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When Writing Calls with Derek Thompson

When Writing Calls with Derek Thompson

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Desiree D


Throughout the seasons of When Calls the Heart there have been many examples of the characters exploring their hearts and discerning their calling: Elizabeth as a writer and teacher, Julie as an artist, Bill as a judge, and even young Robert becoming a Mountie. While set in fiction, these stories easily connect with the audience and act as a reminder that life sometimes goes off script, offering wonderful unexpected opportunities in the process.

As a key member of the storytelling team, Derek Thompson knows this well. One screenwriting course redirected his path into the world of scripts, writing wonderful events from the beloved “homestead” episode in season two to the comical bachelor/bachelorette episode in season seven. His creativity, character development and heart have brought something special to Hope Valley, a gift which has also been applied to the characters from Brookfield. With season eight officially announced, Derek warmly shared more about the life of a writer and the stories that keep Hearties connected.

When Writing Calls with Derek Thompson Throughout the seasons of When Calls the Heart there have been many examples of the characters exploring their hearts and discerning their calling: Elizabeth as a writer and teacher, Julie as an artist, Bill as a judge, and even young Robert becoming a Mountie. While set in fiction, these stories easily connect with the audience and act as a reminder that life sometimes goes off script, offering wonderful unexpected opportunities in the process. As a key member of the storytelling team, Derek Thompson knows this well. One screenwriting course redirected his path into the world of scripts, writing wonderful events from the beloved “homestead” episode in season two to the comical bachelor/bachelorette episode in season seven. His creativity, character development and heart have brought something special to Hope Valley, a gift which has also been applied to the characters from Brookfield. With season eight officially announced, Derek warmly shared more about the life of a writer and the stories that keep Hearties connected.

SC: Was your gift of writing recognized as a strength early on in your life?

DT: Not exactly. When I was young, I think I was good at writing sentences, grammar etc. I loved making up stories (to tell) but hardly ever wrote anything down. I wasn’t a great student, to be honest. Teachers told my parents I seemed bored - which was true. A lot of daydreaming I guess, which serves me well these days. But in high school and college I started to appreciate creative writing a lot more.

Derek Thompson, Jamestown Movie Set, WCTH, SCHeartHome

SC: What influenced you to pursue a career as a writer, and specifically screenwriting?

DT: When I was in high school, I liked writing but didn’t think I could make a career out of it. I loved movies (new and old) but I didn’t think I could turn that into a career either. Coming from a small town, you don’t think about a career in screenwriting – mainly because you don’t know anyone who does it. Years later, I was in graduate school studying something completely different. One of the perks of being a graduate student was I could take whatever courses I wanted for free. For some reason, I took a screenwriting class and it just clicked.

SC: If you weren’t a writer, which profession might you have chosen?

DT: When I decided to get into screenwriting, I was working on a PhD in climate change and forestry. I liked that kind of work, just not as much as screenwriting. So if didn’t become a writer, I’d probably would be researching / teaching at a university.

SC: Do you feel that growing up in a small town has helped you understand more of the dynamics between the Hope Valley townsfolk?

DT: I think so. Small towns give you that neighborly vibe that you might not feel in the city. Life is simple but also full... and sometimes hard. You really do need to rely on each other to get by.

SC: If Hearties were to visit British Columbia, what are some of your favourite must-see locations?

DT: It’s really hard to narrow it down. Vancouver has almost everything you could imagine (from nearby mountain hikes to museums to theatre). Grouse Mountain is incredible with a view that always blows my mind. Whistler is amazing if you like skiing in the winter or alpine hikes in the summer. Further north – Shuswap Lake is a big beautiful lake that’s perfect for swimming, boating and camping. I spent many summers there – a lot of great memories.

SC: Can you explain how it is decided which episodes you will write or what the theme of each episode will be?

DT: We discuss what we call “story arcs” for the season (the shape of the entire season) and come up with episode ideas that fit the arcs. Themes tend to emerge as we discuss the overall arcs. And then the showrunner (head writer) decides who writes each episode.

SC: How much research is involved when writing for a period show? What is your favourite piece of information that you’ve learned or favourite phrase from that time period?

DT: There is a lot of research on this show, but with every season, we have a larger database of period specific terminology, phrases, historical tidbits etc. Favourite 1910s phrase or word would probably be “doohickey” (a word for something that doesn’t have a name). Favorite piece of information? Mounties used to carry “hardtack” with them – a cracker that would last forever (which happened to taste awful).

SC: The first time you wrote for When Calls the Heart is commonly referred to as the “Homestead” episode. What did you enjoy most about those scenes? And where did you find the inspiration behind those very heartfelt moments?

DT: It seems like a long time ago now... but it was a very special episode for me. Not just because it was my first, but because it just worked. It gave us a glimpse into a potential future for Elizabeth and Jack (with two young kids living on a homestead). What people don’t know about that episode is that it was originally written that Elizabeth helps an animal that is having trouble giving birth!

SC: Which was your favourite episode to write for in Season 7 and why?

Derek Thompson, Erin Krakow, WCTH, SCHeartHome

DT: The bachelor / bachelorette party episode was a lot of fun to write. It had a nice balance of humor and emotion, and showed the fun side of each character. When Elizabeth discovers that the flowers were actually left by Rosemary – I think that’s one of my favorite scenes. Erin and Pascale nailed it.

SC: Are you on set during the filming of the episodes you have written? Do you have input with the showrunner, actors or directors if you feel the story or lines need to change?

DT: Every season is different but there tends to be some writer presence on set. I was primarily on set in Seasons 3 and 4, which I loved. The writers definitely have input with the showrunner who will then discuss with actors/directors.

SC: What scenes do you feel bring out your strength as a writer (drama, comedy, etc.)?

DT: I think my strength is finding the little “tingle” moments in emotional scenes... moments that everyone can relate to.

SC: Which character on When Calls the Heart would relate the closest to your personality?

DT: Is it possible to blend Jesse Flynn and Ned Yost?

SC: How do you hope that the fans will react or what do you want them to take away from the stories that you have written?

DT: I hope we’ve given them an escape to a simpler time. A time when others came first and people relied on each other. I hope it moves them and makes them laugh and makes their day a little brighter.

SC: Do you have a character that you especially enjoy writing for?

DT: I love writing for all of them (and I’m not just saying that). They’re all so different and they all do different things particularly well. I like writing romance for Elizabeth, humor for Rosemary, dry wit for Bill etc. We’re really lucky to have the cast we have.

SC: After being with WCTH for many seasons, did you find it an easy or difficult transition to write an episode for When Hope Calls?

DT: I think it helped that I was familiar with the time period and the aesthetic/style of the show (since it was sort of introduced on WCTH). But Brookfield is a completely different place with different characters. The main challenge was not being able to use stories areas we’d already used on WCTH (we’ve tried so many storylines – ones that we actually used and ones that didn’t make the show). But I think WHC is a great show and I hope we get to see many seasons of it.

Derek Thompson, Henry Gowen, WCTH, SCHeartHome

SC: What do the fans “#Hearties” mean to you as a writer?

