Jonny and CBC crew bring fun to town
The Stanstead Journal’s ‘portrait’ articles generally feature interesting people living in this region, however, this week we are making an exception. After spending almost a week getting to know the community of Stanstead in a very ‘up
close and personal’ way with a film crew in tow, and then capping the whole thing off with a free comedy performance at the Haskell Opera House, actor and comedian Jonny Harris has earned the title of ‘Honorary Townshipper’. Mr. Harris, who is perhaps best known for his role as Murdoch Mysteries’ George Crabtree, everyone’s favourite constable, was in Stanstead filming an episode of the new CBC television show that he hosts and stars in: Still Standing.
While in town, the Newfoundland native learnt a lot about the local granite industry, visiting Rock of Ages, the granite quarry and, naturally, Robert Sheldon over at Granite Central. “It was hard to get Mr. Sheldon to come out of his shell,” joked Jonny during the comedy performance that poked fun at the town in hilarious fashion. “I asked him about the history of granite and he started with the Big Bang!”
Appreciating the uniqueness of Stanstead’s status as a border town, Jonny got to see the Stanstead Fire Department and the Derby Line Fire Department work together during a fire exercise that he took part in – as a person stuck in a crashed vehicle! “We did the exercise just like any practice, except that we included Mr. Harris,” said Chris Goodsell, the Stanstead Fire Chief. “We really worked a lot with the behind the scenes crew. We had to do all the set up of the exercise and run through all the technical stuff first with the crew before doing it with Jonny. And when they filmed it was a challenge to work around the cameramen, the light and sound people and the producers, and all with a time constraint,” added the Fire Chief.
The laughs were loud and long during the comedy show Sunday night. With only a few days to learn about Stanstead, write up a comedy routine about the town and its characters and rehearse it, Jonny Harris proved that he understands small towns as well as he understands what’s funny. “For the first time in history, I will try to make someone laugh so hard that they fall out of their seat into another country,” said the comedian soon after the performance started and who may have achieved that goal during the evening. No ‘Stanstead stone’ was left unturned as Mr. Harris found the funny in border crossings, Bag Balm, Canadian/American relations, Butterfields and even, perhaps not surprisingly, the granite sculpture in front of the Post Office in Beebe.
Following the performance, Jonny chatted and posed for photographs with fans before sitting down with the Stanstead Journal for an interview. After visiting more than fifteen small, rural Canadian towns, so far, in the making of Still Standing, I asked the comedian what he believed was Stanstead’s biggest strength. “I would say the unity amongst the people of the town. There are so many divisions, English/French, Canadian/American, Catholic/Protestant, but it’s still a community. A lot of the people are bilingual, sometimes switching back and forth between English and French, and there is not a lot of animosity.”
Jonny continued: “I was always told that Newfoundlanders knew how to laugh at themselves, but I think that can apply to a lot of rural Canada. The people are laid back and easy going, and ready to have a laugh.”
Growing up in the town of Pouch Cove, population 1,866, taking part in a television series that celebrates small town Canada has special meaning for Mr. Harris. “I am so thankful to have this job. I have a soft spot for small towns and I want to ‘wave the flag’ for small towns. I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Still Standing will premiere on Monday, June 22nd, 2015, at 9:00 pm on CBC television. The Stanstead episode will air in 2016.
Locals young and old were filmed playing a friendly match of hockey with the Still Standing star last Saturday at the Pat Burns Arena.
Still Standing star Jonny Harris was impressed with his memorable tour of the Rock of Ages quarry with Kelly Conn.
Still Standing star Jonny Harris (centre) poses with members of the Stanstead and Derby Line fire departments during filming last week.
Stanley Holmes perhaps getting some skating tips from Jonny Harris during the hockey match at the Pat Burns Arena on Saturday.