They shoot, they score in Chester’s studio rink

HALIFAX, N.S.–Turn a remote local hockey arena into a TV soundstage? Only in Canada.
You have to be resourceful to begin with when it comes to cranking out TV shows in the land of low licence fees and perennial under funding. Even in large urban centres like Toronto and Vancouver, cheap rent stealth studios can be found in suburban neighbourhoods, deep inside retro-fitted factories and warehouses.
The prize for the most Canadian TV studio has to go to the Eleanor Pew Morris Memorial Arena in picturesque Chester, Nova Scotia, home for a second season to Haven (returning July 18 on Showcase) There are two ice pads at the arena, but for the past few years no ice–just wooden sets, lights and cameras penned in by the boards and glass.
The supernatural procedural returns for a second season July 18 on Showcase and around the same time Stateside on SyFy. It also airs in dozens of other countries around the world as the cast discovered during promotional stops in Madrid and London during the past year.

Few viewers would suspect that much of what they are watching on Haven originates inside a hockey rink. Look up in the rafters and there are banners proclaiming winning seasons for Chester’s Pee-wee and Atom hockey teams. There’s a sign advertising skate sharpening for four dollars. Along the floor, large yellow ducts funnel warm air into the main set areas (needed after three weeks of cold, rainy weather), including the main police station set where stars Emily Rose and Lucas Byrant were shooting scenes Tuesday. A truck load of journalists got to sit in and observe and were treated like family by the cast and crew. Even the food served by the local craft services people was pure comfort food–Shake ’n Bake chicken.
A scene was rehearsed and Lucas improvises by saying the murder victim was none other than Toronto Star TV critic Rob Salem–who was sitting behind the director’s monitors about 30 feet away.
You can’t help but wonder if the fine people of Chester dont miss their rink, although a few seasons of TV money can buy a lot of ice pad upgrades. The cast live right in town and have bonded with the locals, with Haven wild man Eric Balfour rocking the town by DJ-ing a rockin’ party a few weeks ago. He’s booked to do more, so if you’re in Chester, look him up.

One of two Chester ice pads converted into a home for Haven

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