Canadian Icon: Steve Smith

(or Yes, we do have TV Shows here)

Jen Johnston

Talking Pictures alias






About Us


I live in Possum Lake. Oh, I do realize that every misinformed Red Green Show fan  across Canada, whether they happen to live in a big city like Toronto, or a small town like me holds that belief, but I can actually back up my warped claim to live in the basis for Canada’s most famous little town. For example, my town has a “Possum Lodge.” (a.k.a. Rawdon Community Hall). This is not only where all major social events take place, but is (like Possum Lodge) decorated in such a way as to suggest that a tourist with telekinetic abilities, like those displayed by Stephen King’s Carrie, came to visit, got bombed on local homemade wine, and embedded the weekly 50 kilometre yard sale in the walls. 

We have a Ranger Gord (The Red Green Show’s lonely forest ranger). His role is currently being filled by Leighton. In the entire year he’s lived in my little town, this man has only left his wooded cabin twice.

1) When his parents come to visit. This would be the point when he burrows into the Community Hall to avoid their near constant “helpful suggestions.”

2) When his roof blew off.

We even have a Harold (Red Green’s - ahem - less then hip nephew). His role is currently being filled by Ari. He runs our country store. Walking in, should you manage to push past the burly, manly men who are dressed, year-round in their checked coats, and orange hats (Toques for winter, Baseball caps for summer) you’ll find a shopkeeper who might want to be part of the crowd, but who when faced with tractors, gravel, and plaid responds with cappuccino drinks, dress shirts and pants. He just doesn’t quite fit in, but he’s mostly OK with that. 

While not every town of fans of Red Green’s quintessential group of small town outdoors men can claim a resident member of the supporting cast of the show, every one of them, without fail claims they know their leader. Even in my little village there appears to be at least two of them. We have:

a) A man with an incredibly dry sense of humour, Danny. (Also a man who is totally incapable of operating a motor vehicle without having some major part disintegrate and fall off.)


b) A man with a blistering ability for sarcasm, Leo. (Also a man who thought nothing of using a chainsaw to cut a log in half. This is generally OK, except when you decide that the correct direction to slice is towards yourself.) 

Whether it be a family member, a friend, or the local mechanic, Red Green Show’s Steve Smith is a genuinely crafted handyman who hits home with his admirers. They identify with him. As one woman wrote to Smith himself, “When I watch your show with my husband, he thinks I’m laughing at the programme.” 

Preparing to speak with Steve, I was, I don’t mind admitting, a little bit daunted. I have been a fan of his since the start of The Red Green Show, have seen him in countless interviews, and had no idea what to expect. I was really hoping that he was easy to talk to, and wondered if he would be as funny out of character as he is in. 

After speaking with him I can assure you that he truly is as comical as he appears on TV. 

The Red Green Show. All Rights Reserved.Steve started out by telling me about the inaugural episode of Red Green. “It was called ‘The Winter of our Discount Tent.’ I remember doing a scene where I was sitting out in the woods reading poetry and thinking that we had absolutely NO idea what we were doing. I honestly thought we would last one season, the fact that it’s kept going this long is a wonderful surprise.” 

I asked Steve what he found unique about Canadian filming environments. “They’re quite collaborative,” he replied. “They’re very much in the spirit of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland movies. The Uncle has a barn, and everyone pitches in and does their part to put on the show. Everyone really pulls their own weight.”

He then discussed the common misconception among viewers that the majority of the show is improvised. “Very little of the show is improvised really. It’s a HUGE compliment to me when people don’t think there’s a script. We’ve actually had people refuse to do the show for that very reason, saying that they couldn’t work without one.”

I asked if he ever used fan’s suggestions for the show’s “Handyman’s Corner” segments. “Rarely,” he replied. Generally, if it’s something they’ve seen, it’s something that everybody’s seen. I did get a letter from one woman that was quite clever. She was vacationing with her family at a beach, and ran across a picnic table with a rough edge. Well, she grabbed her role of duct tape out of the car, unrolled about a six foot strip of it, stuck it in the sand, and used it as sandpaper to get rid of that rough edge.”

When pressed on whether or not he had a favourite “Handyman’s Corner” segment Steve said “Ooooo.....That one’s hard to answer. We just finished filming one that I thought was pretty good, where I turned a picket fence into a sign that expresses my point of view to passers by. But I don’t really have a favourite.”

Steve’s response was similar when he was squished into pondering a possible favourite guest star. “I definitely don’t have a particular favourite there either. Doing the show has always been to me like getting together with a bunch of good friends. I have so much fun with everybody. I couldn’t pick a favourite among them, it would be like asking me to pick between my children. I just couldn’t do it.”

One of Steve’s fans biggest questions is whether or not “Red” is actually based on anybody. “Red is a conglomeration of a whole lot of people,” Steve answered. “But there is a lot of Steve Smith in Red Green. I’m very independent, I consider calling a repairman to be a defeat. If you can’t fix the thing yourself, you never should have bought it in the first place. How complicated can a microwave oven be anyway?”

I asked if his fans’ adoration came as any surprise. “ Absolutely. But it’s never a worrying thing. I’ve done over 100 personal appearances as Red, and I’ve never had a bad experience. Women always tell me that they know somebody like Red. Plus, I always figure that nobody’s going to cross the street to tell you that they don’t like you.”

Steve’s admirers are generally surprised to learn that he once headlined a band. “It was called ‘Jason.’ We were a cover band. I played keyboards, and guitar. We had some strong vocal harmonies that I’m very proud of.”

We ended our conversation by chatting about his recent trip to Nova Scotia. (My home province) “I love Nova Scotia,” said Steve. “I feel as though I could live there. It’s so relaxed, and I love the attitude.  People wouldn’t need all that Prozac if they went to Nova Scotia for a while.” 

Steve, on behalf of myself, all my friends, and your pseudo-cast members allow me to extend to you and your wife this invitation:

If, (in a veryveryvery long time) The Red Green Show has ended, and you find yourself.... missing that “Possum Lodge” element to your life, feel free to head out this way.

Ari has volunteered a lifetime of free cappuccinos.

Leighton will even invite you over to his house (God forbid he should ever leave).

But, best of all,

You’ll move right into your TV show. 

Questions from the Fans

What’s the last movie you saw that you liked?
Waking Ned. Devine. I stood up and cheered.”

What’s the first album you ever owned?
Fats Dominos Greatest Hits.”

What job have you held that would surprise people?
“I used to be a teacher. I taught grade 5 and 6, math and science. Teaching is just like acting. I wanted taller audiences.”

Do you have a pet peeve?
“People telling other people how to live.”

What’s your favourite food?
“Spare Ribs. Mmmm boy.....”

What’s the worst job you ever had?
“I was a steam fitter in a vinyl plant. I had to fix the leaky pipes under the plant floor. They would never turn off the machinery when I was under there, and I was constantly crouched down because of the 4 foot high area I was working in.”

Have you ever been mistaken for another celebrity?
“ Fred Penner, and Bram. (From Sharon, Lois, and Bram.)

What gadget could you not live without?
“My electronic organizer. If it ever goes missing, I hope I do too.”

For more information about The Red Green Show please visit:

For more information about the movie Red Green: Duct Tape Forever please visit:
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