Last weekend my friend Chris, Kawal and I had a chance to visit Rouleau, Saskatchewan (pronounced by locals like the candy bar “Rolo”, ignoring the French origin of the town’s name). About 45 minutes south of Regina, this village of 500 has about a dozen short roads, and is best known as the shooting location for the popular CTV series “Corner Gas”. The proximate cause of our visit was my rabid fandom. I wanted to have my picture taken there! I wanted to visit a place that so many of us consider as quintessentially Canadian as Anne of Green Gables.
Upon our arrival, I was disappointed to find the Corner Gas store and Ruby’s Diner to be in a derelict state. Windows were boarded up and no trespassing signs were affixed to the doors. Tall metal spikes prevented entry into the parking lot in front. Instead of the cheerful Corner Gas of the show, we were confronted with a depressing, horror-movie version of the set. It gave the impression of a businesses hastily abandoned by its fictional owners, for unexplained reasons, like some kind of prairie Mary Celeste.
Now I understand the location was constructed by CTV stagehands for the filming of a show that ended almost a year ago. But it’s clear that this show had a special place in the hearts of many Canadians. The security guard on duty (pictured below) told us she sees 200 cars stop to visit and have their picture their picture taken at the derelict sets every day.
Why can’t this location be rebuilt to look just like the stores in the show, to accommodate tourists and visitors, now that the show is over? The villagers of Rouleau clearly want this. The mayor has been pushing for it for a long time, as you can see from this article posted on the wall of a local ice-cream shop.
The obstacle to the creation of a Corner Gas tourist trap
The land is owned by CTV, and they don’t want to sell it. They are treating like any other movie set, attempting to keep it in filmable condition should there be a Corner Gas movie. They seem to be unfazed by the tremendous business opportunity they are allowing to lay fallow like so many fields of arid wheat.
Doesn’t CTV recognize the revenues that could be generated? If 200 car-fulls of people visit each day of the summer months, 100 days a year, and this is without any advertising or prospect of an actual open location to visit, imagine how many would come if it was set up explicitly as a tourist trap. Imagine 300 visitors each spend an average of $5 at Ruby’s Diner or buying a T-shirt at the Corner Gas store. That’s $1500 per day, or $150,000 a year! That revenue stream could easily justify the construction of buildings at the location capable of accommodating tourists.
I think the next step should be a forward-thinking businessperson in the Rouleau area willing to commit a couple hundred thousand dollars to finance the construction of the new buildings. He could then propose to CTV to share revenues, and license the Corner Gas name from them.
At that point it would be up to CTV to say yes! I hope such a businessperson with the necessary capital comes forward, and I hope CTV says yes. I look forward to returning to a friendlier Corner Gas set in the future!