Tag Archives: Stratford

Amazing Race Canada: Sprinting in Stratford

After a Leg outside of Canada in Indonesia, The Amazing Race Canada jetted back to the home country for a bit of smalltown entertainment in Stratford, Ontario, and one whopper of a surprise at the end of it.

I was given the chance to watch production on this Leg of the Race roll out—you can read some of that here—and it was a fascinating peek into how it is put together both outside and inside the editing suite. Leanne and Mar, who were tops last week, were the first to depart for Stratford. Martina and Phil were feeling particularly good (and they certainly should have) for coming in 6th place despite being U-Turned.

The 16,000 km flight from Jakarta to Toronto took its toll on a couple of teams. The clue instructed pairs to drive to where the Chevy Equinox had been built. Mar and Leanne, Nancy and Mel, Zainab and Monica and Courtney and Adam—rather than going to Ingersoll, Ont., west of Toronto—incorrectly picked Oshawa, Ont., as the destination and wasted more than an hour going the wrong way. I can’t help but feel that affected morale a bit the next day. Taylor and Courtney were the first to arrive in Ingersoll. But, of course, the CAMI assembly plant was closed for the day, delaying the first challenge of the Leg until dawn.

The Route Info decreed each team would watch a silent demonstration and assemble one Equinox door. Because of safety concerns within the plant, I and the rest of my media colleagues weren’t allowed to observe this, so we waited in Stratford. Word came back that the teams were having a much harder time completing this task than producers thought and were falling behind. (A peek behind the curtain: producers have a binder for each city that contains key Leg information, summations of the Detours and Road Blocks and how long each challenge should take for a faster team or a slower one.)

Kwame and Dillon were triumphant and departed for Stratford, home of the Stratford Festival and its Festival Theatre. Adam and Courtney were next to finish, followed by Martina and Phil and Courtney and Taylor. I was scratching my head at this point because I knew Martina and Phil were the first to take on the Road Block duel. Turns out that was because Kwame and Dillon got lost and fell to 4th place. Zainab and Monica were firmly in last leaving the assembly plant. However, their fortunes reversed when Mar and Leanne made a wrong turn and the cheerleaders fell into the final spot.

Teams were tasked with donning period costumes and learning a pretty intricate combat sequence. This was all about learning the moves and playing up the dramatics, something nurse Courtney failed to do during her first few attempts. (Behind the curtain: Phil was even slower in person during his first attempt. We sat in the Festival Theatre and observed the first several teams duel before leaving to follow the leading teams to the next challenge.)

In this Leg’s Detour, teams could either take a trip on the Avon River via paddleboat to collect emoji pieces or pack chocolates into boxes at the legendary Rhéo Thompson Candies. I would have chosen to pack the 10 boxes of mint smoothies and 10 boxes of assorted jellies, so it was fun to stand off to the side and watch Martina and Phil, Courtney and Adam and Zainab and Monica while Courtney and Taylor and Dillon and Kwame chose to hit the lazy river. (Behind the curtain: the mint smoothies are delicious. So are the chocolate-dipped apricots. Also? Rhéo Thompson ships across Canada. You’re welcome.) What we didn’t witness was how many times Mar wanted to rehearse the fight routine, putting them far behind the other squads. It was super quiet in the chocolate factory and you could feel the tension, especially when Martina and Phil completed the task (watch them do it above).

Courtney and Taylor were the first to arrive at Stratford’s City Hall, a.k.a. Queen of the Square, and were surprised to see Jon Montgomery there, on the mat with Stratford’s mayor standing beside him. They were so shocked they’d left their backpacks and had to retrieve them. (Behind the curtain: we were mashed up against a wall watching Taylor and Courtney’s arrival; watch the video above.) The siblings were informed that they were the first to arrive and had won a trip for two to London. Zainab and Monica were the last to arrive but learned the Leg wasn’t over and they were still Racing.

(Behind the curtain: every team was informed, upon arrival on the mat, that the Leg was continuing to Toronto. Of course, the producers saved that reveal for the end, which added to the drama of the moment.) Look for my behind-the-scenes look at the Toronto Leg of The Amazing Race Canada next Monday.

Here’s how the teams finished this Leg of the Race:

  1. Taylor and Courtney (won a trip for two to London)
  2. Adam and Courtney
  3. Martina and Phil
  4. Dillon and Kwame
  5. Nancy and Mel
  6. Leanne and Mar
  7. Zainab and Monica (Leg continues)

The Amazing Race Canada airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. MT on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.


The Amazing Race Canada: Behind the scenes in Stratford

I was exhausted by the end of Tuesday’s Leg of The Amazing Race Canada in Stratford, Ont. And I was just watching it being filmed.

Earlier this year, Bell Media graciously provided me—along with the Toronto Star‘s Debra Yeo and social media influencers Jennifer Ettinger and Evelyn Avila—with the opportunity of a lifetime: follow the filming of a Leg of The Amazing Race Canada to see how it all really works. What followed was a jam-packed day of observing this season’s teams scrambling around the Southern Ontario town participating in challenges as unique to the area as they are in Canada.

Visiting Stratford? Make sure this place is on your to-do list.

Being sequestered in a production van for an hour and stationed next to a park full of children playing perhaps wasn’t the best optics on that May day but it was necessary. It was imperative, we were told upon arriving from Toronto, that we could not be seen by any of the Racers. The producers didn’t want any kind of inkling about where they were supposed to go into town. If we’d been situated in front of the Festival Theatre, it was explained, the Racers might know they were supposed to go there. A major no-no and Race ruiner. Of course, reading the Route Info is the only guide for the Racers, not a gaggle of journalists looking pastily conspicuous.

The Amazing Race Canada producers, camera people and anyone else on the ground during production all use a specialized messaging system on their phones to communicate silently. That’s how we knew the Racers were participating in their initial challenge of the Leg and the first few pairs were departing for downtown Stratford. We were also informed many Racers were tired—they’d flown in from Jakarta the day before—and some had made a mistake upon landing in Toronto and drove east rather than west to Stratford. The devil is in the details on The Amazing Race Canada.

We made two new slobbery friends on The Amazing Race Canada.

I’d always assumed that a pair of Amazing Racers and the camera people chasing them would stick out like sore thumbs and draw attention to themselves. That wasn’t the case in Stratford. Sure, a few people gave side-eye to a quartet of sweaty folks running right by but for the most part, no one paid attention.

My adrenaline spiked trying to stay out of the way while watching pairs paddle the Avon River and duel in the Festival Theatre; I can only imagine what the Racers were feeling. After all, this was real for them. Siblings Taylor and Courtney were able to keep it cool while we observed them, as were Courtney and Adam. Anxiety exuded from Martina and Phil during the Detour in Rhéo Thompson Candies while we munched on sweet samples. (I bought a whack of treats from the family-run business and will return.) And it was the place a pair of playful and inquisitive bulldogs decided to climb into our production vehicle.

I’ll be able to reveal more details in Tuesday’s review of The Amazing Race Canada, but I had a heck of a great time watching it roll out. And it gave me great insight into the well-run production that goes into summer’s biggest TV show.

The Amazing Race Canada airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. MT on CTV.