Location Spotlight: Major’s Hill Park

With sweeping views of the Parliament Buildings and the Ottawa River, Major’s Hill Park is an urban oasis just steps away from the ByWard Market and downtown Ottawa. A popular site for festivals and events, the park also offers endless possibilities for filmmakers due to its pristine lawns, pathways, and stately trees, not to mention the cultural and historical buildings that are part of its landscape. Whether your project is set in Ottawa, small town America or a big European city, Major’s Hill Park has everything you need to bring your script to life.

Ottawa’s first park, Major’s Hill Park was once home to Lieutenant-Colonel John By, the Superintending Engineer who oversaw the construction of the Rideau Canal starting in 1826. When By was recalled to England in 1832, Major Daniel Bolton replaced him and the site was given its current name. The house where By and Bolton once lived was destroyed in 1849 by a fire, but the ruins of the foundation are still visible today. Also part of the 12.5 acre park is Header House, once a component of a greenhouse complex and later an art gallery. More recently, the historical building houses Tavern on the Hill – a popular outdoor canteen, patio, and ice cream shop.

Major’s Hill Park, circa 1920 
Credit: Lancefield/Library and Archives Canada/PA-051810

Even before it was officially recognized as a park in 1875, Major’s Hill Park was hosting major celebrations. In 1867, revellers celebrated the first Canada Day, or Dominion Day as it was called then, at the park with fireworks and bonfires. Except for the bonfires, not much has changed; the park still hosts Canada Day festivities every year, along with numerous other events. For example, the Festival Franco-Ontario, a celebration of Francophone culture in Ontario, happens every year at the park, as does B in the Park – a concert featuring the music of the Sons of Scotland Pipe Band and Highland dancing. With breathtaking views of Parliament Hill, the Bytown Museum, the Ottawa River and locks, and the city of Gatineau, we can’t think of a better place to host an event or a film shoot!

Surrounded by the National Gallery of Canada, Chateau Laurier and Connaught Building, Major’s Hill Park offers limitless possibilities for filmmakers. Views of the Parliament Buildings and Ottawa River will establish that your project is set in Ottawa, while the neighbouring historical and cultural buildings help to transform the park and surrounding area into almost any major Canadian, American or European city. Taking advantage of the iconic Ottawa landmarks, Murdoch Mysteries shot at Major’s Hill Park for the 5th season episode titled Murdoch Night in Canada, an episode that was set in Ottawa. Also set in Ottawa was the CBC miniseries The Best Laid Plans, based on the novel of the same name by author Terry Fallis. Other productions that have shot at the park include the reality TV series The Amazing Race CanadaLes jumelles, and Ottawa Underground (the latter two produced locally by Balestra Productions and Léa Pascal Productions, respectively) as well as countless travel shows.

Still of Murdoch Mysteries at Major’s Hill Park 
Photo: Albert Camicioli | www.f45photo.com

As Major’s Hill Park is managed by the National Capital Commission, you will need to contact them directly for filming approvals. Looking for another park to film in? Our office can help you obtain approvals to film at any City of Ottawa park or facility; check out our photos on Flickr or visit our Permits page to get started.