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Student Project: The Rebuilding of L’Égaré II

In 1956, three “crazy Frenchmen” and two kittens crossed the Atlantic Ocean aboard a log raft they built using axes and rope. Christened “L’Égaré II,” the raft traversed the 5,000-kilometer stretch of ocean between Halifax, Nova Scotia to Falmouth, England in 88 days, propelled only by the winds and current. Over 50 years later, the Captain of that voyage, Henri Beaudout, is embarking on a new journey: to see the good ship L’Égaré II rebuilt and put in a museum. This is the subject of a new documentary and research project by current MA Ryan Barnett.

Ryan first approached Henri, who is now in his 80s and living in Montreal, about making a short documentary that would recount the story of the original voyage. After becoming aware of Beaudout’s intentions to rebuild his raft, Ryan immediately signed on to help. Here’s what he has to say about his project:

It became clear to me that the current effort to rebuild L’Égaré II is an essential piece to the story of this raft and its crew. The heroic endeavour undertaken by these men marks a unique but largely forgotten episode in Canadian history—a moment of quixotic inspiration, during an era of adventure characterized by the likes of Thor Heyerdahl and Sir Edmund Hillary, that Canadians can call their own. The right way to do this is to rebuild the raft for exhibition in a museum, just as it should have happened years ago. I’m also looking forward to swinging an axe.

Ryan’s project is now also part of an independent study he will take with Dr. Luca Caminati.

As a research project, this is really an extension of the course work I’ve completed for Luca over the past three semesters, which has been concerned with various elements of the documentary genre, particularly the interactive and reflexive documentary modes, re-mediation of found footage, and tropes of the travelogue.

The project is called “The Raftsmen” and you can find more information on it by going to their website, liking their Facebook page, following them on Twitter, or most importantly, contributing to their IndieGoGo campaign!

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