History TV's blog

On the night of 24th March 1944 76 allied airmen escaped from the North Compound of Stalag Luft III, a supposedly “escape-proof” POW camp in what is now Western Poland.

This was the “Great Escape”, one of the most iconic and thrilling stories in military history, immortalized in the Hollywood blockbuster.

The real men behind the escape came from just about every allied country and were among the elite—daring pilots and flight officers trained to take the initiative and use their intelligence and cunning. The tunnel they dug was an engineering marvel; nicknamed “Harry,” it was 7 metres deep, more than 100 metres long, and took a year to complete. Continue reading »

Celebrate being Canadian this summer with History Television. Beginning this month, Canada’s #1 specialty entertainment channel is honouring key Canadian milestones, highlighting Canadian innovation and bringing to life the stories of Canadians.

From eccentric adventurers, collectors of personal family histories to people from the past, History Television’s fresh schedule is rich in programming that pays tribute to Canada from coast to coast, including a blockbuster two-hour documentary marking the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.

“History Television’s remarkable summer line-up is sure to inspire pride in Canadians,” said Barbara Williams, Senior Vice President, Content, Shaw Media. “Not only are we commemorating significant historical anniversaries that have been integral in shaping Canada as a nation, but we are also sharing the stories of Canadians who are making history right now.”  Continue reading »

How much is that rescued piece of artwork by Homer Watson worth? What about that 1979 Les Paul guitar? Find out exactly how much cash these items command in Pawnathon Canada season two (10 x 60) – a series in which Canadians showcase their prized heirlooms, antiques and memorabilia for a chance to cut a cash deal with the best dealers on TV – the Pawn Masters.

This season features bigger cash sales, tougher negotiations, even more full-blown bidding wars and a brand-new Pawn Master, auctioneer Alison Ross of Victoria, BC. Produced by Suddenly SeeMore…Productions Inc., Pawnathon Canada season two premieres Wed., June 13 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on History Television.

Each episode of Pawnathon Canada features Canadians and their prized possessions – from historical Canadian art pieces to celebrity memorabilia – looking to share the history of their personal treasures and potentially sell them for cash. Continue reading »

This summer one of history’s most notorious feuds hits the small screen. Premiering May 28th, History Television presents Hatfields & McCoys, a dramatic miniseries recounting the legendary saga of a bloody feud that erupted between two families living along the border of Kentucky and West Virginia.

This blockbuster event is headlined by Academy® Award-winner Kevin Costner (The Untouchables, Field of Dreams, Dances with Wolves) and Golden Globe®-nominated Bill Paxton (Big Love, Apollo 13 and Titanic). The three-part miniseries airs every Monday at 8PM until June 11.

The Hatfield-McCoy story begins with close friends and civil war comrades “Devil” Anse Hatfield (Costner) and Randall McCoy (Paxton) returning to their neighboring homes – Hatfield in West Virginia, McCoy just across the Tug River border in Kentucky. The men return to increasing tensions, misunderstandings and resentments between their clans.

In a battle that is both personal and political, what starts as a land dispute escalates into a bloody battle that includes gruesome murders and retaliating executions, and culminates in a public clash between state governors and the involvement of the United States Supreme Court.

More than a century and a half later, the story of the feud remains a powerful reminder of the perils of family honor, justice and vengeance.

The impressive cast also includes Golden Globe®-winning actor Tom Berenger (Inception, Training Day, Big Chill, Major League), Emmy Award®-winning Powers Boothe (Deadwood, Tombstone, Nixon, Sin City, Red Dawn) and Academy Award®-nominated, Emmy Award®-winning actor, Mare Winningham (Georgia, Mildred Pierce, Wyatt Earp).

Hatfields & McCoys premieres Monday, May 28th at 8PM, with the subsequent episodes airing Monday, June 4th at 8PM and Monday, June 11th at 8PM.

History Television’s scintillating spring schedule is jam-packed with fan-pleasing programming befit of Canada’s #1 specialty entertainment channel.

Full Metal Jousting, a bone-crushing jousting tournament, Cajun Pawn Stars, a Southern spin on the channel’s #1 series and Real Deal, a look at the high-stakes demands of the auction world, make up the channel’s must-see line-up of new shows.

Proven performers returning to History Television this spring include the original Pawn Stars, Swamp People and The Real. 

History Television brings back the most dangerous collision sport in history with the Canadian broadcast premiere of Full Metal Jousting on Wednesday, April 4 at 9pm. Full Metal Jousting transforms this Renaissance sport into a 21st century event, but this is no dinner-show theatre.

Each episode features full-contact jousts in which competitors charge and collide at 45 kilometres an hour, with every moment captured by high-speed cameras. The last man standing in this hard hitting challenge will take home a big cash prize as this historic extreme sport is reborn.

