Virginia Barter Métis Filmmaker & Television Producer


Short Synopsis  (124 words)

(also see French & German versions below)

This is the story of the young English explorer, SAMUEL HEARNE, and the French attack on Fort Prince of Wales, Hudson Bay, in 1782.  Against the backdrop of the American Revolution, the French Admiral, Jean Francois de Galaup, comte de LAPEROUSE, destroys the English fur trading post and takes Hearne prisoner.

In the course of the campaign, Laperouse discovers the incredible journals of Hearne’s overland expedition from Hudson Bay to the Arctic coast (1770-1772). The two men become friends and Laperouse agrees to let Hearne go, under the condition that he return to England and have his journals published.  But as Laperouse concludes, their greatest challenges are yet to come.  No one dies as a result of battle, but thousands die as a consequence.


Medium Synopsis (243 words)

This is the epic tale of the young English explorer SAMUEL HEARNE and the French attack on Fort Prince of Wales on the shores of Hudson Bay in 1782.  Against the backdrop of the American Revolution, the story is told from the perspective of the French Admiral, Jean François de Galaup, comte de LAPÉROUSE, who destroys the English fur trading posts and takes Samuel Hearne prisoner.  In the course of the campaign, Lapérouse discovers Hearne’s incredible journals of his two-year expedition from Hudson Bay to the Arctic coast (1770-1772) with the Chipewyan Indian Chief Matonabbee.  The intriguing and immense challenges of Hearne’s mission are revealed as Lapérouse reads the journals.  Lapérouse rises above the politics of the day and agrees to let Hearne go, under the condition that he return to England and have his journals published.  It is a story of honour and friendship.  But as Lapérouse concludes, their greatest challenges are yet to come.  No one dies as a result of battle, but thousands die as a consequence.


This film was shot entirely on location in Toronto in just two days, one day on the Empire Sandy tall ship and the second day at Fort York Historic Site.  Thanks to my re-enactor friends who came out in droves – complete with period costumes and loads of props – my greatest expenses were just a few custom-made costumes for the leads, a couple of wigs,  . . . and lots of pizza!


Long Synopsis (983 words)

SAMUEL HEARNE, a young English explorer is taken prisoner by the French in 1782.  Against the back drop of the American Revolution, the story is told from the perspective of the French Admiral, Jean François de Galaup, comte de LAPÉROUSE.  Under secret orders, Lapérouse leads three battles ships north from the West Indies to destroy the British fur trading posts on Hudson Bay. 

As a veteran of the Seven Years War, Samuel Hearne knows the pitiful defences of Fort Prince of Wales are no match for the French war ships.  So he surrenders without a fight. The French officers oversee the march of English prisoners onto the ship.  Lapérouse gives the command to destroy the fort and they set sail for France.  The prize of war here is not only the rich stockpiles of furs, but the highly strategic journals of Hearne’s journey from Hudson Bay to the northern ocean (1769 – 1772).

Lapérouse sits alone in his cabin reading the journals, reflecting back in time 13 years earlier to scenes of life and trade with the natives at the fort.  Hearne, a 24 year old sailor, is a rooky in this new land.  A tense meeting between the younger Samuel Hearne and the tyrannical Governor Moses Norton reveals that Hearne is being set up to lead an overland expedition, with unscrupulous guides, across uncharted territory.  Jealousy is a hallmark of Norton’s character and his hatred for Hearne is also fuelled by that young sailor’s love for Mary Norton – the Governor’s daughter.

Hearne’s first two expeditions are failures. Both times his guides abandon him and treat his European companions with such contempt, it nearly costs them their lives.  Mr. Hearne finally reaches his goal with the help of the Indian Chief, Matonabbee.  Their remarkable two-year journey from Hudson Bay to the northern ocean (1770-1772) is one of immeasurable hardship and astounding challenges and the maps they create expand the boundaries of the known world.

After Moses Norton’s death (1773), Hearne becomes Governor of the fort and Mary Norton is finally free to be his wife. For the next ten years, life is wonderful in their isolated fort on the bay, but Hearne cannot escape the consequences of international war and their world comes crashing down.

Lapérouse agrees to let Hearne go, under the condition that he return to England to publish his journals.  It’s a story of honour and friendship.  But the real challenges are yet to come. No one dies as a result of battle, but thousands die as a consequence.  Hundreds of Frenchmen die of the cold and scurvy before reaching France.  Thousands of natives die that winter of starvation and small pox.  The personal loss for Hearne is immense.  Not only does he lose his beloved wife, Mary Norton, but also his great friend Matonabbee . Convinced that Hearne has died at the hands of the French, Matonabbee takes his own life by hanging.

Neither Lapérouse nor Hearne live to see the journals published.  Hearne dies penniless in London in 1792.  Lapérouse is lost somewhere in the south Pacific in 1788.  The Hudson’s Bay Company is reluctant to share Hearne’s knowledge and maps, but the French government pressures the English to honour Hearne’s solemn promise to Lapérouse and the journals are finally published in 1795.

Today, Lapérouse is honoured as a great French naval hero and explorer.  His name is immortalized in place names around the globe.  Samuel Hearne is undoubtedly one of England’s greatest explorers, but his recognition has diminished to a mere footnote in history – both in England and Canada.  His life represents an epic tale of survival, of young people faced with extraordinary circumstances, caught between two cultures on the edge of the known world.  It’s the beginning of our nation.  It’s time to tell the tale.


