This week, Kingston will be the site of filming for the Netflix / CBC miniseries Alias Grace.
Between Wednesday and Friday (Nov 9 to 11) sections of King Street will be closed to traffic and dressed with dirt to model the mid-1800s setting of the Margaret Atwood novel based on a true story.
Alias Grace is the story of Grace Marks, a poor, young Irish immigrant working in Upper Canada as a domestic servant and convicted – along with stable hand James McDermott – of the brutal murders of their employer Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper lover, Nancy Montgomery, in 1843.
While Nancy Montgomery initially befriended Grace, she began to resent Grace and become increasingly jealous of Thomas Kinnear’s affection for her. Nancy ends up firing Grace in a fit of rage and later found murdered.
Kingston is an integral part of the story, as Grace was convicted and then imprisoned in Kingston Penitentiary.
Although now better known for its male inmates that included Paul Bernardo, Russell Williams and Clifford Olson, the Penitentiary also held women inmates from its opening in 1835 until 1934. Children were also incarcerated, including the youngest prisoner – Antoine Beauche. The 8 year old was locked up for being part of a pickpocket scheme on a St. Lawrence River steamboat.
The City reports King Street will be closed from Sir John A. Macdonald to Gardiners – bracketing Kingston Penitentiary (Street View) – from 9 am to 11 pm on Tuesday, November 8 until the next day (although open during rush hours) and closed the following Thursday and Friday from William to Earl Streets downtown between 9 am and 8 pm.
Article continues after ad
Online ads in late September advertised for Kingston extras for filming, seeking people between 18 and 60 years old and stating “prisoners needed”. Pay ranged from approximately $98 to $160 per day, depending on the duration of the shoot, with a meet and greet for applicants taking place at a downtown hotel.
Production on the miniseries began in Toronto near the beginning of September and Kingston filming will take place at the end of its mid-November production.
Alias Grace stars award-winning actress Sarah Gadon (Indignation, 11.22.63, Enemy); Academy Award-winning Canadian-born actress Anna Paquin (True Blood, Roots, Bellevue); Zachary Levi (Chuck, Tangled); Paul Gross (Hyena Road, Due South);Edward Holcroft (Kingsman: The Secret Service, London Spy, Wolf Hall); Kerr Logan (Game of Thrones, London Irish); Rebecca Liddiard (Houdini & Doyle); and famed Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg.
There will also be a cameo by the acclaimed Alias Grace author, Margaret Atwood.
The series is written and produced by Sarah Polley (Take This Waltz, Away from Her) and directed by Mary Harron (American Psycho, I Shot Andy Warhol).
Alias Grace will be broadcast in Canada on CBC and globally on Netflix.
- “Alias Grace” Star, Sarah Gadon, Posting Pix from Kingston
- Online Auction for Netflix’s “Alias Grace” Props and Decorations
- Kingston Scenes Appear in Margaret Atwood’s ‘Alias Grace’ Trailer
[ Watch on Youtube ]
UPDATE: Kingston Penitentiary, where Grace Marks was imprisoned, has been opened for public tours since its closure in 2013.
As announced by the city’s mayor, these tours will begin once again in spring 2018 – likely starting in early May and continuing to October.
For more information, visit kingstonpentour.com