Canada Finds Its Niche in Sci-Fi


by Aaron Lowe (@LoweAaron)

For a century, Hollywood has been synonymous with filmmaking. Movies, TV, our culture really, has been driven by the creative minds of that fair city. Over the years, other cities and countries have made contributions to the lexicon of films accumulated over time, but never with the popularity and frequency of Hollywood. Something of a renaissance happened in Canada in the early ‘90s to put it forever on the map in the film industry. Now known as Hollywood North, Canada produces hundreds of films and TV shows for your enjoyment. You may think of a Canadian film as a typical “foreign” film, indie in feel, maybe obscure and B-rated; but did you know that most (yes, I said most) of the Science-Fiction television you have grown up on, at least from the last two decades has come from Canada? This is a fact even few Canadians are aware of.  Most of the programming on SYFY and the Canadian Space network, shows such as Haven, Alphas, Eureka, All the Stargate permutations, and Battlestar Galactica were filmed and cast in Canada. Perhaps you have seen a little show called the X-Files? Yup, Canadian!

Andromeda, Sanctuary, Primeval: New World, Lost Girl, Warehouse 13, and Fringe are all filmed in Canada. Other titles you may remember include The Outer Limits 1995 reboot, which lasted seven seasons; the popular but strange The 4400, Oddyessy 5, Caprica, and Earth Final Conflict.

Canada has also produced many actors that have become household names in Sci-Fi such as William Shatner, Nathan Fillion, Dan Aykroyd, Amanda Tapping, Carrie Ann Moss, Keanu Reeves, Michael J. Fox and Keiffer Sutherland all hail from Canada, and got their start in Canadian productions.

It is interesting to read IGN’s Top 50 Sci-Fi TV Shows and see how many great shows we all remember make the top fifty. It is incredible just how many of those are filmed in Canada. Approximately 20-25% of the list is Canadian, which is impressive, since most of the Canadian work has been done only in the last twenty years.

So what is it about Canada that makes Sci-Fi such a good fit? There are favorable tax benefits, and a less expensive workforce in the north, which contribute surely but there must be more than that. Science-Fiction is the leading film export of the country, and it almost seems like a dirty little secret. I am excited to see what comes out of Canada in the future, with such an impressive track record over the last twenty years.


  1. aynajineJanuary 8th, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    Loving the kick-ass Rachel Nichols (Ray-Mandy in Alias, anyone? ;-)) in Continuum. The show reminds me somewhat of Terminator and Looper. Keep up the good work, Canada!

  2. JWIIIJanuary 9th, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    I still miss Stargate: Atlantis.

  3. JuarhelaJanuary 19th, 2013 at 9:12 am

    I’m Canadian (and so proud!). We’re a nation of nerds LOL. But I think it honestly comes down to the budget. Sci-Fi (well, good sci-fi anyway) tends to require a bigger budget than regular dramas or comedies. There’s more “on-location” filming, more special effects & stunts etc. So I think the tax breaks are more sought after by these kinds of shows.

    Just to mention a couple other Canadian sci-fi actors: Sasha Roiz (Caprica, Grimm), and the “ster” in Jeffster, Vik Sahay (Lester Patel on Chuck). A couple of my faves.

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