GOODWOOD, Ontario – Joe Toby was recently walking a young couple through his workshop when the man sprinkled rose petals on the concrete floor and fell to one knee.

It turned out that the woman was a huge Schitt’s Creek fan and excited to get into the building, which also doubled as a mechanic’s shop on the series, he said.

“And here I thought it was just my workshop,” said Mr. Toby, a retired machine builder who uses the space to build custom beds for disabled children. “I think it’s special.”

“Schitt’s Creek” is a satire about a fabulously wealthy family who lose all their money and are forced to settle in a town the patriarch bought as a joke because of his name. She’s a cult hit for her quirky humor, haute couture costume design, and the fictional city’s improbable embrace of gay love. It won a record of nine Emmys awards, including one for best comedy.

Nowhere is its sudden popularity more felt than in Goodwood, a sleepy commuter village 28 miles north of Toronto that was filmed over six seasons.

The hamlet feels like a postcard from ancient times, with historic houses in less than a dozen streets and farmland on either side. The last census counted 663 residents – mostly retirees and young professionals with families who commute to work.

Prior to Schitt’s Creek, Goodwood’s notoriety was much more pedestrian – potatoes grown on nearby farms and the surrounding gravel pits, which produce the raw material for building highways and downtown buildings.

Now it has become a place of pilgrimage for fans who call themselves “Schittheads” who arrive in droves at the hamlet’s main intersection to snap selfies in front of the buildings that served as the backdrop for the series. Some arrive in character, disguised as Moira, the dramatic matriarch who named her precious wigs like children, or Alexis, the celebrity daughter. They spend money in the local bakery and general store, but also look in windows, clog parking lots and in some cases go into houses, locals say.

“You’re rude,” said Sheila Owen, whose house doubled for the house of the minor character “Ronnie”. “They come and expect us to be the same people depicted on the show – that we are hicks who are stupid.”

This feeling is not general. Eleanor Todd, 87, got dressed with her granddaughter to stroll into the now famous corner and, like all tourists, take photos. It’s the busiest intersection since Goodwood’s glory days when there were two hotels, four general stores, an ice skating arena, and both a cobbler and tailor. That was in 1885.

“I get a kick out of it,” said Ms. Todd, a former schoolteacher who wrote and self-published the hamlet’s definitive story, Burrs and Blackberries from Goodwood.

The development of the hamlet was severely restricted because it is located on an ecologically sensitive land, the Oak Ridges Moraine. As a result, it has retained its quaint smallness and avoided the spread that affects so many cities in southern Ontario. According to their location manager Geoffrey Smither, this attracted the makers of “Schitt’s Creek”, Eugene and Dan Levy.

“They liked that feeling – this is the city, there is the country,” said Mr. Smither, who toured 28 small towns looking for the perfect setting for the show. “None of them come and go like Goodwood.”

When he appeared before the local councilors to apply for filming permission, they burst out laughing and agreed.

“It would put us on the map,” said Bev Northeast, a former longtime town councilor who lives in Goodwood.

According to the locals, fans showed up in 2016, a year after the show premiered on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the national broadcaster, but really got kicked up after Netflix recorded “Schitt’s Creek” in 2017. By the summer of 2019, two chartered buses arrived at the intersection and spilled people in matching T-shirts and lanyards with the words “SchittCon” on them. (This is short for “Schitt’s Creek” Convention.)

But nobody was prepared for the flood of fans who descended after “Schitt’s Creek” swept the Emmys in September.

So many people flocked to the local Annina bakery that the owner, Marco Cassano, hired two security guards to control the crowd. Since Annie Murphy – who plays Alexis, the celebrity daughter with the heart of gold – told talk show host Seth Meyers about the bakery’s delicious butter tarts that night, he has received orders from the USA.

“It means I’ve stayed open across Covid and kept most of my staff,” said Mr. Cassano, who oversaw the crew over five seasons.

Across the street, Mr. Toby was inspired by the crowd of Schittheads asking for tours of his workshop to build a donation box on the front door. He raised $ 270 for the local hospital and historic center over one weekend, he said.

“I was the best kept secret in Goodwood for years,” said Toby, 75, a natural storyteller who loves to keep court. “Nobody knew what I was doing here.”

He knows some of his neighbors think differently, and that’s in part because of the pandemic. In the window of the building across the street, a residence that has been converted into a café for the series, a handwritten message is taped into a window: “Please stay away from the property during a pandemic, we are immunocompromised.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, the show’s co-creator Dan Levy asked fans to stay away. “The cities we filmed Schitt’s Creek in were so beautiful and accommodating to us,” he tweeted. “Please show them the same respect. Visiting the moment is a threat to the health and safety of residents. “

That did not hold up the pilgrimage any more than the rising layers of snow.

Marilyn Leonard owns the building that was Goodwood’s general store for more than a century. In “Schitt’s Creek” it was transformed into the hipster “Rose Apothecary”, who sold body milk and cat hair scarves. Ms. Leonard decided to close it permanently last month.

“It’s too revealing for me,” said Ms. Leonard, 74, who plans to convert the space into a gallery for appointments only. “I have to stay away from people.”

The motel that served as the backdrop for the family’s new residence in the series is not in Goodwood, but in Mono, about 50 miles west. One day so many people crowded around the motel that the owner called the police.

“At least 100 cars an hour tried to get in,” said Jesse Tipping, pointing out that his motel, which has been out of service for years, has received dozens of satirical reviews on Google Maps. “At some point I saw someone on the roof. They stole numbers from the doors and took the welcome mats. “

Mr Tipping, who is currently selling the motel, said he asked Dan Levy about selling paraphernalia on the property. However, the show has signed an exclusive merchandise deal with ITV Studios in London.

That means no one at Goodwood gets rich from sudden fame. Plans to do a “Schitt’s Creek” tour with the Local Heritage Railroad were thwarted by the pandemic. Dave Barton, the mayor of Uxbridge Township, which also includes Goodwood, admitted that the 145-year-old yellow-brick town hall, which had not held a council for nearly 50 years, would be the perfect place for a guided tour. Unfortunately, the community sold the building a year ago to a couple who are converting it into a private home.

“Nobody expected ‘Schitt’s Creek’ to be the most famous Canadian show forever,” said Barton.