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  Spirits of the Trail - Relive the North West Battle that Never Happened!

This powerful drama brings to life one of the most significant episodes in Canadian (and American) history: the meeting and alliance of Major James Walsh of the NWMP and Sitting Bull, War Chief of the Lakota Sioux. About 5,000 Sioux crossed “the medicine line” (49th parallel) at Fort Walsh in 1877, seeking refuge from the U.S. Army. The year before, the army had declared war on the Sioux Nation, following General Custer’s defeat at the Little Bighorn River.

Spirits of the Trail is based on The Medicine Line, the epic drama by Ken Mitchell that was professionally produced in Wakamow Valley during Moose Jaw’s “Cultural Capital Year” of 2008.  Two performances dazzled sold-out audiences with horses, Mounties, and Sioux warriors performing beneath an evening August sky.

In the summer of 2009, in partnership with Saskatchewan History and Folklore Society, Burning Sun Productions began touring a compact production of this drama called Spirits of the Trail along the old North West Mounted Police Trail, with the help of a provincial Community Initiatives Grant. At each location along the trail (from Fort Walsh to Wood Mountain), communities hosted a one-day Chautauqua festival.  The company rode into town on horses, along with local wagons, carts and riders, setting the “stage” in a town park or historical location. In 2010 we rode down the Qu’Appelle Valley from Lumsden to the Manitoba border, performing in towns, parks and First Nations reserves.  Our company became skilled at presenting outdoor spectacles in a range of different locales and under a variety of conditions. The local museum or history society would host a barbecue or chuck-wagon supper. The evening concluded with a campfire sing-along, featuring our cast, other regional entertainers, storytellers, cowboy poets, musicians and dancers.

Over three summers (2009-2011), Spirits of the Trail (promoted as “Theatre on the Hoof”) played in more than 18 communities, parks and reserves -- from Fort Walsh to the Metis Fest in the International Peace Gardens on the Manitoba/North Dakota border, all historically relevant to the drama. In 2012, Spirits of the Trail performed at the R.C.M.P. Heritage Centre and was further honored to be part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Celebration at Evraz Place, hosted by the RCMP Heritage Centre.

'Spirits of the Trail' - documentary


Both Burning Sun Productions and the RCMP Heritage Centre developed this unusual but historically accurate drama of Saskatchewan/Plains history, and aspire to tour it not only around Saskatchewan but in the northern U.S. as well.  We want to draw global audiences to the Heritage Centre and other communities, and are getting great support and interest from the First Nations of Saskatchewan.

In 2015, the RCMP Heritage Centre, with additional support from Tourism Saskatchewan and SaskTel, hosted 14 performances of Spirits of the Trail on their grounds to the delight of their weekend guests. 




Posters/promos from previous 'Spirits of the Trail' productions: