As you walk along the area locally known as the Mill Race in Cambridge, you may suddenly begin to feel that things look a little familiar. Perhaps a little like…. Gilead??
Yes, this area of Cambridge is one of many filming locations in the city for Hulu’s acclaimed series The Handmaid’s Tale. In fact, Waterloo Region is full of locations that have been featured on both small and large screens.
Ready to explore our piece of Hollywood North? Here are some locations to check out in person, and then watch for the next time you’re curled up binging your favourite shows!
From Gilead to The Queen’s Gambit- Filming in Cambridge
A simple stroll through this charming city with its heritage limestone buildings, beautiful waterways and quaint neighbourhoods quickly lets you know why Cambridge has been chosen as the backdrop for several Hollywood movies and popular TV series.
The Handmaid’s Tale
The city of Cambridge is featured prominently in The Handmaid’s Tale. Several scenes were filmed in and around the Main Street bridge and the Presbyterian church (remember the parade scene in season 3?). The Mill Race Park section of the city is also recognizable to fans of the show (the Handmaids can be seen walking here in several episodes). Langdon Hall (a luxury Relais & Châteaux hotel and spa) is featured in season 4 as the Gilead brothel, Jezebel’s. The Cambridge market building, and even the city hall council chambers were also used as film locations.
Insider Info: Grand Café is a family-owned coffee and bakery shop located in a historically designated building in the heart of downtown Cambridge. Stop by and enjoy a treat – and see if you recognize the shop (it’s where June (Elizabeth Moss) took shelter during the protests in Season 1 of The Handmaid’s Tale!)
The Queen’s Gambit
Although the show is supposed to be set in Kentucky, this Golden Globe winning Netflix series made itself at home in Cambridge. Several homes in the Brant and Blenheim Road areas of the city provided interior and exterior shoot locations (15 Brant Road South was used as protagonist Beth Harmon’s home, and was filmed both indoors and out!)
Insider Info: Located close to picturesque Brant Road is Victoria Park. After taking a stroll to see the filming locations, why not pick up a gourmet boxed lunch from E.V.O. Kitchen, and then head over to the park for a picnic lunch (and perhaps a leisurely game of chess while relaxing in the shade?)
**Want to explore more site locations of shows and series filmed in Cambridge? Check out the City of Cambridge’s Filming in Cambridge website!**
Castle Kilbride, Baden
“When we scout locations to shoot, we are looking for places that fit the time period, but that are also truly beautiful and, above all, welcoming.” (New Hamburg Independent)
That, according to Dorigen Fode, location manager for the award-winning CBC and Netflix series Anne with an E is why the cast and crew have returned several times to film at historic Castle Kilbride in Baden (which was transformed into the grand home of Diana Barry’s wealthy Aunt Josephine).
Coincidentally, there is a connection between Castle Kilbride and the author of the Anne of Green Gables books, Lucy Maud Montgomery. Laura Louise Livingston, granddaughter of the man who built Castle Kilbride (and who lived her entire life in the castle) was invited to meet Montgomery in 1931 during her visit to Cambridge, ON. The author signed Livingston’s invitation – and that invitation is now part of the castle’s permanent collection!
Insider Info: Not only can you stroll the grounds of Castle Kilbride, you can also take a tour inside this grand Victorian home. And, if you want to grab a bite to eat, The Baden Hotel located across the street from the castle provides a wide menu and ice-cold drinks in a historic tavern atmosphere (be sure to check out the authentic painted ceiling tiles in the bar area – they’re over 100 years old!)
West Montrose Covered Bridge, West Montrose
As Ontario’s last remaining covered bridge, the West Montrose Covered Bridge (or Kissing Bridge as it’s also known) is an Insta-worthy place to visit on its own. It’s a working bridge too, used by pedestrians, cyclists, vehicles, horse and buggies – and occasional film crews, as Stephen King fans may be aware….
Yes, the West Montrose Covered Bridge provided the backdrop for several scenes in the 2017 horror movie It (you can catch a couple of glimpses of it in this trailer for the movie – providing you’re brave enough to watch it!). Don’t worry – the scenes shot in West Montrose mainly featured the film’s child actors; “Pennywise” the scary clown didn’t make the trip!
Insider Info: Just down the street from the covered bridge is another step back in time. Lost Acre Variety is a sweet place to visit – and not just for the fresh baked goods (although you have to try the butter tarts: with or without raisins, they’re some of the best in the region!)
The Walper Hotel, Kitchener
This iconic boutique hotel located in the heart of downtown Kitchener has provided a home away from home for many celebrities through the years, including former prime ministers (Pierre Elliot Trudeau and more recently Justin Trudeau, to name a few), actor William Shatner, the Queen Mother, and jazz greats Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. It’s also welcomed celebrities as they’ve filmed at its location.
The Walper Hotel was transformed into the Windsor House Hotel during filming for season 8 of CBC’s Murdoch Mysteries. It was also featured in a holiday movie filmed in early 2021 called Loving Christmas. And, the movie ‘Longing‘ featuring actor Richard Gere also filmed scenes at the Walper in the fall of 2022!
Insider Info: Looking for other insta-worthy spots during your time in Kitchener? Check out the DTK Art Walk which showcases all of the art installations and murals within the Downtown Kitchener Core.
Today’s Walper Hotel (Walper Hotel Facebook)
The Walper Hotel transformed into the Windsor Hotel (Photo: 570 News)
Filmed in Ayr, ON
Several notable big and small screen shows have made their way to the community of Ayr, thanks to the town’s historical homes and heritage feel.
The 2016 Stephen King miniseries 11/22/63 (starring James Franco) was filmed at the former Queen’s Tavern in Ayr (now home to a law office). Many residents also remember Sharon Stone and Dennis Quaid walking through the streets of Ayr during the filming of their movie Cold Creek Manor. The main strip of the small town near the manor in the movie is actually Stanly Street in Ayr. And the manor itself? It’s an expansive estate located on Cruickston Park Lane!
Also filmed in this quaint town: portions of the movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, and several scenes for the CBC series Murdoch Mysteries (season 9 episode 6).
Insider Info: When you’re finished site seeing for the day, enjoy some time in the nearby rural areas of North Dumfries Township in Waterloo Region. Check out what’s on the menu and on tap at Willibald Farm Distillery & Brewery, experience a true field to fork offering at Oak Ridge Acres Country Meat Store, or make some memories by a campfire (and enjoy some tasty treats!) at Snyder’s Family Farm.