As an Ontario native with a theatre degree, solid Canadian-made entertainment is something I’ve always held very near and dear to my heart. I was raised in a household where the work of Canadian comedians by the likes of John Candy, Catherine O’Hara, Jim Carrey and Eugene Levy was celebrated, and proudly. In an entertainment business saturated so heavily by our neighbors to the south, great pride comes from seeing the success of Canadians on stages and screens of all sizes.
Being from the region and with a knack for visual memory, I’m also very familiar with areas around Ontario by sight. I love seeing a TV show or movie and spotting locations I recognize while I’m watching. When I saw the critically acclaimed film Room while I was living abroad, it filled me with so much nostalgia since it felt like I was going on a small tour of Toronto with views over the Don Valley and recognizable residential neighborhoods of East York. Similarly, when The Handmaid’s Tale came out, I was doubly excited as I was noticing memorable locations from in and around Toronto and across towards the Niagara Region.
It has been great to see this simultaneous rise in Canadian-produced and owned content, along with it being filmed in locations we recognize. An excellent example all wrapped up in this is the largely successful CBC Comedy Schitt’s Creek. Created, written and starring an incredibly talented and largely Canadian team including some longtime favourites of mine such as Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy, this show has hit its North American and international audiences by storm. Its success has been the affirmation we’ve needed that Canadian content is beautiful, relevant and important. In addition to all of that, if you have a keen eye for spotting filming locations, you also will have recognized that Schitt’s Creek is primarily filmed in the our own backyard in the Durham and Headwaters regions!
Soon beginning its final season of filming (which was terribly sad news to receive this past March), audiences have been setting their sights on the real life “Schitt’s Creek”, which is actually the main intersection of Goodwood, ON in Durham Region. A small town of around 600 people, Goodwood is the home of “Cafe Tropical”, the central restaurant for the show, and in later seasons, Dan Levy’s character David Rose’s shop called “Rose Apothecary”. In its inaugural season, there are stories of the people of Goodwood bringing baked goods and lawn chairs to the set to support and watch filming of the then-barely-known-show.
A little further west in Mono, of Headwaters region, you’ll find the location for the “Rosebud Motel”, another staple of the show. Located on Hockley Road between 7th Line East and Airport Road, this motel is used to film all of the outdoor scenes where the main family, the Roses, begrudgingly live. There are also sections of downtown Stouffville where outdoor takes for the show have been filmed. Whereas there wasn’t necessarily a celebrity draw towards these locations in the past, nowadays fans are working detours or specific routes into their travel plans to take in these sites across the region.
Perhaps once the filming of Schitt’s Creek is finished (cue a single tear falling from my eye), some commemorative tour or fan experiences could be built into our region to commemorate such a fantastic show. In fact, if you look towards Unionville in York Region, they have made a point of doing just that for the first time this year, in honour of the show Gilmore Girls.
If you are familiar with the beauty of Main Street Unionville, then you’ll be excited to learn that Gilmore Girls Fan Fest will be taking place there from October 4th to 6th this year. The announcement for the location was very exciting for fans, since Main Street Unionville is the original Stars Hollow and it was the location for filming the original pilot to the now highly revered cult classic show. The pilot episode begins with a zoomed out panel of the town, and then zooms in to Lorelai crossing the street to Luke’s diner all those years ago. Invested fans have been quietly flocking to Unionville throughout the years to recreate this moment in television, but this fall’s Fan Fest will be an excellent opportunity for the region and fans to experience the beauty of Unionville in the fall.
The great thing about these kinds of stories in our region is that they lend themselves to more people thinking of stopping by. There are so many charming small towns and heritage buildings across Durham, York and Headwaters that it serves as a reminder for us to cherish these architectural treasures in our own backyard. Whether you’re travelling through the region during the warmer months to catch the filming of the final season of Schitt’s Creek outside the motel, or cozying up with a delicious meal and a casual stroll across Main Street in Unionville while speaking at approximately 80 words per minute in a quintessentially Gilmore Girlsean tone, take a moment to appreciate the scope of Ontarian locales and the industry and talent in television and film demonstrated across our region. We have a lot to be proud of that’s been created in this humble yet bounteous home of ours.
Written by Bri Mitchell
Bri Mitchell is a freelance travel and lifestyle writer. She has travelled to over 50 countries, and doesn’t have plans of stopping anytime soon. Bri currently lives in Toronto with her partner in life and travel, Christopher Mitchell (travelingmitch.com), and their Turkish street cat turned Prince of the Great White North, Kotu. You can follow her travels and meanderings around Ontario and beyond on Instagram @mstravelingmitch.