DT: It’s unwavering support, through good and bad. Our fans motivate us, challenge us, and keep us honest. When I’m feeling writer’s block (or I just don’t feel like writing), I can spend five minutes on twitter and I’m ready to go. The #hearties are so engaged and care so deeply for this show and its message. I’m extremely proud and privileged to write stories for the #hearties.

SC: If you had to trade places with one other cast or crew member for a day, which role would you choose?

DT: I wouldn’t want to trade places with any of the crew because they all have extremely difficult jobs and I’d have no idea what I was doing. So many talented people who are amazing at their craft.

SC: You also wrote one episode for Cedar Cove (available on Super Channel Heart & Home On Demand), in addition to your role as story editor. Can you share more about your experience on that show and the difference in writing that story?

DT: Cedar Cove was a lot of fun. I’m a big Andie MacDowell fan so it was a thrill. In some ways, it’s very different in sensibility and style (mainly because of the different time period). But the emotional notes we tried to hit were the same on both shows. Like many Hallmark shows, it’s about finding happiness, community, and love.

SC: With a bit of a wait until season eight, Hearties can enjoy all seasons of When Calls the Heart again on Super Channel On Demand. As an additional challenge, try identifying which episodes were written by Derek and determining his style without watching the opening credits or visiting his IMDb. Derek regularly tweets with the fans so ensure you’re following him on social media, as you just never know what he might be called to write.

Social Media:
Twitter: @derekw_thompson
IG: derekw_thompson
IMDb: Derek Thompson

Heart of a Mountie With Ryan-James Hatanaka

Heart of a Mountie With Ryan-James Hatanaka

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Desiree D


Gabriel Kinslow was the first person to appear in When Hope Calls, as he loped along the luscious green landscape aboard his beautiful black horse, Apollo. This moment not only introduced the character of Constable Kinslow, but also provided an opportunity to view the entire town of Brookfield from afar. His first action after riding into town was offering to help Lillian carry the heavy feed bag. The red serge itself captured attention, but this initial act of service also proved that Gabriel truly has the heart of a Mountie.

Ryan-James Hatanaka is not only respected as a talented actor and athlete, he is also admired for his dedication to this role, on screen and off. RJ regularly charms the Hearties with insight on his character and gratitude for the fans while live tweeting. He also left a lasting impression when he flew overnight from Hungary to Canada, to ensure he attended the Hearties Family Reunion in October. RJ is a wonderful asset to the cast of When Hope Calls and he kindly shared more about his role as a Mountie, his interests off screen and the heart behind it all.

SC: When did you know that you wanted to pursue a career in the entertainment industry?

RJH: I think there was the dream of being an actor; then there was a point in time where I made a choice to pursue acting as a career. I loved performing from a young age, but it wasn’t until I went deeper into actor training, and started arming myself with a broader skillset, that it became a more realistic career path. It’s interesting how many different routes there are into this industry. Some grow up in it, some get lucky, I went the educational route - first getting a degree from the University of Toronto, then attending the National Theatre School of Canada before graduating with a Masters in Fine Arts from New York University.

SC: Having filmed all over the world, do you have a favourite location? If you could choose the next location to film, where would that be?

RJH: While I love traveling and relish the opportunity to familiarize myself with different cultures, I would say that the location is always secondary to the people I’m working with. I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with and learn from artists all over the world. Each one of them brings their own unique perspectives and ways of doing things. Filming When Hope Calls in Northern Ontario Canada is especially fun on a personal level - my Grandfather was a Station Master for Canadian Pacific Railway not too far from where we shoot. Filming a great show while diving into some family history is a pretty ideal summer for me.

SC: Can you share more for our Canadian fans about your connection to the Toronto Blue Jays?

RJH: I was the Batboy/Ballboy for the Toronto Blue Jays throughout high school and university. Being in the club house, wearing the uniform, playing catch and fielding grounders with the big leaguers, being exposed to that high pressure, electrifying atmosphere - much of what I learned there has carried through to my career as an actor.

SC: When you’re not on set, what are some of your favourite activities to do with your own family?

RJH: My family and I are very close, and even though my siblings and I are all busy we make a point of getting together as much as possible. Everyone in my family is athletic, so when we come together it often centers around some kind of sport or outdoor activity.

SC: What drew you to audition for Constable Gabriel Kinslow?

RJH: I was shooting a television series in Toronto when my agent told me they were looking for someone to play Mountie Gabriel in When Hope Calls. Of course, I knew about our sister show, When Calls the Heart, so I jumped at the opportunity. I mean who doesn’t want to be the Mountie?

SC: It has been noted that the red serge gets quite warm in Hope Valley and the boots take a bit of time to do up. Being from Brookfield, what are the words you would use to describe your wardrobe?

RJH: I love it. Suiting up in the red serge, the jodhpurs, the wide brimmed hat, high brown boots and Sam Browne belt adds so much for the character and immediately allows me to dive in to being Gabriel. The boots are leather so after you break them in, they literally fit like a glove. The serge is wool so it is not as hot as you might think. They really knew what they were doing back in the day.

SC: As a Canadian, what does wearing that uniform mean to you?

RJH: It is classic, it is iconic, and it’s an honor to represent an organization (The RCMP) that has so much integrity.

SC: Which scene in season one was your favourite to film?

RJH: The scene where Mountie Gabriel and Lillian (the very talented Morgan Kohan) first meet. That was the scene Morgan and I did for our chemistry read, so it holds a special place in my heart.

SC: What is one fun fact about the Brookfield set that the Hearties would not know?

RJH: They have done a remarkable job building the set. It’s on a huge plot of land with a lot of room to expand. Who knows, maybe other buildings will spring up!

SC: Where is your favourite place to hang out when you are on set?

RJH: Jefferson Brown (Joe Moody) and I get out our baseball gloves and play catch whenever we can. It’s very ‘Field of Dreams’-esque.

SC: If you could have any actor join the set of When Hope Calls, who would you choose and what would their role be in town?

RJH: I’m a big Hugh Jackman fan - I’d love to see him come to Brookfield as an entertainer and do his one man show. Maybe Mountie Gabe could join him on stage?

SC: Hearties have noticed your presence on social media, especially during live tweeting. What has it been like to start a new show that already has an established fanbase? Is there a message you would you like to share with the Hearties?

RJH: Yes. ‘Thank you’. The Hearties are one of the most supportive fan bases for any television show. I feel very fortunate to interact with them through Instagram, Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis. I continue to be grateful for their support for my work on When Hope Calls and for my career in general.

SC: How would you describe your experience of attending the Hearties Family Reunion?

RJH: What a special opportunity to meet some of the Hearties in person. Many of them tweet along with the show or comment on photos I post on Instagram – so being able to put a face to a name was fantastic.

SC: You have noted your involvement in various sports, including a black belt in karate. What is your favourite sport to watch versus favourite sport to play? Can you also share more about teaching and utilizing your karate background for stage?

RJH: I grew up in Canada so watching playoff hockey is part of my DNA. I enjoy watching baseball, basketball and football too. As far as playing sports, I love to get outside and play pick-up hockey, baseball, basketball…whatever is going. Karate is a discipline that lends itself very well to my career in the arts. When I’m not doing television, film or theatre, I really enjoy teaching stage combat at New York University’s Tisch Graduate Acting Program, and choreographing fights for professional theatre.

