Featuring more than a third of the nation’s population as well as its biggest city, Ontario is what many people outside of Canada think of when envisioning the Great White North. A more subtle reason is that Ontario makes up one half of Hollywood North, the areas in Canada that are often used for filming TV shows and movies.
While one might think it difficult to disguise Ontario for somewhere else (especially when Toronto has the CN Tower looming over it), you’d be surprised at how versatile The Heartland Province can be. Ontario is yours to discover when it comes to seeing amazing Canadiana, as are these 5 shot-in-Ontario shows now available for streaming on Netflix Canada.
The brainchild of Canadian comedy legend Eugene Levy and his son Dan, Schitt’s Creek is the biggest cross-border CanCon hit in years, and an awards horse to boot. The series follows the misadventures of the wealthy Rose family after they lose everything and have to start over in the titular small town of Schitt’s Creek.
In real life, Schitt’s Creek is actually the hamlet of Goodwood, located about an hour’s drive north of Toronto. Much of the show’s interior filming is done in a Toronto studio, but many of Schitt’s Creeks’s most recognizable exteriors can be found at a single intersection in Goodwood. The Levy’s (who star alongside fellow Canadian comedy great Catherine O’Hara) have been overwhelmingly positive about their experience in Goodwood, which came to an end when the show wrapped production on its final season last year.
The Umbrella Academy
The title might make you think this is a show that ought to be filmed in Raincouver, but this comic book adaptation shot extensively in both Toronto and Hamilton. Starring Nova Scotia native Ellen Page as 1 of 7 superpowered siblings investigating the death of their adoptive father (played by fellow Canuck Colm Feore), this popular Netflix original puts an eccentric spin on superhero trappings familiar to fans of X-Men or The Incredibles.
The forthcoming second season finished production last fall, but the 10-episode first season is wall-to-wall with urban Ontario favourites. Queen Street East storefronts and U of T campus will be easy to spot for most Torontonians, while the most obvious of Hamilton’s locations is Liuna Station, a convention centre that doubles for a bank in The Umbrella Academy’s premiere. And Schitt’s Creek fans should pay special attention to the motel featured in episode 8 – there’s a reason it looks a lot like the Rosebud Motel.
The New York City to Vancouver’s Los Angeles, it’s no surprise that a show about high-powered Manhattan attorneys would look to Toronto as a substitute. It’s fitting, as this popular procedural follows the exploits of a legal genius who never passed the bar as he and his mentor navigate the weekly cases and drama of a New York law firm. With the exception of the pilot episode (shot on location in NYC), Suits filmed in Toronto for 8 years.
Being a show about lawyers meant that much of Suits’ filming was done inside the Downsview Park studio in Toronto. But the exterior shots are where you get to see Toronto’s financial district at its flashiest, with the Bay Adelaide West building subbing in for the show’s main office. The frothy series lost some of its steam over a 9-season run, due in part to the departure of breakout regular Meghan Markle in Season 7 (who has since retired from acting).
This urban Canadian comedy (think corner store, not Corner Gas) has been airing on CBC since 2016, and is the most openly Toronto series on our list (and, perhaps, TV in general). Based on the award-winning 2011 play of the same name, Kim’s Convenience is a workplace comedy centered on the ups and downs of a Korean Canadian family running a convenience store in Toronto’s Moss Park neighbourhood.
The series has shot around many Toronto staples over its 4-season run, including the ever-popular Kensington Market. The treat for true fans will be visiting the real Kim’s Convenience on Queen Street East, which is a functioning convenience store used to film some of the show’s exterior shots. Technically, this store is really a Mimi’s Variety, but you wouldn’t know it when looking from the outside, and Mimi’s interiors were used to model the show’s studio sets.
Liven up your viewing schedule with a trip to Ontario that also doubles as a trip through time – and not just because this long-running series started all the way back in 2008. Based on the “Detective Murdoch” book series, Murdoch Mysteries follows the crime-solving adventures of the eponymous Detective William Murdoch of the Toronto Constabulary in the 1890s.
As this is a period piece set in a time when the word “Constabulary” was used, it should be no shock to learn that much of the show is shot in a Toronto film studio. But over the course of its 200+ episode run, Murdoch Mysteries has shot in Ottawa, Guelph and Toronto, to name just a few of its Ontario filming locations (the series shot in BC in 2008 and Dawson City, Yukon in 2011). Canadian history fans will want to tune in to the latest season, where an episode filmed in Kingston, Ontario puts the Victorian architecture and limestone buildings of Canada’s original capital to good use.
For more binge-worthy series that show off Hollywood North, be sure to read our guide on How to visit British Columbia in 5 Netflix shows!
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