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It’s no surprise that Canada is a popular place for shooting films. Not only is the scenery spectacular, but the architecture is distinctive without being showy, and the cost is quite attractive when compared to northern California.

Vancouver in particular can pass for almost any small town in America. Take a walk through downtown Vancouver with this list in your hand and enjoy seeing the city through the eye of the camera.

The Twilight Series

Any list has to start with this wildly popular series of films. The story was set on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, but much of the filming was done in and around Vancouver. 

The David Thompson Secondary School (1755 East 55 Avenue) served as Forks High School where the two main characters first meet. 

Those familiar with Gastown – an historic district in the heart of downtown – will recognize it when watching the vampires rage through ‘Seattle’.  Other Seattle scenes were shot in New Westminster, a short drive east of Vancouver.

The thick woods of Belcarra Regional Park in Port Moody provided the perfect setting for the Olympic National forest, without all the hiking to get there.  A few more forest scenes took place in Coquitlam, which includes the home of the werewolf leader.

Television Series

The television series Psyche also has many scenes filmed in and around Vancouver.  Once Upon a Time is set in a small seaside town in Maine – that just happens to look a lot like Vancouver.  In addition to the public buildings, the series uses a number of private residences as exterior and interior settings. And while the series Arrow doesn’t have a defined town as a setting, it is filmed mainly in Vancouver. 

Movies and Television

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Some of the more recognizable buildings and parks throughout the city have been featured in multiple films and series. 

Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam has been seen in more than 17 productions, including Smallville, The X Files and The Last MimzyStargate SG-1, Psych, Supernatural and Alcatraz have also used several of the buildings in the hospital complex, setting them up as labs, museums and military instillations. 

Terminal City Iron Works is an old manufacturing plant that is a perfect setting for gritty street scenes.  Eureka, Fringe and Alcatraz all use this as a warehouse, but Stargate Atlantis managed to create an entire destroyed city from the old buildings.

The Caretaker’s Cottage at Murdo Park has played a rustic cabin in Once Upon a Time, Eureka, Fringe, Stargate SG-1 and Caprica, while Templeton Secondary School on Templeton Drive has served duty as a school in 17 films and series, including Smallville, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Vampire Diaries.

The University of British Columbia is a popular spot for filming. The Iona Building does duty as an institution of higher learning in at least four films. The Buchanan Tower and the Chemistry Building’s D-Block are also popular with film makers, while the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts is so unique that no less than 20 shows have used it as a setting.

Look for Whytecliff Park Beach as the beach setting in many of the movies already mentioned in addition to The Anachronism and Primeval: New World, and Playland creates such a good setting for an amusement park that 16 films have had scenes shot there, including Rocky IV and Best in Show.

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The Vancouver Art Gallery, Aquarium, Convention Centre, Central Library, Orpheum Theatre, Cleveland Dam, Pacific Central Station, BC Place Stadium, Waterfall Building, Shannon Mews, Electra Building, Hycroft Mansion and Bloedel Conservatory have been in so many films and shows that listing them all would be impossible.

Fans of particular shows could spend several weeks hunting down all the featured locations and, who knows, hanging around at UBC or various train stations might just get you into your favorite show as an extra!