Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION


Play examines atrocities of Croatian war through the eyes of Canadians

  • Print

Maple Route was the mocking name the Croatian army attached to the section of road in the former Yugoslavia where, in 1993, Canadian peacekeeping troops guarded but proved powerless to protect Serbian civilians from ethnic cleansing.

Maple Route is also the name of a new play by emerging Winnipeg playwright Jeremy Scarth Bowkett about two Canadian soldiers, members of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, who returned home from Medak Pocket, Croatia, haunted by the atrocities they came upon in the Serbian villages they were charged to safeguard by the United Nations.

"I wanted to write something about these troops and their breakdown," says Bowkett, who is debuting his first full-length play beginning Sept. 19 at PTE's Colin Jackson Studio in Portage Place. "They came back from Yugoslavia messed up. No one knew what happened to these guys because of what they witnessed, the sheer madness and genocidal rage."

A lot of these men were based in Winnipeg. Bowkett, 46, says in the mid-'90s, a substantial number of the homeless males in Winnipeg and Ottawa were former reservists. These victims of combat-induced stress couldn't integrate themselves back into Canadian society.

Bowkett came upon the battalion's engagement in Medak Pocket while researching the war in Afghanistan and reading a book by journalist Chris Wattie called Contact Charlie, which focused on Charlie Company of the PPCLI and its battle with the Taliban in the Panjwaii district in 2006. Also mentioned was a previous little-known 1993 clash the soldiers had in the Balkans, which amounted to the most significant fighting Canada had seen since the Korean War.

That lead him to Ghost of Medak Pocket: Untold Story of Croatia's War Crimes, by CBC journalist Carol Off, which became Bowkett's primary source for his 150-minute drama.

"This was good, meaty stuff for a writer, so much story and depth," says Bowkett in a telephone interview this week. "Drama is about conflict, and when you are in a war situation, humanity is stripped down to its bare essentials. I think what these men went through is worth telling because we in civilian life don't get it."

Maple Route, presented by Theatre Incarnate, introduces Master Cpl. Cameron Venninger (actor Karl Thordarson), just back in Winnipeg after a stint with the UN force in Croatia. A gulf is growing in his relationship with his worried wife, Alexa (Theresa Thompson), that breaks out into violence. He leaves home and meets up with a trench buddy, Dean (Toby Hughes), and the pair go on a drunken, brawling tear. Alexa attempts to reclaim the real man she married by getting him to open up about the horrors he encountered in Croatia.

"Within the boundaries of artistic licence, I've tried to be as true to the events as possible," says Bowkett, who penned the 2008 fringe festival comedy Queens of Rome. "It's not a history lesson."

An early version of Maple Route was given a staged reading at the Carol Shields Festival of New Works in 2012 and was well received.

"People really seemed to like it, although 'like' is an inadequate word," he says. "I guess they were engrossed by it. I hope that translates into some good house and good word of mouth."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 19, 2013 C3

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Andrew Ladd talks about his injury

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A goose flys defensively to protect their young Wednesday near Kenaston Blvd and Waverley -See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 16 - May 23, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A water lily in full bloom is reflected in the pond at the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden Tuesday afternoon. Standup photo. Sept 11,  2012 (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)

View More Gallery Photos


Are you concerned about the number of homicides so far this year?

View Results

Ads by Google