Considered one of Ottawa’s first suburbs, the Glebe is an established neighbourhood near downtown Ottawa, bordered on the east and south by the historic Rideau Canal. Stroll down Bank St. and its quieter side streets and you’ll find heritage homes, eclectic shops, serene parks, and even a late Victorian era exhibition hall. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a film or TV shoot happening; the Glebe is a desirable filming location for productions of all type, especially Hallmark and Lifetime movies whose familiar visual aesthetics were made for this picture-perfect neighbourhood.
**Point of Interest
Our first stop is at the northern end of the Glebe at Erling’s Variety, a casual, cozy, and rustic chic restaurant located right off the main road. The eatery’s small plates of locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients and ever-changing drinks menu is the perfect way to start this film tour.
The ION Television original movie Christmas Crush, produced by MarVista Entertainment with Ottawa’s Fireside Pictures, filmed scenes at Erling’s Variety in 2019. The film is available in Canada on Super Channel.
Screenshot from ‘Christmas Crush’ trailer (1:54)
Travel a few steps south of Erling’s Variety and you’ll be transported to a magical setting. Unofficially named Ottawa’s most romantic filming location (we may have just invented that), Patterson Creek Park is a tranquil oasis lying between bustling Bank St. and the Rideau Canal. The site boasts a heritage pavilion, willow trees, two small charming bridges, and of course, the creek for which it’s named.
While the park is stunning year-round, it really shines in the winter when the creek freezes and welcomes skaters seeking a quiet refuge from the Rideau Canal Skateway. The snow-draped trees, fairy tale lampposts, and cool winter air provide the perfect, natural backdrop for holiday films. The 2019 film Christmas Jars, based on Jason F. Wright’s best-selling novel, filmed on and around the creek and skateway, as seen in the film’s trailer (at the 1:06 mark). In early 2020, Christmas Unwrapped (originally titled Charity Christmas), produced locally by 1Department Entertainment Services, also filmed in the park.
‘Christmas Unwrapped’ (a.k.a ‘Charity Christmas’)
Photo on left courtesy of Albert Camicioli; right photo courtesy of 1Department Entertainment Services
With the word glebe referring to land set aside for the clergy, it’s no surprise that this neighbourhood is home to several churches. Established in 1898, St. Matthew’s Anglican Church is one of the oldest Anglican parishes in central Ottawa; its current stone structure was built in 1929-30, occupying much of the same site as the original church.
The 2014 romantic comedy Hit By Lightning, starring Jon Cryer, Stephanie Szostak, and Will Sasso, was granted permission to film inside the church. The film has the rare distinction of being set in Los Angeles but shot in Ottawa, illustrating our region’s ability to transform itself into any setting needed.
Screenshot from ‘Hit By Lightning’ trailer (0:39)
Gravitas Pictures / Chantal Charmady Entertainment
Less than two blocks west of the church is Glebe Collegiate Institute, Ottawa’s largest and third oldest public high school. Opened in 1922, the school is known today for its athletic department, French immersion program, and excellent music program. Notable alumni include Alanis Morissette, Oscar-nominated NFB director Donald Brittain, Royal Canadian Air Farce comedian Luba Goy, actor and director Clark Johnson, news anchor Peter Mansbridge, and several politicians and NHL hockey players.
The 2008 Lifetime thriller The Perfect Assistant, starring Josie Davis, Chris Potter, and Rachel Hunter, filmed scenes inside the school. The film was produced by Reel One Entertainment’s Pierre David, one of about 100 made-for-TV movies he’s produced in Ottawa over the years.
Glebe Collegiate Institute circa 1920’s
Credit: Canada. Dept. of Interior / Library and Archives Canada / PA-034335
Nestled between Second and Third avenues mid-way back towards Bank St. stands the majestic Glebe Community Centre. Construction on the building, which originally housed St. Paul’s Methodist Church and later St. James United Church, started in 1914 but wasn’t completed until 1924 due to World War I. The City of Ottawa bought the building in 1973 and soon after renovations began to turn it into a community centre; another major renovation was undertaken in 2003 to preserve and restore the building, reopening in October 2004. While the centre is owned by the City of Ottawa, the programs are delivered by the Glebe Neighbourhood Activities Group (GNAG), a not-for-profit community group.
The award-winning TV movie Christmas Jars filmed scenes throughout the building in 2019.
Our next stop is back on Bank St. at the former Avalon Theatre. Built in 1928 and operating until 1956, this theatre was the first in Ottawa to show a ‘talkie’ – a film with sound. The theatre, later named Glebe Theatre, was one of three built and owned by Patrick J. Nolan, the son of poor Irish parents who would later become mayor of the City of Ottawa.
