Degrassi transforms York’s Keele campus into a television set

Now in production on its seventh season, the hit Canadian television series "Degrassi: The Next Generation" made its way to York’s Keele campus last week. The cast and crew were on campus Aug. 1 filming a two-part "Spring Break" episode.

The episode, which will air in January 2008, features a special concert that Degrassi students go to during their spring break from school. Also featured in this episode is iconic Canadian actress Shirley Douglas.

Right: From York U to Smithdale U, branding preserved

For the filming, York’s Keele campus was transformed into Smithdale University. Douglas plays the role of the head of a theatre college at Smithdale that one of the Degrassi characters has applied to. Several scenes for the two-part episode were filmed at locations on the Keele campus, including the Science & Engineering Building, Campus Walk and Accolade. The Underground Restaurant provided a rest facility for the cast and crew.

Left: Crew trucks line the laneway adjacent to the Farquharson Life Sciences Building

Epitome Productions paid to use the facilities of the Keele campus, says Deborah Hahn, associate director, conference & meeting services, Office of University Events & Community Relations. 

The show has its own connections with York. Writer and story editor James Hurst is an alum (BFA ’92), and his wife, Shelley Scarrow (BFA ’94), was also a Degrassi writer  for several years (see YorkU, February 2007). Moreover, prominent cast member Stacey Farber did her first year of university at York in 2005-2006.

Visit the Degrassi: The Next Generation program Web site for more on the series.