5 Film & TV Locations You Didn't Know Were in Ontario (That You Can Actually Visit)
Location scouting beyond the 6.
Author: Jessica Huynh
We all know Toronto is a huge media hub. Who hasn't watched a made-for-TV police sting go down outside their apartment window, or woken up to four of Joker's purple cars from Suicide Squad parked out front (true story)? Production companies from all over the world flock to Toronto to shoot commercials, TV shows, and movies (some notable classics include Virgin Suicides, American Psycho, Chicago, and Mean Girls).
While Toronto will probably always be a Hollywood hotspot, sometimes you have to venture outside the GTA to get that killer shot. Here's a list of five films and television shows you (probably) didn't know were filmed in Ontario—plus, the exact locations of where each scene was shot:
* This list contains spoilers!
1. The Handmaid's Tale (2017) starring Elizabeth Moss
The Handmaid's Tale (2015) is a dystopian story following June Osborne/Offred, a Handmaid in a world where sexually transmitted diseases and environmental pollution has caused most women to become infertile. June/Offred, played by Elizabeth Moss, is a fertile woman forced to live with an elite family, subjected to ritualistic rape, and expected to bear children for a childless governmental official and his wife.
The dystopian future the story takes place in is Gilead. In reality, the entire series was filmed in various locations in Ontario. Here are just a few memorable scenes you may recall:
1. Offred and Ofglen crossing a bridge after the execution of a handmaid rapist.
The bridge seen in the first episode and again later in the show is the Cambridge Main Street Bridge in downtown Cambridge, Ontario. The bowstring arch bridge crosses the Grand River and spans 57 meters in length.
2. Offred and Ofglen gazing up on publicly hung bodies.
The eerie imagery displayed homosexuals, abortion clinic workers, and Catholics hung by the government as a fear tactic. This scene was shot in Mill Race Park in Cambridge, Ontario.
3. The congregation of handmaids for the execution of a convicted rapist.
This scene's striking visuals were filmed in Coronation Park in Oakville, Ontario.
The Handmaid's Tale is littered with recognizable Ontario landmarks. For a more comprehensive list, check out this in-depth analysis from moviemaps.org!
2. Born to Be Blue (2016) starring Ethan Hawke
Born to Be Blue (2016) is a semi-factual bio-pic of jazz musician Chet Baker, played by Ethan Hawke. The film loosely follows the rise and decline of one of the most famous jazz legends, from his career breakthrough to the debilitating drug addiction and brutal assault that ended his career.
In one whimsical scene, Chet can be seen bowling with his enigmatic love interest, Jane. It was actually was shot in Venture Lanes Bowling Alley in Espanola, Ontario (see bottom two images).
It just goes to show you that a little colour correction and staging goes a long way to perfect that rich, dated look we fall in love with in film.
3. Room (2015) starring Brie Larson
Room (2015) starring Brie Larson is a dark drama about a mother who was abducted as a teen, raped, and forced to raise her child in captivity with her kidnapper. Larson won multiple awards for outstanding performance as Joy Newsome, including an Academy Award for Best Actress.
Room takes place in Akron, Ohio. In actuality, the film was filmed in various locations around the GTA. In fact, the scene of Joy and her son Jack sharing a meal at a fast food joint was actually filmed in Etobicoke. Apache Burgers is the actual name of the burger joint and it's as retro as it looks in the film.
And yes! - that red squiggle that wraps around the room, along with the vintage red-n-white decor actually exists. There's even several Warhol inspired Marilyn Monroe paintings mounted on the walls to add to the old-school aesthetic. A must visit for lovers of burgers and the film!
4. Crimson Peak (2015) directed by Guillermo del Toro
Crimson Peak (2015) is a gruesome romantic drama starring Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, and Jessica Chastain. The film was directed by critically-acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro, and follows Edith Cushing (Wasikowska) as she uncovers horrific truths about her new lover Sir Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston) and his sister, Lucille (Chastain).
Setting the stage for the American Gothic era involved many locations around Ontario, including Casa Loma and the Victorian Masonic building. In the scene on the below left, Sir Thomas appears concerned in his dark, eerie home. In actuality, the building belongs to the Scottish Rite Club of Hamilton! The image on the right shows a wider view of the space in which the stain-glass windows are seen.
5. Carrie (2013) starring Chloe Moretz
Carrie (2013) is the latest remake of the Stephen King novel, starring Chloe Moretz. If you haven't seen the original or previous remakes, this version is a more modern take on the high school prom-gone-wrong. Carrie (Moretz) and her terrifyingly religious mother, Margaret (played by Julianne Moore), live in a rather plain sky-blue home in an offbeat neighbourhood.
However, the neighbourhood they shot in was actually in Mississauga. Victoria Hammond, the actual owner of the house, talked about the experience with Toronto Life. Hammond told Toronto Life that the transformation took three weeks. The front door was displaced, fake windows were installed, and a paint job was needed to make the home dead movie-set perfect.
Here's a side by side of the exterior of Carrie's house beside the actual house that Hammond owns.
BONUS: Stephen King's IT (2017) starring Stranger Thing's Finn Wolfhard
Unsurprisingly, another Stephen King remake made it onto our list. IT is an American horror literature and film classic that has been freaking people out for almost 30 years. The remake promises to be just as creepy and disturbing as the last (if not more terrifying than the 1990 mini-series).
The remake also stars child actor Finn Wolfhard, best known for playing Mike Wheeler in Netflix's Stranger Things. While the story takes place in Derry, Maine, filming took place in downtown Port Hope, Oshawa, Hamilton, Elora, and Toronto's Riverdale Neighborhood. The film is set to be released in theatres on September 8, 2017.
See if you can spot any Ontario destinations throughout the film on the release date!