Steveston Transformed Once Again by Once Upon a Time

Written by on July 26, 2011 in Blog, News - 14 Comments

Steveston is in the spotlight once again as the crew of ABC’s new fall drama, Once Upon a Time, descended on Moncton Street to transform the sleepy village for more filming of their first season. The show just had its first big pilot screening at Comic-Con in San Diego this weekend, and was received enthusiastically by fans for its focus on fairy tales and a shared heritage with its ABC forerunner, Lost.

Storybrooke takes over Steveston

Storybrooke takes over Steveston

Steveston is playing the part of Storybrooke, Maine, and for the block between 1st and 2nd Avenue, no sign was left unturned in the transformation. While businesses remained open and traffic mostly unaffected, workers were busy into the evening doing everything from planting trees to dirtying signs, and making all the little changes both inside and outside of the storefronts that make a fictional town come to life on screen.

Pieces progresses to Purbeck Shoe Store

Pieces progresses to Purbeck Shoe Store

Splash, for instance, has become a variety store called “Neighbor’s” and features all sorts of retro packaging in the windows, giving it the feeling of an American general store from yesteryear. When you go inside, they are still selling toys behind the props, and will be during most of the filming. However, we talked to them and they suggested it might be easier to come in the back door during the shoot.

Storefront props of the past

Storefront props of the past

One thing we noticed on the signage for Neighbor’s is that the word “stationery” is spelled incorrectly (stationery is for paper and letters, stationarymeans you’re standing still). We actually talked to a set designer who couldn’t believe it had gone through so many levels of approval to be ultimately corrected by a passerby, but they were relieved it wasn’t like the time they had put “equiptment” on a sign that received an extreme close up. We’ll see if they have time to fix it before they roll camera, or if it will be a Steveston secret to look for when the show premieres on October 23rd.

Neighbor's Stationary isn't going anywhere

Neighbor’s Stationary isn’t going anywhere

In addition, the directory to the Hepworth Building has been covered up with an authentic-looking heritage seal, and the windows high above the street now advertise the psychiatric services of Dr. Archibald Hopper, MD instead of Fleming & Associates. Presumably they will be doing crane shots to have paid this much attention to detail.

Dr. Archibald Hopper, MD at your service

Dr. Archibald Hopper, MD at your service

Across the street the Cannery Cafe has been overtaken by fake vegetation, boasts a beautiful mural, and neighbours Worthington’s Haberdashery in the former site of Artisans Galleria. Nikka now appears to be some sort of shuttered and abandoned library, possibly working its way into the plotline of characters not knowing their frozen-in-time storybook alter egos.

The north side of Moncton is especially unrecognizable

The north side of Moncton is especially unrecognizable

We’re particularly fond of the Hollywood magic applied to Pacific Net & Twine, which conveniently becomes “Atlantic Twine & Net”. They dont get paid the big bucks for nothing, folks.

Hollywood magic changes fish to lobster

Hollywood magic changes fish to lobster

We took lots more photos of the hard work this team put into the transformation, which can be found over at our Flickr page. It’s hard to believe that the actors will only be on set for one day, but we’ve confirmed that come Wednesday, the facade comes down and Storybrooke will become Steveston once again. We want to know, will you be watching Steveston light up the screen on October 23rd?              

14 Comments on "Steveston Transformed Once Again by Once Upon a Time"

  1. jeanette July 26, 2011 at 10:08 am ·

    Revenue from the movie industry perhaps offers good reason for keeping parking meters off of the streets. Great coverage of this story btw.

  2. pam September 11, 2011 at 10:14 pm ·

    This is a fabulous event for Steveston! Proving that preserving history in architecture and charm in a friendly neighborliness and small town is worth something.

  3. Alex November 14, 2011 at 10:17 am ·

    I discovered Steveston when I decided to “zig” instead of “zag” during a visit to Metro Vancouver a few years ago (I discovered Surrey’s Crescent Beach the same way) and now I make sure to visit whenever I’m in town. Having it be the locale for one of my favorite shows gives me an extra incentive to make the drive down! Incidentally not every storefront has been changed – the episode that aired on Nov. 13 included a shot where the sign for Dave’s Fish & Chips was clearly visible in the background.

  4. Nick December 2, 2011 at 11:17 pm ·

    Hi Alex, we’ve also noticed that some of the background businesses remain unchanged, including George’s, Kisamos, La Tandoor, and Dave’s, as you mentioned. However, around the time of filming we noticed that Dave’s got brand new signs all around the storefront, and we wonder if they reached a deal with the show to fix up the signs but keep the name.

  5. Cahow January 30, 2012 at 5:04 pm ·

    A thousand “Thank You’s” to all the people who put this article together. Yes!, I’m one of the rapid fans of Once Upon a Time and have been captivated by the gorgeous scenary and the charming town, which I could tell wasn’t a studio back lot. I tried four different phrasings for a web search to find a scrap of information on WHERE “Once” was shot and came across a micro-link to your first article on this subject. Very luckily, you also provided a link to >this< page and here I am! :)

    Many of the fans are begging for knowledge about our favourite show so I'm going to post a link at the ABC website to this page.

    Thanks again! My children and I had a lot of fun reading this article and looking at the before and after shots. :)

  6. Graham February 1, 2012 at 12:10 am ·

    Thanks Cahow! We love our “town” and will always welcome Once Upon a Time as it’s a great show. We often post pictures of them filming on our Twitter and Facebook accounts. Check them out and we’ll give you some behind-the-scenes action.

  7. Tls July 26, 2012 at 12:36 pm ·

    Are u sure the actors are only there for one day?? I asked someone working in steveston and they said they are filming again next week.

  8. Nick July 26, 2012 at 6:27 pm ·

    This post is from exactly one year ago today! The actors will indeed be returning throughout 2012 as the show films for the rest of the summer and even into the fall.

  9. Tls July 26, 2012 at 7:02 pm ·

    Oh YAY!!!! Thank you so much! Hopefully I can catch them filming sometime next week. It’s on my bucket list to watch a filming of this show!!!!

  10. Diane Holden ( nee Hepworth) October 11, 2013 at 4:36 pm ·

    Hi! my name is Diane…I was raised in Steveston and noticed you are using my grandfathers block for
    filming Once Upon a Time.I remember going shopping with my Gramma to the Hepworth block and
    that was when it was still used as pharmacy as well as groceries,has we certainly didn’t have Safeways
    or such at that time.If you look closely on the side of the block you will notice that there is a part of the
    wall with different bricks and had been filled in over the years past as well as there been access through
    the door still there to my grandfathers offices,he was Dr.W.Hepworth.I didn’t know him as he died in
    1920.I have many fond memories of growing up in Steveston.The Hepworth family are a very well known
    family dating back to the early 1900’s.Its so nice to see our little town on TV makes you feel so special
    that so many people get to see this magical place.
    Thank you, Regards, Diane Holden

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