Canada has long been a favoured place for filmmakers and television producers. Many of the movies and TV shows we’ve come to love for their ‘New England in the fall’ scenery or ‘European city charm’ were in fact shot in Canada. The country has appeared in so many silver screen moments that a night at the cinema, or on the sofa, may just be the best way to grasp some inspiration when planning your Canadian holidays.
Before you scour Netflix or the DVD shelf, read on to find out about the famous TV shows and movies filmed in Canada that will inspire your next trip to the country.
Best TV shows and movies filmed in Canada
•50 Shades of Grey
•Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
•Other movies and TV shows filmed in Canada
Filming locations: Coast to Coast Route (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador)
If you are an adventure seeker then one show that you should watch is the action-packed Departures. It is a personal journey about two travellers who leave their lives behind in search of unique experiences through some of the most beautiful and remote places on earth.
Macca, who is behind the travel blog An Adventurous World, told us that it is one of his favourite shows and the episode about Canada is one he will never forget.
“One of my favourite shows that made me completely fall in love with Canada was Departures. They were two Canadian guys, Scott Wilson and Justin Lukach, who did this amazing TV show travelling to some of the most beautiful places around the world. Their first-ever pilot episode was driving coast to coast across Canada in an RV. They went to these secluded locations I’d never seen before, and it just made me want to travel all over the country. If you want to learn more about Canada and get that travel bug, watch that Departures episode.”
The show highlights the stunning natural beauty of Canada and if you are thinking of booking car hire in Canada then you should definitely watch this episode as it will certainly give you some ideas of destinations you should visit.
READ MORE: How to plan a road trip in Canada
Filming locations: Canadian Rockies, Alberta
Although the novel by Annie Proulx is set in ‘Riverton’, a real town in the Big Horn Mountains of central Wyoming, and in Texas, the film was actually shot in Alberta’s stunning Canadian Rockies mountain region.
The stunning scenery featured throughout the Brokeback Mountain film is the Kananaskis Range around Canmore, on the Trans-Canada Highway southeast of Banff, approximately 60 miles west of Calgary. As Finding Brokeback reveals that some of the distinct landmarks featured in the film include Windtower and Three Sisters, which are just outside of Canmore, Moose Mountain to the east and Fortress to the south.
The cast of Brokeback Mountain was packed full of stars such as Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Michelle Williams and Randy Quaid. The movie was a huge success and won the BAFTA for Best Film in 2006 and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Motion Picture of the Year.
If you are inspired by the stunning landscapes of the Rocky Mountains which are featured in the film, then one way to explore them is to book a journey on the Rocky Mountaineer train as this offers you unrivalled views of the area whilst treating you to world-class food and service throughout the trip.
Filming locations: Vancouver, British Columbia
The series X-Files often takes credit for putting Vancouver on the map – well, in the producers’ minds at least. The show featured many locations across the city including the Grouse Mountain Skyride. Far from its extra-terrestrial counterpart in the show, British Columbia with its world-renowned Whistler and Kicking Horse resorts is a hotspot for those skiing in Canada.
Creative BC, the provincial board committed to developing British Columbia’s creative industries, told us about why the province is such a popular filming destination.
“British Columbia has earned its reputation as one of the world’s leading creative centres for motion picture production with a long history of producing feature films, television series, documentaries, animation and commercials.
“When you take a closer look at the advantages BC offers, it’s no wonder we’ve grown to become one of the largest and most popular full-service production centres in North America.”
Filming locations: Alberta
The Revenant follows the journey of a frontiersman, played by Leonardo Di Caprio, on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s as he fights for survival after disaster strikes amidst rugged and breathtaking wilderness.
The movie, which also stars well-known actors such as Tom Hardy, Will Poulter and Domhnall Gleeson, was also filmed in the stunning landscape of Alberta. In fact, when Leonardo Di Caprio won the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in 2016, during his acceptance speech he mentioned how in awe he was of Alberta’s natural beauty.
Filming locations: Calgary
Calgary is famed for being home to the world-famous Calgary Stampede and for being used as a base to explore the Canadian Rocky Mountains, but the city itself is shown off in lots of films.
One of the most famous and iconic films that the city features in is the 1980s rendition of Superman II starring Christopher Reeve. The blockbuster movie was filmed in the city because of its interesting landscapes and the futuristic-looking Calgary Tower.
