THUNDER BAY - If at one point in May, you were were cut off by a Chevrolet Spark driven by a pair of stressed out people with a cameraman sitting in the front seat, you know now to forgive them.
On Tuesday, the popular CTV show Amazing Race Canada aired the ninth episode of its seventh season, which featured teams competing in Thunder Bay.
Local media took notice of the contestants scurrying around town in May, before it was reported that the city’s tourism department had helped bring the show to town.
“I think this show puts us in an incredibly good light,” said Alan Auld. “The month of May is not Thunder Bay’s prettiest time, and yet they did a fantastic job.”
Auld is the owner of Imagine Films and was requested by Amazing Race Canada to help with drone footage while contestants completed a challenge at Lakehead University’s Faculty of Natural Resources air field off of Highway 61.
He attended a viewing party Tuesday night at Wacky Wings, and said the relief of watching the episode was a long time coming.
“I had a non-disclosure agreement with millions of dollars on the line...That was the most difficult thing. I couldn’t tell family, I couldn’t tell my daughter, I couldn’t tell co-workers … It was killing me.”
Teams first arrived in Thunder Bay, after a 17-hour bus ride from Toronto, and received their first clue at the Terry Fox Monument, directing them Wacky Wings to tp play arcade games in a face-off challenge.
Teams then had an option to fly drones and plot co-ordinates at Lakehead’s air field, or cut a cheese wheel into 32 consumer-friendly pieces at Thunder Oak Cheese Farm.
Cheese farm owner Walter Schep said the experience was eye opening, mostly considering the size of the production crew being much larger than he anticipated.
“I was thinking it would be a regular camera crew with about 10 people... so when 80 to 90 people were there that day it just blew me away.”
Schep’s role on the show was to inspect the cheese so that it met the standard to be sold at the cheese farm. It had to be properly cut, weighed, and vacuum-sealed.
Ultimately, the challenge became the last task for two teams performing under the pressure of elimination.
Two sisters from Regina., Laura and Joanne, went through a massive amount of cheese in order to complete the task.
“Yeah, we called them the cheese butchers,” Schep said. “They went through four wheels. It was insane... We couldn’t use any of the leftover cheese, so the camera men asked ‘This is garbage, right?’ and started munching on them.”
Aarthy and Thinesh, a couple from Vancouver, thought the challenge would be a breeze before Schep rejected most of their packaged cheese chunks. Aarthy, overwhelmed, proceeded to sob.
“People are saying I came off a little mean. I don’t think I’m like that naturally,” Schep said. “(Aarthy) cried a little bit, but they showed her crying more than she actually did.”
Aarthy and Thinesh were subsequently eliminated at the frequently mispronounced pit stop -- Kakabeka Falls.
Overall, Schep and other locals involved with the show were very impressed with the final product.“It was so nice that a national program like the Amazing Race chose local,” Auld said. “There was local people in the film community, local people in the area, and they made it part of their show, which is good for Canada.”