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Steveston - “Once Upon a Time” in Richmond BC

Travel by Steve Polyak (From GayCalgary® Magazine, October 2017, page 49)
Steveston - “Once Upon a Time” in Richmond BC
Image by: GayCalgary
Steveston - “Once Upon a Time” in Richmond BC
Image by: GayCalgary
Steveston - “Once Upon a Time” in Richmond BC
Image by: GayCalgary

I know that many TV shows are produced around the Vancouver area, and most of the filming is done in such a way that a location might be used a couple times and that is it. Hatley Castle was the castle in the X-men movies and the home of the Green Arrow on the TV show Arrow; BC Place Stadium was the location of S.T.A.R. Labs in the TV show Flash. For TV show Once Upon a Time, the  backdrop is Steveston in Richmond, BC.

Steveston was originally a stand-alone town but eventually became amalgamated into Richmond. It still holds its original fishing village flare and historic buildings. Despite its role as Storybrooke in the series, the area is still busy with people coming to see boats, over 350 shops and services, plus the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, which is part of Park’s Canada.

The Cannery opened in 1894 and shutdown in 1979. In 1984 Park’s Canada took it over and re-opened as a museum in 1994. Much of the equipment is still in place to view, but cordoned off, and the step-by-step process of canning was pretty cool to see. Staff, said that the Cannery had been used for at least one party for the actors and crew of Once Upon a Time. Attendees did not get the message that high heel shoes should not be worn inside – not because it would damage the floor – but because there are spaces between floor boards, so the heels of their shoes kept getting stuck.

Most of the filming is done only in a couple block radius around the core of the village. Once you leave the core, you see a lot more modern building and homes. The homes of the characters, like Regina’s home, are shot in New Westminster, and Storybrooke City Hall is shot in Fort Langley.

When you enter the core, you realize how much Steveston has embraced becoming Storybrooke. ;Granny’s Bed & Breakfast’, The Cannery Café), stands a billboard for Storybrooke right out front. Sadly, it was closed when we arrived, or we would have gone inside and checked out their menu. Right across the street from it is the Storybrooke Bakery, really the Romania Country Bread shop. They produce artisanal bread in an authentic wood-burning brick oven.

Major events on the show usually happen just out front of the ‘Storybrooke Library’. We discovered the clock tower is digitally added to the top of the building which, in real life, is the Nikka Fishing Marine.

A couple doors down from the library, on the other side of the street, is ‘Mr. Gold Pawnbroker Antiquities Dealer’. The shop is a gift shop actually called It’s Posh. The interior was used for the first couple seasons, but when they were doing the season where the cast was in Neverland, the location was no longer used and became a gift shop. The empty lot beside the store will now be set up as a temporary front to record outdoor shots and, instead of having to remove the inventory of the gift shop and replace it with Mr. Golds antiques, they have that now set up in a studio. It’s Posh has a lot of cool stuff including products from Once Upon a Time.

We checked out the docks in hopes to see Captain Hook’s ship the Jolly Roger but, sadly, it has not been making many trips to Canada. It is usually docked in Aberdeen, Washington and called Lady Washington. It has made appearances in Star Trek: Generations and the Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

We were hoping that they would be filming while we were there. They try not to announce to the public when filming is happening so large crowds don’t cause problems when they need a quiet set. The actors have been seen around Steveston outside of their filming schedules and, depending on what they are filming, people can stand in the sidelines to watch.

They have a map available at the Steveston Museum and Post Office that shows Moncton Street, which is the Main Street in Storybrooke, and what each business becomes for the TV show. Just remember that not everything for Once Upon a Time is filmed there, but at least you can walk through the largest area of filming while enjoying what Steveston and Richmond, BC has for historical buildings, a fisherman’s wharf, and more.

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Contributor Steve Polyak |

Locale British Columbia | Richmond |

Topic Once Upon a Time | Travel |

Photo Gallery Richmond, BC |


Image by: GayCalgary

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