Today nothing much remains of the original building except the stucco exterior. A hardware store now sits where the theatre auditorium was once located, and Feleena’s occupies the original foyer and ticket office. The Acting Company, which offers acting classes for theatre and film, is located on the second level, alongside Second Studio. In addition to teaching up-and-coming actors, The Acting Company’s studio has also welcomed smaller film and television productions seeking a beautiful loft-like space.
The Ottawa Journal, Nov. 23, 1929
[Photo via capitalhistory.ca]
Feleena’s is a Mexican restaurant standing where the aforementioned Avalon Theatre once welcomed movie-goers. This colourful spot serves Mexican fare based on the owner’s experience of growing up in East Los Angeles, and welcomes locals and tourists looking for a friendly place to take in the surroundings.
Scenes for the 2013 Lifetime film The Husband She Met Online were shot in and around the restaurant.
Photo: Glebe BIA [via Twitter]
Travel one block south of Feleena’s and you’ll find another location that hosted a Lifetime movie. In 2017, scenes for The Psycho She Met Online (originally titled The Guest She Met Online) were shot at Davidson’s Jewellers. This independent and family-owned jewelry store has been in operation since 1939, providing the local community with jewelry collections and personalized service.
The Glebe boasts several vibrant murals, like this one located in an alley next to Little Victories Coffee. The seven Russian nesting dolls, each portraying a unique expression, were created by local artist Dan Metcalfe and tattoo artist Pat Buck; the mural on the opposite wall, of the child wearing aviator goggles, was also created by Metcalfe and Buck.
La vie compliquée de Léa Olivier, a youth TV series produced locally by Slalom, filmed scenes at the Russian doll mural in the fall of 2019. The Gémeaux Award-nominated show is based on the popular young adult novels written by Catherine Girard-Audet which follow a young girl who moves with her family from their small village to Montréal. The first season is available on Club Illico.
Another series produced by Slalom, Toi et Moi, filmed extensively in the Glebe during the show’s three-season run. The French-language comedy series follows Beth, a 42-year-old Franco-Ontarian divorcée, who falls in love and marries Sebastien, a 25-year-old Québécois.
The series’ first season filmed scenes at the Fourth Avenue Baptist Church, located at the corner of Fourth Ave. and Bank St. The small church has been welcoming worshippers since 1899 and is also available for rentals.
The next stop on our tour is Irene’s Pub & Restaurant, a Glebe staple since 1985 when Irene Corey opened the doors to what was then called Cap’n Pinky’s. The cozy restaurant’s ownership has changed hands a few times over the years but its legacy of live music and support of the arts remains intact.
Freeform’s 2018 original movie The Truth About Christmas, starring Kali Hawk, Damon Dayoub, and Ali Ghandour, filmed at Irene’s Pub, although it was renamed Nick’s Bar for the shoot. The film is currently streaming on CBC Gem (for free) and available to rent/buy on Google Play.
There's a Christmas TV movie being shot in my neighborhood. If the Nick's Bar, fake snow and lighting doesnt point it out! This is exciting! #Ottawa pic.twitter.com/Cdql6pvrHW
— Xavier🇨🇦🕹🎬 (@XavierSaikaley) July 17, 2018
As we wind down our tour after so much walking (and eating!), let’s take a few moments to rest at Brown’s Inlet Park, located a few blocks southwest of Irene’s Pub. This picturesque park’s main feature is its pond, although the surrounding stately homes and willow trees add to its charm.
The first season of Slalom’s romantic comedy series Toi et Moi filmed scenes here.
We end our tour at the historic Lansdowne Park, a redeveloped urban public space featuring heritage buildings, a football stadium, restaurants, shops, and even a skating court in the winter! The Central Canada Exhibition (or Super Ex), an annual agricultural and industrial exhibition that grew to become a summer staple, was held on these grounds from 1888 to 2010. Aberdeen Pavilion, also known as the ‘Cattle Castle’ since it originally displayed livestock and agriculture, was built in 1898 specifically for the exhibition, and is one of the last of its kind still standing in Canada. Over the years, the pavilion has also been used as an ice hockey arena, a military riding school and recruitment centre, and a wrestling venue!
In 2017, local production company Those Canadians helped to bring IMPACT Wrestling’s Bound for Glory pay-per-view event to Aberdeen Pavilion. Another production, HGTV’s home improvement show Holmes and Holmes, filmed scenes at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market which is held inside the pavilion during the winter.
Finally, Lansdowne Park is also the home of our annual Film, Television and Animation Career Fair. The event, held inside the Horticulture Building, attracts hundreds of locals seeking work in the local creative industries. Due to the pandemic, the 2021 was virtual, but we look forward to welcoming the industry once again at Lansdowne Park when it becomes safe to do so.
Aberdeen Pavilion, September 1903
Photo: William James Topley/Library and Archives Canada/PA-008938