CBC’s Still Standing lands in Canso

By Lois Ann Dort    
September 20 2017

As CBC television’s Still Standing enters its fourth season it will pay a visit to Canso, Nova Scotia; a fishing community with deep historic roots that has survived numerous transitions over the decades and centuries.

Still Standing is a 20 minute show featuring comedian Johnny Harris, also known for his role as Detective Crabtree in the popular Murdoch Mysteries series on CBC, who visits Canadian towns that have faced hardships and survived despite the odds. Anne Francis, an executive producer on the show, describes the content as a “toast not a roast, that celebrates the town and the people.”

Canso came to the attention of the show when news that the community was being considered for a possible rocket launch facility went national. “We typically look for towns that are struggling in some capacity; loss of industry or it could be loss of culture...What really grabbed our eye about Canso was the possibility of the rocket launch; it puts you on the map in our eyes,” said Francis.

Gordon MacDonald, director of economic development for the Municipality of the District of Guysborough which includes the communities in and around Canso, said of the show’s interest in the area, “We were contacted by them about 14 months ago and they said they were interested in doing a story; they were thinking about two different areas; either Guysborough or Canso.”

Discussions were had about the history of the area and new developments which eventually lead to the decision to pitch Canso as the focus of the show in the spring of this year.

“I think part of what drew their attention to the community was Maritime Launch,” said MacDonald. “There was cutting edge communication in the late 1800s early 1900s with Commercial Cable and now you have someone else proposing something that is cutting edge in communication in 2017; satellite technology.”

This week a story producer will be visiting the Canso area, lining up interviews, scouting locations and getting a sense of the town. Harris and the film crew will arrive for shooting from October 12 to 16. Along with several segments of local events and interviews, the show will include snippets of a stand-up performance by Harris at a local venue, as of yet to be decided.

Susan O’Handley was one of the first people contacted in the Canso area by show researchers. She’s a well-known local volunteer and she submitted a winning application for the Nova Scotia Lieutenant Governor ‘s Community Spirit Award in 2010 for the Town of Canso & Eastern Guysborough County.

“I think this is an amazing opportunity,” said O’Handley. “Rural Canada is kind of taking on a new face and looking different...people care so much about their community and about each other, it’s nice to showcase that.”

O’Handley will assists the story producer while she visits the town this week and has been in contact with show staff on and off since this past spring.

The Canso area is a good fit for the show’s premise. “Seems like we are always transitioning,” said O’Handley, “we make the most of what we get. I think we’ll be still standing many years from now.”

The Still Standing episode featuring Canso will air in the summer of 2018. Watch this paper’s community calendar section for the date and venue of the stand-up performance by Johnny Harris in Canso.