Fans of the TV show ‘When Calls the Heart’, who are known as ‘Hearties,’ have come to Langley for the Hearties Family Reunion. Pictured are Samantha Despirito (from Florida), Lynn Tourangeau (from Washington State), Mary Bright (from Washington State), Pat Conlee (from Alabama), Lori Pearson (from Alabama), Barb Kenady (from Illinois), Renee Guernsey (from Washington State), Kim Johnston (from Michigan), Celia Sumrall (from Mississippi) and Jody Blosser (from Georgia). Miranda Gathercole Langley Times

Fans of the TV show ‘When Calls the Heart’, who are known as ‘Hearties,’ have come to Langley for the Hearties Family Reunion. Pictured are Samantha Despirito (from Florida), Lynn Tourangeau (from Washington State), Mary Bright (from Washington State), Pat Conlee (from Alabama), Lori Pearson (from Alabama), Barb Kenady (from Illinois), Renee Guernsey (from Washington State), Kim Johnston (from Michigan), Celia Sumrall (from Mississippi) and Jody Blosser (from Georgia). Miranda Gathercole Langley Times

‘Hearties’ descend on Langley

Fans of TV show ‘When Calls the Heart’ have gathered in Langley for the Hearties Family Reunion

It’s hard to imagine that most of these women had never met each other before.

Sitting at a table in Match Eatery in Langley City, the 10 ladies were chatting and laughing like they had been lifelong friends.

Sporting matching “Rip-Roaring Hearties Chicks” shirts, they travelled to Langley from Washington State, Alabama, Illinois and even as far as Florida for one cause — When Calls the Heart.

The Hallmark TV show, which films on a farm in northeast Langley, is holding its third annual Hearties Family Reunion this weekend, where fans — known as Hearties — are invited to tour the 1910-era mining town set and meet the stars.

The show is based on the novel of the same name by best-selling Alberta writer Janette Oke, and tells the story of a Toronto socialite who has left the security of a comfortable home in the big city to teach in a small coal mining town at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.

READ MORE: Calling the shots in Langley’s Jamestown

Around 450 Hearties have descended on Langley for the family reunion event — which takes place at Cascades Casino on Friday night and Saturday, and at the set on Sunday — but that’s a far cry from just how many fans there are of the show. Their Facebook fan page boasts more than 58,000 members, and tickets for the Hearties Family Reunion sold out in just four minutes.

“None of us would know each other if it hadn’t been for this show,” said Mary Bright, who travelled to Langley from Washington State.

“It’s like a family online.”

Through the fan page the Hearties have made friends from around the world, and offer each other support when needed. In one case, they have co-ordinated a relief effort for one fan who lives in Puerto Rico and was devastated by Hurricane Maria.

The actors, too, will interact with the fans on social media, making it “feel like you’re there,” said Jody Blosser of Georgia.

“Most of us had never even Tweeted before,” she laughed. Now the show often trends on Twitter when new episodes air.

Blosser even opened up her house to other When Calls the Heart fans, allowing Celia Sumrall from Mississippi to stay with her for a Hearties Party event, despite never having met her in real life before.

For all of the women in the group, the historical Canadian-themed show has captured their hearts through its family values.

“There are very few things on TV that all generations can watch anymore,” Bright said. “And it is a very sweet romance.”

Watch the Langley Times website for more coverage of the Hearties Family Reunion throughout the weekend.

READ MORE: ‘When Calls The Heart’ filming could suffer setback under new ALC regulations

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Some of the Hearties wore matching shirts. Miranda Gathercole Langley Times

Some of the Hearties wore matching shirts. Miranda Gathercole Langley Times