Earth Day

When the final credits roll on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, young Canadians won’t just be saying goodbye to the franchise but closing a seminal chapter of their childhood.

Now in their late teens and early 20s, the generation that came of age with J.K. Rowling’s characters, and alongside the actors that portrayed them, are steeling themselves for the end — Part 1 of which hits theatres Nov. 19. Part 2 is set for release on July 15, 2011.

“We are the Harry Potter generation,” says Andrea Hill, 19. “We started in elementary school, reading about a boy our age who was going through the same things we were going through. We grew up, so did he.”

Hill expects her heart to be as heavy upon the movie saga’s end as it was when the book series reached its conclusion. The Edmonton native takes solace, however, in the knowledge that “there are so many things that will keep Harry Potter alive,” from Universal Orlando’s new Wizarding World theme park to real-life school Quidditch teams — one of which Hill personally founded, at Ottawa’s Carleton University.

“We’re not waiting anymore to see what happens to Harry next,” says Hill. “But we’re still engaged in that magical community.”

Jake Kalbhenn, Toronto-based guitarist for The Nifflers — one of more than 450 “wizard rock” bands inspired by Rowling’s books — believes he wouldn’t be the person he is today were it not for the encouragement, acceptance and support of fellow Potter enthusiasts.

But after 13 years of steering youth culture, Harry Potter is moving on, and fans like Kalbhenn with him.

“If it just continued forever, like Star Wars, it would be terrible,” says Kalbhenn, 20. “We had our fun but it’s time to let go and just be happy that we had it while we did.”

Rupert Grint, best known as Ron Weasley, says he’s happy to finally have time to pursue romance. Emma Watson, who plays Hermione Granger, says she looks forward to “finally being free, being my own person” — a transformation signalled by the actress’s dramatic new pixie cut.

And Daniel Radcliffe, who since 2001 has been the face of the teen wizard, says that although he “did cry like a little girl” when Deathly Hallows production wrapped, he’s eager to see what life holds for him beyond the halls of Hogwarts.