Karl Schutz and Still Standing host Jonny Harris talk about the history of the Chemainus mural project. (Photo by Chris Armstrong)

Karl Schutz and Still Standing host Jonny Harris talk about the history of the Chemainus mural project. (Photo by Chris Armstrong)

Wide range of reaction to Still Standing program on Chemainus

Chemainus Theatre cited as a significant omission by many

The Still Standing TV episode on Chemainus that aired on CBC last Wednesday continues to garner strong reactions from residents and debate in the community.

We solicited comments by email and the Chemainus Valley Courier Facebook page as well as the Chemainus Shoutouts Facebook page from participants in the show, key community leaders and regular citizens for their opinions on what the program meant to the town and how it was perceived. The absence of the Chemainus Theatre from the show was frequently mentioned as a criticism.

“Wow, Still Standing brought back some good memories to Europe and especially our trip to Sucevita (Romania) which inspired the idea for the murals in Chemainus,” noted Karl Schutz, who was featured on the show. “So many good ideas about the town and the many people who live here and who made it the way it is. Still Standing will definitely inspire many people to come to Chemainus and learn for themselves what makes it tick, to check out the new gateway to old town and the new murals for themselves. Definitely a great show and very inspiring.”

“I thought it was put together quite well,” said Ralf Rosenke of Riot Brewing, who appeared on the program with co-owner Aly Tomlin. “It made Chemainus look amazing, very welcoming. I think they did an amazing job of that. Hopefully, it’ll draw a lot of people to town once people are coming to town again. We’re grateful to have been included and where we fit in moving forward with small town Chemainus.”

The Riot Brewing duo watched the program with Brittany Pickard, another interviewee.

“That was the most nervous I have ever felt in my entire life,” noted Pickard. “I wanted to make Chemainus proud. Love our little town.

Resident Ron Waller wasn’t a fan of the way Chemainus came across.

“Pathetic. Did not depict our town at all. I was hoping, but so disappointed.”

“I think we should look at the positive,” countered Pickard. “Let’s hope it brings people from all over Canada to come and enjoy our amazing community. It is so hard to capture everything about Chemainus in only 30 minutes.”

“All I am saying, no mention of the theatre, the harbour, the beach, our lakes and not much on the actual murals itself,” added Waller.

Naomi Sampson added her philosophical approach. “Congratulations to all the people of Chemainus who made an appearance in Still Standing. Remember you can’t please everyone.”

The Chemainus Business Improvement Association is thrilled Still Standing is live and out for all to see.

”They did a fantastic job covering the history of the murals and the mural artwork,” elaborated executive director Krystal Adams. “Integrating in videos and images of old really gave it that something extra. We would have loved to see the Chemainus Valley Cultural Arts Society and the Chemainus Theatre represented, however, because they were on a sabbatical due to COVID during the filming time frame, it is understandable why this wasn’t a main shining light.

”What we did get to see was dynamic vignettes within our small town and the people whose lives drive our community. CBC came convinced Chemainus had something special people would want to know about. They started to craft their narrative by following the stories they found while they were here and just like that it became something. Chemainus got to be showcased on a prime time network and the beauty of the town came through for all the world to see. It will forever live on media streaming devices, as we have just become part of a living history. We couldn’t have asked for more. Thank you Chemainus for being so amazing and allowing the Still Standing crew to come and glimpse our town.”

As a member of the business community since 2002, Leena Cameron didn’t think the show did justice to the town.

“It was nice to see familiar smiling faces, but would have liked to have seen something about the theatre and the 737 dive site in the harbour that people from all over the world come to, could have talked about the Outdoor Music Festival that runs through the summer, the vintage car shows on Maple Lane and at different times at the Chemainus Market, could have said the train used to bring tourists from Victoria, could have mentioned the giant street sale every summer when Willow Street is abuzz with thousands of people etc.,” she commented. “It was nice to see Riot Brewing highlighted, I caught a glimpse of Soul’s Toast and the Owl’s Nest & the ever-popular horse and carriage, but Chemainus came across as a ghost town, perhaps maybe because of COVID, but if I wasn’t here already,the show sure didn’t inspire me to go visit Chemainus.”

“Well, the show was great,” offered Kelly-Ann Argue of the horse and carriage fame. “It highlighted some of the upbeat highlights of town. It showed us as a fun place and it was light-hearted. It wasn’t meant to be a full-on documentary as far as I know. I will be the first to admit that nowadays you mention Pamela Anderson and people will listen. I am one of the biggest advocates for the history and attractions, but that isn’t as entertaining as saying Pamela was here. Just my two cents. Be a little less critical and a little more lighthearted.”

