7 FILMING LOCATIONS YOU CAN VISIT IN GREATER VICTORIA
DISCOVER HOLLYWOOD NORTH WITH GREATER DESTINATION VICTORIA
It’s no secret that British Columbia has become a hotspot for Hollywood activity. While Vancouver’s numerous movie studios and production facilities have earned it the nickname “Hollywood North,” producers are also increasingly setting their sights on Vancouver Island for their filming needs. With a mild climate that allows for year-round shooting and no shortage of unparalleled scenery, it’s no surprise that Greater Victoria has caught the eye of these industry professionals. From Hollywood blockbusters to hit TV series, you might be surprised to see which of your favourite movies and shows have been filmed in places you can visit in Greater Victoria.
As one of the most recognizable filming locations in Greater Victoria, Hatley Castle has been featured in many productions on both the big screen and the small. This Scottish-style castle built in 1908, was originally commissioned by the wealthy coal baron, James Dunsmuir, but today is home to Royal Roads University and the Hatley Park Gardens. The imposing stature of the castle has made Hatley Castle the perfect setting for “Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters” in the X-Men series as well as the Deadpool movies. Other notable productions that have featured Hatley Castle include Disney’s The Descendants movie franchise, Netflix’s crime drama series The Killing and an episode of the 1980s hit show MacGyver.
Another Victorian mansion that has hit the silver screen (and was also built by the Dunsmuir Family) is Craigdarroch Castle. Pay a visit to this castle filled with intricate woodwork and twisting staircases and you will see why it was chosen to represent the spooky English countryside manor in the horror films The Boy and The Boy 2. If scary movies aren’t your thing, the location can also be recognized from 1994’s Little Women, which starred Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon. Today, the castle operates as a museum, welcoming guests to come and enjoy the many historical artifacts, furnishings and architecture of this impressive home from the 1800s.
FAN TAN ALLEY
There is nothing that says “Hollywood action flick” quite like a classic car chase scene, and when the chase takes place in the narrowest street in Canada, it becomes even more exciting! Such is the case in the 1990 movie Bird on a Wire starring Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn, which included a thrilling motorcycle chase down the brick-lined Fan Tan Alley in Victoria’s Chinatown. Once home to gambling parlours and opium dens, the alley now hosts a diverse collection of local boutiques and eateries. Bird on a Wire also made use of nearby Bastion Square for several scenes, which is another downtown favourite for historic pubs, trendy restaurants and a summertime outdoor market.
FORT RODD HILL AND FISGARD LIGHTHOUSE
As the oldest lighthouse on Canada’s west coast, Fisgard Lighthouse at Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site holds a rich past. Beyond the 100-year-old artillery and underground bunkers, the site has also seen its fair share of Hollywood activity. The iconic red and white lighthouse has been seen in movies such as Watchtower starring Tom Berenger and TV series such as CW’s Arrow and the vampire thriller Van Helsing.
With its charming avenue of boutiques and a scenic waterfront, it may come as no surprise that television and movie producers have flocked to the seaside neighbourhood of Oak Bay. Notably, many Hallmark movies have chosen Oak Bay as their film set, turning it into everything from a southern U.S. town in Once Upon a Prince to a sunny island destination in Sailing into Love. Pay a visit to Oak Bay and take in the small-town atmosphere by enjoying afternoon tea at the White Heather Tea Room or by admiring local art at The Avenue Gallery.
As another scenic waterfront town, Sidney has also caught the eye of film and television producers. In 2014, Sidney stood in as the titular Northern California town in Fox’s series Gracepoint, starring David Tennant. This dark crime mystery featured the sandy shores and steep cliffs of Island View Beach and even turned the building that now houses Victoria Distillers into the Gracepoint police station.
While the Cowichan Valley region just north of Victoria is well known for its many wineries, agriculture and a slower pace of life, the entertainment industry has taken notice of the area in recent years, bringing major Hollywood blockbuster productions to its small towns and villages. Most recently, Sonic the Hedgehog
starring Jim Carrey and James Marsden took over the streets of Ladysmith, turning it into the fictional town of Green Hills, Montana for this family-friendly hit. 2014’s Godzilla
also utilized the region to shoot several scenes, including a train chase along the Southern Railway of Vancouver Island that runs from Victoria to Courtenay. While the train is no longer in operation, visitors can still take advantage of walking paths along the rail line, such as the E&N Rail Trail or the Kinsol Trestle.