Daniel Northcott: Who Was He? How Did He Die?

While there’s no denying we’ve all felt existential at one point or another owing to our surrounding circumstances and situations, the truth is that Daniel Northcott essentially lived in this state. His creativity, imagination, thinking, and worldview were honestly such that he often even referred to himself as a deep, tragic romantic nomad, especially considering his passion for travel too. So now, with HBO’s ‘Daniel’ having explored the same by delving deep into nearly every aspect of his life through his own eyes, let’s find out more about him as well as his ultimate fate, shall we?

Who Was Daniel Northcott?

It was on January 23, 1980, that Daniel was born to Tanya and Tom Northcott in wondrous Campbell River, Canada, only to primarily be raised in Vancouver alongside his 3-year older sister Erin. However, they all knew from pretty early on he was different than them because how he viewed our earth was simply extraordinary — he found sense and purpose in the most mundane things. His family thus rightly deemed a video camera the best fit for this dreamer at the age of seven, enabling him to film nature while also asking the insatiable question swirling deep within his mind.

Hence came Daniel’s ever-expanding curiosity about people, innate human connections, cultures, and ancient civilizations too, sparking a need in him to begin exploring the world — he had wanderlust. So he actually defiantly dropped out of high school a month before graduation, just to then spend a semester teaching English to young Taiwanese children in their homeland with college-aged Erin. The latter was also itching to let go and travel at the time, driving her to come up with the idea of working locally for support, though she’d decided she wouldn’t do so without her brother by her side.

This experience undeniably brought Daniel and Erin closer than ever, particularly as it pushed them to not only understand one another’s interests as well as personalities but also build complete trust. Yet then came time for the former to spread his own wings with a 2000 epiphany that took him further afield to Cambodia, Egypt, India, Japan, plus dozens of other nations across several continents. And throughout it all, his companion was his video camera, through which he wished to reconnect humanity as a whole by exposing we’re all the same no matter our beliefs, values, or preferences.

Daniel actually followed this path for the ensuing eight years, collecting countless souvenirs along the way in the form of crystals, gifts, rocks, or wood carvings, that is, until he visited Mexico. His plan was to make his way to the Yucatan peninsula to explore an ancient Mayan burial cave filled with remains of women and children who’d been killed in ritual sacrifice, so that’s precisely what he did. However, even though he was warned not to pick up anything to keep as legend stated it would bring him extreme bad luck or death, he did so anyway — he couldn’t resist a small, calcified sphere as a keepsake.

Little did Daniel know this would be the last momento he’d ever get to collect because he’d get diagnosed with leukemia (bone marrow cancer) within mere months: on July 11, 2008, to be exact. He thus started chemotherapy in less than 24 hours since he was obviously not ready to say goodbye so young, yet after three failed rounds plus no chance of transplant, he was given 3-6 months at maximum. That’s when this dreamer stopped getting blood tests, immersed himself in our natural environment once again, and set out to return that stone to its home in Mexico, but to no avail — he couldn’t find it in time.

How Did Daniel Northcott Die?

Daniel sadly lost his battle with cancer at the age of 29 on June 20, 2009 – it was the summer solstice, eleven months after his initial diagnosis, plus six months before his benchmark 30th birthday. According to his wishes, he was subsequently buried wrapped in just a cotton shroud, surrounded by nature from all angles, with only a circle-sketched stone to mark the spot. Most of his souvenirs were buried alongside him, but the 1,475+ hours of footage he’d filmed starting from age seven was left in his loving sister’s care with one request: for her to finish his existential documentary. It took her years, but she did do so.

We should also mention Erin found that stone in one of Daniel’s keepsake boxes around three years after his passing, so she, their mother, and one of his friends did make their way to the Yucatan peninsula Mayan cave to fulfill his final wish — they even did a ritual to ensure he could rest in peace. Yet, as per the HBO original production, it’s imperative to mention that although this filmmaker passed away young, he never wanted anyone to feel sorry for him or mourn his life because he did make the most of it in the little time he had — Daniel traversed over 42 countries plus 100 islands in a mere eight years, and he did it for a good reason with the unwavering love, care, as well as support of his loved ones by his side.

Read More: Where is Erin Northcott Now?