Vankleek Hill hit the small screen on Monday evening (July 18), as the final episode of the new TVO original series Crossroads: Beyond Boom & Bust – which profiles changes coming to small towns in Ontario – aired at 7 p.m.
The one-hour episode focused on how Vankleek’s Hill population has changed little in more than a century and featured several local residents talking about the community and challenges facing it in the future, including Review publisher Louise Sproule.
“I think it’s one of my favourites in the series,” Jennifer Horvath, Executive Producer at Alibi Entertainment, told The Review prior to Monday’s premiere of the Vankleek Hill episode of Crossroads: Beyond Boom & Bust.
In an interview with The Review last summer prior to the August 19 to 24, 2021 shooting, Horvath said one of the things about Vankleek Hill which caught the eye of producers was that the village had seen little change in more than a century.
“One thing that’s really interesting to me is that (Vankleek Hill) seems to have had a very consistent population over almost its entire existence,” Horvath said. “And now – looking at the possibility of having an increase in population through a big subdivision being built – that could have a really dramatic impact on the town.”
“It seems like Vankleek Hill is really on the cusp of some kind of change, so we are visiting at a really opportune moment.”
That point was emphasized throughout the episode, with a focus on both the past and both anticipation and fear for the future of a small town possibly on the brink of huge growth. The episode featured interviews with both residents of the community and business owners, including André Martel of Martel & Sons Monuments, Steve Beauchesne from Beau’s Brewery, Andrea and Russell Gibbs from Gibbs Honey, as well as members of the agricultural community, such as Morgan Overvest of Overvest Farms.
The six-episode series explores whether Ontario’s small towns can survive big industrial, social and cultural changes, exploring the stories of six small communities across Ontario confronting this question. The weekly series airs on TVO, TVO Today, YouTube and smart TV services. In addition to Vankleek Hill and Smiths Falls, other towns featured include, Smiths Falls, Stratford, Napanee, Cobalt, and North Buxton.
Episodes take an in-depth look at the history, setbacks and promising successes for the six communities. All have been experiencing seismic shifts for decades, with some teetering towards closure at times. Through interviews with local historians, municipal and industry leaders, and residents old and new, viewers will get an intimate look into the ins and outs of small-town life.
For those who missed it, the episode will be aired several times again this week on TVO. You can also watch the entire video on the TVO website here: https://www.tvo.org/video/documentaries/vankleek-hill