Wells, B.C. is set to be featured in the Season 4 finale episode of CBC’s television show Still Standing.
The award-winning series follows Canadian comedian Jonny Harris (of Murdoch Mysteries fame) as he drops in on small towns across the country, to discover the stories of their founders, their resilience and their people.
Wells, around an hour’s drive east of Quesnel, is well-known locally for its mix of artists and miners, and Harris explores this dichotomy in the episode, which will air on Dec. 11. He meets with locals, unearths their stories, and then performs a stand-up routine about the town. His jokes are woven throughout the episode, as Harris discovers Wells’ many charms.
James Douglas, a resident of Wells who is also the manager of visitor experiences and public relations at Barkerville, is featured in the episode, which was filmed at the end of March, 2017.
“They had this idea that even though it was winter, to pedal around the town on one of the pedal bikes that’s provided by the Frog in the Bog gift store here,” he says.
Douglas rode around with Harris and told him details of the town’s founding father, Fred Wells. Douglas, also an actor, has performed a one-man show about Fred Wells, which was written by his wife Danette Boucher, for several years.
“[Jonny] had some great questions. … He was very interested in [Fred Wells] and to see if he could pluck out some interesting historical anecdotes about the man who the town is named for,” says Douglas.
Along with his pedal bike tour with Douglas, Harris takes a painting lesson from Peter Corbett, an artist/fish biologist; rides a snowmobile with five-year-old Sierra Leroy and her friends; interviews Barkerville Gold Mines’ Jason Kosec; pairs chocolate and Barkerville Brewing Co. beer with chocolatier Margaret Inoue; meets with Jack O’ Clubs pub and general store owner Eric Andersen; and talks about Wells’ hippy vibes with Judy Campbell, Jodie Hunter, Ann Lang, Deb McKay and Sharon Brown, who moved to the town in the late 1960s.
The area’s natural beauty is also showcased in the episode, with sweeping shots of snow-topped homes nestled amongst the mountains.
In order to be considered for CBC’s show, Wells residents, including Douglas, had to submit a proposal to the producers, who whittled down a list of potential filming locations to 13 towns to feature in Still Standing’s Season Four. Wells was the first episode shot for this season, and the crew was in town for a week back in spring 2017.
“They were extremely polite and hardworking but also a very friendly crew, they cleaned up after themselves … which you don’t always get when there’s a larger film company that comes in. But these guys were absolute ambassadors for this kind of TV work,” says Douglas.
The episode explores how Wells’ gold-mining roots have resurfaced, with the recent success of Barkerville Gold Mines in the area, and how the mining industry is working to knit itself into the fabric of the arts community Wells has become known for.
“One of the things the episode captures really well is the very beginnings of what is now a fairly firmly established synergy between the hard rock mining industry that is continuing to employ a lot people in Wells right know, as well as the arts and culture side of things,” says Douglas.
The town’s population has swelled in the past few years. Douglas says the winter population (always lower than the summer population, which sees an influx of workers for Barkerville, plus tourists and artists) is currently the highest he can remember it being in the 20 years he’s lived in the area.
He says the gold mine is a big supporter of the arts, and the community at large. It held a Christmas party last week for residents, another sign of its commitment to the community.
“With a community, it’s important to have numbers to support things like community organizations – the Wells Historical Society, Island Mountain Arts, all of those things. To have a larger population base to draw on for that volunteerism is incredibly healthy for a town,” says Douglas.
Don’t miss the Wells, B.C. episode of Still Standing, which airs on Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 8 p.m. Pacific time on CBC, the CBC TV streaming app, and cbc.ca/watch.