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When Calls the Heart

Hearties rejoice! Star Erin Krakow opens up about the 11th season of When Calls the Heart

It’s been 11 years since Erin Krakow first set foot in the idyllic Canadian frontier town of Hope Valley — then Coal Valley — as big city transplant Elizabeth Thatcher. Looking back, the series lead of When Calls the Heart still recalls how she felt after those first 12 episodes. “I remember the last few days of season one and really feeling that sense of pride in what we’d created — that we had something special,” she tells TV Week. “I did feel like it could have real longevity. We were lucky enough to develop a fan base, who have been so supportive, loyal and passionate over the years. We owe so much, if not all of our success, to the Hearties.”

When Calls the Heart on W Network. Pictured: Will love bloom for Nathan Grant (Kevin McGarry) and Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow)?
©2024 Hallmark Media

This season, the Hearties are expected to turn up in droves to find out if Elizabeth will find true love with Mountie Nathan Grant (Kevin McGarry). Last year, the schoolteacher was still planning a wedding to businessman Lucas Bouchard (Chris McNally), but the two broke their engagement once Lucas’ political ambitions forced them into some difficult conversations about the future and their feelings for each other. “Season 10 was a bit of a rollercoaster for Elizabeth,” says Krakow. “When we come back, she’s feeling a weight off her shoulders, having made a very difficult emotional decision. I think she’s ready to start fresh in many ways.”

When Calls the Heart on W Network. Pictured: Local businessman Lucas Bouchard (Chris McNally) continues to delve into politics.
©2024 Hallmark Media

Since the passing of her husband Jack (Daniel Lissing) in the fifth season, the now-single mother has had a period of personal growth. “She’s had a few years to really figure out who she is. She’s standing solid on two feet,” Krakow explains. “She’s had the experience of a wonderful relationship with Lucas and learned more about herself in the process. It was an important relationship, because it guided each of them to what was truly calling their heart. And Elizabeth had to take that journey of self-discovery to be ready for a relationship like this.”

When Calls the Heart on W Network. Pictured: Street scene in town of Hope Valley.
©2024 Hallmark Media

“This” is, of course, a potential romance between her and Nathan, who, after moving to Hope Valley in the sixth season, became quite smitten with Elizabeth. But, unlike the charismatic and more outspoken Lucas, Nathan took longer to make his feelings for Elizabeth known, and she ultimately chose Lucas. With all obstacles now removed, is it a straight path to love for these two? “It’s a slow burn,” teases Krakow. “Obviously, Nathan really put it all out there several seasons ago and Elizabeth turned him down. Elizabeth is wondering, did she screw up her chance at this love of a lifetime? As for Nathan, I think he’s wondering where Elizabeth stands. He’s been burned by her before, so he has every reason to proceed with caution. But there’s a lot of fun, sweet, flirtatious moments within that, that make for a really exciting journey.”

When Calls the Heart on W Network. Pictured: Leland and Rosemary Coulter (Kavan Smith and Pascale Hutton).
©2024 Hallmark Media

In true When Calls the Heart fashion, there are no hard feelings between Elizabeth and Lucas, who becomes embroiled in a life-or-death situation that has nothing to do with a broken heart. “Lucas has a really exciting story this season, maybe the most exciting story of any character,” reveals Krakow. “He is involved in a really fascinating mystery that spans the course of the season. As far as the Elizabeth and Lucas dynamic, they are in each other’s lives, but not in any kind of romantic way. There will always be a lot of love, support, and respect between them, and that’s definitely on display.”

When Calls the Heart on W Network. Pictured: Minnie and Joseph Canfield (Natasha Burnett and Viv Leacock).
©2024 Hallmark Media

In this turn-of-the-century tale, where women ostensibly run the show and everyone is kindhearted, it may not be historical accuracy that makes viewers tune in. Krakow, however, believes the joyful revisionism may be the show’s superpower. “It is a bit of a fantasy world, where we can look back and say, ‘I wish that historically we were a world where everyone’s beliefs and feelings were respected, and where people of all shapes, sizes, colours, were shown care and love.’ I wish that was the world that we’d always lived in,” she says. “Historical accuracy is important to us, because it is a period show, but not at the expense of really showing people what community should be.”

When Calls the Heart on W Network. Pictured: Ned and Florence Yost (Hrothgar Mathews and Loretta Walsh).
©2024 Hallmark Media

More than a decade in, Krakow finds that she still loves coming to work. “Elizabeth means so much to me, and it’s been a real wonderful challenge for me as an artist because there’s always something new that she’s discovering, learning or being challenged by,” says Krakow. “Elizabeth coming from this affluent upbringing and trying to find her way as a frontier woman, that was big. Her being a fish out of water and, by the end of season one, knowing who she is and having the respect of the people in the town was meaningful to me. And, obviously, losing her husband made a real impact on Elizabeth, and hopefully we told the grief story with care and respect. But I will say, I am really excited to share the most recent chapter, as we’re seeing Elizabeth ready for a fresh start, ready to take on the world with a lightness and a joy.”

When Calls the Heart airs Sunday, April 7 on Super Channel Heart & Home

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