While Vancouver and Toronto might be the most well-known moviemaking hot spots in Canada, there have been many amazing TV shows and films shot in Nova Scotia. With its striking shorelines and memorable vistas, it’s no wonder so many filmmakers have been drawn to have their movies shot in Nova Scotia.

Fans of films shot in Nova Scotia often make pilgrimages to the shooting locations of their favourite scenes, getting a chance to see where the magic happened and enjoy the local flavour. For anyone looking for a unique trip, tracking down the shooting locations of the best movies shot in Nova Scotia can be a great way to experience the wonder and charm of this unique province.

The Lighthouse: Yarmouth

Tucked out of the way on the southwestern shore of Nova Scotia, stands the only lighthouse in the province to star in a major motion picture. The Cape Forchu Lighthouse just outside of Yarmouth has always been a popular spot for photos due its unique slim profile against the rocky shores around it, however Hollywood discovered this hidden gem in Nova Scotia in 2018 when it was selected to be the shooting location for the Oscar-nominated drama The Lighthouse. 

Starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, the film follows the contentious relationship between two lighthouse keepers as they experience strange visions while tending to a remote lighthouse. Of course, without the moody lightning and black-and-white cinematography, the real-life Cape Forchu Lighthouse is far less foreboding.

Titanic: Halifax

Did you know the Titanic sank just off the shores of Canada? In fact, Halifax was the closest major city to the site of the disaster and was instrumental in recovery efforts. Canadian ships recovered the remains of hundreds of victims, and the city even set up a morgue in the middle of a curling rink so people could come recover the bodies of their loved ones. To this day, 150 victims of the disaster remain interred in Halifax cemeteries, including one J. Dawson.”

That name might sound familiar to fans of the blockbusting 1997 megahit Titanic, which starred a young Leonardo DiCaprio as happy-go-lucky vagabond Jack Dawson.” Though it might be a coincidence, the film’s director James Cameron spent a substantial amount of time in Halifax researching the city’s recovery efforts and examining recovered artifacts at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. In fact, a number of scenes were shot around Halifax, and to this day, fans of the film flock to Fairview Cemetery to pay respects at the resting place of J. Dawson.”

Of course, the real-life J. Dawson” was Joseph Dawson,” a crewman aboard the ship who likely didn’t have any romantic entanglements with first-class passengers.

Locke & Key: Lunenburg

One of the most popular shooting locations in the province, there have been numerous TV shows and filmed in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, including Haven, The Covenant, and Netflix’s new teen horror series Locke & Key.

A historic port town with colourful wooden houses and stores built in the colonial style, Lunenburg is a dead ringer for any number of mist-strewn New England villages that populate the horror stories of Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft.

However, Lunenburg itself is a friendly tourist town filled with colourful storefronts and a plethora of galleries and shops owned by local artisans trading in unique crafts and souvenirs. There are also a number of great local restaurants offering Nova Scotia favourites fresh from the sea, like lobster and chowder.

You might come just to geek out over your famous TV shows and movies filmed in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, but you’ll stay for the smalltown charm and unique experiences.

My Bloody Valentine: Sydney Mines

One of the most iconic cult horror movies of the 80s, many are surprised to learn My Bloody Valentine was among movies shot in Nova Scotia. The film follows a group of teens who hold a Valentine’s Day dance in the local mines, despite urban legends about a deranged killer who’d sworn to go after anyone who celebrates that particular holiday. Famously, the film was so gory that nine minutes were cut from the theatrical release, and uncut bootlegs became a sought-after prize for horror movie aficionados.

Filmed in a defunct coal mine in the small town of Sydney Mines by Cape Breton, the movie failed to do justice to the area’s gorgeous coastline and forested highlands. The town itself has a rich history, acting as a flashpoint between American and British naval forces during the War for Independence. Even if scary movies make you queasy, it’s a great stop for anyone exploring the Cabot Trail.

Special thanks to the staff of the Comfort Inn in Yarmouth, NS and the Comfort Inn in Sydney, NS for their suggestions.

Choice Hotels in Nova Scotia