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Arlin McFarlane and Max Fraser

Local filmmakers set to retrace Joe Boyle’s historic journey

It’s been a full century since Klondike Joe Boyle,

By Stephanie Waddell on January 19, 2018

It’s been a full century since Klondike Joe Boyle, as he was known, made a historic journey by train to return important Romanian archives from the Kremlin in Moscow to Romania.

That feat was just one of the major roles he played through the First World War.

Next month, local filmmakers (and spouses) Max Fraser and Arlin McFarlane will retrace Boyle’s journey by train as they research Fraser’s next film project.

That journey will come after attending Berlinale, a major conference in Berlin for those working in film, in the hopes of finding potential production partners.

“That will be an intense week in Berlin,” Fraser said in an interview earlier this month.

His interest in documenting Boyle’s life goes back to 2008, when he was attending the Banff World Television Festival.

There, he met a man who had grown up in the same area of London where Boyle had originally been buried, and was curious about the Yukoner’s knowledge of Boyle.

While Fraser knew some of Boyle’s story, that conversation got him and then McFarlane reading more about Boyle’s life.

“We both became very captivated by the story,” Fraser said.

Later, when he and McFarlane were travelling overseas, they decided to visit some of the sites in Romania Boyle had been to.

Fraser began working on planning for a possible film about Boyle, with that work taking place on and off over the years as time allowed.

Over the last six months, Fraser’s company, Hootalinqua Motion Pictures Inc., was able to get some funding together to start researching, gathering information to plan for a potential film.

Travelling by train, Fraser said, the journey will give him and McFarlane a sense of the rhythm of train travel.

Stopping at various sites along the way will not only serve to help in research, but will also assist in scouting out potential locations that may or may not work for filming.

Fraser said Boyle’s efforts to get Romanian archives back from the Kremlin to Romania “began a wild adventure,” a kind-of “Indiana Jones”-style adventure at that.

Boyle’s history is well-known locally for gold mining in the Klondike as well as his efforts to send the 1905 Dawson City Nuggets hockey team to Ottawa to challenge the Ottawa Silver Seven for the Stanley Cup in 1905.

It was also Boyle who organized a machine gun artillery to fight in Europe in the First World War.

He eventually worked found himself in Russia working on the railway system.

By the time he had petitioned the Bolshevik government in Russia to return the Romanian items, he had overall authority of the railway.

Boyle became a national hero in Romania when he rescued 50 Romanians who were being held in Odessa by revolutionaries.

That helped him gain influence in the Romanian royal court and he eventually was a major force in gaining a $25-million credit for Romania from the Canadian government.

His relationship with the Romanian Queen – the British-born Marie of Edinburgh – remains somewhat of a mystery, though it is clear he remained devoted to her.

Boyle spent the rest of his life in England, opting not to return to Canada after the war.

His body was eventually returned to his home town of Woodstock, Ont., after having been buried in England for 50 years.

“It’s a big story,” Fraser said.

While he’s envisioning the story being told in a documentary-style format, he noted he’s open to various concepts that might come up as he moves forward in seeking production partners.

Boyle continues to be remembered in the Yukon with celebrations in November marking what would have been his 150th birthday.

Comments (3)

Up 0 Down 0

Alan Boomer on Jan 22, 2018 at 6:37 pm

I would be interested in knowing if they were funded. I hope so because they will bring such fascinating story to us.

I hear they are looking for funding, I will happily donate 3 to 5 thousand dollars. It's a wonderful story, Boyle had such an accomplished and dignified life.

Up 0 Down 0

BB on Jan 22, 2018 at 11:01 am

Hate to say it, but that was my thought too. Who is paying for all of this?

Up 1 Down 0

My Opinion on Jan 20, 2018 at 11:51 am

Nice funded holiday anyway.

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