By Marianne Curtis
When the ice roads open in northern Manitoba this month, a seasoned winter road driver from Big Freight will be making his runs accompanied by a camera man.
This February, when the province’s ice roads open History Channel’s documentary style reality series called “Ice Road Truckers” will start filming Season 5. Steinbach truck driver Farley Fries will be joining this season’s show.
A driver with Big Freight in Steinbach, he has been delivering goods to remote communities via ice roads for over twenty-six years without incident.
“As long as you have lots of food and warm clothes you will be okay,” Fries says. “There are situations when you are alone and you don’t see anyone for a day or two – you get weary out there but as long as your truck is running, everything is good.”
“Ice Road Truckers” spans two months in the lives of six winter road drivers who haul vital supplies to remote locations over frozen lakes that double as roads.
“I’ve seen the show and it will be different here,” stated Fries. “They are used to mountains – here we are on swamps, muskeg and rocks.”
Last march, local ice road truckers made national news after getting stuck in northern Manitoba when the ice roads deteriorated so badly that big trucks were bogging down in the muskeg. The plight of the drivers was heard by the producers of History Channels’ Ice Road Truckers and it was decided to tape the next season here. Fries, who normally runs alone, will be making his runs with a camera man riding shotgun.
“I am not sure how long he will ride with me or how long he will last,” Fries laughs. “The way they work now they are in a hotel for the night or a campsite – the way we run we could be gone four or five days without seeing a hotel or campsite.”
Fries will be taking the crew on his runs up to Lac Brochet,Manitoba and into Ontario to Hudson Bay and James Bay. He expects to be hauling building materials for homes, construction sites, schools, and nursing stations. His loads could also include 30,000 to 50,000 gallon tanks. The ice road season is expected to be open for about six weeks with the roads being closed at the end of March.
Season 5 of Ice Road Truckers is expected to air on the History Channel during the winter of 2011.