Enter one Mr Les Stroud – ace blues harmonica player, songwriter, performer, film-maker and survival maverick. While Ray was making his first understated steps into the world of TV stardom with Tracks, Les was embarking on perhaps the most unlikely honeymoon imaginable.
A former producer for Canadian music video channel MuchMusic, and one-time garbage collector for the City of Toronto, Les found a new direction in life when he caught the adventure bug during a canoeing trip around the lakes of Temagami in north-eastern Ontario, Canada. Totally smitten with the sport, and the outdoors in general, he took a job leading canoe excursions for Black Feather Wilderness Adventures. During this period, he met his future wife – photographer and fellow survival enthusiast Susan Jamisont
The couple were married in 1994, when they took the highly unconventional decision to spend the next year living off the land in the vast wilderness of Wabakimi Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada, interacting with civilisation only rarely, perhaps if one of them suffered a medical emergency. During their year in seclusion in this unforgiving yet idyllic landscape, the pair used their media skills to record every aspect of their lives, producing footage which would form the basis of the documentary Snowshoes and Solitude. Les and Susan would go on to teach outdoor survival courses with their company Wilderness Voice, and formed another company, Wilderness Spirit Productions, as a vehicle for subsequent survival-themed TV projects.
Buoyed by this success, and having watched Survivor on American TV network CBS and felt he could do better, Les approached the Canadian branch of the Discovery Channel to pitch some show ideas. His proposal was successful, and the new working partnership soon produced the documentaries One Week in the Wilderness and Winter in the Wilderness. The shows were a resounding success, finding favour with audiences and critics alike, and led to the creation of Les’ long-running series for the Discovery Channel, Survivorman.