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12 Films That Were Actually Shot in Canada

Canada is a hotbed for the North American film industry, with countless shoots for productions both big and small taking place all across the country each year. While some locations, such as Toronto and Vancouver, are more popular than others, cinema has shown a great appreciation for the Canadian landscape, even if it often doesn’t play itself. American productions, for one reason or another, are frequently drawn to Canada to shoot films whose narratives are often based U.S., or even Europe at times. Thus, I’ve compiled a list of films you wouldn’t necessarily think were shot in the Great North.

 

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Location: The Canadian Rockies, Alberta

Despite being a love story firmly entrenched in mid-20th century cowboy culture, Brokeback Mountain was shot almost entirely in the Canadian Rockies of Alberta, one of the most majestically beautiful parts of the entire country. A fitting backdrop for such a beautifully told story of love and loss.

 

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Location: Toronto, Ontario

The second entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe after Iron Man’s release, and certainly one of the most forgettable films in the longstanding series of films. The Incredible Hulk is a better example of how Toronto is frequently depicted as New York City in cinema than how to actually make a Hulk film.

 

Good Will Hunting (1997)

Location: Toronto, Ontario

For a film that proudly brandishes its Boston setting, you’d be surprised to learn that some of the best-known scenes in Good Will Hunting, namely interior MIT and Harvard scenes, were actually shot in the University of Toronto and Central Technical school. Most of the film was shot on location in Boston, but these Toronto institutions had to stand in for the prestigious U.S. universities, much of which can be attributed to their strict policies for shooting on the properties. Veteran actor John Lithgow, who is a Harvard graduate, had to put word in just to get the production permission to do limited shooting on the premises.

 

Mean Girls (2004)

Location: Toronto, Ontario

When Toronto isn’t too busy filling in for Boston and New York, it’s also a popular stand-in for Chicago. While the majority of the film was shot in Toronto, a limited portion of the film was shot in the US, none of which took place in Chicago. Speaking of which….

 

Chicago (2002)

Location: Toronto, Ontario

Turns out Toronto fills in for Chicago more than you think. Despite the musical’s namesake, Chicago was shot entirely in Toronto, using some of the cities most esteemed buildings as locations for the shoots, including the Elgin and Winter Gardens Theatre, Osgoode Hall and Casa Loma amongst others.

 

Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Locations: Montreal & Quebec City, Quebec

People say that there is a European sensibility to the French-Canadian cities of Montreal and Quebec City. Clearly the filmmakers of Catch Me If You Can thought the same thing, as scenes set in France were actually shot in these Quebec cities.

 

First Blood (1982)

Location: British Columbia

John Rambo might be an icon of American cinematic masculinity, but his first outing was directed by legendary Canadian director Ted Kotcheff in the province of British Columbia. The influential First Blood was primarily filmed in the town of Hope, while also using a variety of other locations in rural parts of the B.C. province during the winter season, achieving an aesthetic not seen in the Rambo series since.

 

Juno (2007)

Location: Vancouver, British Columbia

Yet another American production by a Canadian director that is also filmed in his home country. Despite being set in the U.S., Peter Howell of the Toronto Star once wrote “I thought Juno was a very Canadian movie, even though it was set in the U.S.” There is a palpable Canadian personality brought to the production by a number of Canadian cast members and the director Jason Reitman himself, the latter of whom insisted the film be shot in Vancouver instead of Minnesota, where the film is based.

 

My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)

Location: Toronto, Ontario

While My Big Fat Greek Wedding is based in Chicago (once again), and although scenes were shot on location in Chicago, the film at least stays true to its title by having been partially shot in the Greektown area of the city of Toronto. Additionally, there was some shooting done at Ryerson University, and the Portokalos’ iconic family home is still standing today in the East York area of Toronto.

 

X-Men (2000)

Locations: Toronto & Hamilton, Ontario

The film that kicked off the X-Men franchise and helped pave the way for the superhero explosion of the 21st century, the entirety of X-Men was shot in several locations throughout the two cities, including the famous Toronto Distillery District, which has been a very popular are for shooting over the years and is where the very first scene of the film was shot.

 

Shazam! (2019)

Location: Toronto, Ontario

Aside from a few establishing shots and scenes in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the rest of the flick was shot in Toronto, in what is a more recent display of the city’s true flexibility. Although, to those who are familiar with Toronto, there are more than a few dead giveaways to watch out for.

 

Capote (2005)

Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba

Coming into our final entry of the list, you’ve likely noticed something of a pattern. Productions tend to favour Toronto’s chameleonic urban landscape, the distinctively varied topography of Vancouver and the greater British Columbia area, Quebec’s Eurocentric architecture, or the breath-taking ranges of Alberta. Manitoba seemingly draws little attention in comparison, but not only was Winnipeg, and for that matter the greater provincial area, the perfect stand-in for Kansas, but its sparse terrain in the winter possesses a cold but poetic frigidity fitting of Capote’s narrative and themes.

 

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