CBC’s “Still Standing” is Huron County bound…..

The Municipality of Huron East’s Village of Vanastra in the Spotlight of CBC’s Hit TV Show starring Jonny Harris

JohnnyHarris-501sIt’s been said that people and communities are their history, with all the good, the bad and the complex that entails. Certainly, the residents of the present Village of Vanastra can relate. Once Canada’s top-secret radar training centre during World War II, this former Royal Canadian Air Force base was one with no runways, and no airplanes. But what it accomplished was outstanding, remarkable, exceptional – all that – an initiative that helped the Allies win the war and led to its successful and comprehensive educational programmes, which continued until 1971 when the base was closed.

CFBClinton AirForce Day 1956

The community’s rich history and recent checkered past have attracted the producers of the popular television show “Still Standing” and the series’ gifted star Jonny Harris who, with their talented crew, will soon be developing an episode featuring the Village of Vanastra.

Stillstanding“Still Standing” seeks out small towns that have seen better days, but where community spirit still runs strong and where residents smile through adversity, make jokes about hard times, and foster a ‘stand and deliver’ attitude no matter what happens. As the team likes to say, “We are on a mission to find humour in the funniest of places.”—in places that surprise viewers.

Hailing from Pouch Cove, Newfoundland-Labrador (population 1,866 in 2011), award-winning comedian Jonny Harris transports his infectious humour and upbeat outlook on life in small town Canada to every community he visits. He obviously enjoys meeting new people and infuses every encounter with a huge chunk of his heart. If you aren’t taken with Jonny within five minutes of meeting him, you probably aren’t capable of loving anyone—so says one of his team anyway. Harris also plays Constable George Crabtree on CBC’s Murdoch Mysteries with the same tongue-in-cheek, down-home but keen acumen he brings to “Still Standing”, which is described as a toast rather than a roast—a salute to villages and hamlets that never close their doors.

Colleague Chuck Byrn reports that, in developing its first season aired last year, Harris wrote and performed over eight hours of original stand-up material, visited 13 towns, eight provinces, two oceans and many lakes, met trappers, cowboys, farmers, beauty queens and businessmen, and birthed, caught, sheared, milked and probed all sorts of animals. Talk about daunting dedication to one’s art!

Executive Producer Maureen Riley feels Canadians particularly enjoy shows about themselves—and a light-hearted half hour is welcome relief from some of the bad news stories in the headlines. Riley reports that the crew and cast feel like “Super Tourists”—residents of the towns they visit are so open, so welcoming. The “Still Standing” troupe gets the red carpet treatment within a hometown welcome that’s special every time.

In addition to clips from conversations with interesting characters in the village, the programme will include a live comedy show, starring Jonny Harris of course, to be presented and filmed in the Vanastra Community Christian Reformed Church on February 5, 2016.   This no-charge event is on a first come-first served basis with doors opening at 6:00 p.m. Further information about the performance is available from Huron East’s Economic Development Officer, Jan Hawley, at 519-527-0160 or at jhawley@huroneast.com.

And so Huron East’s historic village that recently launched a revitalization project after decades of benign neglect, will star in a 2016 episode of the CBC show, which recognizes it’s the people who make a place. Their stories enrich the fabric of their town and their laughter enriches all of us.

Watch for the new season of “Still Standing” expected in late summer or early fall. It’s refreshing. It’s original. And it’s definitely funny without being ‘precious’ (as Jonny says).

Still Standing Poster VANASTRA 4 NEW


 Written by: Carolyn Parks Mintz for the Municipality of Huron East

Fit for LIFE?



DCS LogoIt’s said there are no accidents to life—and Kaleda Connell would agree, for this energetic people-person seems to have “accidentally” become a popular and competent fitness trainer almost by chance.  At a rather low point in her life, Kaleda decided to take up regular exercise through CrossFit programmes, and she was hooked at first lift.

9887-1Not only did she see physical results, her spirits improved and her goals changed. Eventually, Kaleda decided to obtain CrossFit trainer certification. The next step in her unexpected transition was a bit of a surprise, but a fortuitous one.

9717Talking about her successes in the gym with others and on social media led to friends and acquaintances asking her to train them. Sharing the benefits of CrossFit with others was a logical fit for Kaleda. Her enthusiasm is infectious and her dedication unquestionable.

DSC_0444As CrossFit founder Greg Glassman says, “The needs of Olympic athletes and our grandparents differ by degree, not kind—one needs functional competency to win gold medals and one needs it to stay out of the nursing home.” From this truism, Kaleda’s Degree CrossFit Seaforth business took shape.

9751DSC_0436Combining varied full-body exercise with the encouragement and exuberance of a work-out group is a recipe for success. With aspects of weight lifting, track and field, and gymnastics, Kaleda’s specially designed programmes are tailored to the needs of people of all ages.

9820Personal training available.

EquipmentThe Municipality of Huron East’s successful and inspiring “Win This Space” initiative spurred Kaleda on to eventually expand to a larger facility.  She soon found the perfect building in which to set up a CrossFit “box”, where she welcomes her keen regulars as well as athletes new to CrossFit. Kaleda Connell and Degree Fitness care—about your health, about how you’re feeling, and your future.

Cathy and Doug Elliott Open HouseCommunity comes out for Degree CrossFit Seaforth’s Open House and tours of its new facility.

DSC_0441Comfortable seating and bright open space complement the workout area.

Waiting roomThe supportive athletic community fostered there is so much more than barbells and weights. It’s your space, your place of self-care, and because it’s fun, you’ll know you’ve truly won when you leave – looking forward to the next time.

9806For further information, contact;

Kaleda Connell
CrossFit Level 1 Trainer
CrossFit Weightlifting Trainer

Degree CrossFit Seaforth 38 Railway Street, Seaforth ON

Written for the Municipality of Huron East by: Carolyn Parks Mintz

Photography: Lynne Moreland, Westcoast Photography & Jan Hawley