The rain was pouring down hard upon Hope Valley in Langley Township Saturday morning, soaking the imitation 1910-era mining town and turning the one-lane gravel road that connects the outdoor set to the outside world into a sea of mud.
Not that any of that seemed to matter to the more than 200 fans of When Calls the Heart inside the giant tent at the end of the road.
The “Hearties,” as they are known, cheered and laughed and delivered several standing ovations while the stars of the Langley-based production took questions.
It was the “Hearties Family reunion,” a gathering of the most dedicated supporters of the Hallmark Television series that is shot in Langley Township.
Hearties have their own website http://www.heartieswcth.com/ and a Facebook page; “Fans of Hallmark’s When Calls The Heart” which has more than 30,000 members.
Most at the Langley event had come from the States, as far away as Southern California and Arizona, some in period costume.
The Hearties applauded when they heard how producers keep a photo of fans in their office to remind them who the family-oriented show is for.
The fans learned why the Canadian actors on the show are more likely to play rivals and villains to the main characters; because the heroic leads are usually cast first, in the U.S.
Marcus Rosner (Charles Kensington), who plays a rival to series lead Daniel Lissing (RCMP officer Jack Thornton) didn’t seem to mind.
“You kind of get used to being the antagonist,” he said.
The Australian-born Lissing described how he has developed an increasing ease with the North American accent he uses for his character over time, going from keeping the accent on all the time, even between takes, to where he now switches back once a scene is done.
Erin Krakow (Elizabeth Thatcher), whose character gives up her high-society life to teach children in a small Western Canadian mining town, talked about researching the life of a teacher in the Canada of the early 1900s.
Nine-year-old Gracyn Shinyei (Emily Montgomery) was asked what was the most fun and the most boring parts of working on a hit series.
“The most fun is when we’re on set but not rolling and we get to chat a bit,” Gracyn said.
The most boring is “sitting in the tent” and waiting to be called to do a scene, she said.
The fans even did a video promo for the show, chorusing “follow your heart to Sundays” to promote the coming shift in schedule this February, when the third season will begin airing.
When Calls the Heart is based on Janette Oke’s bestselling book series about the Canadian West.
The series began airing on the Hallmark Channel in the United States in January of 2014, and later that year on Super Channel in Canada.
The first season was aired by CBC Television as a summer series in 2015.
Star Erin Krakow takes questions from about 200 fans at a “Hearties Family Reunion” Krakow plays Elizabeth Thatcher in the Hallmark series “When Calls the Heart” which is shot in Langley Township. Executive producer Brian Bird is to the left of Krakow. Photo by Dan FERGUSON/Langley Times.
Diana Marquez from California was one of several “Hearties” who showed up in period costume. Photo by Dan FERGUSON/Langley Times.
Castmates Gracyn Shinyei (Emily Montgomery) and Marcus Rosner (Charles Kensington) took questions at the “Hearties Family Reunion.” Photo by Dan FERGUSON/Langley Times.