If you are planning a trip to Calgary, then the movie shows some great highlights of the city and is a good film to watch if you want to see some of its sights.
READ MORE: 48 Hours in Calgary
50 Shades of Grey
Filming locations: Vancouver, British Columbia
With its stunning location, idyllically set between the Pacific Ocean and the Coastal Mountain range, it should come as no surprise that Vancouver is a popular setting for many films and one of the blockbuster movies which were filmed there was 50 Shades of Grey.
This racy film took the world by storm back in 2015 and during filming Vancouver’s cityscape and harbour made an appearance in the film. The glimpses of the city in the film just entice you to want to see more, but if you want to watch another film that features Vancouver in then you should also watch 21 Jump Street. This features a young Johnny Depp playing an undercover cop posing as a high school pupil in Vancouver’s picturesque Gastown. It also features the city’s recognisable New Westminster Secondary School.
The national organisation First Weekend Club, which has supported over 300 Canadian films and encourages audiences to watch local productions with its video-on-demand service CanadaScreens, told us why they think Canada and Vancouver are used so often in blockbuster films.
“Canadian film is rich in storytelling and our country is so diverse, with people and family histories from every corner of the world. I think our stories are relatable and people enjoy seeing themselves reflected in the films they watch on screen.
“Our landscapes are so diverse that it makes shooting in Canada desirable. In Vancouver alone, my home city, we have the ocean, the mountains, great old forests, raging rivers, meadows, canyons, a busy urban centre and quaint little towns. It’s incredibly beautiful and transcends well on the big screen.”
READ MORE: A guide to Vancouver’s neighbourhoods
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Filming locations: Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is one of the most popular attractions in Canada and it is another jewel in Ontario’s crown. Unsurprisingly, as it is one of the biggest waterfalls in the world, is a favourite filming location for big Hollywood blockbusters and it is where Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End was shot in 2006.
Rather than create the entire scene digitally, producers of this swash-buckling Disney action movie chose to film the waterfalls at the Canadian Horseshoe Falls side of the Niagara Falls to build the idea of an apocalyptic-style waterfall that the film called for.
READ MORE: Top things to do at Niagara Falls
Filming locations: Toronto
Along with Vancouver, Ontario’s capital Toronto is the largest filming centre in Canada. Its familiar and yet not entirely identifiable cityscape has helped Toronto take on the guise of many fictional cities in TV shows and movies.
Despite the name of the film, ironically Toronto got another American makeover featuring as the Windy City in the 2002 film adaptation of the Broadway musical Chicago starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renee Zellweger.
No location was left unused in Toronto for this glitzy jazz-age movie, and observant audiences will recognise the historic Distillery District, the Old City Hall and Toronto’s very own castle Casa Loma among other backdrops.
READ MORE: Where to Stay in Toronto
Other movies and TV shows filmed in Canada
As we have mentioned, there are lots of movies and TV shows that have been filmed in Canada, so many in fact that we can’t fit them all in this guide, but below are some other popular flicks which didn’t make the above list.
•Inception: This dream-bending thriller was filmed in the Canadian Rockies
•Orphan Black: This film follows Sarah Manning on her many adventures – and those of her clone counterparts – around Toronto, including locations such as the ice skating rink and the Thompson Hotel.
•Twilight Saga: Outside of the city, the forest surrounding Vancouver provided the setting for many scenes in the young adult fiction favourite Twilight Saga.
•Fargo: The remake for the small screen was partly shot in Calgary. In the second season, the industrial Kensington area and downtown were used for filming.
•Star Trek: The town of Vulcan, the name referring to the alien species that Leonard Nimoy’s Spock belongs to, has a long association with the sci-fi thriller and back in 2016 it even commemorated the shows 50th anniversary as it introduced Star Trek postage stamps. Fans of the Star Trek franchise descend on the town, and it even has its own TrekCetera Museum.
•X-Men films: The Royal Roads University campus on Vancouver Island became a setting for the X-Men films when Hatley Castle appeared in both X2 in 2003 and X-Men: The Last Stand in 2006.
•Good Will Hunting: The critically acclaimed Good Will Hunting features Robin Williams at his best and tells the story of a supposedly Boston-based unfulfilled genius. In reality, both cities were used in this film, with the University of Toronto and the now-closed Upfront Bar & Grill in the city making appearances.
These are just some of the TV shows and movies filmed in Canada that will inspire you to book a holiday to this beautiful country. For more articles like this, check out the blog section of our website.