept. 1 in
Hay Cove, on Long Island, Placentia Bay.
Dr. Wheeler said he wasn’t too shocked seeing himself
on the small screen, although there were a few times “when
we rolled our eyes (while watching),” he said. One eye-roller
was the narrator’s description of Ralph as a gourmet cook.
“I like to cook and I know my way around the kitchen but
I am not a gourmet cook.”
Some of the other comments that came his way were a bit puzzling.
“People pick out the strangest things,” he said
of reaction of friends and family. “I had a number of
phone calls about being the gourmet cook, people called in and
wrote in and said (of a scene of Ralph carrying fish) ‘that
was some bicep shot’. Someone else phoned in and said
‘You’re cutting out (cod) tongues using the wrong
stroke. You were using a down stroke instead of an up stroke.’”
But, aside from the occasional stress of the 10-week shoot,
Dr. Wheeler said his kids enjoyed the experience.
He said he’d do it again. “The issues and conflicts
were really just minor parts of my overall experience,”
he said. “If you put any group of people down there, you
would have your differences. The conflict is there, I’m
just surprised they’ve chosen to emphasize that.”
For more on the Quest for the Sea, see www.historytelevision.ca/questSea/.