Pit Pony (TV series)

Pit Pony is a 1999 CBC television series which tells the story of small-town life in Glace Bay, on the island of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in 1904. The plot line revolves around the lives of the families of the men and boys who work in the coal mines.

Pit Pony
StarringAlex Wrathell
Jennie Raymond
Shaun Smyth
Denny Doherty
Ellen Page
Jeremy Akerman
Country of originCanada
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes44
Producer(s)Andrew Cochran
Running time30 minutes
Original networkCBC Television
Original releaseFebruary 5, 1999 
February 4, 2000


Stories in the series were written by Heather Conkie, Paul Ledoux, Edwina Follows and Lori Houzer. It is based on the award-winning 1997 Canadian TV movie inspired by Joyce Barkhouse's novel of the same name.

The series, like the movie, was produced by Cochran Entertainment. The series was directed by Mike Clattenburg,[1] Stephen Reynolds, and Peter Rowe. 70% of the cast and crew were from Cape Breton and 20% were from other regions of Nova Scotia.

In June 1999, production began for the second season of Pit Pony.[2] However, the series was subsequently cancelled on February 4, 2000.[3]

Broadcast history

Pit Pony debuted on Canada's CBC on February 5, 1999 and ended on February 4, 2000. It ran for two seasons with 44 episodes.[4] The Gemini Award-winning series airs in the United States on the Encore (TV network)

Plot summary

Set in the small Nova Scotia mining town of Glace Bay in the early 1900s, the series revolves around the lives and work of the town's male population, virtually all of whom were employed by the local coal mine, and the trials and tribulations of the women of the town, who waited anxiously to see if their loved ones would return home safely.

In particular, the plot line focuses on the story of the MacLean family. Willie MacLean is a 12-year-old boy with a love for horses and liking to school to escape the difficult times his family has. When the series begins, Willie's father has been dead for over a year from coal consumption, and his older brother, John also died in a mine cave in. When Willie's brother was killed in a cave in and his father wounded two or three years earlier (in the Pit Pony TV movie), Willie was forced to fill his brother's shoes to support his older sister Nellie, and two younger sisters, Maggie and Sarah, until their father recovered. Willie found work at the mine lonely and unfriendly; as a result he forms a bond with a pit pony horse in order to make it through each day.

The principal characters included the members of the MacLean and Hall families: Alex Wrathell as young Willie MacLean, through whose eyes most of the stories unfolded around, Jennie Raymond as Willie's older sister Nellie MacLean Hall, Shaun Smyth as Nellie's Scott husband Ned Hall. Ellen Page played Maggie MacLean, and Anna Wedlock played Sarah MacLean, Willie's two younger sisters. This was Page's first acting role and she was scouted by John Dunsworth for the role.[5] Among the other major characters were Willie's surrogate father and stable owner Charley (Denny Doherty), town gossip Lorena MacTavish (Mary-Colin Chisholm) and the firm, but fair, mine owner Mr. Frawley (Jeremy Akerman).

Episode list

1st Season

Episode #Episode TitleAirdate
1"The Light to the Future"February 5, 1999
2"Best Laid Plans"February 12, 1999
3"Forerunner"February 19, 1999
4"The Ball Game"February 26, 1999
5"To Have and to Hold"March 5, 1999
6"Endings and Beginnings"March 12, 1999
7"The Phantom Ship"March 19, 1999
8"The Mine's Mark"March 26, 1999
9"Sleeping Dogs Lie"April 2, 1999
10"Calling Mr. Bell"April 9, 1999
11"Ghost in the Lens"April 16, 1999
12"Famous"April 23, 1999
13"Winds of Change"April 30, 1999
14"Reunion"May 7, 1999
15"Making Their Way"May 14, 1999
16"Where There's a Will"May 21, 1999
17"Evolution"May 28, 1999
18"The Truth About Heroes"June 4, 1999
19"Night Into Day"June 11, 1999
20"Transformations"June 18, 1999
21"Connections"June 25, 1999
22"Homecoming"July 2, 1999
23"Charley's Secret"July 9, 1999
24"Sunshine and Shadows"July 16, 1999
25"Into the Dark"July 23, 1999
26"Our Sons and Daughters"July 30, 1999

2nd Season

Episode #Episode TitleAirdate
27"Power Plays"September 24, 1999
28"Two Sides of the Coin"October 1, 1999
29"Coal Dust"October 8, 1999
30"A Weighty Matter"October 15, 1999
31"Gone Fishin'"October 22, 1999
32"Home"October 29, 1999
33"Company Business"November 5, 1999
34"The Game"November 12, 1999
35"Taking Chances"November 19, 1999
36"In Harmony"November 26, 1999
37"Sarah's Return"December 3. 1999
38"That Special Spark"December 10, 1999
39"Lost"December 17, 1999
40"Fiddler's Fall"January 7, 2000
41"Chasing Shadows"January 14, 2000
42"Price of Change"January 21, 2000
43"Small Steps"January 28, 2000
44"Securities"February 4, 2000

Awards and nominations

Gemini Awards

1999Best Production Design or Art Direction in a Dramatic Program or SeriesGraeme Morphy, Alan MacLeodNominated[6]
2000Best Performance in a Children's or Youth Program or SeriesEllen Philpotts PageNominated


  1. "Mike Clattenburg - Director - The Internet Movie Database". IMDB.com. Retrieved 2009-07-29.
  2. "Pit Pony Enters Second Season - News Releases - Government of Nova Scotia". Gov.NS.ca. Retrieved 2009-07-29.
  3. "CBC axes Pit Pony from TV line-up". CBC.ca. February 4, 2000. Retrieved 2009-07-29.
  4. "Pit Pony (1999) TV series - The Internet Movie Database". IMDB.com. Retrieved 2009-07-29.
  5. Anderson, Sam (1 October 2015). "Ellen Page Goes Off-Script". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  6. "awards database". academy.ca. Archived from the original on 2016-11-25. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
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