SC: Riding horses is part of the job for Mountie Gabriel. Had you worked with horses prior to this role?

RJH: I had minimal riding experience prior to When Hope Calls, and Apollo (my horse) knew that. Once he saw I was committed to learning and working together – we became good friends.

SC: If your character crossed over to When Calls the Heart, what would you hope that story would entail?

RJH: I think the natural crossover would entail me helping Mountie Nathan track down a bad guy or solve a mystery in Hope Valley. Mountie Nate helped me solve a mystery in Brookfield, I would like the opportunity to return the favor.

SC: From the tiny town of Brookfield to the worldwide community of Hearties, Ryan-James Hatanaka has brought an abundance of joy, optimism and gratitude. While he takes the role of Constable Kinslow seriously, RJ’s humour and passion for his character become abundantly clear during live tweeting. To keep updated on his latest projects, or to bring an even bigger smile to RJ and declare that you are #TeamGillian, connect with him on social media.

Social Media:
IG: @rjhatanaka
Twitter: @RJHatanaka
Facebook: therealrjhatanaka

Finding Home with Jaeda Lily Miller

Finding Home with Jaeda Lily Miller

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Desiree D


The classroom in Hope Valley has not been the same since the arrival of Allie Grant. Her mischievous ways and endless energy have brought new life to the school and the town. Hidden behind Allie’s cheerfulness and big smile is a difficult past that has slowly been revealed throughout the season. The young talent behind the endless expressions and range of emotion is Canadian actress, Jaeda Lily Miller.

With many credits to her name, Jaeda was quickly recognized and warmly welcomed by fans when her character was introduced. This animated young lady has brought hope, humour and healing through the stories of Allie, and Hearties look forward to seeing what will come next as this season progresses.

SC: When you first auditioned for When Calls the Heart, what excited you about the character of Allie Grant and joining the show?

JLM: I loved how she was so spunky and different. She sounded so fun to play and I was very excited to meet all the cast and crew working on the show.

SC: Portraying Allie has involved expressing a variety of emotions, such as when she faces leaving Hope Valley, pranking her classmates, and most recently with the appearance of her grandfather. Which scenes do you enjoy the most and which ones are more challenging for you?

JLM: I definitely enjoy the fun scenes where Allie does mischievous things. The hardest ones are the emotional ones, like when I thought I had to leave Hope Valley and when my Grandpa came. The emotion was definitely harder than just being fun Allie.

SC: Why do you think Allie has had a tougher time making friends in Hope Valley?

JLM: Because she doesn’t feel like she is going to stay in Hope Valley long, and she wasn’t really trying hard. She’s already lost people in her life, so I think she feels like when she tries to connect to someone, she’s going to lose them too.

SC: If Allie could grant her Uncle Nathan one wish, what do you think she would choose and why?

JLM: That’s hard. I don’t know... he’s kind of already got everything. I guess maybe giving him Elizabeth?

SC: It is often noted that Nathan is a wonderful parent and brings a lot of stability and support to Allie’s life. What do you think Allie brings to her uncle’s life?

JLM: I think she brings a sense of joy. He’d be a very lonely person if he didn’t have someone to look after. We come across obstacles together so definitely just being in his life makes him a better person, and this way he can laugh more too.

SC: Your friendship with Gracyn Shinyei began long before When Calls the Heart. Where did you meet?

JLM: We met at dance class. We were both three and went to the same studio. It sort of blossomed from there.

Gracyn on WCTH and Jaeda on Angels in the Snow

SC: Did you find it funny that you are best friends and have both played characters named Emily Montgomery? (Gracyn on WCTH and Jaeda on Angels in the Snow)

JLM: Ha, I never really thought of it, but that’s kind of cool. I guess Emily is a common name!

SC: A Cookie Cutter Christmas is also available on Super Channel Heart & Home. Was that your first time working with Gracyn, Erin and Genea?

JLM: Yes, it was. I didn’t get to work with Genea or Erin directly in that movie. That was my first time meeting Erin and I knew Genea as I worked with her sister Megan.

SC: If you had a scene with any When Calls the Heart cast member, who do you think you would have the most bloopers with? And why?

JLM: Probably Kadence. Me and her really connect a lot and we just can laugh at anything.

SC: In three words, how would you describe working with Kevin McGarry?

JLM: Outgoing, interesting, and amazing.

SC: Do we dare ask if you are Team Nathan or Team Lucas?

JLM: You can dare. I’m Team Nathan! No offense Chris/Lucas, but he’s my uncle. I feel like story lines could come out with me in them if Elizabeth goes with Nathan.

SC: What special skills do you have that Hearties might not know about you?

JLM: I play the drums. I can dance. I’m very competitive when it comes to board games.

SC: What would be your dream role? Where would you want to film?

JLM: I would want to be in Stranger Things, or a Marvel thing. I want to be in something with action but still fun too. And I’d like to film in Greece or somewhere in Europe. I know Stranger Things and Marvel don’t film there, but that’s just where I want to go.

SC: Can you share about any upcoming projects that we can keep an eye out for?

JLM: I do have a part in a cartoon called Starbeam which comes out April 3 on Netflix. I play a girl named Greta.

SC: Jaeda Lily Miller is just as warm and bubbly in real life as she is on screen. This delightful young lady is passionate about her work and brings depth to her character whether through humour or emotion. While waiting to see if Allie’s wishes for her life in Hope Valley are fulfilled, keep in touch with Jaeda on social media, as this talented actress is just getting started.

Social Media:
Twitter: @jaedalilymiller
IG: jaedalilymiller
TikTok: jaedalilymiller

State of Grace with Jocelyn Hudon

State of Grace with Jocelyn Hudon

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Desiree D


There was no way to miss the big smile of Grace Bennett as the wagon of carolers rolled into Hope Valley. She hopped off the wagon with a bounce in her step and instantly presented as bubbly and sweet. The joy that Grace brought to Hope Valley and to the children in her presence would not end there, as a whole new life would be featured in the town of Brookfield.

Jocelyn Hudon might have been a new face for the Hearties, but she is no stranger to being on camera. Not only is she a delight as an actress, but she has also brought a lot of life to social media, whether commenting on her favourite TV show or posting pictures of her adorable Goldendoodle Rupert. Even with a busy schedule, Jocelyn shone light upon her character and gave us many more reasons why this Canadian talent will continue to grace our screens.

SC: Having grown up in Canada, what are some of the things you miss most now that you live in L.A.?

JH: I miss my family of course, and my other dog Riley.

SC: When did your love of performing begin?

JH: My love of performing began when I was a kid doing ballet. We’d have recitals and performances and I would love getting ready and getting nervous and putting on the costume and performing in front of an audience.

SC: You have mentioned you were aware of When Calls the Heart prior to auditioning, but were you familiar with the Hearties fanbase prior to joining the cast?

JH: Yeah, I live near the Hallmark building in L.A. so I would see the WCTH sign all the time. NO, I had no idea there was such an amazing fanbase attached to the show!