Monday, April 2 at 10pm features the Canadian broadcast premiere of Cajun Pawn Stars a spicy take on the top-rated series, Pawn Stars. Jimmie “Big Daddy” Deramus owns The Silver Dollar Pawn Shop, a massive store located in the heart of Cajun country where Jimmie sells anything from a rare long lost first album by rock and country legend Jerry Lee Lewis to a herd of donkeys. As the former president of the Louisiana Pawn Brokers Association, Jimmie literally wrote the book on pawning in the state. With the help of his brother Johnnie and feisty daughter Tammie, the shop has earned a reputation for bringing in eclectic and exceptional historical items with a Cajun flavour.

The new schedule also features the Canadian broadcast premiere of Real Deal on Thursday, April 5 at 10pm. Real Deal focuses on the high-pressure, drama-filled interactions between buyers and sellers as they bargain over pieces of history. Whether it’s a collection of footballs signed by NFL legends or Harry Houdini’s autograph, a German stormtrooper dagger from World War II or a 19th-century spittoon, the relics featured on Real Deal convey fascinating information about how people lived in bygone eras. During these tense negotiations, dealers must capitalize on their extensive knowledge of both antiques and human nature to make the trade. But at the end of the day, it’s the sellers who really have the upper hand. They can walk away from the table at any time and head straight to the auction block, where big money might just be waiting.

History Television takes viewers from the bright lights of Las Vegas to the murky waters of Louisiana with returning fan-favourites Pawn Stars (Tuesday, March 13 at 9pm) and Swamp People (Wednesday, March 14 at 10pm). New episodes of the Canadian original series The Real (Monday, April 2 at 8pm) examine the facts and myths that Hollywood films have portrayed about real people and events. Some of the revealing new episodes are The Real Inglorious Basterds, The Real Close Encounters, The Real Braveheart and The Real Apollo 13. The Real Sherlock Holmes, for example, explores the Sherlock Holmes phenomenon and the influence the fictional master detective has had on movies, television and pop culture, as well as present-day detectives who use techniques inspired by Sherlock’s deductive methods.

Premiering on History Television on Thursday, February 23 at 9 PM ET, Battle Castle takes viewers on a fascinating journey deep into the secret world of medieval warfare and strategy.

This stimulating six-episode series, hosted by leading historian Dan Snow, brings to life mighty medieval fortifications and the sieges they resisted: clashes that defied the limits of military technology, turned empires to dust and transformed mortals into legends.

Through dynamic location footage and immersive visual effects, Battle Castle reveals the castles’ bloody histories and the weapons designed to defeat them.

Every episode climaxes in the ultimate test of each castle’s strength – an epic battle that will change the course of history.



Dan Snow is an award-winning historian, author and television host who has made it his mission to experience history first hand. During the course of his work Dan has trained as a medieval knight, learned to joust, flown a World War Two aircraft, been gassed, shoveled muck in a London sewer and trained as a sniper. In Battle Castle he explores the killing zones created around the walls of each castle and tries everything from shooting a cross-bow to hurling boulders from catapults.  

Dan’s passion for history was ignited by childhood visits to castles, battlefields, medieval reenactments and historic country houses. He later pursued this passion at Oxford University and in his professional career.  Dan holds both Canadian and British citizenship, and has explored the history of both countries in his work. In addition to his personal interest in the subject, history runs in Dan’s family: through his mother he is the nephew of Canadian historian Margaret MacMillan and a great-great-grandson of British Prime Minister David Lloyd George. 


Battle Castle airs every Thursday at 9PM ET beginning February 23, 2012.

Episode 1: Crac Des Chevaliers (Syria). The crown jewel of Crusader castles must resist a massive army to keep the Crusader vision alive.

Episode 2: Chateau Gaillard (France). Richard the Lionheart’s magnificent castle must outlast a ruthless French army on a campaign of conquest.  

Episode 3: Dover Castle (England). The key to England must defy a French prince intent on seizing the English throne.

Episode 4: Conwy Castle (Wales). King Edward’s Iron Ring of castles must deny a powerful group of rebels determined to end English rule in Wales.           

Episode 5: Malbork Castle (Poland). The Teutonic Knights’ greatest castle must withstand an epic attack in the struggle to dominate the Baltic.             

Episode 6: Malaga Gibralfaro Castle (Spain). A Muslim castle must defend a key port city against the forces of the King Ferdinand of Spain.


To explore the Battle Castle universe visit www.battlecastle.tv for exclusive video blogs with host Dan Snow, 3D CGI renderings of the castles featured in each episode and an interactive storybook allowing viewers to experience the siege of Constantinople in 1453. The website also features the Battle Castle game, which gives participants a chance to assemble their own army and engage in siege warfare.