I am often asked how I got the idea for the story, I say, “My ancestors guided me”.  It’s a story that goes back into my family history. Originally I wrote HEARNE as a full-length screenplay and I needed a Cree name for one of the female characters.  So I used the name of my great-great-great grandmother, “Nahoway” (or Margaret Norton, as she was baptized.)   I didn’t learn until after I finished the screenplay, that she was actually a little girl in Fort Prince of Wales when the French attacked.  She was among the native women and children who walked 150 miles to York Factory for help, but it too had been destroyed. With the English gone, thousands of natives died that winter of starvation and small pox.  Nahoway survived the whole ordeal. Mary Norton, was likely her aunt or sister.  Nahoway later married William Sinclair, a young fur trader who had been taken prisoner with Samuel Hearne.  Their prolific family became one of the most important Métis families in Manitoba history. 

One of the biggest challenges in filming was the weather. When we were on the Empire Sandy, in Toronto Harbour, all our shots had to be to the east because of the city buildings.  But I never considered the rising sun.  So when my cinematographer said we’d have to wait till the afternoon to shoot, I panicked.  There was no chance for that. We had to be wrapped by noon, because the ship was heading out to sea.  I could see the red sun breaking through the early morning cloud cover.  So I just prayed lots that the clouds would stay put.  Not only did I get my clouds, but rain, and plenty of it!  I thought we were literally going to have to abandon ship.  But the cast and crew pressed on and we had umbrellas to protect our 16 mm Arriflex film camera.  So the rain and wind turned out to be a blessing. It added much to the pathos of the scene, and we were able to “make our day”.



HEARNE – Voyage vers l’océan du nord

Court métrage (9 min, 24 sec)   Format: 16 mm, 2010 (version DVD)

Écrit, produit et réalisé par Virginia Barter

Voici l’histoire de l’explorateur anglais du dix-huitième siècle SAMUEL HEARNE et de l’attaque française du fort Prince of Wales, (Churchill) et York Factory sur les rives de la baie d’Hudson en 1782.  On raconte l’histoire en toile de fond de la révolution américaine et de la perspective de l’amiral français Jean François de Gallup, comte de LAPÉROUSE.  Celui-ci détruit les postes de traite des fourrures et capture Samuel Hearne. Pendant la campagne, Lapérouse découvre les remarquables journaux de l’expédition de Hearne à la côte arctique entre 1770-1772 avec le chef indien Matonabbee. Lapérouse prend conscience des immenses et incroyables défis de la mission de Hearne.  En dépit des différences politiques, Lapérouse décide de libérer Hearne à condition qu’il retourne en Angleterre et publie ses journaux.  C’est une histoire d’honneur et d’amitié, mais comme Lapérouse conclut, leurs plus grands défis sont à venir.  Même si personne ne meurt dans une bataille, les conséquences sont tragiques pour des milliers.

Gagnante du prix Trebas International Students Film Awards, Toronto 2010.

Meilleur film; Meilleure musique; Meilleur son; Meilleur acteur: Stephen Cullen

Pour des présentations scolaires et publiques et dévelopement de longs métrages.

Contact: Virginia Barter, Toronto, Canada

tél: 1-416-421-5344;

Bande annonce sur le site web:

ou Google “Virginia Barter Linkedin” ou “Hearne Trailer”






HEARNE  – Reise zum Ozean des Nordens

Kurzfilm (9 Minuten 24 Sekunden)  Format: 16mm Film, 2010 (DVD Version)

Virginia Barter: Autorin, Produzentin, Regisseurin

Dies ist die Geschichte des aus dem 18. Jahrhundert stammenden englischen Erforschers SAMUEL HEARNE und des französichen Angriffes auf Fort Prince of Wales (Churchill) und York Factory an den Ufern der Hudsun-Bucht im Jahre 1782.  Mit dem Hintergrund der amerikanischen Revolution wird die Geschichte aus der Perspektive des französichen Admirals Jean François de Galaup, des Grafen von LAPÉROUSE, erzählt, welcher die Pelz- und Fellhandelsposten vernichtete und Samuel Hearne gefangen nahm.  Lapérouse entdeckte während des Feldzuges die unglaublichen Tagebücher von Hearne’s zweijähriger Expedition von der Hudson-Bucht zur arktischen Küste (1770-1772) mit dem Indianerhäuptling Matonabbee.  Während Lapérouse die Tagebücher liest werden die faszinierenden und unermesslichen Herausforderungen der Mission von Hearne offenbart.  Lapérouse umgeht die Tagespolitik und genehmigt die Freilassung Hearne’s unter der Bedingung, dass er nach England zurück kehrt und seine Tagebücher publiziert.  Dies ist eine Geschichte über Ehre und Freundschaft.  Lapérouse schlussfolgerte jedoch, daß die größten Herausforderungen noch bevor stehen.  Niemand stirbt an den Folgen des Kampfes, Tausende aber werden an dessen Auswirkungen sterben.

Preisträger  Trebas International Student Film Awards, Toronto 2010

Bester Film; Beste Musik; Beste Tongestaltung;  

Bester Schauspieler: Stephen Cullen

Für Schulen und öffentliche Vorführungen und Vorträge, und Spielfilmentwicklung.

Kontakt:  Virginia Barter, Toronto, Kanada

Tel: 001-416-421-5344;

Der Trailer kann auf der Webseite angeschaut werden:

oder per Google Suche “Virginia Barter Linkedin”

oder You Tube “Hearne Trailer”