SC: What was the experience like to return to the Hearties Family Reunion, not being there as a guest star on WCTH, but this time being able to talk about your involvement with When Hope Calls?

JH: It was really cool... I loved meeting everyone and I still keep in touch with a few of them on Instagram.

SC: You are a scuba diver and grew up as a dancer. Any other special skills that Hearties might not know about you?

JH: I taught rock climbing at camp! I ran a rock wall and a zipline.

SC: Rupert, your adorable Goldendoodle, became quite well known during your filming of When Hope Calls (& even has his own IG account). What was it like for you to have him with you while you were filming in Ontario?

JH: I was SO NERVOUS to bring him. I was a crazy dog mom at first and every break we got I would be out in the field walking him or playing with him. I’m so glad I had him though...he was the perfect partner to take on a show with. I think he brought a lot of joy to everyone else too.

SC: What would Grace want people to know about life in Brookfield?

JH: That Ronnie Stewart is HILARIOUS, and she loves working for him.

SC: As one of the few actors that works on both shows: Do you feel that Grace presents herself differently in Hope Valley than in Brookfield?

JH: Yes absolutely. In Hope Valley she’s a visitor but in Brookfield she’s at home with her kids and she feels free to be herself.

SC: Throughout When Hope Calls season one, Grace showed a lot more vulnerability and emotion. Was it challenging to step out of this character’s typically cheerful disposition? Do you prepare for scenes any differently when they are more emotional than comedic?

JH: We didn’t have a lot of time to prepare while on set (especially while most of the free time I’m taking care of Rupert), so I really had to be on top of my game, ready to cry or get emotional whenever needed. To do that I would find a quiet place while they were setting up the shot and just have a moment to myself. Grace is cheery and fun, but she also has the most complicated background. That’s where some of the darkness comes from.

SC: Is there one person that you wish that you/Grace had more time with together on screen?

JH: Ronnie (played by Neil Crone). I loved working with him. He’s hilarious and I learned a lot from him.

SC: You returned to WCTH for WCTH: Home for Christmas, how did it feel to be back in Hope Valley for this Christmas movie?

JH: We filmed that right after the two episodes of season 7 (kind of back-to-back), so I was straight WCTH for like 2 months.

SC: Having the opportunity to work with many children on WCTH and WHC, what did you learn about yourself or your acting from working with these young professionals?

JH: I love working with kids… I still am one. They put a lot less pressure on themselves. They’ll do an intense scene and then be like, “ok, where’s the candy?” They don’t overthink it.

SC: What is it like to have the Hearties rooting for #TeamChace (Chuck+Grace)?

JH: Yaaaaas we knew they would love us! Greg and I got along the best in the cast for sure, so I believe that translated to our characters.

SC: Did you have experience working with or riding horses prior to your involvement on WCTH or WHC?

JH: No, but I like winging it. Horses are like big dogs to me, so it was very natural. It turns out I’m super allergic though.

SC: From Friend to Fiance is available on Super Channel Heart & Home On Demand. Can you share more about your experiences as Jessica Parks, or your favourite moments from that set?

JH: YESSSS. From Friend to Fiance was so much fun! I loved working with Ryan, Kelly and the whole team. We had a lot of fun filming that and I drank a lot of Red Bulls. I had to drive a scooter down a gravel path with Ryan on the back of it. I always thought I’d get my motorcycle license at some point, but after driving downhill on gravel with a giant man on the back of the scooter… I’m thinking cars are the way to go for me.

SC: If you needed to have a partner for a reality show, which When Hope Calls’ character would you want as your partner and why?

JH: FRED (played by Simon Webster). I would just love to live daily life with him. I’d think we’d have a lot of adventures.

SC: While waiting to hear what is next for this adventurous and delightful actress, be sure to watch When Hope Calls season one, re-airing after each new episode of When Calls the Heart. If you want to have fun and enjoy adorable pictures gracing your newsfeed, ensure you are following Jocelyn and Rupert on Instagram.

Social Media:
Twitter: @jocelynhudonx
IG: jocelynhudon

Fabric to Fashion with Barbara Gregusova

Fabric to Fashion with Barbara Gregusova

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Desiree D


From the standard daywear to the dazzling dresses, Barbara Gregusova is the leading lady behind the incredible wardrobe on When Calls the Heart. She has woven together fabrics and characters that have left their mark since she first started as costume designer for Season 3. The iconic pieces that Hearties have discussed at length, including Lee’s plaid pants, the Mountie Christmas ball gown and Elizabeth’s wedding dress can all be credited to Barbara and her team. With a love for period costumes and always an eye out for the perfect fabric, Barbara is a natural fit for When Calls the Heart. As Hearties await season 7, Barbara pulls back the curtain to share more on the intrinsic details and incredible time invested, before the costumes appear on screen.

Fabric to Fashion with Barbara Gregusova From the standard daywear to the dazzling dresses, Barbara Gregusova is the leading lady behind the incredible wardrobe on When Calls the Heart. She has woven together fabrics and characters that have left their mark since she first started as costume designer for Season 3. The iconic pieces that Hearties have discussed at length, including Lee’s plaid pants, the Mountie Christmas ball gown and Elizabeth’s wedding dress can all be credited to Barbara and her team. With a love for period costumes and always an eye out for the perfect fabric, Barbara is a natural fit for When Calls the Heart. As Hearties await season 7, Barbara pulls back the curtain to share more on the intrinsic details and incredible time invested, before the costumes appear on screen.

SC: You were born in Slovakia and moved to Canada to attend university. Did you always want to move to Canada for that program?

BG: I moved to Canada with my parents and it wasn’t my intention to come to study anywhere in particular here. It was my dad’s dream to move to Vancouver for two decades and one day in March of 2004 we were on the plane flying to Canada. The immigration process took almost three years before we left so I researched potential universities while I was still in Bratislava and scheduled meetings with them. The university I ended up going to I actually didn’t find on internet at that time, but Capilano University had a textile program and they had an open house one day, so we went to check it out. It was an amazing program but they also offered a Costuming for Stage and Screen Program and after meeting with Kim Bothen and Jane Still (now my former teachers), I knew after a long search it was perfect for me.

SC: What drew you into costume design?

BG: I come from a very artistic family going all the way back to my grandparents. Art was always part of my life and I grew up around three fashion designers: my mother Elena Gregusova, her twin sister Jana Maderova and my dad’s sister Zuzana Sujanova. All three had very different styles and I always admired their work and textile techniques they were using. My father, Martin Gregus studied photography at FAMU in Prague and in 1992 my parents started the first Czechoslovakian kids’ magazine called Babaco, so I got to model in it. By age fifteen I was reading and collecting classic literature including Shakespeare and my grandmother was always taking me to the theatre. Originally, I wanted to study architecture but one of the entry requirements was to draw a perfect cube free-hand and once I realized that it was something I could not do I decided to pursue creative arts - jewellery making, fashion and costume design.

a piece of fabric

SC: Can you share more about what the process would be in designing costumes? How do you make it all come together? Do you have an idea of the story ahead of time? Do you see pieces when not on set that you feel would work well for specific characters?