“This was a very colourful depiction of Chemainus, I’m not sure what the premise behind “I’m still standing” is so I can’t comment on its content,” noted Wendy Palou. “I do know that Chemainus is made up of much more than what was depicted and I’d like to put a shout out to all our volunteers and businesses that were missed, as they are the backbone of the town. Rotary, Chemainus Health Care, Thrift Store, Steeples, the museum, fire department, we are so much more. I did really enjoy the show but we all know what we are really made of.”

“I really enjoyed the premise of the show and everybody was wonderful in it,” Tracy Robinson indicated. “I think I would have appreciated some additional focus on long term residents/locals who really are the backbone of our town, like those amazing volunteers of the Chemainus Auxiliary Thrift Store and how much they have done for their community, but I get it, there’s only 30 minutes in the program and 20 of those are saved for commercials.”

“The show was enjoyable but the focus was on such a small portion of people that the show felt a little cliquish,” Barb Landygo agreed. “There was no mention of our theatre or music festivals or weekly music in the park, the scuba dive site, etc. There is so much more to our town than murals and beer.”

“While the outside of the theater was shown, it would have been great to see the interior,” Rick Bookham pointed out. “I know COVID would have made it impossible to film with an audience. The theatre is still pretty remarkable for a town this size.”

“The local celebs featured did a great job,” observed Laurie Douglas. “I would have liked to see the theatre, as well as the many new shops and services that have opened since that are ‘Still Standing’. But at least we got some local exposure. I’m excited to see Maynard’s entrance to the Waterwheel Park. I hope that happens.”

“It was fantastic watching it as Chemainus is home, my parents, in-laws and brother along with many friends are still there,” RoseAnne Anttila noted. “My husband Ove was watching and when they featured Mike Marks and his yellow Chevy, Ove said with a smile he can’t believe he still has that car. Ove was one of the many who would “drag race” with their muscle cars at Bare Point. Well done, Chemainus, and the folks who took the time to be interviewed and to those who also did a lot of behind the scenes leg work to pull this off.”

“It was interesting, but not what I expected, a rather narrow focus, murals and jokes,” Maureen Pietrzykowski added. “Chemainus is so much more.”

“I love Still Standing and I love Jonny, but I was very disappointed in program,” Marilyn Irving remarked. “I know it was supposed to be about how Chemainus survived after the mill closed, but the town has much more depth to it than the murals. There are families still living there that go back seven generations and have contributed much to town (all born in the Chemainus Hospital). Also, Chemainus still thrived without murals. There were still other industries there like fishing, logging, Crofton Mill, stevedoring, dairy farming.”

Some other comments:

Margaret Winn Fullerton: “I wish it was longer to depict more of the wonderful places around town. We need an episode 2.”

Jodie Greis-Phillips: “Wish they showed more of our town’s favourite ambassadors.”

Mary Dice: “I thought I would recognize way more people in the audience. Definitely should have had our very own ‘Hooker’ Val the Rughooking Lady. COVID got in the way bigtime, I think. Thanks for coming Johnny.”

Darlene Newton: “I believe that the theatre should have gotten time on the show. It is one of the biggest draws for our town.”

Kathy Smith: “Fantastic to see the folks around town, the history around the murals that made the town famous and hear all the story bits. My Chemainus pride swelled in my heart. Kept it on the pvr to watch it again.”

Susan Margetts: “I think considering this was filmed during a difficult time, especially for the crew and all the extra that needed to be done just to be able to film, they did a great job. It was great to see our little town shine.”

Russ Charles: “Well done and good for small businesses in Chemainus.”

Wendy Roberton: “It was a great job. I lived there for over 30 years and moved away. I still think of Chemainus as home. Loved seeing the town and the people in this light.”

Wally Kodric: “Great job by those interviewed. They picked the right people.”

Joanne Godkin Raabe: “Disappointed there was nothing except a photo of the theatre.”

Nicky Bobby Marks: “I thought it was a good showing of what the town was, what happened to it, and how it had to change, all in a very short period of time. I enjoyed the heck outta it.”

Anne Morrison: “ One wish I had was to cover the contributions of our beautiful local theatre.”

Sam Morrow: “It was awesome. I’ve always been a fan of Still Standing and just felt so proud of what was said about Chemainus. I watched it twice.”

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