Under water diver with frozen lake above.

Great Lakes Untamed

The Story

Watch the Canadian premiere on Monday, September 26 at 9:00 PM ET on TVO.

For the first time we reveal the natural history secrets of one of our planet’s most important, beautiful and forgotten ecosystems: North America’s Great Lakes. Nearly as wide as the Atlantic Ocean with three of Earth’s five largest lakes, this spectacular watershed contains one quarter of our planet’s available fresh-water; and yet, we’ve rarely seen it before on the screen. But how were these lakes formed and how have its animals, plants and people been shaped by the extremes of this vast watershed? The series answers these important questions and explores the many ways climate change is challenging one of the largest freshwater environments on Earth containing 84% of North America’s freshwater.

Air Dates for Canada on TVO:

Episode 1: Monday, September 26 at 9:00 PM ET
Episode 2: Tuesday, September 27 at 9:00 PM ET
Episode 3: Tuesday, Sep 27 at 9:52 ET

Air Dates for USA on Smithsonian Channel:

Episode 1: Wednesday, October 12 at 8:00 PM ET
Episode 2: Wednesday, October 19 at 8:00 PM ET
Episode 3: Wednesday, October 26 at 8:00 PM ET

Format / Duration

3 x 52 minutes



The Trailer

Closeup of diver's face just above water with ice hanging off goggles.


For more information, please complete this form:

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form. Be sure to fill out all required fields.
* Required

Video Gallery

Join the Community

About The Team

No items found.

As a small boy growing up in Ottawa in the 1970s I was lucky to meet of one Canada’s most influential naturalists and film-makers, Bill Mason. In 1966, Bill had directed the National Film Board’s Paddle to the Sea, the story of a First Nation's toy canoe on a dangerous journey from Lake Superior’s headwaters all the way to the Gulf of St Lawrence. The film (shown is just about every school room in Canada) was nominated for an Academy Award and for the first time showed Canadians both how spectacular the Great Lakes watershed is, but also its vulnerability and what we have to lose. Over the years that followed I worked as a Junior Ranger, as biologist for the Canadian Wildlife Service, and as a film-maker for the BBC, never forgetting the love of nature that film expressed. A love for a part of the world who’s beauty we have taken for granted.

Cast forward to a Winter's evening in 2014, I’m alone in the Old Chelsea Community Center near to where I had met Bill Mason and sitting in a glass case, in a lonely corridor, is the very toy canoe that Mason had used to make his remarkable film. A toy that had journeyed through the Great Lakes. Standing in front of it brought back a flood of memories and the inspiration to remind people why the Great Lakes watershed (home to a quarter of Canada’s population) is so important.

The Great Lakes basin is larger and more significant that we ever imagined. Its five giant lakes, their catchments and smaller rivers and lakes, span a distance as wide as the Atlantic Ocean and two great nations. They contain nearly one quarter of Earth’s 'surface freshwater’ and it flow through life and the landscape in ways we are only now beginning to understand. It’s a world holding incredible natural wonders, and on a planet short of freshwater, its nature has never been more important. It is 'North America's Amazon’.

Great Lakes Untamed is the ultimate celebration of the nature of the world’s largest and most important watershed. It is the story of the life it still contains, the secrets yet to be revealed and the place it should hold in our hearts for we cannot survive without nature.

– Ted Oakes

No items found.

Other films you might enjoy...