BG: Let’s start with the last question first: I am always collecting inspiration, from clothing to fabrics to buttons and trims. The thing is that if you see something perfect, and you know it is going to work for the character, you know you will never find it again once you are in production. So, yes, over the years I’m collecting pieces or fabrics before we are even shooting and every time I travel I have to stop in at least one fabric or button store because I want to know what’s out there. I am really lucky that my partner has lots of patience. :)

The When Calls the Heart production is a very fast paced environment. For our main cast I know what they have in their closet and what they might be missing for the new scripts. For ladies I am in search for those perfect fabrics in their colour pallet or an interesting blouse with gorgeous detail. It’s lots of searching and sometimes I get lucky (and I have definitely been lucky over the years with the timing of finding some perfect pieces). I work with fabrics a lot so depending on the print, if it is solid or not and what its weight is, I decide what I want to make from it.

When it comes to the story, I do not have an idea too far in advance, but I wish I did. We shoot two episodes per block with two shooting and simultaneously prepping the next two episodes. It’s a constant whirlwind.

SC: How long in advance of filming When Calls the Heart would you start to plan the wardrobe?

BG: For season 7 I had four weeks for pre-production before we went to camera. We started by moving all the costumes from the previous season to our office and going over everything we had and start talking to the cast. I always get on a phone with Erin (Krakow) to discuss her ideas for the new season. For example, in season 6 we discussed short sleeve blouses because we knew we would start during the hottest weather in Vancouver. We ended up making some short sleeve blouses with some beautiful details for her.

SC: How many people are part of your wardrobe team on When Calls the Heart?

BG: It’s changed over the years but now there are usually nine of us. People change each season, but I’ve been working with my family; mother, father, brother since season 3 when I started.

My mom, Elena, is the head cutter. She also does all the intricate alterations, for example, Rosemary’s wedding dresses, Elizabeth’s wedding dress, her long blue coat (that one was a handful) and builds special pieces for our leading ladies. She worked on all the walking suits for Elizabeth, Abigail, Rosemary, and the special green one for Julie.

My father, Martin Gregus, assisted me in season 3 and then moved up for three seasons as the set supervisor. For this current season he’s been assisting me again. He is my right hand - both on and off set - I know when he is there everything will be taken care of - plus I’m only a phone call away if needed. He is the best.

For rest of the team I had wonderful cutter/seamstress, Jennifer Bond, with us for four seasons and there is usually one other full-time seamstress in the office.

On set we have a main truck costumer, an assistant truck costumer, a background costumer and the set supervisor.

And then there is me. :)

SC: You are often shown by the actors on social media during fittings. These appear to be done a very short time in advance of filming. Can you describe the hours that are involved with being a costume designer? Are you also on set while filming?

BG: They’re very long hours. My brain starts working from the time I wake up until it goes to sleep at night. If there are night shoots my days still start early and can get interrupted after I go to sleep. Season 6 was very exhausting because we are a very small team for a stylized period show.

When it comes to set, I am mostly in the truck. I have to set line-up for our cast for every shooting day and only go to set when we have major scenes involving the costumes. If there is a problem my team gets me on the phone so I can do my line up and do what I have to do to keep things moving.

I still remember back to season 3, when I first started, I was doing the alterations on the truck because my truck costumer didn’t know how to sew.

SC: Your beautiful work has been part of WCTH since 2015. What has the process been like to be able to utilize and evolve the costumes over these several seasons?

BG: The men are the easiest. We add and omit pieces that work or don’t throughout the season.

For kids, they grow, so they can be tough. This is where the luck I talked about came in. When I was hired to design season 3, we were lucky that the boys fashion in the kids stores were carrying a trend of pieces we needed like pants with suspenders and band collared shirts. For the girls we rented their dresses to start with and as they grew, we’ve built up their own closets. The kids’ clothes get passed down from oldest to youngest and since it’s a small town that is what they would do at that time. You do not throw anything out until it is completely worn out.

For the ladies we refit everything every year. We build for them the most, so we eliminate pieces which do not work, that mostly applies for Erin, and then we expand their closets for what is needed for that particular season starting with each new episode. We never know what’s coming until we have scripts in hand.

SC: It has been noted that period piece costumes are your area of preference or specialization. What do you enjoy most about stepping away from modern day and working with these period costumes?

BG: I’ve always loved period costumes. I think it’s the intricate details, fabrics, and the cut of the clothing. The first coat I ever designed and made for myself was inspired by ‘Brotherhood of the Wolf’, a movie set in the 18th century France. I like creating things and I always have: creating something from scratch, from your imagination or based on research and then tweaking it to your needs. Seeing my pieces come to life with somebody wearing it and working with it is amazing to me.

SC: What is the most challenging aspect of the work that you do?

BG: The biggest challenges are time, budget and people. But it’s people - everyone will have differences of opinions and tastes that try to wiggle their way into my work. I have to say that on WCTH I’ve been very lucky, and I have always been allowed to do my job.

wcth christmas special actors

SC: Do you have a favourite piece that you created specifically for WCTH or a specific character?

BG: There are lots of pieces we created for WCTH over the past five seasons that I love so it would be hard to pick just one. I really like all the walking suits which we created for our Ladies of Hope Valley. A few standouts costumes are Rosemary’s Fortune Teller outfit, the Bridesmaids’ dresses, the Girls’ dresses, Elizabeth’s ballgown, and Fiona’s ankle length skirts. There are more than few special outfits in season 7 which turned out amazingly well, but I cannot talk about them yet.

SC: Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

BG: It depends. I get inspired by the fabrics I find in stores which is probably why I have collected so much. :) For WCTH if there is something specific we need to build I do my historical research, going through my library of books, and then I either tweak it or do something completely different based on my research. I do not like cutting up the fabric unless I know exactly what we are going to build out of it. Once it’s cut, I cannot take it back.

SC: If you could share a message with the Hearties, what would you want them to know?

BG: I would like to say, ‘Thank you for your support and for watching the show’. I’m especially loving when they follow me on Instagram, and I wish I could post and share more but usually I am too busy working on the next episodes.

SC: You were also the Costume Designer on Love on the Air, A Cookie Cutter Christmas, June in January, A Ring by Spring, & Paper Angels, which are all available on Super Channel Heart & Home On Demand. Do you have any special wardrobe stories from any of these movies?

BG: June in January was my first movie I designed for Hallmark. I remember we needed a wedding dress and we found few perfect options on eBay but there was the one particular dress which I loved and wanted to use, and it almost didn’t arrive on time. A Cookie Cutter Christmas - it was the first time I worked with Erin Krakow and Genea Charpentier. I actually had fittings with Genea in my apartment. A Ring by Spring - I was so excited to work with Stephanie Powers, we made her Fortune Teller outfit from scratch. Paper Angels - this was one of few movies (maybe the only) where the leading man, played by Matthew Settle, had more costume changes than the leading lady. Love on the Air - during our first fitting with Alison Sweeney we tried on what felt like sixty outfits and only four made it to the movie because we ended up changing the direction for her costume story.

