North of 60 Interview: Truman Hoszouski and Sharon Fogarty

Their names may not be familiar to you, but they play an invaluable role in Lynx River.
Truman Hoszouski and Sharon Fogarty are the caretakers and security people for the
North of 60 filming site. Working out of the former Lynx River recreation center, they keep
an eye on the buildings throughout the year, and Truman does most of the necessary

A bit of Lynx River history

PW: Perhaps to start, Truman, you could give a little history of exactly where we're sitting right now. This building, which is now the security headquarters for the site, used to be the Lynx River recreation center, right?

TH: It was in fact the Lynx River rec center.

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PW: How did it become the security headquarters, and how did you get chosen to run it?

TH: I had been on the show from the beginning as maintenance. When the series went out of production, up until that point we'd had round-the-clock, fulltime patrolled security. Alberta Filmworks wanted to maintain the set and keep the series alive with some made-for-television movies. So we came up with an arrangement whereby we renovated one of the sets--this particular building that used to be the rec center--to be a headquarters from which someone could take care of the set. We started the renovation in the fall just slightly after the cleanup of "In the Blue Ground"--that was the fall of '98.

PW: I see you're wearing a Calgary Fire Department shirt. Were you a fireman before you took on this job?

TH: I'm currently a serving member of the Calgary Fire Department. This--what I do here--is a parttime job.

A world of fans

PW: Where do your visitors come from? Canada, obviously. But where else?

TH: We've had people from all over the United States of America. And especially Native people from all over northern Canada and Quebec have made the trip here. They've been watching the show for years and have enjoyed the characterization and the people and can all identify with some aspects of the show. Anybody who's been here from northern Canada has said they've done a stellar job of recreating a small-town look in a Native community.

In fact, we've had people here from virtually all over the world. We've had people from Poland, from Germany that have seen the show at home on television. We had one fellow here who was a civilian employee of the American military who watched "North of 60" on a television monitor in the airport in Tel Aviv.

PW: It's interesting to hear that, because I've never gotten any messages or seen any members on the Yahoo discussion list from anyone outside of the U.S. and Canada. Sharon, have you met some of these visitors from other countries?

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SF: Mostly it's the same as Truman. One of the outstanding ones was the fellow who was watching it in Tel Aviv. A few German couples, and then dotted all across Canada, and especially the northern U.S., like the Seattle/Tacoma area.

PW: Where they get CBC on cable.

SF: Yeah.

TH: Also another popular source of our visitors are retired Americans from retirement communities where there are a lot of Canadians who have access by satellite, or the cable system that serves that community will bring in Canadian programming for the Canadians.

PW: You mean there are actually some cable systems in the sunbelt that carry CBC because there are so many Canadian residents in the area?

TH: Apparently there are.

SF [laughing]: Isn't that a hoot?

PW: I knew there were cable systems all along the northern border of the U.S. that carried CBC, but I had no ideas there were ones farther south. Maybe there really are enough snowbirds and ex-pat Canadians in some places to make that worthwhile.

Crown land

PW: I remember someone telling me that this is Crown (government) land. It's just being leased for the film set, right?

TH: That's correct.

PW: So being public land, it's perfectly legal for people to come here.

TH: Absolutely. And there are certainly any number of people that have no interest in the show at all that come down. They enjoy the river that's open for fishing at different times of the year. It's nice hiking here, there are trails that cross the property here.

PW: So they might have gone fishing up the river, and then they just wander down to the set area.

SF: That happens, yeah.

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PW: Do you know when the lease is up?

TH: My understanding is when they started this project in '92, I believe there were a total of 25 years worth of options on that lease that could be exercised.

PW: So the site has plenty of time left to make more North of 60 movies!

TH: I think so, but I'm not an expert on the lease. As far as I understand, it doesn't cost them a lot of money to maintain it, and I suspect that even if the North of 60 thing plays itself out at some point, they might reconfigure the buildings and possibly call it something else.

PW: I would think the government wouldn't be in a hurry to kick everyone out. It's one of the few homegrown dramas, so it's good for them to encourage it.

TH: Well, if you look at it in terms of the revenue it generates in the local area in terms of paychecks, as opposed to its environmental impact. I mean, the environmental impact is minimal, absolutely zero here. It's not like we're drilling a sour gas well or something like that. It's provided millions of dollars of paychecks in the local economy, and hasn't hurt the environment one iota, and certainly will not.

