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Movie production turns Merrickville, Ont. into a Dutch town this weekend

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Many small towns in eastern Ontario are being used as the backdrop for an upcoming Canadian war movie. While shooting has finished in some towns already, one small village will turn into a Dutch town on Sunday.

In a historic home on Church Street in Merrickville, Ont., a scene is ready to be shot as director Terry Jansen yells, 'Action!'

"These houses that we have here are gorgeous, heritage houses, a lot of history in these houses, so they can stand in for a house in 1945 in Holland," Jansen told CTV News on Saturday. 

A crew has descended on the village this weekend to film scenes for a drama about a couple of Canadian soldiers in the Second World War, who liberate a Dutch town.

"They are basically up against the clock; so it's a story of them, the Canadian soldiers, the Dutch civilians and resistance who were there as well," said Danny Crossman, film producer and writer. 

The working title of the film is 'Scheldt', after a famous Canadian battle during the Second World War.

Film producer Danny Crossman and director Jerry Jansen point out the historic buildings in downtown Merrickville. (Nate Vandermeer/CTV News Ottawa)

On Sunday, Merrickville's main streets will be closed, as the historic buildings set the backdrop for the liberation parade.

"We'll dress it up with Canadian military vehicles, with Dutch civilians and a lot of period military vehicles and an awful lot of extras as well," Crossman said. 

"We've got the canals and the locks, so we can shoot that in the background which is obviously very archetypical of some various Dutch surroundings and a lot of other old period buildings we can film inside," he added. 

Some historic military vehicles could already be seen buzzing around town, which has opened its doors to the production.

"Nobody has been saying no; everything is yes and what can I do?" Jansen said. "The warmth and happiness that we've been getting from these small towns, Merrickville in particular, has been outstanding. Just out of this world."

Crossman says he has been inundated with emails from people looking to be extras in the film.

"We even had a visiting Dutch actor who emailed and wanted to be a part of it as well, so a huge response," he said. 

Others have been offering up 1940s era props.

"We have a lady who has a bicycle from the 1940s and we're like, 'yup bring it in; come on in, you're front and centre. We've got the camera right on you with that 1945 bicycle,'" added Jansen. 

A scene for an upcoming Canadian war movie was filmed at a home in Merrickville on Saturday. (Nate Vandermeer/CTV News Ottawa)

On Saturday, the crew was filming some inside scenes, while other shots were done in Stittsville, Kemptville and at the Diefenbunker in Carp.

"We've got actors coming in from Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary," noted Jansen. "Locals as well from Ottawa and Merrickville. Anybody we can use, a lot of my Dutch relatives are coming in."

All in an effort to keep Canadian war stories alive.

"As a veteran myself....generations of people, they don't actually know what occurred, they may read it in a history book, but we are coming up on 80 years since the end of Second World War, so millions of people dying," Crossman said. 

"Every town in Canada had soldiers that served there, so first and foremost we want to try and bring that story alive, put a human face to it, and to remember the sacrifices that went on," he said. 

The film is aiming to be released in May 2024, and those interested in watching the parade scene on Sunday unfold are welcome. 

"Anybody who has kind of a wardrobe that's kind of from the 1940s is going to be coming in, anybody is welcome to come in, and we're going to be shooting them front and centre," noted Jansen. "So not only will you be able to say, 'Oh, I know that building', you'll be able to say ,'Oh, there's me!'"

"I believe you can make war movies, period war movie dramas, in the local area," Crossman said. "There's a lot of countryside that can resemble northeast Europe and there's a lot of buildings that can resemble European towns - Ottawa, Merrickville, Kemptville - all in the area."

"It can be done," he said. "All of the facilities are around us."

 

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