It will be a bittersweet moment when the ‘Chesapeake Shores’ TV series wraps up filming of its sixth and final season in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area this summer, according to the show’s producer.
The series, which follows the lives of the O’Brien family after the homecoming of its eldest daughter, has been filmed at locations in Parksville, Qualicum Beach and Nanoose Bay since 2016.
“We have people that have been on this show since the very beginning, in season one,” said Matt Drake, producer of the Hallmark Channel series. “A lot of crew have been around for four-plus years, so it’s really like a special family of people and we really enjoy shooting it, so overall I think everyone is feeling a little sad that it’s the end.”
Drake, who is based in Vancouver, said there have been many memorable moments over the course of the series and the production crew enjoyed shooting in beautiful locations such as Nanoose Bay, where the O’Brien family house set is located. He pointed to filming on sailboats and yachts as some of the most fun experiences.
“I have fond memories of coming here, first with my family to Rathtrevor Beach,” Drake said. “And camping out there at a young age, so that’s always kind of had a special place. Parksville’s always been special to me that way.”
He said from the moment they began scouting the area, they knew the region would be “unparalleled” in terms of giving the production unlimited access to beautiful locations that could serve as the program’s Chesapeake Bay setting, outside of Baltimore, Maryland. Similar spots in Vancouver were limited and very busy, so filming on the Island made sense.
The area’s lack of official production studios presented a challenge, but the team was able to successfully use a number of different places as retrofitted studios, most recently the Parksville Curling Club, according to Drake.
“It’s actually been some of the smoothest for studio shooting out of all the buildings that we’ve shot at,” he said. “We didn’t think of the Parksville Curling Club at the beginning, but thankfully with the pandemic, it gave us an opportunity to look at it and I think it worked out for their schedule as well, because there weren’t events going on and it’s been a really happy, successful working relationship.”
The COVID-19 pandemic was the single biggest hurdle the show faced, but Drake said he was happy the production was able to keep everyone safe by following their COVID safety protocols.
Drake said the community warmly welcomed ‘Chesapeake Shores’ and, thanks to Vancouver Island North Film Commission (INFilm) and North Island College’s TV and Film program, provided the production with a good local crew base.
“I think hopefully ‘Chesapeake Shores’ is an example for other producers in the film industry,” he said. “That you can go to the mid-Island region and shoot a television series successfully. So hopefully it’s paved the way for other people to consider doing the same thing again in the region.”