Lights, camera — lawn bowling?
Seems unlikely, but a Canadian videojournalist will be in the East Valley next week to film winter residents from our neighbor to the north as they roll balls across a patch of grass, dance, golf and do just about everything else they do while escaping freezing weather.
French-Canadian documentarian Genevieve Tremblay said her seven-minute segment will probably air in late February or early March on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation newsmagazine "Culture Shock."
She said Canadians are not as familiar with the phen- omenon of retirees fleeing to Arizona in the winter as with those who head to Florida.
"The point of the show is to tell people about unknown parts of Canadian life, or cultures that nobody knows about."
Tremblay, 27, will "go native" beginning Sunday, when she arrives at her guest accommodations at the Mesa Spirit resort.
Over six days, she will hit 10 RV retirement resorts in Mesa and Apache Junction, as well as Tuesday’s Canadian Snowbird Celebration at Mesa Centennial Hall.
"Culture Shock" aired a similar story about Quebec residents in Florida a couple of years ago, Tremblay said.
Weakened Canadian currency, high health insurance costs and post-Sept. 11, 2001, border policies have all taken a bite out of the number of Canadians coming to the Valley in recent years.
However, many RV parks have reported an upswing this winter as the economy bounces back.
Walter Bodnarchuk, 80, will be Tremblay’s tour guide.
Back home in Saskatchewan, the 26-season winter resident sells out-ofcountry insurance with his daughter, and said business improved this year after the Canadian dollar gained in buying power. Still, he hopes the documentary will draw more Canadian retirees to Arizona. "We’ve got to get the young people here. I’d like to have somebody to sell my house to," said Bodnarchuk, who stays at Mesa’s Cypress Estates mobile home park.
One of their stops as they search for countrymen will be Apache Junction’s 12-space Lost Canadian park, 582 N. Palo Verde Road, which uses the name owners John and Gerry Szott earned when their grown children would call Arizona in search of their traveling parents.
Weather permitting, Tremblay will film the park’s weekly 12:30 p.m. Thursday jam session, which can draw a few dozen senior musicians ready to riff on country music and old-time favorites.
"Actually, this is what a lot of people do out here is music, jam on music," said Gerry Szott, who sings at the jams, while her husband plays harmonica.
Mesa’s Greenfield Village at 111 S. Greenfield Road is larger at 800 spaces, and has rearranged its already-full Friday slate of activities to squeeze a few more in for Tremblay’s benefit.
Resident John Tovell of Guelph, Ontario, has set up an eight-hour, 15-stop schedule for Tremblay.