A southwestern Ontario town that will catch the attention of Essex County locals was the star of this week’s episode of Still standsa CBC show featuring comedian Jonny Harris exploring the ins and outs of life in small-town Canadians.
Amherstburg took center stage in the show’s ninth season premiere. The film crew came to town earlier this year to document the legacy and people who make Amherstburg tick.
Dozens of residents crowded into a brewery Tuesday night to watch the episode.
Jen Desjardins-Grondin, owner of GL Heritage Brewing Company on Howard Avenue, set up projection screens and brought in a local food truck serving poutine. Applause erupted as familiar faces appeared on the screen.
“We’re really excited that this episode highlights some really interesting people and topics from our hometown,” Desjardins-Grondin said.
“[We wanted] “To honor some incredible people who stick together through thick and thin and support each other, whether in business, tough times, fundraising or tourism.”
Afternoon walk9:46The city of Amherstburg kicks off the new season of CBC’s “Still Standing”
The opportunity to feature the city began in March, when a producer spotted Amherstburg resident Stu Smith in The dragon’s lair and I contacted him. Smith’s product was a protective invention for fishing rods called the Rod Caddy, which the dragons did not pick up.
“In the beginning, when [she] “The first time I called him was to get an idea of the city and how it is trying to reinvent itself,” he said.
Smith shared how the city has had its ups and downs, including the loss of Boblo Island and other major industries, and is now working on a revitalization of sorts.
“As soon as I mentioned there was something called Bagpipes in the Burg, I was totally stumped by any further talk about the Rod Caddy. And you know what? It was actually a blessing in disguise.”
The bagpipe in the Burg is a relatively new event in the city. It was held every weekend in the summer to commemorate the history of the local Essex Scottish Regiment at Fort Malden, a national historic site in the city that played a role for British and American soldiers during the War of 1812.
“The bagpipes, figuratively and literally, bring the city together,” Smith said. “Not only does it look cool, but you also see people crying and getting goosebumps. It’s a really moving instrument.”
Smith and his friend Kyle McDonald were the original curators of the parade. They say the producers asked if a parade would be possible for the Still stands episode. That request came with a deadline of two weeks.
At first, Smith thought it was a nearly impossible feat.
“There is no way in the world we can achieve this [in two weeks] — the permits, the bureaucracy, the financial expenses, even just lining up all the pipers and soldiers.”
That’s when Smith’s wife Gina challenged him to try to do it anyway, and a change of heart made the impossible possible.
“We had pipers and soldiers from different sections coming together to play that normally wouldn’t,” Smith explained. “We didn’t know when we turned the corner if we were going to have 10 people or 10,000.”
When the parade was held, Smith explained, more than 2,000 residents showed up.
“To say I’m proud is an understatement. From the top down, everyone came out to support him.”
The episode, which premiered Tuesday night, also highlighted the Amherstburg Liberty Museum and Underground Railroad, award-winning “Professor Zaaa,” a pizza maker at local Armando’s and the The GrowLive Biological Insect Farm.
“This is what Amherstburg is all about,” Desjardins-Grondin said. “We are very excited to celebrate this on a national scale. [for viewers to] “Know that we help each other through difficult times and celebrate the good times.”
You can watch the Amherstburg episode of Still stands on CBC Gem.