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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Corner Gas resurrected in Rouleau

Sitcom set moved to new location for tourist trade

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As the blast of a passing train filters through the windows of the Corner Gas set, mixing with the quiet credit music from the Canadian comedy, Mike Slaven and his colleague walk among Ruby's Diner T-shirts and props from the sitcom, taking it all in.

The pair, who live in Nova Scotia, were in southern Saskatchewan for work. With some time on their hands, they decided to check out Rouleau, the town where the show was filmed.

They had no idea they would end up walking through the famous gas station and diner, following in the footsteps of Brent, Lacey, Wanda, and all the other characters they'd followed on the small screen.

"I knew we weren't going to come here and see all the characters, but I didn't expect it to be rebuilt like this. It's pretty neat," Slaven said.

"There are a lot of people who really enjoyed the show. It was really Canadian humour -- pretty dry and pretty direct -- and I think they'll probably get a really good turnout, because there aren't a lot of Canadian shows that take off like that and become cult classics."

Sylvain Senecal is the man behind the set's transformation from an empty building to what it is now.

Packed with Corner Gas T-shirts and merchandise, there are also countless original props, which he scooped up when they were auctioned off last March.

There are signs on the walls, a Dog River police car outside, kitchen appliances from Ruby's and, under the front window, even a Whac-a-Prairie-dog game, which came from a carnival episode. Some of the props were in the Dog River Police Station attraction he ran on the Main Street of Rouleau, but he has since carted them over to the new location, which he hopes will draw even more tourists than the 10 or 20 who would drop into the police station each day.

"This is a Canadian landmark; there are no ifs or buts about it," he said. "When we saw the building and they'd stopped filming, we thought maybe we could move here, because fans wanted to walk through the store and The Ruby and see how it was, so we approached the producers and they thought it was a good idea to do that."

The set opened its doors on Saturday, and Senecal says the response so far has been "phenomenal."

"We've had a lot of people stop in, so happy just to see it's open, so it makes me really happy to see that," he said. "A lot of people didn't realize this was Corner Gas, but now, when they see the gas pumps and the sign, they turn around and come in.

"It's good for the town and good for tourism, because it brings people into . . . Rouleau, which is a very nice town to visit."

-- Postmedia News

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 7, 2012 D4

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