Behind the scenes and beyond the film industry of the Jamestown Movie Set, is the hardworking MacInnes family, who not only own the property but have also nurtured it into the present day. The MacInnes’ are hands-on farmers who continue to develop their business and demonstrate that farming and film can go hand-in-hand. The MacInnes family graciously offered more insight into the establishment of Jamestown and their farming practices, as well as how they have shared their home and backyard with millions around the world.
SC: Can you share more about the MacInnes family, how long you have been living on your Langley property, and who is involved in the business?
MacInnes Family (MF): Rod and Wendy MacInnes moved onto the farm in May 1977 in the hopes to continue and expand their cow/calf operation. They built two large barns for the feedlot and increased their operation to 600 head. In 1978 Kevin, their first child was born and in 1980 Melanie was born. They continued their cow/calf operation until 1981 when they sold the cattle and converted the barns into a dairy operation, with 120 head of cows. In 1991 they sold their dairy business and planted 36 acres of cottonwood trees and converted the barns into 40 stables for horse boarding. In the 2000's Kevin met Krista and Melanie met Andrew, and then along came Ivy and Izzy (Kevin and Krista's daughters) and Sebastian and Lachlan (Melanie and Andrew's sons). The cottonwood trees were planted as a hard crop for Scott Paper to be used for toilet and computer paper. The trees are hybrids and grow quickly for harvesting every 10 years. However, the Scott Paper Mill, the buyers of the wood, shut down their pulp/paper mill; thus, rendering the cottonwood trees, useless.
SC: How did you begin the Jamestown Movie Set?
MF: After Scott Paper Mill shut down, we were scouted for a movie, which required a village, ironically, surrounded by cottonwood trees. They asked if they could build a small village, to which we said yes! After the filming was complete, we offered to keep the buildings, rather than see them disposed of in the landfills. We offered the small village to film productions that were interested in filming in BC. Around 2010 Peter DeLuise directed Beyond Sherwood Forest and The Book of Beasts which were both filmed in our cottonwood trees. There were lots of horses used in the film and a couple of the horse wranglers suggested we move the buildings and build a town, a western town. For some crazy reason we said sure and proceeded to move the buildings and built a western town, "Build it and they will come.”
SC: Where did the name Jamestown come from?
MF: The head carpenter is Wendy's brother Norman James Caplette and two of the horse wranglers involved in the town at the time had the first names "James," thus the name Jamestown.
SC: Can you share more about how your agricultural practices support the set?
MF: Surrounding the Jamestown Movie Set are fields of barley and hazelnut trees, near the mine are hop yards, honeybee hives and apple trees. Our biggest dream would be to see WCTH incorporate farming into the series, maybe with some old-fashioned harvesting, thus demonstrating where the residents of Hope Valley get their food.
SC: What are the types of crops that you have on the farm?
MF: 10 acres of Barley, 1 acre of Hops, 5 acres of Apple Trees, 5 acres of Hazelnut Trees, 50 honeybee hives and market gardens.
SC: How has the type of farming grown over the years?
MF: Melanie and Andrew are creating a permaculture style farm, which means working with the local topography and environment. MacInnes Farms is a beautiful piece of property with rolling hills, gullies and old growth trees, but in terms of farming this can make things difficult. Rather than work against nature we have decided to work with it. We have teamed up with the BC Farm Museum in Fort Langley and use old-fashioned farming equipment, as this works well with our land and allows people to see where farming came from and the antique equipment in use. The farm is also creating a 5-acre pollinator conservation area to help educate people about the importance of pollinators, as well they are completing an Environmental Farm Plan. We realize the importance of value-added products, thus inspiring us to start a farm brewery using all our own ingredients, Locality Brewing.
SC: How many movies/tv series/etc. are filmed at Jamestown every year?
MF: Within the set of Jamestown, WCTH is the primary occupant, but we have two film zones on MacInnes Farms that are geographically divided by a creek/gully. In total, we have had over 100 films in 10 years.
SC: When do you have set tours and who would Hearties contact to set that up?
MF: We have farm/set tours between filming of WCTH, which usually run between January to June. People can e-mail Melanie at firstname.lastname@example.org to enquire about tours. If you sign up to our newsletter there will be monthly updates about larger group tours and events. This is the link for the Newsletter .
