Goodwood, Ont., becomes tourist hot spot as backdrop of Schitt's Creek
'There's a real sense of pride and we're very sad to see it go,' mayor says of concluding show
Goodwood, Ont., is the Schitt and couldn't be prouder.
The picturesque bedroom community north of Toronto, population 663, is also known as Schitt's Creek for being the site of many key locations in the hit comedy series of the same name. It has attracted busloads of international tourists hoping to see the sets and stars.
Locals have also rallied around the show, setting up lawn chairs to watch filming, bringing baked goods and pizza to the stars on set, and holding Schitt's Creek-themed spirit days at the primary school.
"It's been an economic boost to Goodwood," Dave Barton, mayor of Goodwood's township of Uxbridge, said in a recent phone interview.
"There's a real sense of pride and we're very sad to see it go."
The next season that's set for January on CBC and Pop TV is the sixth and final one for the acclaimed series, which was co-created by father-and-son stars Eugene and Daniel Levy. Catherine O'Hara and Annie Murphy star alongside them as the formerly wealthy Rose family who now live in a motel in a town they once bought as a joke.
The motel sits on the side of a highway west of Uxbridge, in the Hockley Valley region. It's also become a tourist attraction, although many interior scenes are shot at a Toronto studio.
But the key spot for fans, some who call themselves "Schittheads," is Goodwood, a hamlet where several Schitt's landmarks sit opposite each other at one main intersection: auto shop Bob's Garage, general store Rose Apothecary, and the diner Cafe Tropical.
Then there's Schitt's Creek Town Hall down the street and various other Goodwood locations used for filming every June.
"I remember season 1, we had to approach this town and tell them, 'You are going to be Schitt's Creek,"' Daniel Levy, who is also the showrunner, said in a recent on-set interview in Goodwood.
"And I think it took a lot of blind faith on the part of the town to believe us when we said, 'We will be doing this place justice and we will be honouring small-town life in your city.'
"And they were behind us from Day 1."
Levy said they chose Goodwood because it fit their need for what looks like "a single-intersection town" that has a quaintness, timelessness, warmth and care for its people and properties.
'It was good all the way around'
Goodwood resident Sue Skovhoj admitted she was initially skeptical about the moniker of Schitt's Creek for the affluent area, which comprises a mix of new gated neighbourhoods, century homes from the 1800s, and farms.
"Maybe it felt a little bit like a slight against Goodwood," she said.
But that quickly dissipated when the cast and crew proved themselves to be polite, helpful and community-oriented.
"It's a great show and I think people are supportive of it here," said Skovhoj, who got to meet Eugene Levy and has brought family members to the set.
Annina's Bakeshop, which sits at the same intersection as the three main Schitt's landmarks, was the set's caterer from seasons 1-5 and has seen the cast drop in occasionally.
Owner Marco Cassano said business spiked recently as fans flooded the area to see the set one last time, and as the show's presence on Netflix made it an international phenomenon.
"It increased business but it also made it chaotic, especially this season," he said.
"But it was good for atmosphere, publicity, getting our name out there.... So it was good all the way around for the economy."
Indeed, the show has put Goodwood on the map — literally.
A Google Maps search of "Schitt's Creek" brings up the location of Bob's Garage as well as the site of the motel.
On a recent Sunday afternoon, dozens of die-hards from around Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. clogged the four-corner intersection hoping to catch a glimpse of the cast.
About 95 of those fans were part of SchittCon, an event organized by Louise Downs, the Halifax-based creator of the 14,000-member "Schitt's Creek Fans Shoot The Schitt" Facebook group.
Participants ranged in age from 14 to 70 and wore T-shirts, lanyards and drawstring cotton backpacks with the SchittCon logo.
They visited all the show's sets and got to meet cast members including the Levys.
"They've had such a big impact on my life," said a tearful Emmett Martin, a transgender SchittCon participant from Barrie, Ont., referring to Daniel Levy's LGBTQ advocacy and his pansexual Schitt's character.
"Dan has helped me a lot with my coming out and stuff. It's really nice to see someone who's pansexual on TV.... He's one of my idols."
Jennifer Robertson, who plays the mayor's wife Jocelyn on the show, said she met a SchittCon couple from Michigan who had been at the set for nearly a week.
"They stood in the pouring rain for the whole day just to watch us go into the town hall and come out," Robertson said.
"You can't ask for better fans."
With filming on the final season now finished in Goodwood, the cast and crew have packed up and gone, and the landmarks are back to business as usual.
Bob's Garage is actually a workshop for a man who modifies and custom-builds wheelchairs, accessible beds, and furniture for people with special physical needs. Rose Apothecary is the Goodwood branch of Toronto knitting shop Romni Wools. And Cafe Tropical is a private residence.
Barton said they would love to have another production come into the area now that Schitt's is gone.
"It was a big win for Uxbridge," Barton said.
"It was something to talk about and laugh about, and we were very happy to have them."