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Digging for more Canadian history on Backroad Bounty

You never know what will be uncovered during an episode of Backroad Bounty. Will hosts Marty Gebel and Peter “Bam Bam” Bamford procure a cool neon sign hidden in a disused storage room, a box full of collectible Matchbox cars aching to see the light of day, or an old stand used to hold cans for a long-forgotten brand of car oil?

What these guys find, what they pay for them with plans to re-sell—and the stories behind those items—are at the heart of the Cottage Life series as it heads into its sophomore season. I hopped in the car and drove two hours outside of Toronto to Ingersoll, Ont., where Gebel and Bamford were busy searching for buried treasure. I found the pair climbing around the cluttered, humid third floor of E. W. McKim Quality Home Hardware in Ingersoll’s downtown, calling out to one another—and to store owner Bob Mott—when they discovered something cool. There was plenty to chat about. Among the items the fellows were interested in? Old ice skates, wooden boxes, vintage hardware store displays and a sign that once hung in front of the store. And while the items the boys found had interesting stories attached to them, the future episode’s setting did too: Mott recalls how the hardware store was a buggy shop during the 1800s.

“Searching for items is in their blood,” Joe Houlihan, president of Our House Media, Backroad Bounty‘s production company, tells me during a break in shooting. “They’d be doing this whether there was a TV show or not.” Season 1 of Backroad Bounty saw Gebel and Bamford tooling around cottage country, poking around decrepit hotels, barns, overflowing basements and garages in search of finds they could fix up and re-sell; this go-round has expanded its boundaries.


“This season feels more like a buddy road trip,” series producer and director Marshall Kaplan says. “It’s about the characters they meet along the way. It’s always about the amazing stuff that they find, but there’s humour and more of a story, more meat to the bone this year.”

Houlihan points out Backroad Bounty “sneaks history” into each episode through the tales told and items purchased; he himself has learned an incredible amount of Ontario history from his program. Among the areas the duo visit in Season 2 are Grand Bend, Quinte West, Harcourt, Port Dover, Walkerton, Wiarton and Owen Sound where the pair entertain each other as much as they do viewers.

“Marty is Bam’s best audience,” Kaplan says with a laugh. “Bam is a really good entertainer and Marty laughs at every one of his jokes. They may be interested in different things, but at the end of the day they both love the hunt.”

Season 2 of Backroad Bounty will air on Cottage Life.


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