Exploring the Magic of Storybrooke…aka Steveston, British Columbia, Canada


Storybrook block
If you wish to visit Storybrooke, the setting for ABC’s Once Upon a Time (OUaT), you won’t need magical powers or a fairy-tale pedigree to get there. All you’ll need is a map, a vehicle, and possibly a passport. OUaT is filmed just outside Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in a charming, vibrant historical town called Steveston. It’s a growing, picturesque fishing village about 30 minutes by car south of downtown Vancouver. If you’re in Vancouver for vacation, or passing through on your way to a ski vacation in Whistler or to catch a cruise, a quick side trip to Steveston is a must if you are a fan of OUaT. In 1878, the first family settled into what became the historic fishing town of Steveston. That family, with the last name “Steves”, hoped to build a port to rival bustling Vancouver. In just 12 years, that little seaside village grew to include an opera house, a church, hotels, retail stores, a wharf to accommodate steamboats, and the area’s first newspaper and hospital. Although the community originally focused on farming, the proximity to the ocean and plentiful fish inspired the opening of the first of eventually 15 canneries that commercially processed herring, salmon, and other local fish. Luckily for the producers of OUaT, the heritage of Steveston has been respected and maintained.boats and baker
The village is divided, somewhat, into two sections: heritage and new growth. Only one cannery remains, and in it you will find the Gulf of Georgia National Historic Site (http://gulfofgeorgiacannery.org/). The others have been replaced by beautiful (and expensive) ocean-side residences. While nice, this area will not be of interest to most fans of OUaT. Steveston has much to offer visitors: restaurants with international cuisine; many fresh fish’n’chips shops (including two that float on the water); shops selling ice cream, sweets, local arts and crafts, and gifts; whale watching tours; fishing boats docked selling today’s catch; and at last count, 9 coffee places (ranging from Starbucks and some Canadian chains to local independent roasters). There’s lots to do to fill a day, your tummy, and your brain. But if you’re interested in seeing Storybrooke, you should really focus your attention on historic Moncton Street (http://www.steveston.bc.ca/map_large.jpg), where most of the historic buildings are located.fishermans wharf prickly pear
Your tour of Moncton Street should start with the post office/visitor center (http://www.richmond.ca/culture/sites/steveston-museum/steveston.htm). This quaint, unassuming historic building was recently restored, and is important to visit not only to see a house typical of this location and time period, but also because this is where you can buy your Storybrooke-branded souvenirs.post office
Heading west on Moncton, on the same side of the street, you’ll next encounter the heritage house that “plays” the role of Granny’s Café. It’s a functioning café called The Cannery Café, which offers breakfast and lunch, and has a cozy garden courtyard seating area out front. Next to Granny’s is the Daily Scoop, Storybrooke’s ice cream shop. Don’t get your hopes up for OUaT-inspired frozen treats. This is a storefront only; the building is used to store props for filming. grannys and sundae
If you spin around to face directly across the street, you’ll see the Storybrooke Bakery (home of the $10 CDN loaf of artisanal bread!). Cross the street to stand in front of the bakery, then turn back around. To your left down the block you’ll see the building that is Belle’s library. Keen eyes will notice that the tower does not contain a clock. Walking down the same block as the Storybrooke Bakery (after passing Dr. Hopper’s door), you’ll find a store bearing Mr. Gold’s name. Here you’ll find OUaT-inspired jewelry.mr gold
Continuing west along Moncton Street, you’ll find the historic Steveston hotel on your right and the Gulf of Georgia National Historic Site museum on your left. Facing the museum, if you walk to your left towards the water, you’ll see the dock where Hook’s ship was once moored. Keep walking towards the water onto the docks to get a good view of the area. Go back to the museum, then walk west past it, and you’ll be in Garry Point Park, which is where you’ll find the playground that was featured in season 1.cannery
Garry Point Park is the last stop on this whirlwind tour of Steveston/Storybrooke. Although slightly out of the way, this charming town is a worthwhile day trip if you’re anywhere near Vancouver. There’s plenty to do, and you never know who or what you might see (on set). You might catch a glimpse of some fairy-tale characters, without using a magic mirror.


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