Reel Beach: Lights, camera, action! Raccoon City is ready for its close-up

While the name might not be Conrad of Winter Stations fame, this raccoon was on Woodbine Beach while filming was taking place for Beacon 23 last fall. Photo by Bernie Fletcher.


The Winter Stations are up at Woodbine Beach and “Conrad the Raccoon” is the star attraction.

We all live in “Raccoon City,” the name for Toronto in the Resident Evil movies.

Hey, we weren’t dubbed “The Raccoon Capital of the World” for nothing. Toronto raccoons even had their own Jeopardy moment.

Winter Stations 2023 features art installations, including CONRAD the raccoon, on display along Woodbine Beach.

The word “raccoon” comes from the Indigenous “a-rou-ghcun.”

One little fellow was out by the Boardwalk last fall (photo at top of page). Maybe he was “ready for his close-up” because a film crew was at work by the lake.

Scarborough’s Stephan James was filming a scene for Beacon 23, a sci-fi show about a lighthouse keeper in space. After all Woodbine Beach once played a Vulcan beach in an episode of Star Trek: Discovery.

A week after Beacon 23 was filming, crews were once again nearby filming Accused (Global TV, Wednesdays at 9 p.m.) a new 15-part anthology crime drama. In Episode 4 an incident happens near the Woodbine Beach Park playground.

Each episode is a different story about an ordinary person caught up in extraordinary situations. Most crime procedurals are about good guys catching bad guys, but here the lines are blurred.

Accused deals with intense issues such as school shootings and teen mental health. What is right and what is wrong?

Oscar-winner Marlee Matlin made her directorial debut with Ava’s Story about a deaf surrogate mother.

Matlin told ET Canada, “It really helps a great deal to me as a director and as a deaf person to be able to direct this particular episode…I have the utmost respect for every single member of the crew. It’s been just a life-changing experience.”

There are so many different networks and streaming services these days it is difficult to keep track. Most of us won’t get to see Kiefer Sutherland’s eight-part espionage series Rabbit Hole which debuts March 26 on Paramount+ and filmed scenes on Carlaw Avenue near Queen Street East.

One popular show we can all watch is the CBC’s Murdoch Mysteries now in its 16th season. Did anyone catch sight of the dome of St. Augustine’s Seminary (Kingston and Brimley roads) in the episode where Thomas Brackenreid plays a handball match?

Established in 1913 to train priests, the Seminary is a familiar sight and not far from the Murdoch studios in Scarborough.

A recent episode of Murdoch was directed by Katie Boland who grew up in the Beach. Katie is following in the footsteps of her mother, director Gail Harvey.

Also on CBC Mondays is the six-part mini-series Plan B which stars Patrick J. Adams (Suits) who also was born and raised in the Beach.

Toronto productions are moving away from films for theatrical release, but Clement Virgo’s Brother, set in Scarborough, will be out March 17.

The good news is that winter will be over soon and we can get back to chasing raccoons from our green bins.

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