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‘Still Standing’s’ Jonny Harris showcases Chemainus

Tune in to CBC at 8 p.m. Pacific Standard Time next Wednesday
Still Standing host Jonny Harris strolls through Chemainus last summer, with the Native Heritage mural in the background, while filming a segment on the community for the program that airs Jan. 26 on CBC. (Photo by Chris Armstrong)

Now Showing: Chemainus.

The final product from last summer’s filming in Chemainus for the Still Standing series will air on CBC television Wednesday, Jan. 26 at 8 p.m.

Featured are interviews with selected guests, interspersed with comedy and commentary by host Jonny Harris, and scenic shots from around Chemainus.

Still Standing aims to highlight small towns that have been against the ropes, but are hanging in there.

In the case of Chemainus, the process of reinventing itself began in 1982 with the evolution of the mural project and the transition to a tourist destination accentuated after the previous sawmill closed in 1983. “Now it’s looking for the next generation of visionaries to keep it on the map,” reads the promo material for the program on the show’s website.

“It’s pretty punchy and tight,” says Anne Francis, executive producer of Still Standing. “It showcases the charm and beauty of Chemainus. We talk about the murals and how that influenced a lot of other places we’ve been to as well.”

Chemainus segments were filmed with Karl Schutz about the mural program, Michael Marks about the area’s car culture, Maynard Johnny Jr. about his renowned art, Brittany Pickard about the boomerang effect in Chemainus where young people who grew up in the town are eventually lured back from elsewhere, and Aly Tomlin and Ralf Rosenke about their Riot Brewing business.

Host Jonny Harris strolling through downtown Chemainus with Brittany Pickard during filming for Still Standing. (Photo by Chris Armstrong)
Host Jonny Harris strolling through downtown Chemainus with Brittany Pickard during filming for Still Standing. (Photo by Chris Armstrong)

The pandemic put production temporarily on hold and this is the first season with filming completed since the pandemic began.

“There were a lot of challenges that you don’t typically encounter,” Francis says. “You throw a pandemic into the mix, our team went above and beyond.”

Among the necessary changes was to limit the number of audience members for the comedy show to wrap up the filming in each town. A makeshift tent was set up at the former St. Joseph’s School for the Chemainus finale and attendance was restricted to invitees who were seated in physically distanced cohorts.

Host Jonny Harris was prevented from his customary handshakes, hugs and fan greeting that have been central to Still Standing, but he still delivered a trademark performance that people will see on the broadcast.

“I always say it’s a Herculean effort,” Francis notes. “He nailed it again.”

All the interviews, scenes and information compiled from filming get narrowed down to 21 minutes and 30 seconds, she added, to fit into the half-hour time slot.

The film crew also had to conduct most of the shooting for the show outside due to COVID protocols when more inside locations would normally be used, but their work on the show has been a labour of love from the outset.

“I don’t think the travel and new places to see and explore is ever lost on anyone,” Francis says.

“There’s always something amazing about every place. Everybody has a story and there’s a lot we don’t know about our own country.”

Still Standing has garnered a loyal fan base over the years.

“We have a lot of fans in the U.S. as well,” said Francis. “There’s a charm to it and you don’t necessarily need to be Canadian to appreciate it.”

As difficult as it was to film the season, everyone connected with the show agreed it was better than the alternative.

“We want to thank everyone who worked with us to re-learn how to make a show in the middle of a pandemic, and to you, our audience, for waiting a little bit longer for a new season while we figured it all out,” the Still Standing message concluded. “We’re thrilled to finally be able to safely share Season 7 of Still Standing.”

The show can be seen each Wednesday at 8 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on CBC.

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Don Bodger

About the Author: Don Bodger

I've been a part of the newspaper industry since 1980 when I began on a part-time basis covering sports for the Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle.
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