Whether it’s because of its central location, film-friendly residents and businesses, or unique mix of historic and modern architecture, Vanier is increasingly attracting filmmakers looking for diverse looks. The neighbourhood, which is bordered by the Rideau River, Gloucester, New Edinburgh and Overbrook, had heretofore often been overlooked in favour of more popular and promoted spots like the ByWard Market and Centretown. But things are changing. Recent efforts led by the City of Ottawa, the Quartier Vanier BIA, and developers who see potential and value in the area have helped to revitalize the neighbourhood while maintaining its unique character and small-town feel.
Originally named Eastview until it was renamed in 1969 for Governor General of Canada Georges-Philéas Vanier, Vanier is located only a short drive, walk or bike ride east of downtown Ottawa. This multicultural and historically francophone neighbourhood attracts a wide range of residents, from artists and families to students and young professionals, who all wish to be near the downtown core at an affordable price. Businesses have also taken advantage of the lower costs by either starting their business in the area or relocating, resulting in an eclectic cluster of establishments ranging from talent agencies and arts collectives to bookstores, law firms and marketing agencies.
In the past few years, our office has seen an increase in film and television productions that are choosing to film in Vanier. With a range of old and contemporary homes and buildings, friendly and charming boutiques and cafes, idyllic parks or some other setting, location scouts are continuously finding ideal looks for a variety of productions. Several feature films, including Clown and Highly Functional and more recently His Master’s Voice and First Light, have shot in Vanier, as have many TV movies. And while Vanier usually doubles for a Canadian or American town, it does occasionally get to be the star itself, as it was in an episode of Léa Pascal’s Productions’ J’habite ici, a TV series that explores the lives of Franco-Ontarians and their communities.
Detached homes that were built in the early to mid-1900s remind us of the neighbourhood’s working-class background while modern buildings and infill properties reflect a more recent influx of gentrification. In addition to its unique architecture, Vanier also has an abundance of greenspace that can suit most film and television projects. Richelieu Park, for example, not only houses a community centre, playground, sugar shack and public library, but also a maple forest with over 2.5 km of hiking and cycling trails – the perfect setting for any horror film! Looking for something closer to the water? Running along the Rideau River is the picturesque Riverain Park and its trails, playgrounds, trees, benches and picnic tables.
“Cookie cutter” isn’t a term that ever fits Vanier. Its cultural diversity and the social challenges of the past have left it with a rare mix of community services, facilities and artistic endeavors packed into a small area. This is a neighbourhood that’s never boring or lacking.
– Jamie Kwong, Executive Director, Quarter Vanier BIA
If you’re looking to film in a neighbourhood that has a vibrant arts community, historic and contemporary architecture, and welcoming and accommodating residents and business owners, consider scouting Vanier for your next project. Take a look at the Quartier Vanier BIA website for a list of businesses (many of which are film-friendly) or contact our office for more information about filming in Ottawa.
Do you know an amazing film-friendly location in Ottawa that should be featured in a future blog? Give us a shout – we’d love to hear all about it!