Canadian Pickers, airing Mondays at 10 PM ET beginning January 9th, follows professional pickers Sheldon Smithens and Scott Cozens as they tour across Canada searching for ‘rusty gold’ – or, valuable items that many people would mistake for junk.

But the perfect pick isn’t easy to find – so Sheldon and Scott are searching through barns, yards, basements, and stores across the country to unearth the unlikely treasures of Canadian history.

For some insight on where these items can be found, Sheldon and Scott have each provided a list of their favourite locations to pick.

Scott and Sheldon chose these cities based on the incredible items they picked, the rich histories of the sites, the hospitality of the communities and the beautiful scenery of the locations.  

Sheldon Smithens is an antiques dealer, auctioneer and appraiser by trade. Some of his best picking locations include:

§  St. Thomas, Ontario

§  Hudson, Quebec 

§  Spaniard’s Bay, Newfoundland

§  Oshawa, Ontario

§  Creston, British Columbia

§  St John’s, Newfoundland

§  Mississippi Mills/Almonte, Ontario

§  Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls, Ontario

§  Vilna, Northern Alberta 


 Scott Cozens is a full-time lawyer and life-long picker who started in the business as a collector. Some of Scott’s favourite cities to pick in are: 

§  Hudson, Quebec

§  Winnipeg, Manitoba

§  Montreal, Quebec

§  St. John, Newfoundland

§  Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

§  Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

§  St. Thomas, Ontario

§  Ottawa, Ontario

§  Sherbrooke, Quebec

§  Halifax, Nova Scotia


Visit the Canadian Pickers online at http://www.canadianpickers.com/

Canadian Picker airs Mondays at 10 PM ET, beginning January 9th

History Television invites viewers to follow Canadian Pickers’ hosts Sheldon Smithens and Scott Cozens as they cross Canada on a search for ‘rusty gold’ – an assortment of wonderful objects that many people might mistake for useless junk.

Searching through old barns, messy yards and abandoned attics, Scott and Sheldon are keeping an eye out for objects with historical, collectible and pop culture value. Each pick explores the history and stories behind these objects, providing viewers a Canadian history lesson like no other.

Sheldon and Scott have provided a sneak peek of their best picks of the upcoming season, and a list of tips for aspiring pickers.

Sheldon Smithens is an antiques dealer, auctioneer and appraiser by trade. His top picks of Canadian Pickers season 2 include:

1.       Incredible Rail Road engine Bell 

2.       Twelve Ferris-Wheel seats, circa 1905

3.       Cast brass Beavers

4.       Neon “MEATS” sign from rural Alberta butcher shop

5.       Airplane propellers from an old Arctic bush pilot in remote Northern Saskatchewan

6.       Look Bucket (a Newfoundland invention to see clearly into water)

7.       Dog sleigh from Labrador

8.       Brass Ship’s Wheel

9.       Chrome Drive-In movie speakers

10.   Fifteen man ‘War Canoe’


Scott Cozens is a full-time lawyer and life-long picker who started in the business as a collector. Some of Scott’s favourite picks from Canadian Pickers season 2 are:

1.       Torpedo pocket tobacco tin

2.       Inuit carving

3.       Figural Optometrist trade sign

4.       Laurier Cigar seal framed tin sign

5.       White Rock Mineral Water self frame tin rolled edge sign

6.       Beaded native gauntlets

7.       Beaded knee length bearskin mukluk\moccasins

8.       War Canoe

9.       Lunenburg Foundry Ship’s Wheel

10.   Store display horses


Want to give picking a try for yourself? Here are Scott and Sheldon’s rules for picking:

1.       Buy what you love.

2.       Buy the best quality you can afford.

3.       Always check condition (Chips, cracks, repairs, restoration).

4.       Buy the best original condition (rather than restored).

5.       Buy what was made in small numbers at the time.

6.       Keep track of what was loved by the generation or generations before you (Christmas, Mickey Mouse etc.).  If every new generation loves it, those items will always be popular.

7.       Watch trends to see what may be collectible in the future (Lego, Transformers etc).

8.       Group to reduce the price per item.

9.       Sell when the time is right (e.g. sell your Lord of the Rings books when the movie comes out).  You can always get it again (two years after the movie comes out for half price)!

10.   Always carry enough cash.


Visit the Canadian Pickers online at http://www.canadianpickers.com/

Canadian Pickers airs Mondays at 10 PM ET, beginning January 9th

Suddenly SeeMore… Productions is pleased to announce that History Television has renewed Pawnathon Canada for a second season. History Television has increased the number of episodes of the one-hour series from four to eight for Season two.