SF: Speaking of generating revenues, I think that many people that have come down would like to have bought a t-shirt or a coffee cup or something, a souvenir. But we don't do that. I wouldn't mind doing that, but I think there's a problem with that, being Crown land.

PW: With the land being used commercially for anything but a film set?

TH: Exactly, yeah. It's use-specific in the lease. Which is why we don't advertise, also, and we don't have big signs on the highway. But when people do make the effort to get down here, we make the effort to be accommodating.

Their view of the show

PW: Have you both watched the show from the beginning?

SF: Just sporadically.

TH: Oftentimes, people that are working on a show don't necessarily get to see it without going to the effort of taping it or timeshifting it or whatever.

PW: Or they don't want to because they've had enough of it by the time it airs!

(c) 2001 Charles Shaffer
(Click on photo for larger image.)

TH: One reason or another. In fact a lot of the episodes that we watched and enjoyed were ones that I took some active role in.

PW: Such as?

TH: If we were doing a fire stunt or that sort of thing when I was actively involved in the creation of it or the safety aspect of it. When you get emotionally caught up in something, then you of course want to have a look at the results. It is interesting that when I watch the series or the movies on television, I'm absolutely convinced that this is a real town, and that real people live here. [all laugh]

PW: That's a wonderful testament to the show, that you can get caught up in it that much even though you know that Lynx River is usually just a bunch of boarded-up buildings. Do you feel that way, too, Sharon? Does this seem like a real northern town to you?

SF: Well, I certainly didn't grow up in the north country, but I've had a number of stints there, because my dad was in the oil business. So I've spent some time in Fort Nelson and Fort St. John. And I've heard nothing but people from the North come down here and say how much they thought it was the same.

Fire stunts

PW: Truman, you mentioned helping with safety when fire has been used on the show. So for instance, when they blew up Gerry's trailer, were you involved in that?

TH: Absolutely. I coordinated the local volunteer fire department that we would hire to bring their pumper truck here and stand by. And then I laid out a bunch of fire hose as a backup from our own fire system here that pumps out of the river.

PW: And then they brought in people to actually set the explosion?

TH: Yeah.

PW: Were you also involved when they blew up the airplane in the first movie, "In the Blue Ground"?

TH: Yes, same thing there. I coordinated the fire coverage, the safety aspect of it, with the volunteer fire department. We would stand by and just create a buffer zone and discuss what we were doing with the special effects guys to make sure everyone was understanding each other and we knew what was going to happen and we could protect the camera crew and the buildings. We had a contingency plan in the unlikely event that something got out of control or a mishap happened. And nothing like that has ever gone wrong. We've done any number of fire stunts, and everything's always worked well.

PW: Well, wait a minute, there was that incident with Albert's house! That didn't entirely go as planned. [See the JAM Nof60 archives.]

TH: Yes, I guess ironically it probably turned out better than they expected. We did the fake burn of the house for the shot. In the process of doing the "morning-after look," the set decorating people were over there scorching some of the timbers and things that had not previously burnt. Several hours later, they were working late that night and somebody noticed that a fire had actually caught across the river. Fortunately, we had a bit of snow in the meantime. The fire that happened actually created a better "after the fire" burned look than they had hoped for with the set decorating. And in fact it turned out fine.

PW: So they went back and filmed the charred house again?

TH: Yep, that was part of the story. And then the following spring, we cleaned it all up.

PW: So that's completely gone now?

TH: Yes. We did, however, recreate those burned remains for our most recent movie before this one, "Dream Storm," in that when the ghost of Albert is visiting the town, the charred remains of the cabin spontaneously combust, and that was part of the haunting that the people in town were seeing.

PW: So you actually had to recreate the burned cabin, because that had all been taken away long before.

TH: Yeah, and then clean it up yet again. So we've cleaned up that site twice.

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PW: And then there was the big fire at the Noda Deh Lodge in "Trial by Fire."

TH: Yep, and that went very well. It was such a beautiful lodge, and it looked so good, I couldn't help but think was there not a better way to do this? Could not we have when it was half built done the burning stuff, then finished building it and filmed it chronologically the other way around so that we could have a beautiful lodge there to look at instead of a burnt hulk of a building!

PW: Or couldn't the drunken man have just fallen and hit his head against the wall and died that way, instead of starting a fire!

TH: Yeah!

[At this point, the interview was interrupted by the guard dog barking out front. Sharon opened the door of the security building to find Nathaniel Arcand and a friend, who were looking for Dakota House. Mr. Arcand was kind enough to give me an interview; click here to see it.]

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Last updated 7/24/2015