SC: What has been the most enjoyable part of being the home of Hope Valley?
MF: Meeting the amazing people who make and produce the show, all the actors and of course we love Janette Oke, the author of the book series WCTH. The children and their parents are so much fun! We are blown away by the love and support from the Hearties, the fans of WCTH. Melanie and her two sons absolutely love being extras on the show.
SC: Are there any residents (ex: animals) who live there year-round?
MF: The horses from WCTH live in Hope Valley during filming and some of those horses live here, year-round. The picture is of Andy the horse, he is Abigail’s horse in WCTH but was also Price Charming's horse in Once Upon A Time. We have a farm dog and barn cats, as well as two lop-eared bunnies. We also have 300 free-range chickens and lots of wild visitors such as coyotes, deer, geese, ducks and prey birds. Oh and of course our resident honeybees!
SC: If Hearties were to visit British Columbia, where would you recommend that they visit?
MF: We highly recommend Fort Langley BC, the birthplace of BC (only 10 minutes from our farm), as well many Hallmark movies have been filmed there. Surrounding MacInnes Farms is the Langley Circle Farm Tour and the 248TH Historical Trail. If you are a horse lover, I recommend checking out the shows at Thunderbird Equestrian Centre. Also, we would recommend Grouse Mountain, Capilano Suspension Bridge, Whistler, Squamish, if you can go into the Rocky Mountains they are absolutely breathtaking.
SC: What has it meant to have When Calls the Heart airing in Canada at the same time as the Hallmark Channel?
MF: We absolutely love watching WCTH in parallel with our American neighbours. There were a couple years at the beginning where we were not caught-up with the American fans, so when they would come on a tour we wouldn’t know what had happened in that season yet! We now have so many more Canadian fans curious about the show and set. We love the mini-documentaries that Edify Films created, and that Super Channel uses in place of Hallmark’s commercial breaks. We love watching the making of the series, like about the creation of the costumes and hearing from the directors and the actors! We have been so lucky to have met Don McDonald, Super Channel’s CEO, and Shelley Page who communicates with the Hearties and with us through social media and events, making us feel connected to the network. Also we have been so impressed by the hard work and dedication by Desiree Nelson to get WCTH airing at the same time as the US. Talk about home grown TV! We are excited about Super Channel’s Heart & Home programming!
SC: What hopes/goals/dreams do you have for the future of the farm?
MF: So many! Ha! We are continuously dreaming but we would love to see a connection between farm/film, either with more farming in the background of shows or through mini-documentaries and miniseries about farming. We would like to continue to diversify the farm and connect people to the land where their food and drinks are grown. We also want to give people the opportunity to see a permaculture farm and hope we can be a successful model of biodiversity and farming. We have a big dream to open a farm store, with fresh produce from our farm and our neighbours, as well as a tasting room with beer made from the ingredients on our farm. You can start following our microbrewery and you can follow our farming ventures.
SC: Any fun facts/additional information that you can share about the farm, your family, or having WCTH filmed in your backyard?
MF: The historical trail, Telegraph Trail cuts through the farm, as well the original farmstead house was where the row houses are. There is a 100-year-old lilac tree in Elizabeth’s backyard. The original BC railway is the Southern Boundary of the farm and was instrumental in getting milk into Vancouver in the early 1900's. That first year, looking out the farmhouse window and seeing the widows with their faces covered in coal dust was an absolute spin out.
SC: From the early days of Coal Valley to the developing town of Hope Valley, the Jamestown Movie Set continues to be the home of the Hearties. The cast and crew have also indicated how unique this filming location is, as it physically takes them back into the early 1900s, in addition, to hardly ever needing to leave the Jamestown Movie Set to film elsewhere.
The MacInnes family have put their hearts into Hope Valley and hard work into their agricultural practices, pioneering a partnership between film and farm. Follow their innovative yet historical efforts on social media and consider signing up for the newsletter. Definitely do not miss a chance to visit this picturesque little town, because for the Hearties, the MacInnes’ are like family and the Jamestown Movie Set has become their Home Sweet Hope Valley Home.
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