SC: Is there anything else that you would like to share about your work or involvement with When Calls the Heart?

BG: For WCTH I just want everyone to know that this is a stylized take on the period.

For the contemporary shows I think some people have this perception that the costumes just magically appear. I always imagine this scene where you go shopping for a character and all the clothes just pop up and call out “this is what you need to buy” but it’s never that way. Every item of clothing or costume is found, chosen, fitted, altered and finally approved. Our team puts a lot of thought and imagination into every costume that ends up in front of the camera. Sometimes there’s a bit of luck but it’s not just a happy accident. :)

SC: Barbara seamlessly joined this series and has been creating countless costumes ever since. Her eye for fabric and gift for finding the perfect look transitions flawlessly from idea to screen. With season seven drawing near and Hearties hopeful for future seasons, she will no doubt be part of the fabric of Hope Valley for years to come. To see the latest styles, comment on your favourite character’s clothing, and perhaps even a sneak peek behind the scenes, follow Barbara on Twitter and Instagram.

Social Media:

IG: barbaragregusova
Twitter: @BGregusova
Website: www.barbaragregusova.com

Kayla Wallace

Switching Lines with Kayla Wallace

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Desiree D


Fiona Miller raised a few eyebrows from the moment she stepped off the stagecoach. Her forward approach and modern look easily stood out among the folks in Hope Valley. Despite a rather rocky start, Fiona quickly connected with the town and found her place. From party lines to hemlines, Hope Valley has been forever changed by this lively and contemporary character.

While Fiona received mixed reviews in her early appearances, Kayla Wallace was warmly welcomed on social media. Kayla’s energy and excitement had the Hearties curious about the role that she would be playing. Although Fiona is a switch from what is expected in Hope Valley, Kayla’s talented portrayal of her has connected us to a character and storyline that we couldn’t imagine the series without.

SC: You have indicated that you were familiar with When Calls the Heart but then binge watched all of the episodes after finding out you were going to be on it. When were you first aware of the Hearties fanbase? What has it been like to interact with the fans?

KW: I absolutely binge watched all of When Calls the Heart once I found out I was going to be on the show and so did my Mom and my Grandma (they are now proud Hearties!) I was not aware of how big of a following the show has and was so pleasantly surprised by all the love I received immediately from the fans.

SC: You have had several scenes with Florence in Season 6. Do you think we’ll see more of these telephone operators (or perhaps gossip gals) in Season 7?

KW: As Loretta and I refer to ourselves: #TeamRingyDingy! Us telephone operators stick together. The Fiona/Florence friendship is one of my favourites, and the Hearties can definitely look forward to some more scenes with these two together.

SC: Fiona spoke and understood French during Season 6. Do you speak French or any other languages?

KW: Fiona does speak fluent French, however, I do not. I had to learn a little French in elementary school growing up, but I have since forgotten it. It was fun to have to speak a little French as Fiona!

SC: Who is someone that you would like to work with or have more time with on screen?

KW: I would love to have more scenes with Elizabeth. Because, A: Erin is one of the kindest people I know, and B: that also means more scenes with Baby Jack.

SC: Any special skills that the fans might not know about you? Would you want to incorporate any of these into your role on When Calls the Heart?

KW: I grew up dancing and singing, and I would love if Fiona could take on either one of those skills! I really loved tap dancing and hip hop when I was younger- though I don’t think hip hop was around back in 1917.

SC: If you could give Fiona a superpower, which would you choose and why?

KW: If Fiona could have a superpower it would be time travel! She could pop into the future, maybe bring a cell phone back to Hope Valley, some modern pants for women... scandalous! ;)

SC: Being a period piece, what has surprised you most about the show?

KW: When I first joined the show, I was blown away by our set and our costumes. Our crew really goes above and beyond with all the little details- it really makes you feel like you’re in another era.

SC: If you could write a story for Fiona in Season 8+++, what direction would you want your character to take?

KW: I would love to see Fiona become even more of the successful businesswoman she is, maybe even open her own kind of business in Hope Valley! It would be nice to see Fiona fall in love too.

SC: What are some of your favourite activities or hobbies when you’re not on set?

KW: When I’m not on set, you can find me exploring the different coffee shops in the city, playing my piano, and visiting my little niece who I love with all my heart.

SC: Any favourite places to eat or visit in Vancouver?

KW: Oh where to begin with places to eat in Vancouver... some of my favourite coffee shops are Pallet Coffee and Revolver Coffee. I love the restaurants Nuba and Heirloom. I could go on...

What is so incredible about this city is having the ocean and the mountains at arm’s reach. I feel very blessed to live in such a beautiful city.

SC: What are your future aspirations? Do you want to continue acting or would you consider pursuing writing, directing or producing?

KW: I could see myself writing one day, and possibly directing. For now, I am very happy to be doing what I love: acting.

SC: Any upcoming projects that we can keep an eye out for?

KW: You can catch me on The Magicians Season 5, episode 5, and, of course, WCTH Season 7!

With only a month until When Calls the Heart rings in a new season, it was a delight to connect with Kayla and learn more about this sweet and talented actress. While waiting to see how Fiona will continue to switch things up in Hope Valley, you can find Kayla in full operation on Twitter and Instagram.

Social Media:
Twitter: @imkaylawallace
IG: imkaylawallace

Making Waves on Chesapeake Shores

Making Waves on Chesapeake Shores

Monday, September 17, 2018

BY Desiree D


Tuning into Chesapeake Shores each week offers viewers a chance to be part of a larger family. Whether the O’Briens are sitting around the table, or chatting around the campfire, Chessies (fans of the show) feel like they’ve pulled up a chair right next to them, immersed in the latest stories of this endearing, modern family. The stories would not be as complex or complete without additional characters involving the supporting cast, from occasional roles to one time appearances.

Diane, a fan of Trace Riley (Jesse Metcalfe), portrayed by Canadian actor Lesley Mirza, made a few waves in season 3 episode 5. While the interaction was brief, the lingering effects of that conversation have carried through the past two episodes. Diane had alerted Abby O’Brien (Meghan Ory) to some of her greatest fears, ones that would need to be quickly managed.

Making Waves on Chesapeake Shores

Lesley is no stranger in front of the camera, but her role as Diane was her first with Hallmark. Although she now calls Vancouver home, her journey began in Toronto and continued in England, before returning to Canada. Lesley recently offered a chance for Chessies to get to know more about her, from her favourite places to visit in Vancouver, to her pugs Oscar and Grissom.

SC: We understand that you were born in Toronto and grew up in England. How did that lead you to become an actor in Vancouver?

LM: At school, I loved my weekly drama class and auditioned for every play and musical offered, including My Fair Lady and Nicholas Nickleby. As a young adult, I was lucky enough to work on the British productions Friend or Foe (movie) and Lipstick on Your Collar (mini-series starring Ewan McGregor), which fueled my passion for acting.

In the early 90s I moved back to Canada and put performing on hold…until 3 years ago. I had been a freelance lifestyle journalist for well over a decade (writing for Vancouver Magazine, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Tourism Vancouver, etc.) and wanted a little change. I joined a background performers’ agency and had a wonderful time meeting new people and working on amazing productions as an extra.

