Every year, a fortunate few have the opportunity to visit Hope Valley, a town from the early 20th century located on the Canadian frontier. It features a church, a school, and a strong sense of community.
Usually, people are only able to experience visiting by viewing the location on television. Hope Valley is the main setting for the Hallmark Channel’s series “When Calls the Heart,” which prides itself on being a nostalgic throwback.
Erin Krakow, the lead actress of the series, shares that there is a strong demand for uplifting entertainment that focuses on themes of togetherness, kinship, and romance. This type of media evokes nostalgia for a more uncomplicated era and is something that many of us crave in our daily lives.
Krakow plays a schoolteacher who 10 seasons ago came to a town that was recovering from a mine disaster. At the time it was named Coal Valley. Slowly, with twists and turns and loves gained and lost, the town and her grew up together, helping one another like a family.
The number of viewers also increased, but Krakow does not view herself as the main attraction of the show.
Krakow believes that she is an integral part of the show, as it is centered around the concept of community. She also acknowledges that the show would not be the same without each individual member of the community in Hope Valley.
The Hearties, a community centered around the show “When Calls the Heart,” consists of approximately 2 million members. Two of these members, Pat Conlee and Celia Sumrall, bonded over their shared love for the show and have organized both virtual and in-person gatherings with other Hearties.
Sumrall expressed gratitude for the help she received, stating that she was uncertain about her future after retiring from teaching for a long time. She wondered about her purpose and what she would be doing.
Sumrall shares that becoming a member of the Hearties allowed her to connect with many individuals. She becomes emotional when discussing this experience.
The speaker expresses their affection for the show due to its portrayal of faith, family values, and community unity. In a time of division, the show’s setting of Hope Valley showcases overcoming differences through communication and resolution.
As the beloved character Rosemary faced challenges in trying to become a mother while also mourning her own mother, Conlee felt a personal connection to the story portrayed on screen.
Conlee reflects, “That experience impacted me greatly. It reminds me that others also face life-altering circumstances, but it’s possible to overcome them.”
The show is based on the writing of Janette Oke, who herself grew up on western plains of Canada. Her Christian romances have sold more than 30 million books.
Oke reveals that the most astonishing aspect of the Hearties was their diverse backgrounds yet ability to communicate effectively with each other.
“We originate from diverse cultures and geographical regions, yet we all share the universal human desire for comprehension, collaboration, and acceptance,” she remarks. “Being accepted is a profound concept.”
Hearties show up for each other in ways large and small. When Hurricane Maria devastated Jelsy Freytes’ community in Puerto Rico, Hearties from all over the world stepped up.
“They just came together, created a website so everybody could see what was needed, and they just started mailing me things that I needed like canned food, batteries,” Freytes shares. “I have never experienced something like this. This outpouring of love.”
Even though “When Calls the Heart” is a work of fiction, Oke acknowledges its profound impact on viewers as a genuine experience.
“It can be challenging to find a sense of belonging in our world, especially in bustling cities and other hectic environments. It’s disheartening to feel unsure of acceptance and lacking a place where we truly fit in, without someone to fill that void in our hearts,” she explains. “That’s why this show has resonated with so many people – we all crave a sense of community and belonging. It’s human nature to want to be a part of a group and support one another.”
Produced by Anthony Laudato. Edited by George Pozderec.