Canadian film based on tragic Ontario canoe trip screening at Roxy Theatre in Saskatoon

A screenshot of the opening of Brotherhood, being screened at the Roxy Threatre in Saskatoon.

The Roxy Theatre is giving people in Saskatoon the chance to watch a Canadian film based on the true story of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew and its ill-fated canoeing adventure in 1926, on the big screen.

“Brotherhood” follows a band of teenage boys who set out across Ontario’s Balsam Lake in a 30-foot war canoe with two camp leaders and are capsized by a deadly storm.

“This movie is a survival adventure about these boys and these two camp leaders clinging on for dear life and trying to make it through to the morning alive,” said director and writer Richard Bell, who is based in Vancouver.

The score was composed by Saskatoon’s William Rowson who will debut as a guest conductor at the Regina Symphony Orchestra this fall.

Bell said the Roxy is a great place to watch “Brotherhood” as the theatre was constructed during the onset of the Great Depression and the movie is set just before that. The Roxy was also built specifically for sound pictures.

“I love the idea of seeing a movie that was designed to be a throwback and an homage of sorts to old Hollywood, screened in a theatre that was built during the era of old Hollywood,” Bell said. 

While the film is set in the 20s’, Bell said its themes of masculinity and man versus nature are relevant to audiences today.

“I think these days a lot of people don’t know how to raise boys and a similar state of boyhood existed in the 1920s, particularly the turn of the 20th century,” Bell told CTV News.

“This was sort of the first generation of boys who were raised without their fathers because they died in the Great War, or if they returned from the Great War, they were killed by the Spanish Flu, or if they weren’t killed by the Spanish Flu, they came home with post-traumatic stress disorder, which we didn’t even have a word for then.”

Bell said during that time, a lot of community leaders felt like boys were being “feminized” by female teachers so camps like the Brotherhood of St. Andrew were created.

“Using the archetypes in the characters of boyhood and masculinity in its many varied and nuanced forms felt bang up to date.”

“Brotherhood” was shot before the pandemic, but Bell said it makes the film feel even more relevant now.

“It’s a typical man versus nature story and here we are again, man versus nature, human versus nature.”

Bell said reception to the film in Saskatchewan has been strong.

“Brotherhood” recently completed a held-over run at Regina’s Rainbow Cinemas and had a gala screening at the Kramer IMAX Theatre last Thursday.

The film was also co-financed by Creative Saskatchewan and co-produced by Saskatoon’s Karma Film.

“Brotherhood” will be available to watch at the Roxy until Tuesday.

Do you have a story idea or news tip? Email us.