Vittoria has its moment in the spotlight this week in an episode of the CBC’s hit comedy Still Standing.
A film crew spent four days in Vittoria and surrounding area last year at this time. Production culminated with an evening of comedy in front of a packed house at the Vittoria Community Centre on Oct. 16, 2019.
Still Standing stars comedian Jonny Harris, who also has a recurring role on the crime drama Murdoch Mysteries as Const. George Crabtree. Still Standing is into its sixth season.
The episode showcasing Vittoria was on CBC TV 8 p.m. on Oct. 27.
That’s the same day Norfolk council takes a preliminary look at its 2021 10-year capital budget. Vittoria Coun.
CBC’s publicity department provided a description of the episode to come.
“The hamlet of Vittoria is nestled in Norfolk County in the heart of ‘Ontario’s Garden,’” Tanya Koivusalo said in a news release.
“From the 1950s to the 1970s, farmers made fortunes harvesting the lucrative cash crop tobacco. But – with the increase in public health awareness and anti-smoking measures — the multi-billion dollar tobacco industry took a hit and so did Vittoria.
“Today, Vittoria is rising from the ashes. Farmers have diversified into new products such as ginseng, and community spirit keeps residents passionate about preserving their corner of Norfolk County.”
Last year’s comedy night featured sets from Harris and Still Standing writers Fraser Young and Graham Chittenden. Clips from the evening were interspersed throughout the program while Harris ventures out into the field to meet and converse with local personalities.
These included representatives of The Canadian Raptor Conservancy, the Norfolk Quilters Guild, the Catherwood and Kiln pizza shop, the Good Bread Co., and ginseng producers who filled the void following the decline of tobacco farming.
In their routines, the CBC comedians poke fun at the communities they profile. Harris’s stand-up featured puns, word play, gentle teasing about regional differences, and other familiar devices from the CBC comedy playbook.
“A lot of farmers switched to the patch when they quit tobacco – the pumpkin patch and the corn patch,” Harris told the crowd last year. “You went from being Don Draper in Mad Men to Hal and Joanne in Body Break.”
Vittoria caught Still Standing’s attention, in part, because it is a pretty place with interesting buildings and a storied past.
From 1815 to 1825, Vittoria was the capital of what was then known as London District. After the administration building-court house in Vittoria burned in 1825, the district capital was moved to London.
“There are many factors we have to take into consideration when we are looking for towns to feature on Still Standing, and Vittoria fit the bill,” executive producer Anne Francis said prior to filming last fall. “It has the right population, it’s picturesque, it was once very significant, and has interesting architecture and interesting people.
“Also, we’ve long wanted to do an episode in the tobacco belt.”
Still Standing has showcased 65 Canadian communities through its first five seasons. The Vittoria episode will also be available on the free CBC Gem streaming service.