Words by Trish Dugan

You might think you’re seeing ghosts when you watch the film Shipwrecked on a Great Lake on a waterscreen in J.C. Saddington Park on Wednesday through Sunday evenings in July. The waterscreen, created by Montreal’s Laser Quantum, turns two-dimensional images into three, and takes advantage of water-reflected light for a magical, holographic-like effect.

Shipwrecked on a Great Lake is set during the War of 1812. More than a simple account of battles between the British and the USA, the film recounts the story of Ned Myers as told to James Fenimore Cooper, the popular 19th-century author who wrote The Last of the Mohicans. Produced for the Port Credit Village Project and screening at the spot where the Credit River enters Lake Ontario, Shipwrecked on a Great Lake is meant to connect local viewers to the history of the lake where the dramatic story unfolded.

After a national casting call, the best actor for the part of Ned Myers was British actor Jack Manser, while Canadian actor John Fray plays James Fenimore Cooper. The original musical score was written by Mississauga composer Vikas Kohli. Dramatic and exquisitely detailed artwork for the film was provided by marine artist Peter Rindlisbacher. The documentary was shot and directed by Mississauga’s well-known director, Peter Rowe.

Rowe directed and produced the widely popular Angry Planet series, and began his career filming whitewater kayaking on the Credit River in Erindale Park. His 1975 feature film Horse Latitudes starred Gordon Pinsent as a sailor bent on racing solo around the world. During production, Rowe learned to sail a Hobie Cat, and with typical focus he would go on to become a two-time Canadian champion racer in the speedy catamarans.

Rowe’s natural interest in water propelled him into a specialty where he would find himself directing many other water-themed feature films, documentaries and TV episodes:

Treasure Island, an adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic;
Lost!, a gripping tale of three people lost in the Pacific in an upturned trimaran;
Samuel Cunard: Bridging the Atlantic, a documentary about the inventor of transatlantic steamship travel; and
Joshua Slocum: New World Columbus, the story of a 19th-century sea captain who became the first man to sail alone around the world.

Three episodes of Ocean Adventure Video Magazine, an episode of Jack London’s Tales of the Klondike, 17 episodes of Exploring Under Sail and countless hurricanes, waterspouts, monsoons and rainstorms for Angry Planet have all added to his impressive ability to shoot all things wet.

Now, some 50 years after his first film of whitewater kayakracing, Shipwrecked on a Great Lake debuts—where else?—at a waterfront festival. That is, the Mississauga Waterfront Festival, in June.

When asked about his attraction to water, Rowe says it’s hard to pinpoint just when he was first bitten by the water bug. “My mother was an avid canoeist and met my father at the Winnipeg Canoe Club, so perhaps it’s through them that I found my love of water,” says Rowe.

When not filming things and people on the water, Rowe’s love of adventure and the wilderness is plainly seen in his work on the Angry Planet series and 18 episodes of African Skies, a family adventure show.

“It’s difficult to determine precisely how it happened. I certainly didn’t ever want to work in an office doing the same job every day of my life. I was really attracted to filmmaking and it led to many different situations, usually in the outdoors,” says Rowe.

Rowe is the son of the late Percy Rowe, who was a reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, and travel editor at the Toronto Telegram and later the Toronto Sun. Perhaps his father’s love of travel inspired Rowe’s passion for filming all over the world. In any case, it seems to run in the family with the Rowes: Rowe’s daughter Ashley channels her grandfather’s nose for journalism and her father’s talent for capturing images as a news reporter for CTV.

Starting as a child actor, Rowe went on to work with legendary actors Jack Palance and Mickey Rooney, filmed with musicians such as Jimi Hendrix and The Velvet Underground, and travelled the world producing images of the most dangerous places on earth. Many people found Rowe’s work fascinating and asked him about it so often that he wrote a book, appropriately entitled Adventures in Filmmaking, available at amazon.ca.

More About Shipwrecked on a Great Lake:

Peter Rowe and the production team put replicas of the 19th-century ships into a wave Tank in Toronto and then out on to Lake Ontario to re-enact the devastating storm. The team used wind machines, rain towers, underwater cameras and other specialized production tools to re-create the storm and shipwreck.

On July 1, the 19th-century boat used in the film will be a participant in the Port Credit Paint the Town Red Parade with Clark Schlesinger singing Shipwrecked on a Great Lake’s theme song. That evening, the film will premiere on a waterscreen at JC Saddington Park. The film will continue to play from Wednesday to Sunday in July. The film will also be hown on July 20 during the War of 1912 commemoration at Fieldcote Memorial Park in Ancaster, and will play the Artists’ Garden Cooperative in Toronto. Check out the film’s 2014-2015 viewing schedule below:

June 14, 7:00 p.m. PREMIERE
Mississauga Waterfront Festival
Main Stage, Memorial Park, Port Credit

Sunday June 15, 5:00 p.m.
Mississauga Waterfront Festival
Main Stage, Memorial Park, Port Credit

July 1, 8:45 p.m. and every Wednesday – Sunday night July 2 to July 31
Projecting on a Water Screen at J.C..Saddington  Park, Port Credit
(Saddington Park is on Lake Ontario south of Lakeshore Rd.
between Mississauga Road and the Credit River)

Sunday July 20, 2:00 p.m.
Bloody Assize War of 1812 Commemoration
Fieldcote Memorial Park,  64 Sulphur Springs, Ancaster

August 14, 7:30 p.m.
Artists’ Garden Cooperative
345 Balliol St., Toronto  tickets-www.eventbrite.ca or [email protected]

September 12, 6:30 p.m.
Celebration Square, Mississauga

September 17, 6:00 p.m.
Cincinnati Travel Club

November 6, 6:00 p.m.
The Explorers Club
46 E 70th Street, New York City

February 21, 2015
Battle Creek, Michigan

Peter Rowe Selected Filmography
Shipwrecked on a Great Lake (short) 2014
Volcanic Planet (documentary) 2014
Alien Invaders! (TV movie) 2011
Angry Planet (TV series, two episodes) 2010
“Italia Wild”
Beyond the Red Wall: The Persecution of Falun Gong
(TV movie) 2007
Popcorn with Maple Syrup
(TV movie documentary) 2004
Right Hook: A Tall Tale (short) 2004
Samuel Cunard: Bridging the Atlantic (TV movie documentary) 2002
Joshua Slocum: Around Alone (TV movie documentary)2000
Lassie (TV series, one episode) 1999
“Dog Gone It!”
Treasure Island 1999
The New Addams Family (TV series) 1998
Black Habour (TV series) 1996
Ready or Not (TV series, two episodes) 1995-1996
“The Grass is Greener”
“Nothing in Common”
Side Effects (TV series, one episode) 1994
“Worth It”
African Skies (TV series, six episodes) 1992
“The Lost Crown”
“Wild Child”
“The Hunted”
“The Goal”
“So…Where to Now?”
“Pay the Piper”
The New Adventures of the Black Stallion (TV series, one episode)
“If the Shoe Fits” 1991
Personal Exemptions 1989
Take Two 1988
Splatter: Architects of Fear (video documentary) 1986
Lost! 1986
Tales of Klondike (TV mini-series, episode) 1981
“One Thousand Dozen”
Horse Latitudes (TV movie) 1975
The Neon Palace 1971