Thanks to stunning scenery, mild weather and generous incentives from the Canadian government, Vancouver, British Columbia, has become a center of filmmaking and television production. Affectionately dubbed “Hollywood North,” dozens of movies and television shows are shot in Vancouver and the surrounding area every year. Thanks to the magic of Hollywood, the city of Vancouver and its hotels, streets, landmarks and neighbourhoods have been transformed into futuristic planets, parallel universes and small New England towns. In fact, some television viewers might be surprised to learn that some of their favourite shows were actually filmed in Vancouver and not in California or on location.
“Once Upon a Time”
This fairy-tale fantasy is set in the picturesque coastal town of Storybrooke, Maine, but is actually filmed in Steveston, B.C., a small town outside of Vancouver. The quaint fishing town is home to one of Canada’s largest fleets and a salmon cannery; however, while tourists flock to the town to board whale watching vessels and explore the boardwalks and shops along the waterfront, the fact that most of the outdoor scenes from “Once Upon a Time” are filmed in the town is a major draw as well. The small town of Fort Langley is also used for exterior shots for the show; the Fort Langley Community Hall will be familiar to viewers as Storybrooke’s town hall.
AMC’s critically acclaimed drama surrounding the mysterious death of a teenage girl is set in Seattle, Washington, but actually filmed in Vancouver. The moody drama has been shot in the city of New Westminster, along Front Street, a gritty, urban locale that has also served as a futuristic Chicago in the Will Smith film “I, Robot,” and the Bronx in the film “Rumble in the Bronx.”
“The Vampire Diaries”
Set in Mystic Falls, Virginia, “The Vampire Diaries” follows the lives of a family of vampires. It’s shot in Fort Langley, which has a small-town feel and plenty of restaurants, shops and picturesque locations that easily pass for Virginia. The yellow community center — the same one seen on “Once Upon a Time” and in other shows, has also made an appearance on “The Vampire Diaries.”
While it might seem a stretch for the Pacific Northwest to pass for the Midwestern plains of Kansas, it actually works on the CW network’s show “Supernatural,” which follows two brothers in Lawrence, Kansas, as they battle ghosts, ghouls and demons. “Supernatural” is filmed in multiple Vancouver locations, including Buntzen Lake, Cleveland Dam and Heritage Park in Burnaby, which has served as both a cemetery and the location of a gingerbread-style cottage in one episode; in fact, several locations have been used multiple times, such as the Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam, which has served as a hospital, a prison and an asylum at various points; however, much of the filming takes place at a decommissioned military base outside of Vancouver. The base’s buildings have long since been demolished, leaving a network of dusty roads and open spaces ideal for recreating the wide-open and desolate environment of rural Kansas.
Following the pattern of serving as the setting for supernatural or fantasy shows — and New England locations — the city of New Westminster is the backdrop for the Boston-based detective show “Fringe.” These aren’t ordinary detectives, though. “Fringe” follows the cases of a special FBI team that investigates occurrences that take place on the fringe, or in a parallel universe. On the show, the University of British Columbia serves as Harvard University, while the neighbourhoods surrounding the university stand in for Boston neighbourhoods.
These are just a few of the current shows being filmed in and around Vancouver. In the past, popular shows like “21 Jump Street,” “MacGuyer,” “Stargate SG-1” and “Smallville” all called Vancouver home, making it one of the most viewed areas in the world — if only on the small screen. So the next time you’re watching you favourite show, look closely — is that really New England, or a street several thousand miles away?
Photo courtesy of saffirahweb.