Quinte, On. real estate agent: May 2011

Trenton Ontario, Canada's Glamour Capital

With the Canadian dollar now at par with the American dollar, I'm starting to wonder if many film production companies will still be making movies in Toronto. For years Toronto has doubled as New York or other larger cities in movies simply because it was cheaper to film in Canada with the exchange rate. Now the two currencies are more or less at par so I'm not sure what will entice them to come north to film.

Long before Toronto was Canada's movie centre Trenton had that honour. From 1916 until 1934 it was the hub of everything having to do with the film industry in Canada. The first silent films ever shot north of the border were produced right here in Trenton in a studio on Film Street (I'm sure the street had another name at the time). The location of the studio now houses a textile plant.

At first it was small private enterprises that shot film at this studio, but in the early 1920's the government of Ontario started the Ontario Motion Picture Bureau and took over. Those were the days in Trenton, and it wasn't unusual to see some of the biggest stars in the movie industry (American, British, and Canadian) walking about the streets of Trenton.

The government operated agency, in their wisdom decided that the move to 16mm film would be a fad, and thought it best that they should save their money and not pay to upgrade the studios. Boy oh boy, did they ever call that one wrong. As the movie world changed around them, the studio in Trenton became less and less viable every year until it was closed down in 1934. It simply wasn't practical to use this studio anymore, and this effectively ended Trenton's brief reign as the glamour capital of Canada. It also put a huge dent in the entire film industry in Canada, and very few movies were shot north of the border for many years after that.

Today, the plaque commemorating Trenton's glory days sits in the parking lot of a textile factory looking very forlorn. You could easily drive by it and not know it's there (which I did for many years). Trenton isn't  as glamerous as it used to be, and it would seem as if we are a million miles from Hollywood. Who knows how things would have turned out if the government of Ontario had decided that upgrades in technology would be beneficial to the Canadian film industry?

Comment balloon 5 commentsMalcolm Johnston • May 21 2011 10:39AM
Trenton Ontario, Canada's Glamour Capital
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