Pawnathon Canada is a multi-day event that gives the public an amazing opportunity to showcase their personal histories through everyday objects. The show offers the public the opportunity to get a free session with appraisers who are experts on everything prized and treasured, such as jewelry, antiques and collectibles. The good stuff is sent to the Pawn Masters who are standing by with cash in hand. Extraordinary items, based on history, mystery and value, are offered the chance to be included in a bidding war where the Pawn Masters go head-to-head in a battle to outbid each other. Pawnathon Canada is set to air on History Television in the summer of 2012.

Morgan Elliott, President of Suddenly SeeMore… Productions will once again produce the series in association with History Television. Jonathan Dueck is returning as show-runner. Pre-production begins in November with filming to take place in Toronto in March 2012.

This winter, Canada’s #1 specialty entertainment channel History Television delivers a jam-packed schedule of exciting new series and highly-anticipated returning seasons of fan favourites.

Anchoring the schedule are brand-new series Around the World in 80 Ways, Vietnam in HD and Battle Castle. The action never stops as IRT Deadliest Roads: Andes, American Pickers, Canadian Pickers, American Restoration, Brad Meltzer’s Decoded, and Museum Secrets return for thrilling new seasons.

The schedule launches January 2 and also includes the broadcast premieres of Invictus and The Young Victoria.

Premiering January 4 at 10pm ET/PT, Around the World in 80 Ways follows adrenaline junkies Rob “Boston Rob” Mariano (Survivor) and Dennis Anderson (monster truck champion), as they circumnavigate the globe using every conceivable mode of transportation; from rickshaws and hovercrafts to hang gliders and barrels. Packed with extreme escapades in Brazil, Peru, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, Dubai, India, Thailand and the United States, their voyage takes them not just across the planet but also through time as they explore the history behind how people have traveled over the ages.

The new schedule also features the Canadian broadcast premiere of Vietnam in HD on January 9 at 8pm ET/PT. Narrated by Golden Globe® Award winner Michael C. Hall, this six-part series immerses viewers in the sights, sounds and stories of the Vietnam War as never seen before. Hours of uncensored footage – much of it shot by soldiers in action – follows every critical chapter of the conflict. The war unfolds onscreen through the gripping firsthand accounts of the brave men and women who were forever changed by their experience in Vietnam.

The broadcast premiere of Canadian original series Battle Castle takes viewers deep into the secret world of medieval warfare and strategy. Through dynamic location footage and incredible visual effects, Battle Castle brings to life mighty medieval fortresses and the epic battles they endured. Follow host Dan Snow as he explores the military engineering behind these medieval mega-structures and the legendary battles that became testaments to their might.  Each episode will climax in the ultimate test of the castle’s military engineering – a siege that will change the course of history. Battle Castle premieres February 27 at 9pm ET/PT.

History Television’s #1 show IRT Deadliest Roads: Andes is back with more action as the truckers tackle the dangerous roads of South America’s Andes Mountains. Veterans and rookie drivers alike will have to battle thick Amazon jungles, landslides, and cliffside routes where any mistake can be fatal. This riveting series premieres on January 4 at 9pm ET/PT. On January 12, 2011, IRT: Deadliest Roads premiered with over 1.1 million viewers (2+) and became History Television’s highest-rated single episode in channel history.

History Television welcomes back new seasons of some of its blockbuster series this winter with the return of American Pickers, Canadian Pickers and American Restoration. Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz are on a mission to recycle America in the new season of American Pickers (January 10 at 10pm ET/PT) and Canadian Pickers Sheldon Smithens and Scott Cozens travel across Canada to search for “rusty gold” (January 9 at 10pm ET/PT). Premiering January 25 at 8pm ET/PT, American Restoration follows Rick Dale and his crew of loose screws at Rick’s Restorations in Las Vegas as they take rusty, beat-up items and restore them to their original glory. From old gas carts to timeless slot machines, every restoration is a high-stakes business project where worthless junk is transformed into a valuable collectible. Things just aren’t made like they used to be, but at Rick’s Restorations, old becomes new again.

Best-selling author Brad Meltzer returns to investigate the truth behind history’s most provocative secrets in a new season of Brad Meltzer’s Decoded on January 3 at 8pm ET/PT, and Museum Secrets is back with a look into the deepest and darkest corners of some of the world’s greatest museums on January 12 at 10pm ET/PT. Museums this season include New York’s American Museum of Natural History, Russia’s State Hermitage Museum, London’s Imperial War Museum and Greece’s National Archaeological Museum, among others.

Capping off the lineup are the broadcast premieres of movies Invictus (starring Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman, directed by Clint Eastwood) and The Young Victoria (starring Emily Blunt and Paul Bettany).