They shot a movie once, in my hometown…
We’re all familiar with The Tragically Hip’s song but did you know that there are locations all across South Eastern Ontario that have doubled as movie sets? Read on for 6 places that have turned Hollywood in our region.
There’s no other location quite like the Kingston Pen – and it has attracted productions from all over North America and internationally. Film crews have been on site there producing everything from Alias Grace to the Netflix superhero series, Titans, lured by the versatile features of the site. The Kingston Penitentiary opened in 1835 and was notorious for housing some of the country’s notable criminals before closing its doors in 2013.
With roots dating back 200 years, Springer Market Square is alive with the authentic history of commerce and trade. It’s this genuine heritage and the fact that it still houses vibrant trade that draws film crews on location. Stop by Springer Market Square on weekly market days to find fresh produce, meat and baked goods, plants and flowers as well as antiques and crafts. Don’t be surprised if you find some cameras rolling on-site
Kingston is steeped in history and has so many unique buildings that lend themselves to being perfect locations for film and television. The Kingston Film Office notes sites such as Fort Henry, Queen’s University, Royal Military College of Canada, Kingston City Hall and more are a draw for productions. The Kingston Film Office was launched in 2018 and oversees film permitting for all City of Kingston properties – and says that 2021 is shaping up to be a big year for filming in the city.
Burritt’s Rapids was the scene of filming in 1984 for a young Nicolas Cage, as well as Christopher Plummer and Cynthia Dale in The Boy in Blue. A portion of the movie heavily features the town and the water, as it’s based on the life of Ned Hanlan, the late-19th century Canadian sculler and world champion. Hanlan was one of the first scullers to successfully utilize the “sliding seat.” Community members were extras in the movie and leftover sets were used to build onto a portion of the community hall.
One visit here and you know why this is on the list for attracting film crews. This masterful representation of life in 1866 is one of the largest living history sites in the country. The most recent filming here was for Salem Witch Trials, starring Kirstie Alley and Henry Czerny. Upper Canada Village allows visitors to step back in time, showcasing traditional farming practices, functioning mills and trade workshops and life demonstrated by staff in period clothing. It all adds up to a memorable glimpse into how life was lived more than 150 years ago – and its authenticity routinely lures cameras and crews.
The St. Lawrence River and islands surrounding Gananoque are the backdrop of a creepy tale from 1978 about a creature made of mud which terrorizes a couple on a remote Maine island. Known by two titles, The World Beyond and Mud Monster, the film was best known for a nightmarish scene involving a severed hand. Shot primarily on Hay Island and especially Batterman’s Point on Hill Island, some of the property on which it was filmed is now owned by Parks Canada, as part of Thousand Islands National Park.
With stunning scenery and unique features it’s no wonder that South Eastern Ontario is a good fit for the big screen. Next time you notice something familiar in the background of a television series or film, take a closer look – it could be in your own backyard!