Tuesday night was a big night for the Village of McAdam, its people, its historic railway station and its fictional favourite daughter.
CBC TV's hit television series, Still Standing, broadcast its latest episode on Tuesday, this one focusing its affectionate attentions on the New Brunswick village. It was a laugh-filled half-hour featuring Canada's favourite comedian and actor, Jonny Harris.
Alongside interviews with various local personalities, Harris chatted with Mark Walma, author of the Abigail Massey at McAdam Station stories, about the Abigail project and about Walma's relationship with the struggling town.
"It was a huge event, for the Village, the Station and for me personally," Walma said after the show. "I think we all had a really positive feeling about how Jonny and the crew from CBC and Frantic Films would present McAdam and its stories but the final episode surpassed even those high expectations."
Still Standing characterizes itself as offering love letters to Canada's struggling small communities, offering an entertaining mix of interviews with local personalities, information about the community and its history and original stand up comedy, written by Harris and a team of writers, that focuses uniquely on the community and its people.
"I felt they really delivered on their promises," Walma said with a smile. "The episode told McAdam's story very well and managed to produce a surprising number of laughs for a half-hour show."
For example, Harris drew big laughs when he described McAdam as "the first town in Canada to have a same-sex marriage before it has a Tim Hortons" as he profiled a lovely young couple who are planning their wedding for this fall, with the reception to be held at the Station.
He also profiled the local hair dresser, the proprietors of a nearby hunting and fishing lodge and the former mayor and his sister who are at the heart of the Station's restoration effort.
"In a show filled with highlights, the best moment for me was the interview with Frank Campbell," Walma commented. "Frank is one of the most knowledgeable people in McAdam when it comes to the history of the Station and he proved an entertaining and colourful speaker. I've been associated with the Station for about five years now and I still learned a lot from Frank's appearance on the show."
Walma himself figured prominently in the episode. He appeared regularly in the scenes from the stand-up comedy show (usually shown laughing uproariously) and he was presented chatting with Harris in the Station's lunch counter about the Abigail books as well.
Several of Lynn Walma's wonderful illustrations were also featured on-screen during the course of the episode.
After telling the story of the Abigail project and noting that it has raised more than $20,000 for the Station's restoration fund, Harris rounded out the segment by telling Walma that, while everyone appreciated the fact that he had taken the time to attend the show in McAdam, they all would much rather he go home and write more stories in support of the Station.
"No worries there," Walma said. "[Co-author] Mary [E. O'Keefe] and I are just putting the final touches on the stories for Abigail, Volume 5, which will be launched this winter in time for Christmas."
Walma said he was impressed with the fact that the Still Standing episode focused on the positive when it comes to the future of McAdam. In fact, Harris made it clear that, based on his experience in visiting struggling communities across Canada, he felt McAdam has a real chance to survive if it makes the restored Station a focal point of the Village's future.
"The show itself is already helping," Walma added. "I've received emails and tweets from across Canada, asking for more information about the Abigail books and how to buy them. Plus, website traffic is up significantly!"
The McAdam episode of CBC's Still Standing is now available online at the CBC TV website.