My love for acting was refueled. I registered for acting class after acting class to develop my skills again, got an agent, and volunteered for student and independent films. I am thrilled to be back to acting and can’t wait for each new project!

SC: This role on Chesapeake Shores is your first with Hallmark. How did you find the cast and/or set different from previous shows that you have worked on?

LM: Yes, Diane is my first role on a Hallmark show and I had a great day with the cast and crew. Everyone was so kind and welcoming.

Every show you work on is different. I really enjoy meeting the different people on set – from grips to makeup artists to cast members; they are the ones who are the heart of a production.

It was my first time working with Director Terry Ingram. He was so kind and easy to work with and we played with a few of my lines for variety – I enjoy improvising. And of course my scene starred Trace (Jesse Metcalfe) and Abby (Meghan Ory), who were both fantastic to work with.

SC: If you could spend a day with one of the characters from Chesapeake Shores, who would you pick and why?

LM: That’s a tough one! I’d enjoy spending time with each one of them, and for different reasons. But, if I had to pick only one, it would have to be Bree. She seems like the kind of gal who’d make an excellent BFF, with her bubbly personality and sunny disposition, right? A great partner-in-crime for shopping excursions or long chats over coffee.

SC: You often share pictures of your pugs on social media. Would you mind telling us a little more about them?

LM: Ah, my elderly fur babies – I love them to bits! Oscar is 14 and Grissom will be turning 13 on October 3rd. They are the sweetest little creatures and we enjoy daily (sometimes hourly!) cuddles on the sofa. Neither of them has been on set, but maybe one day, one of them can have a little cameo role.

SC: You have mentioned that you hope to one day have an opportunity to work on When Calls the Heart. What are you drawn to about this show? What type of character would you want to portray?

LM: This is another superb Hallmark series that I have enjoyed following over the years. I was a huge Little House on the Prairie fan as a child and When Calls the Heart is reminiscent of that to me.

Each of the characters has been developed so well that you feel that you know them, and you care about what happens to each of them. With regards to a character I’d like to portray… I would make a great chatty cook in Abigail’s café. Perhaps it’s time for a gossipy hairdresser?

SC: If Chessies were to travel to Vancouver, would you have any favourite locations to visit or must-see attractions?

LM: Vancouver is a gorgeous city, especially in the summer. Three things to see/do are:

1. Walk the seawall that surrounds Vancouver’s iconic Stanley Park. It’s fab exercise and the views are spectacular.

2. Vancouver has some out-of-this-world murals, which my hubby and I enjoy checking out each year. This website lists where the best ones are and you can spend a day leisurely strolling from one to the other.

3. I LOVE sweet treats (I’d eat all of Sally’s pies on Chesapeake Shores if I could!). Stop by PureBread Bakery in Gastown. I have never seen so many goodies in one place, it’s almost overwhelming. But in a good way.

It has been a joy to get to know more of Lesley’s story. Her passion for acting is evident, and she is also a wonderful example of reaching for your goals. After watching season two of Chesapeake Shores, she said to her husband that her 2018 goal was to audition for the show. It was a wish come true when Lesley went from fan of the show to fan on the show. Her advice to Chessies is “Never give up. If you want something, research it, train for it, and go for it. You may not achieve your goals immediately, but if you stay true to yourself and work hard, you will!”

You can find more of this entertaining and bubbly personality on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to give her a follow. You might even find Oscar and Grissom making special appearances. We wish Lesley the best and look forward to seeing her in more shows on our screens very soon.

Facebook: Lesley Mirza - Actor
Instagram: @lesleyemirza
Twitter: @LesleyEMirza

Welcome Home

Thursday, May 10, 2018



Hello Canadian Hearties!

It's been a few weeks since Season 5 of When Calls the Heart concluded, and I would like to take a moment to thank each of you for subscribing to Super Channel and watching with us. I’ve heard from many of you how much you enjoyed being able to watch and tweet with your American friends for the first time ever. I want you to know you made this season a wonderful experience for me too through our social media engagements. You have welcomed me into your community, I was able to virtual cook for you, and we set goals and challenges for tweeting. I am now officially a Heartie and I’m proud of it.

By now you’ve probably heard the news that beginning in June, Super Channel will introduce the Heart & Home Channel, an entire commercial-free channel dedicated to feel-good, family-friendly programming. This decision was made because you told us in overwhelming numbers that you wanted to see more shows like When Calls the Heart that you can enjoy with everyone in your home, free of harsh language and excessive violence.

I'm excited to tell you about some of the great content coming to the Heart & Home Channel. We recently announced that Season 3 of Chesapeake Shores will start later this summer. Stay tuned for more information including the premiere date coming soon. We will have weekly premieres of family-friendly movies, which will include Hallmark, UP TV, Lifetime, and even some Harlequin-based titles from a great Canadian independent studio in Ontario called Brain Power. You may have already watched some of their movies on Super Channel, such as A Very Country Christmas and Christmas Wedding Planner.

We are also very happy to bring back some classic series which I know you will enjoy such as The New Adventures of the Black Stallion, Christy and Remington Steele. These will be shown in their original format which was Standard Definition (SD), so you will notice that there will be black side bars on your HD TV, which we call curtains. Cedar Cove, starring Andie MacDowell, is another wonderful Hallmark series we have acquired and will also premiere in June.

Plus, we thought it would be fun to add some of the iconic musicals from the 50’s and 60’s to our Heart & Home lineup. All of these have been remastered in HD and will look and sound great. In July, we will have Singing in the Rain and High Society; and in August, An American In Paris and The Music Man (which happens to be my favourite musical of all time!)

Of course, I can't leave out our first annual Christmas in July event. Starting July 2, we will play a different Christmas movie every day during the week and replay all 5 movies again in a marathon on the weekend. We are even going to put up the Christmas tree in the Super Channel office. However, I can’t promise you any Boxing Day sales or specials.

I'm sure all you Hearties heard the big news released recently – the 4th annual Hearties Family Reunion will be held October 19 to 21, 2018 in Langley, BC. I am planning to attend, and I look forward to meeting some of you in person… and Shelley Page, who tweeted with you all season from Super Channel, will be there too.

For you Chessies, we will have some exciting news coming for you soon as we approach the premiere of Season 3, so keep an eye out for that!

Thanks for reading my first blog; perhaps I will make this a regular item on our new rebranded website coming in June. Please let us know what you think of our new Heart & Home Channel once it debuts – it was created especially with you in mind, and we would love to hear your feedback. Thank you again for your ongoing support, and happy viewing!

Heart and Home Blog

Heart & Home

Monday, January 15, 2018



Who doesn't love Sunday, right? It's the perfect day to rest, relax and enjoy some together time. If you're like me, that usually includes some TV time too.

Recently, something we have heard from our viewers is a desire to see more comfortable, quality entertainment that you can share with everyone in your home. Well, we are listening!

Super Channel is proud to introduce Heart and Home, a special collection of family-friendly programming that will air every Sunday on Super Channel 2 (SC2) beginning this February!

