'Schitt's Creek' Star Emily Hampshire Loves Small Towns in Real Life, Too — Here's One of Her Favorites

The Canadian actress also reveals her craziest holiday travel experience.

Canadian actress Emily Hampshire
Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Emily Hampshire definitely knows her way around a hotel. After all, the actress played the sarcastic cynic, Stevie Budd, of Rosebud Motel for six seasons on Schitt's Creek. In real life, when it comes to holiday travel, Hampshire is all about curling up in a cozy Canadian cabin.

We chatted with the Montreal native about cabin life, small-town living, and her latest holiday collaboration with Jim Beam that's all about "getting to the good stuff."

Travel + Leisure: You're kicking off the holiday season early, having already settled into cabin life — what made you decide to spend this time of year there?

Emily Hampshire: "During the first wave of COVID, I was feeling very nostalgic for my childhood. I'm from Canada and Canadians have a cottage country thing that they love. I just wanted to be in a cabin on the lake in Canada with snow, so I got myself a little cottage. I normally live in Los Angeles, but I came here for the holidays because I wanted snow and my childhood Christmas. I just open my door here and I'm reminded of being a kid in a snowsuit. It's a completely different smell in the air that transports me. Plus, I love the cold."

How did you go about finding the perfect cottage?

"When I typed 'dream cottage' into Google, I got these fantastic places that I could not afford. Then, I found this perfect place — it was architecturally interesting, very 70s. Honestly, I was just looking for a place to put my stag painting from 'Schitt's Creek.' At the end of the show, everybody got to take something. Most people took their clothes...but for Stevie, it was slim pickings, so I decided to take the 10-foot by 10-foot painting."

How would you describe Canadian cottage life?

"Catherine O'Hara is a big cottager. She won't work past a certain time of year because it's the best season for being at the cottage. Hearing her talk about that every year, I was like, I need this in my life. June, July, and August are prime times for being on the lake. You can canoe — a very Canadian thing to do. But I didn't realize how much I would love this place even more in the winter."

Still life with cocktails and cookies and bottle of Jim Beam Bourbon Cream Liquor
Courtesy of Jim Beam

Why did this lifestyle appeal to you?

"I don't like the formalities of anything, especially not the holidays. I don't like shopping, but I like to give presents. I don't like cooking, but I like to eat. Mainly, I want to get to the dessert. Mostly, the cabin is a place to have all my friends and family gather. It's been the perfect place for this campaign with Jim Beam that's all about getting to the good stuff (Jim Beam is offering a Get to the Good Stuff holiday kit with a board game). It's just so me. A couple days ago, I had friends over and we played the board game — it's the fastest board game in the world, so we could get to our hot chocolate with Jim Beam in it. Since we haven't been able to see family and friends for the past couple of years, I personally just want real talk. Even with people I see every day, I just want to have a real conversation. That's the stuff I like to do. Sitting by the fire at my cabin, this felt like a dream to me."

Earlier this year, you chatted with Kellee Edwards for T+L's podcast, Let's Go Together about small towns. How do you feel these tight-knit communities transform this time of year?

"This is my first year in Buckhorn, Ontario, and it's so small and special. When you walk down the street here — and by street, I mean a forest that has a paved path — and you see somebody walking, you have to wave. There's this small town sense of community. I was just at the grocery store, where they have a raffle for a gingerbread house and all these grocery bags that school kids colored for donations for food banks. I'm very into it."

What advice would you give those traveling to these smaller cities?

"Personally, if I was traveling to a small town, I would go for a significant amount of time to get the feeling of living there. However, when I think of cottage country in Canada, most are places where people rent their [homes]. You can spend a week and go back every year. I had childhood friends that I only saw once a year when we went to the cottage. That said, I do also love going to Miami — I won't say no to five days in Miami."

Other than being isolated in the cabin, what's your favorite city to visit for the holidays?

"I would have to say Montreal because I'm from there. It's just so special in the winter. When you're in Old Montreal and it's snowing and you're in a giant hooded coat...you can't really hear anything. It's like you're in a snow globe and all you see is lights during the holidays."

Traveling this time of year can be stressful. What's the craziest holiday travel experience you've had?

"A long time ago when I was married — my ex-husband was from England — we were traveling to the U.K. to see his family from L.A., which is a really long trip. On our way back, because there were so many people, they were looking for volunteers who could push their travel a day. They would give you $1,000, a night in a hotel, and an upgrade to go through business class lines. So, we volunteered. The next day, we went back $2,000 richer. We got there and they were looking for volunteers again, so we did it again. It was like we were like the prince and princess of Air Canada!"

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