TV series transforms Steveston into New England town

Show could create a buzz for the fishing village, much like Smallville did for Cloverdale

Businesses and city officials are hoping a new TV show from the people behind Lost will create a buzz for the community of Steveston similar to what the long-running Smallville series did for Cloverdale.

Last week, the cast and crew of ABC's much-hyped Once Upon a Time descended upon Moncton Street to film scenes of the fictional New England town where the show's fairy tale characters are unknowingly trapped.

article continues below

The pilot episode was shot there in March and cameras will be rolling on and off until at least December, said Sandi Swanigan, who runs the City of Richmond's department in charge of coordinating with the film industry.

"Steveston is a fairly seasonal village and this helps us during those softer months," Swanigan said. "Like Cloverdale, we attract a lot of people in the summer. It'll be neat to have another reason to come to Steveston."

Swanigan said the historic fishing village is attractive to location scouts because it can mimic the New England waterfront, and nearby Garry Point Park can look like Central California.

Nikka Fishing & Marine's two-storey building had its windows boarded up to transform it into a deserted library.

"We looked a little derelict," said employee Maureen Miyashita with a chuckle.

Miyashita said the whole process took almost three days, but the crew was very pleasant and Nikka received money for being in the shots.

Across the street, Steveston Marine and Hardware was transformed into Storybrooke Hardware and Paint.

Jim Burkimsher said last week's altered facade didn't affect business as much as the time it was temporarily changed into a grocery store two years ago. "[Customers] came in expecting a marine store and they said, 'Oh my God, they've sold it!' " Burkimsher said.

The show premieres Oct. 23 and centres around the life of Emma Swan, Snow White and Prince Charming's missing daughter, as she navigates the strange world of Storybrooke.

Lost's executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis are behind the show, which stars Big Love's Ginnifer Goodwin, House MD's Jennifer Morrison and Robert Carlyle of The Full Monty and Trainspotting fame.

Buzz has been building online after the studio released promo trailers for the slickly-produced fantasy drama.

"It'd be really exciting if, in three years, one of the things Steveston is known for - beyond its shops and fish and chips - is it's the town in Once Upon a Time," Swanigan said.

That is what happened to the Fraser Valley community of Cloverdale, which was the main set for Smallville's main street and downtown from 2000 until 2004.

"About a third of our visitors every day are people who are still following the trail of the Smallville," said Bill Reid, executive director of the Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce. "If it's a major series, it is an incredible ongoing marketing opportunity for the community.

"We thought it'd die each year a little bit more, but since it hasn't we're going to make some small replica items [to put around town near memorable show locations]."

Seven years after filming stopped on Smallville, people still come from places like Florida, England and Mexico to walk the streets of Superman's earthly hometown and relive their favourite scenes.

Reid said the crew knew they would be shooting there for an extended period of time and made a point of buying as much as they could from local businesses.

"The furniture store, the hardware store - all of them had clients daily that were part of the filming crew."

Swanigan said when the crew came to Steveston to film in the spring, they brough an injection of "energy, resources and interest." She said they spent money in local stores and restaurants and gave more than $1,000 to a local relief effort for Japanese tsunami victims.

When asked about the potential of Steveston getting its own long-running show, Reid said: "I wish them the best of luck because they're going to come out winners."

Read Related Topics

© Richmond News

Popular News