See safe and enjoyable movies and series that are free from harsh language, graphic violence and adult content, with a rating of no higher than PG. Starting in late afternoon, tune in for a refreshing mix of romance, mystery, comedy, and drama that will run for up to 8 hours, and will include a new movie premiere every week!

And, on February 18, for the first time ever in Canada, you can watch the ALL-NEW 5th season of the heartwarming drama When Calls the Heart at the same day and time as the US (moving to SC2!)

Here's a message from our President and CEO, Don McDonald:

"We are extremely excited about launching Heart & Home programming in February, and the return of When Calls the Heart Season 5 on February 18th. We have heard from many viewers who are interested in lighter, more easy-going viewing options, and that was the catalyst to create this weekly programming destination. Many people are looking for escape from the harsh realities of today's “Fake News”, threats of conflict and sex scandals in Hollywood, as well as the excessive sex, violence and language that has become common place in many TV programs, even those on regular non-premium channels. Heart & Home is a place with shows that you and your whole household can feel comfortable watching together. I have fond memories from my youth of watching shows with my family such as Walt Disney, Bonanza, Highway to Heaven, Touched by an Angel and others, which may have had predictable endings, but were very enjoyable with likeable characters and places you wanted to return to each week. I do hope you enjoy the programming choices we have made and, as always, we would love to hear feedback from you."

Now for a little sample of what's coming to Heart & Home in February:

Twist of Fate – Sunday, Feb. 4 at 8pmET on SC2
While stuck in her car after an accident, a woman makes an emergency call. Having immediately formed an undeniable bond with the operator, they spend months trying to reconnect amongst repeated obstacles and misunderstandings.
Starring Cassie Steele, Ryan Kennedy, Andrea Brooks

My Perfect Romance – Sunday, Feb. 11 at 8pmET on SC2
CEO of Robinson Tech, Wes Robinson, is looking for new ideas to boost sales. Vivian, a program developer, shares a dating algorithm she has been working on called My Perfect Match, which shows some interesting results when used by the pair.
Starring Christopher Russell, Kimberly-Sue Murray, Morgan Fairchild, Jodie Sweetin, Lauren Holly

Wedding March 3: Here Comes the Bride – Sunday, Feb. 18 at 10pmET on SC2
Leading up to Valentine's Day, Mick's fashion designer sister, Bonnie, shows up with her new fiancé who happens to be Mick's old nemesis from his touring days. Bonnie surprises Mick by asking him to host her wedding... on Valentine's Day!
Starring Jack Wagner, Josie Bissett, Gabrielle Miller

Very, Very Valentine – Sunday, Feb. 25 at 10pmET on SC2
Helen, a shy florist, focuses on work every Valentine's day, leaving no time for romance, but this year, Helen's childhood best friend and fellow botanist, Henry has secured them invitations to the Metropolitan Art Gallery's Masquerade Gala!
Starring Danica McKellar, Cameron Mathison, Damon Runyan

When Calls the Heart
Season 1 Marathon – Sunday, Feb. 4 at 11amET on SC2
Season 2 Marathon – Sunday, Feb. 11 at 11amET on SC2
Season 3 Marathon – Saturday, Feb. 17 at 11:30amET on SC2
Season 4 Marathon – Sunday, Feb. 18 at 10:30amET on SC2
Season 5 Premiere – Sunday, Feb. 18 at 9pmET on SC2
Elizabeth anxiously awaits news of Jack, who has returned to the Northern Territories, while she focuses on teaching her students and dreams of the day when Jack comes home safely and they can plan their wedding.
Starring Erin Krakow, Daniel Lissing, Lori Loughlin, Jack Wagner, Pascale Hutton, Kavan J. Smith

Of course, all titles will also be available on Super Channel on Demand after they have premiered on air. We are creating a special section on the website to make it quick and easy for you to browse and find titles to add to your must-see list!

So, what do you think? Does this sound like something you will make a part of your Sunday plans? Please keep the feedback coming – we love to hear it, and it does make a difference!

Thanks for subscribing, and thanks for watching. We truly hope you enjoy Heart & Home with everyone in your family. It's TV you can trust, with shows you'll love.

Heart & Home, see it together on Super Channel.

Hearties Family Reunion

Hearties Family Reunion

Monday, October 30, 2017

By Shelley Page


I recently had the pleasure of attending the 3rd annual Hearties Family Reunion, a unique volunteer-organized event for loyal fans (aka Hearties) of the TV series When Calls the Heart...

Approximately 450 participants including everyone from children to grandparents travelled from across Canada, the US and as far away as Germany to Langley, BC, to take part in a weekend of fun and fellowship centred around their favourite program. Highlights included question and answer panels with the creators and stars of the show, autograph and photo sessions with cast, and a behind-the-scenes tour of the set, which is located on a family-owned farm in Langley (if you ever get the chance to tour the MacInnes property and meet the hospitable family, I would highly recommend it!) I was impressed that the gracious stars, including even the youngest actors, stayed long past their scheduled appearance time on Saturday to ensure that everyone in attendance got a chance to spend a few minutes with them. They really seem to grasp the importance of making their fans feel valued.

The popular frontier drama is currently filming Season 5. Historically, Canada has been several seasons behind the US in airing the series; something that has proven quite frustrating for fans here. They are very active on social media and enjoy sharing news and discussing episodes online, and haven't been able to do that with their American friends. As of this fall, Season 4 has been airing on Super Channel, and we were happy to announce at this event that we will carry Season 5 at the same time as the US in February 2018. Response to this news was overwhelmingly positive, not only from fans, but also from cast and crew, many of whom are Canadian. They explained how disappointing it has been that this show, which is produced here, employs such a large number of the local film community, and is based on books by Canadian author Janette Oke, has been so hard for Canadian viewers to access. The fact that they and their families can now watch the newest seasons was so important to them, and they were very appreciative.

Hearties Family Reunion Cast

So, what is behind the incredible international popularity and success of this series? Well, as some of the cast explained it, the world can be a crazy, chaotic and sometimes cruel place right now. Viewers crave a safe, warm, positive place with solid values that they can share with their families. There are not many shows on TV right now that offer that type of viewing experience, but When Calls the Heart definitely does.

For many at this event, however, it seems to be more than that. Over the weekend, I learned a little about what the Hearties community has meant to its members. Many ladies have built incredible friendships through their online interactions, sharing not just their passion for the show – but also triumphs, tragedies and everyday details from their personal lives. Even the cast embrace the love of this extended family - I heard about one of the female Canadian stars who recently travelled to the US and then spent a day touring the city she was visiting with a local Heartie she had a relationship with online. A truly trusted and tight-knit group!

Hearties Family Reunion Set

In television, there are no guarantees for the future of any show. But the Hearties work tirelessly to promote the series, and ensure that producers know its importance in their lives. Their enthusiasm is certainly infectious, and the popularity of an event like the Family Reunion is hard to ignore. I'm quite confident that there will be a 4th annual gathering next year, and it wouldn't surprise me one bit if there are many more seasons to come of the program that brings them all together.


Join us on twitter during episodes! #CanadianHearties @superchannel