Where The Handmaid's Tale was filmed in Toronto (Part One)

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Where The Handmaid’s Tale was filmed in Toronto (Part One)

Toronto plays the role of Gilead, Margaret Atwood's terrifying dystopian near future America.

Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.

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What an amazing time to have a TV. As you may have heard, Toronto saw more than $2 billion of production over the past year—a new record—and it’s fuelled in large part by great, new TV series like Orphan Black (the final season of which just began) and The Handmaid’s Tale as opposed to the old cheapo productions like Relic Hunter and Robocop that used to clutter the airwaves.

Indeed, The Handmaid’s Tale airs the same night as American Gods, which was also shot here and which we’ll get to soon enough. (Indeed, on one recent Sunday night, the episodes of both series were directed by local auteur Floria Sigismondi.) And, if that were not all enough of an embarrassment of riches, this is only half of the local cinematic Atwood output coming this year as the Sarah Polley-penned Alias Grace is due later in 2017.

The Handmaid’s Tale hasn’t finished airing yet (although the finale is available in the U.S. today, which isn’t fair) but we thought we’d get started sooner rather than later, eh.

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As you know, if you went to high school in Canada in the past 50 years (or, more improbably, watched the 1990 feature film), most of the action takes place in the Republic of Gilead and, in particular, in and around what was once Boston. The entirety of the show was shot around the GTA, however.

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A rather significant location is the Commander’s house, in which June/Offred lives.

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The house is this historical manse, on Aberdeen Avenue.

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The show jumps back in forth time so we also visit the “Red Centre” where Offred and the other Handmaids are trained.

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The interiors appear to have been shot at the abandoned King George Secondary School, also in Hamilton.

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This exterior is here in the 416, however. That’s the side of St. Aidan’s church, in the Beach.

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When June flashes back to her pre-revolution life we see her, extremely obviously…

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…at the very photogenic Ripley’s Aquarium.

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Much of what we see of the Boston suburb is actually historic Galt…

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…in Cambridge…

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…including the Main Street bridge

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…and this walk along the river, Mill Race Park, where bad dudes are hung.

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These shops…

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…are right by the bridge, on Main Street.

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Also still in the first episode…

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…we have this charade, where the handmaids vent their anger at an alleged rapist.

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This set was built in Oakville’s Coronation Park.

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In the second episode, June flashes back to her baby being born. This hospital exterior is Lake Ridge Health Centre, way across the GTA, in Oshawa…

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…but the more modern interior is at Bridgepoint.

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We learn how the birthing process works in Gilead…

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…at this megamansion…

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…on Park Lane Circle. It’s right across the street from where Conrad Black lives.

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In one of the Cambridge walks we’re actually in Hamilton, and we come across this deconstructed church, which is actually St. James Baptist Church, which is getting turned into condos.

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A flashback in the third episode has June out for a jog along Queen East…

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…going under the bridge at Degrassi Street

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…and into a not-very-customer-friendly alternative universe version…

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…of Bonjour Brioche.

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Still in flashbackland, June works at this office, which is actually at 200 Wellingston Street…

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…when all the women are fired, they’re escorted out the front doors…

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…and onto Wellington

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…where you can see both the Ritz Carlton and the CBC Building.

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This big protest scene is back in Cambridge…

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…where to get away from the throng…
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…June and Moira duck into the Grand Cafe, right where we were looking at the shops in Cambridge earlier.

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This courtroom, which usually doesn’t have such sinister lighting…

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…is merely the City of Cambridge Council Chamber.

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The exterior of the courthouse is the same location.

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There’s finally a good chunk of Toronto itself to be seen in Episode 4.

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When Moira and June leave the Red Centre…

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…it turns out they were just inside the Donald D. Summerville Pool….

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…whose Brutalist features can be framed to seem awful scary.

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This looks kinda small-towny at first…

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…but it`s actually right behind City Hall, where we soon find ourselves.

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Yup…

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…it looks the LRT vs. subway debate has finally been settled for good.

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Speaking of subways, when Moira tries to escape, we enter the very familiar confines of Bay Station…

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…and go down into Lower Bay…

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…where Moira gets on an old school T1 train going to Arlington.

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The flashback to this coffee shop…

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…was filmed down in the Canary District, at Dark Horse.

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And this “rural” walk (with more hanging dudes)…

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…is nearby, at Corktown Common.

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Flashing back even further, Luke meets June at these food trucks.

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As with much of the series, which is tightly framed (both to convey June’s claustrophobic world and to frustrate our screencapping), you can just barely make out the background. The fine folks at the prominently framed Brightside Brew tipped us that we’re on Lakeshore, beside the Seaway Plaza, at Mimico.

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And the climactic scene of these first five of 10 episodes is when Ofglen/Emily jumps into a car and drives around…

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…at this marketplace, which is Ontario Square

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…at Harboufront.

And all that in the first half of the season. There’s still another five episodes of oppression and revolt against institutionalized misogyny to go!


CORRECTION: This article originally stated that the 5122 subway does not seem to be a real train number, when, in fact, it is. Torontoist regrets the error.

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