Small Towns on the Big Screen

High River and Okotoks are burgeoning film hubs

Even for those who don’t watch CBC’s family-drama series Heartland – now in its 11th season – the town of High River has become synonymous with the show.

“Heartland has become a part of the community,” said Irene Kerr, the curator and director of High River’s Museum of the Highwood. High River poses as the town of Hudson on Heartland. One of the show’s most well-known locales, Maggie’s Diner, is a building right along High River’s Main Street.

“We noticed a shift around 2015, when people who were visiting High River stopped asking about the 2013 flood and wanted to see where they were filming Heartland,” said Kerr.

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Red Carpet Moment

Calgary region has rich history and bright future on film

You’re watching a movie or TV show when something catches your eye.

“I know that place!” you exclaim, as a character enters a pizza place on a city street, or rides a horse through a wheat field with a majestic mountain backdrop.

Calgary and its surrounding areas are becoming increasingly popular as filming locations for major movie and television productions – making famous places that Calgarians know well.

“We have 100 years of history here,” said Luke Azevedo, Calgary film commissioner and CEO of the Calgary Film Centre. “We’re one of the oldest locations outside of Hollywood for production.”

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Setting the Scene

Calgary’s established, inner-city communities shine on screen

It has posed as part of the brutal, snow-covered plains of Minnesota, the demon-riddled streets of Purgatory, and the hospital corridors of a ranching saga.

Fargo, Wynonna Earp and Heartland have all filmed in one of Calgary’s oldest neighbourhoods: Bridgeland. The community’s quaint main thoroughfare and surrounding streetscapes can reflect different eras and different small towns, says Ali McMillan, Bridgeland-Riverside Community Association planning director.

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Passing the torch

The games are gone, but its legacy lives on

W hile the Olympic flame may be long extinguished, warm memories and many benefits of the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary are alive and well 30 years later.

“The best thing about the Olympic experience was the forethought that went into its legacy,” said Dale Oviatt, senior manager of communications and stakeholder engagement for WinSport.

On Sept. 30, 1981, WinSport, formerly known as the Calgary Olympic Development Association (CODA), successfully won the bid from the International Olympic Committee for Calgary to host the XV Olympic Winter Games in 1988.

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