The TV show that put Steveston on the world map has been axed.
Once Upon a Time (OUAT), which first aired in ABC in 2011, will end when its seventh season comes to a close later this year.
The family fantasy drama – which featured fairytale characters drifting in and out reality worlds – attracted a global cult following and, until last year, was primarily shot in Steveston Village, AKA Storybrooke.
At its peak, OUAT, shown on CTV in Canada, was so popular that “Oncers,” as the fans were called, travelled from all over the world to experience Steveston and explore the stores used for filming.
So much so that Tourism Richmond promoted special package deals for fans including hotel stays and Disney-licensed “Once” merchandise, such as T-shirts, tote bags, hoodies and posters, were on also at Tourism Richmond’s Visitor Centre on Moncton Street, where you could also pick up a self-guided walking map of “Storybrooke.”
Last year, the City of Richmond booked filming days for 18 out of 22 episodes for season six.
Tourism Richmond estimated 64 per cent of visits to the village’s Visitor’s Centre in 2016 were related to Once Upon a Time.
However, the writing was on the wall for the former hit show, which was moved last year from its prime Sunday evening slot to a Friday night.
And many of its original cast members were replaced last year when contracts ran out.
Both changes are understood by industry experts to have contributed greatly a significant drop in OUAT’s ratings.
In the past, Steveston merchants have had mixed feelings over the show taking over large parts of the village during filming, with some revelling in the publicity, but others lamenting the disruption to their businesses.
The Richmond News reported last summer how, after a big gala at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery in 2016 to celebrate their 100th episode, the crew of OUAT was expected to distance itself from Steveston, as the popular show’s story arc veered away from Storybrooke.
In a statement released Wednesday, the show’s creators, Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, said, “Seven years ago, we set out to create a show about hope, where even in the darkest of times, a happy ending would always be possible.
“But we never imagined the happy ending that was actually in store for all of us — years and years of adventure, romance, magic and hope. We’re so grateful to our brilliant collaborators — the cast, crew and writers — as well as our partners at the studio and network for making this journey possible. But most of all, we want to thank the fans. Their fierce loyalty and devotion was the real magic behind Once Upon a Time. We hope they join us for these last few hours as we journey to the Enchanted Forrest for one more adventure.”
Understandably, fans around the globe took to social media to express their disappointment: