Period miniseries Klondike recreates Canada’s Yukon filming in Alberta
New period miniseries Klondike filmed on location in Alberta, Canada, doubling the region for the remote Dawson City in the north-western province of Yukon. Set in 1897 during the Klondike Gold Rush, the story follows a pair of young prospectors as they chase opportunity in Yukon.
Filming in the real Dawson City was never a serious option due to Yukon’s remoteness and lack of production infrastructure (read about The Location Guide’s scout of the region here). Instead, the Klondike production team chose to adapt the CL Western Studio & Backlot, an existing set outside Calgary in Alberta.
“We moved three buildings to extend the length of the Main Street, removed all the awnings and hitching posts that were too ‘Western’,” explained Ken Rempel, the show’s Production Designer: “We sandblasted off all the old layers of paint to get us back to the raw wood look of a town that was just being built. What the research showed us and what I strove to achieve was a frontier town that started out as log buildings that later had plank facades nailed over the top of the logs.
“Initially in Dawson's growth there wasn't much paint, only raw wood. Research also showed a very muddy and chaotic Main Street with tree stumps, trenches everywhere and the 1897 version of the Las Vegas strip with signs all vying for the customers’ dollar. With that in mind we created and hung over a hundred signs on the Main Street.”
Filming locations for scenes set outside Dawson City were found in areas in and around Calgary that offered spectacular vistas but felt remote, despite their handy proximity to civilisation. Spray Lakes, Kananaskis Country Recreation Area and Fortress Mountain Ski facility – a popular choice for filming mountain scenes in a range of productions over the years – were among the locations fitting the brief.
Bow Valley Ranch was also used as the set for a smaller supply town in Klondike. Rempel had in fact designed this set nearly ten years previously for the 2005 Western miniseries Broken Trail.
“Mostly for this town set we had to do some repairs and some signage and the rest was set dressing," Rempel added: "This location also has a large standing saloon interior set that we extensively renovated to turn into our Monte Carlo Saloon. The exterior front facade of the Monte Carlo Saloon was at the CL Ranch town set and the interior of the Monte Carlo Saloon set was at the Bow Valley Ranch location.”
The Calgary area doubled for Western US locations on the AMC drama series Hell on Wheels and is doubling for the northern US in a new miniseries based on the Oscar-winning Coen Brothers film Fargo. Production support is available regionally through the Alberta Media Fund.
(Photos: Discovery Communications)
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