The Bachelor Canada's Brad Smith Searches for Love
Image by Citytv
Meet Brad Smith, the first Bachelor Canada
Canadian Football player Brad Smith is The Bachelor Canada, and he's serious about finding true love
Amateur bachelors and bachelorettes, singletons of every stripe and even all you smug marrieds living vicariously through the dating tribulations of your friends — prepare yourself. It’s time for another dose of the final rose. And this time, it’s Canadian.
October 3 marks the beginning of a Great White North version of The Bachelor, the successful American reality-TV franchise. And, as skeptically as some might view the show’s approach to romance, the producers of The Bachelor Canada think they may have found a bachelor who wants to settle down with one of the show’s selection of 25 TV-genic Bachelorettes.
The bachelor is Brad Smith, a 29-year-old former CFL football player from Quebec.
Both Smith and The Bachelor Canada executive producer Claire Freeland stress that there would be no point to the show if the pawed-over male specimen at its centre weren’t seriously looking for a soulmate.
“For me, dating has never been a strenuous issue,” says Smith, on the phone from Toronto. “It’s not because I never found the right girl; I just wasn’t in the right situation to settle down. Like in football, opportunity has to meet your luck in life. At the moment I decided it was time for me to settle down, three days later The Bachelor Canada called.”
“There were no shortages of men interested in being the bachelor,” says Freeland in a separate phone interview. “Brad was someone we felt was the most ready in terms of where he was in his life stage, to potentially propose to someone and get married. He checked the most boxes and was most sincere about the journey. The first time we met him he was so articulate about why he wanted to do this. And he’s obviously a really nice-looking guy, which is important for a visual medium.”
So who, exactly, is the man who would be Canada’s first capital-B Bachelor? In promotional video clips for the show and over the phone, Smith exudes the kind of aw-shucks genuineness that has launched a thousand jokes about Canadian politeness.
According to the Citytv bio, he’s a former wide receiver with the Montreal Alouettes (2007), Toronto Argonauts (2007-2009) and — most recently — the Edmonton Eskimos (2010-2011). He holds a B.A. in history from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, where he played football before turning pro.
His father is Senator Larry Smith, a former CFL commissioner and former president and CEO of the Montreal Alouettes. And he’s the kind of guy who vacations with his parents — he was with them in Barbados when he got the call about trying out for The Bachelor Canada.
“One of the things about Brad is, he’s such a family man,” says Freeland. “He speaks so highly of his parents. That was important as well, someone who has those strong family values, and was really coming at this with an idea of what he wanted his life to look like.”
His parents’ 40-year-marriage is a model, at least to some degree, says Smith.
“I see my parents happy after 40 years and I think that’s the best thing ever. Would I want their exact relationship? Oh God no, I’d rather take a slapper to the groin.”
Attending all-boys boarding school St. Andrew’s College in Aurora, Ontario, has also had an effect on him. Most of his friends today date back to those schooldays, says Smith, and the college is where he “really learned how to be a good guy.”
“I’ve said it before, I would work as hard as I can to send my son to that school,” says Smith, who received a scholarship to attend St. Andrew’s. “It was one of the more life-changing experiences. There was no pretension at the school. It taught you, even if you had everything, how to be humble. I got to see a lot of kids who had everything, but you wouldn’t know it because they treated everyone with respect. It was the best experience of my life.”
Presumably the best experience until The Bachelor Canada, that is.
The Women of The Bachelor Canada
Smith charms some of the lovely ladies vying for his attention (Image: Citytv)
So who are the bachelorettes, these 25 women who were chosen out of 6,000 possible applicants who lived together for months in a mansion in Victoria?
At press time, only 20 had been revealed. On the Citytv website, they’re introduced in 40-second video clips (70 seconds, with commercials). They include Rebecca, a 27-year-old real estate agent from Toronto (“He’s in for a ride with me”); Britany, a 23-year-old nurse from Swift Current, Saskatchewan (“I hope I’m not going to be a crier”); and Michelle, a 27-year-old part-time yoga instructor from Newmarket, Ontario (“I don’t want to be rescued, I want to be accompanied through life”).
“I think we’ve got a diverse group of girls, and everyone’s story is unique and compelling in a different way,” says Freeland. “We took the process seriously, knowing that Brad was our bachelor, and we wanted to have two people fall in love.”
But there’s only one final rose, and there’d be no show if everyone just got along. Freeland says the drama that does unfold, unfolds naturally.
“Whenever you have 25 Cinderellas vying for the love and affection of one Prince Charming, you’re going to have inherent drama and conflict,” she says. “Ultimately, they’re after the same thing. You don’t need to create any fake fighting. We let the reality play and we just capture it. There are lots of triumphs, lots of setbacks, lots of drama, lots of tears, lots of happiness, lots of love. You get everything in this show.”
Everything except a helmet. Asked if dating multiple women at the same time was anything like playing football, Smith says, “Not at all.”
Meet the three lovely ladies representing BC: Kara, Melissa Marie, and Tracy (Image: Citytv)
“At first it’s one of the most unnatural feelings you can have. In the real world, when you’re starting the dating process you might date one or two people or more before you settle down with a girlfriend. But try doing that and they’re all in the exact same house and sometimes they’re watching you! But it becomes natural and part of the process you have to have to get the most time with the girls and get to find out the most about them.”
Smith says that, just before flying to the West Coast to begin filming the show, he called his best friend to express some last-minute doubts.
“I was like, ‘Am I good enough to be in this situation? Are the girls going to jump out of the limo, look at me and go, ‘Oh my God no, take me back to the airport please’? And I wanted to make sure too I wasn’t just going to be a joke, and people would look at me and go, ‘Oh, this guy’s going on there just to get something out of it, not to meet somebody.’ ”
In the end, he came around, and he’s happy with the results, even if he has to keep mum about the details of three of the most remarkable months of his life. He will say that viewers can look forward to seeing some pretty incredible dates.
“Not only did The Bachelor Canada do a great job of exceeding my expectations, but I think when the girls thought Bachelor Canada, they thought they were going to go on a date to get a hot dog and a hamburger. Not only were they surprised, but everyone who watches is going to be excited. We did justice to the franchise.”
No doubt Canadians will be tuning in, if only to see if we can keep up to the Americans in the romance department.
“It’s really Canadian,” says Smith. “Every single girl is Canadian, we had a Canadian house, I’m from Quebec. And there were lots of ‘ehs,’ lots of ‘sorrys’ — lots of apologizing.”
The Bachelor Canada premieres October 3, and airs Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. on Citytv.