I can’t believe I’ve called Toronto my home for 9 years now. Wow time flies! It’s been a crazy time and not what I expected really. You always hear about how a big city is not for everyone and now that I have lived it, I can say I fully understand. I’m a big city guy with little town heart.
I guess this is why I am so drawn to a little T.V. show called “Murdoch Mysteries”. Aside from the mysteries I am drawn to the era as well (1895); as though I may have come from this time in a past life from long ago. Do you ever wonder why some things really speak to you? This T.V. series seems to speak to many! The time, the culture, the streets and the clothes. Do we long for a time when we wore top hats and fedoras and dressed in our Sunday best everyday of the week?
I think it was with this feeling in mind that made me rush for tickets to have a chance to see the “Murdoch Mysteries” set. They open the studio once or twice a year from my understanding and it is always a raving success, just as the show has become. I think we all hope to catch a glimpse of Yannick Bisson or Helene Joy but I also think we are fascinated with this time in our history.
I arrived to the studio and was surprised how discrete it was from the outside. One would never guess the land would be the home of a sound stage and celebrities running around. This was really interesting to me. There was no glam just an office door that led you down a hallway and transported you into another time! Of course if you ignored the lights, camera, action!
As I made my way down the hall I was excited. Like a boy of a younger age when cops and robbers was the imagination’s game of the day. There were heads that were missing their tops! Pieces of skeleton laying on tables, all created for the illusion of television. As I walked through the hall I quickly came to the part of the set called the morgue. Like a house of horror. Fascinating and so real.
I was transfixed on all the trimmings of another time and place. The collection of artifacts and antiques was excellent. The tools for carving into the deceased were ancient and alarmingly eerie. My camera was flashing as to not miss any corner of the set and it’s design.
Before I went in for the tour a lady working there mentioned that Yannick Bisson (William Murdoch) was there so of course I kept one eye open for a star spotting but there wasn’t to be one of him that day. I did however get to meet some other actors who work on the show and they were very generous to give autographs and chat about the shooting of the iconic Toronto series.
A little side story for you. I was having breakfast one morning at one of my favorite breakfast spots in the city and sitting in the next booth was Yannick Bisson. I was thrilled even though I don’t think I am one of those people who get’s all weird when I see a celebrity. Since working at Holt Renfrew in the past, taking care of celebrity types became something I grew familiar with, but none the less I’d be lying if I said I ever got tired of it. I think it’s always a thrill. Of course then I was thrilled to see he ate breakfast just like me, lol. He was sitting with family. I could tell by the conversation which floated in and out from French to English and no I wasn’t eavesdropping he was just in close proximity. Okay… I was eavesdropping a little.
I enjoyed my breakfast knowing my good taste in local breakfast spots was shared by someone I admired. Of course on my way out I leaned in and remarked, “Love the show”. He was gracious, smiled and said thank you. I have met many celebrities but that was a cool moment for me and I won’t forget it.
As I made my way through the sound stage I was really impressed with the attention to detail. I would love to have met the designer(s) of the set. This can’t be an easy task. It was remarkable. Every stone unturned old news articles, tea cups, antique tables and other furniture, pens and paper, wall decals and even the scotch on the mantle was ready for consumption. Brilliantly pulled together. I loved being able to see the other side of the façade which of course was wood blanks and light booms!
I’ve done “Extra” work when I was younger but it was always on location so I had never seen a sound stage and film set like this before. It was fascinating!
As I made my way to the light of the outdoors now I literally walked into old Toronto. A full scale town built to create the illusion of a great city of yesteryear. I loved it. Everything was so real but even the brick was created from wood and pulp. Again the attention to detail was brilliant. Everyone was running around taking photos and I think at this point we all wished we were wearing the dress of the day to really become a part of the experience.
I was a bad boy and climbed on top of an old cart. I wasn’t thinking; to be honest I was feeling like a big kid. I got a great shot of me on it! The next person tried to do the same and got in trouble. Oops, I felt bad but there was no “keep off” sign! I guess I should have known better but I couldn’t help myself. When I visit again, because of course I have to bring others, I will stay off the vehicles!
The people who were helping there were wonderful. They served up some hamburgers, hot dogs and corn! The prices were modest and I thought that was very Canadian of them. I hate when places gouge you with ridiculous food costs like Canada’s Wonderland or the movie theater!
Like I had mentioned, I was able to meet a few of the other actors. One being Sean Harraher who really made the day for myself and my partner. He was in character and everyone really enjoyed his involvement adding to the whole experience. I wish them all continued success with the show!
Being on set really inspired me and so this past week I got some new head shots done and have contacted a local talent agency that hires for extra work. Why not, you only live once!
Murdoch Mysteries (starring Yannick Bisson, Helene Joy, Thomas Craig, Jonny Harris, Georgina Reilly will be back this fall on CBC! Check your local listings!!
As we said goodbye to the crew and volunteers I thought what an outstanding day at “Marvellous Murdoch”. It is always a wonderful thing to be able to do what you love and this was a great reminder for me to continue to do just that!
edited by Mary Ellen Monk