THE LITTLE COMPANY OF LABRADOR
Feature Film Screenplay
"A map is the greatest of all epic poems. Its lines and colours show the realization of great dreams"
Gilbert H. Grosvenor, National Geographic Society
In 1905, a young widow is enraged by accusations surrounding her husband’s tragic death and leads a historic expedition into the Labrador wilderness to prove the world wrong. Based on the true story of Mina Benson Hubbard.
Mina Benson Hubbard is an unlikely person to accomplish extraordinary things. Until her early thirties she is a teacher, a nurse and a housewife – but then everything changes abruptly and her life is dramatically transformed.
Leonidas Hubbard is an aspiring writer who dreams of making a name for himself as a wilderness explorer and adventurer. In 1903, only three years after Leon and Mina are married, Leon dies tragically in the interior of Labrador. He had planned to write a book about the adventure and to make the first map of one of the last uncharted corners left in the world.
There were two survivors of the expedition. One of them, Dillon Wallace, writes a sensational, tell-all book that lays blame for the failure of the expedition on Leon. Wallace plans to return to Labrador to re-do the expedition himself.
Mina is enraged by the damning accusations in Wallace’s book. She believes Wallace is also stealing her husband’s unfinished work and usurping the limelight that was intended for Leon. Mina surprises everyone when she decides to lead her own expedition to Labrador, make the first map and write a book herself.
Both Mina's and Wallace's expeditions happen at the same time in the summer of 1905. The race becomes a media sensation. The world waits in suspense to find out who will win “the Labrador prize". The grieving, frail widow Mina or the gritty, seasoned explorer Wallace.
Mina has four aboriginal men on her expedition. George Elson is the head guide (known as Elson in the screenplay). Elson was the other person to survive Leon’s ill-fated expedition two years previous. He is Cree from Ontario’s James Bay region. Mina and Elson become friends during the trip.
Mina nicknames her expedition “the little company”. After many adventurous, perilous and enlightening moments in the spectacular and grueling backcountry, Mina’s ragtag team arrives at the trading post at the northern tip of Labrador. They beat Wallace by six weeks.
Mina and her team split up and she returns south where she is received as a hero.
Mina’s geographic readings are accepted by the American Geographic Society. Her observations become the basis of the first map of the interior of Labrador. But she has difficulty writing the book. She recruits Elson to travel down from James Bay several times to assist her.
After three years, Mina publishes “A Woman’s Way Through Unknown Labrador” which is wildly successful. She spends the next two decades travelling around the U.S., Canada and Europe speaking about her 1905 Labrador adventure – always crediting her success to the love of her life, Leon Hubbard and her hero George Elson.
Mina’s life had been uneventful until she was in her early thirties. Only five years later she had transformed into a wilderness adventurer, mapmaker, author and world-renowned public speaker. THE LITTLE COMPANY OF LABRADOR tells Mina Hubbard's remarkable story as she changes from ordinary to extraordinary during a few tumultuous years.
A solemn Leon Hubbard and the canoe that would carry him to his death in 1903
Hubbard after weeks in the bush
Mina Benson Hubbard
Mina grew up on a farm in rural Ontario. She's intelligent, independently and determined. She's petite and looks younger than she is. From time to time she asserts herself in unusual and overt ways as a reaction to being mistaken as delicate and helpless because of her appearance. She’s competitive. She has an immature and unflattering streak of jealousy that lies just below her calm, nurturing exterior. There is even a hint of vindictiveness.
Leon is optimistic, witty and intelligent. He grew up on a farm in rural Michigan and came to New York to make a name for himself as a writer. His boyish enthusiasm is infectious. Everyone who meets him likes him. He’s small-framed and has a prominent push-broom moustache that he believes makes him stand out from ordinary men. He's ambitious and dreams of being a world-class wilderness adventurer, author and mapmaker. He has personality traits that would be expected for an artist––single-mindedness, moods that change from sunny to dark. He’s got big things on his mind and occasionally gets scattered when it comes to real-world practicalities.
Elson is head guide for both Hubbard expeditions. He's Cree from the James Bay region in Ontario, thirty years old, fit and strong. For two years, he lives with self-imposed guilt over the failure of the 1903 expedition and the death of Leon Hubbard. After the tragedy, he is relieved to have the chance to return to Labrador and redeem himself. He is driven to make sure Mina’s expedition succeeds and that she makes the trip safely.
A New York lawyer. Wallace is white, forty, balding and pudgy. He is verbose, loud and brash. He’s a man’s man. Most people find him unlikeable. The exception is Leon Hubbard. Leon and Wallace are good friends despite Wallace's abrasiveness. Wallace believes that everything he thinks is correct, anything else can be dismissed.
The interior of Labrador