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.
There was quite a hullabaloo surrounding The Kennedys from the get-go. Firstly, everyone got in a tizzy because Mrs. Tom Cruise was in town for the shoot, going berry picking and otherwise attracting paparazzi. When the miniseries was finished, the History Channel dumped it, essentially under pressure from people thinking it portrayed the family poorly (i.e. like real, flawed people instead of Democratic superheroes). It got picked up, got some bad reviews, and then a bunch of reviews saying it wasn’t so terrible after all.
During the cast and crew’s time here, they shot the film (entirely set in the U.S., of course) all around the GTA. It’s eight hours long, so we’re not going to pretend we got every location here, but it’s at least a testament to how something with production values (a period piece, no less) can make some nice use of our burg.
Firstly, obviously, they needed a White House. The Oval Office set is the same one used for Murder at 1600, dug out of storage and given a retro makeover. It’s one of the many sets constructed at the Dufferin Gate studio.
The Kennedy family compound, actually in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, is comprised of a whole bunch of locations. The beach seen here isn’t on the Atlantic Ocean; it’s actually Marie Curtis Park.
Here is a faux-pregant Katie Holmes at one location, on Fitzhugh Lane in Cobourg, that was used for the back of Joe Kennedy’s house as well as a living room…
…sunroom, staircase, and a few other bits and pieces. A third location, in Ancaster, was used for a dining room, late-’60s living room, and a couple of other things. And they built sets.
One of the historical instances captured here is the admission of James Meredith as the first African American student at the University of Mississippi. Ole Miss is played here by Newmarket’s Pickering College.
Joe Kennedy does a little glad-handing with gangster Sam Giancana, and the restaurant exterior is Hamilton’s Trocadero, which didn’t require any extra work to look the part.
One of the more familiar sites for us is this garden, where JFK hangs out with Khrushchev. It’s Casa Loma.
More Casa Loma here. This time it’s the Conservatory hosting an RFK rally.
Speaking of cinematic local mansions, the fountains are a giveaway that this is good ol’ Parkwood Estate.
Another in a series of often-used Toronto locations, the lobby of the Royal York.
It happens to be the hotel where Lyndon Johnson is hanging out.
This voting station JFK visits in 1960 is actually Hamilton’s St. Joseph’s church, on Locke Street.
Speaking of churches, this one stumped us, but surely this GTA house of worship is recognizable to some fine reader.
When Jackie has a miscarriage, JFK visits her at Humber River Regional Hospital.
Apparently they shot exteriors for the Dallas hospital where the president is taken post-assassination at Hamilton’s Scottish Rite, but we didn’t spot them.
When they get off the plane at Fort Worth’s Love Field, they’re actually at Downsview Airport, which has that vintage look (or it did before they tore down the historic hangars last year).
So, if you have eight hours to spare and want to learn some American history while spotting semi-obscure GTA locations, you could do worse than spending that time with The Kennedys.
We’re always willing to defer to the diverse and superior knowledge of our readers. The ever-reliable Marc Lostracco has undoubtedly nailed that the church in question is Metropolitan United. We are appreciative, thankful, and humbled.