Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Murdoch on Location in Georgina

by Anita Mae Draper

As an avid fan of the Canadian TV series, Murdoch Mysteries, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that last week's episode, Shipwreck, was shot in the vicinity of my genealogy research, as well as being on the To Explore list of my June visit to Ontario.

The caption for the Shipwreck episode reads: "A murder investigation at a church reunites Murdoch with the priest who mentored him as an altar boy." We see how Detective Murdoch learned to question everything while working with fatalities of a shipwreck.

Shipwreck opens with the usual murder - filmed in the historic cemetery beside St. George's Anglican Church at Sibbald Park, Georgina.

Sibbald's Church, Jackson's Point, 1910 (now Sibbald Point, Georgina). Photo credit - Baldwin Room, Toronto Reference Library

What makes this cemetery special isn't because the famous Canadian humorist, Stephen Leacock, is buried there, nor because of Mazo de la Roche, the Canadian novelist I featured in Mazo de la Roche Part 1 and Part 2.

Clifford Thompson, WW2, somewhere in England

It's special because it's the final resting place of Clifford Thompson (1920-1983), his wife Hope Sibbald Seale Thompson (1921-2012), and their son, Daniel Thompson (1961-2009).

The Thompson family is special because Cliff is my husband's first cousin 1x removed. (If you've been following my Author Memories genealogy blog, Cliff is the son of Grandma Ethel's sister, Christie, who married Roy Thompson.)

And in case you're wondering about the Sibbald name...yes, Hope is the great-great-granddaughter of early Ontario pioneer Susan Sibbald whose original six hundred acres included the land which the church sits on as well as Eildon Hall and Sibbald Point Provincial Park.

This next image is beside entrance to the church and cemetery. You also see a lane which leads to Eildon Hall, the historic manor of the Sibbald family which is now the Sibbald Point Museum. A similar shot appears in a scene about 10 minutes into Murdoch's Shipwreck episode.

Lane to Eildon Hall from St George's Anglican Church, June 2015

According to the Town of Georgina website, Susan Sibbald donated 66 acres along the Lake Simcoe shore for a church and cemetery. Others donated money, materials, and 5 more acres. In 1938, they began work on a wooden log church, holding services in Eildon Hall while the work progressed. Susan Sibbald suggested the name St. George because she admired him as a warrior. The name stuck.

St George's Anglican Church, June 2015

Highly educated and well-travelled, Susan was a forward thinker and woman of action. From everything I've read, it was due to her strength and determination which resulted in the first fine St George's church which included stained glass windows. One in particular needs to be mentioned here because it was designed and hand-painted by the artistic daughters of the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada John Graves Simcoe and his wife, Elizabeth, who happened to be an old school friend of Susan Sibbald as well as an accomplished artist and painter herself.

When the stained glass panes were done, the daughters shipped them from England to Upper Canada (now Ontario). After Susan's death in 1866, her sons wanted to honor her life by building a church that would withstand centuries. Using rollers, they moved the original log church closer to the shore and began work on a stone one. Upon completion, the huge stained glass window which the Simcoes' daughters had created was taken from the old church and set above the communion table of the stone church.

This next image is a screenshot of the Making Murdoch: Shipwreck episode inside St. George's Church at Sibbald Point. Note the stained glass window made by the Simcoe sisters in the background.

A second church was used in this episode for the interior shots of when Murdoch was a child and those were filmed in Sutton at nearby St. James' church, completed in 1858, also part of the Anglican Parish of Georgina.

St James' Anglican Church, Sutton, Ontario, Canada. Thank you Google Earth

Here is an image of the interior of this church which is another excellent example of period history.

The funny thing is, although the Shipwreck episode was filmed near the shore of Lake Simcoe, all the shots were on dry land. The answer to why, as well as many other answers, are explained in the following seven minute video, Making Murdoch: Shipwreck.

I enjoyed the video not only for its factual and cast information, but also because it shows the series creator, author Maureen Jennings who wrote this episode and wanted to give us Murdoch's back story.

If I've piqued your interest, CBC online carries the full episodes after the show is aired - but you may need to be in Canada to receive them.

I need to give a shout-out to the Georgina Pioneer Village & Archives facebook page for their heads' up notice about the Shipwreck episode. Thank you!

So... did you watch the episode? The video? Learn anything new? 


Anita Mae Draper is retired from the Canadian Armed Forces and lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan, Canada with her hubby of 30 plus years and the youngest of their four kids. Anita's stories are set, but not limited to the western prairies. She is blessed to be included in Guideposts Books A Cup of Christmas Cheer collection. Anita is represented by Mary Keeley of Books & Such Literary Management. You can find Anita Mae at


  1. hi Anita
    I always learn such cool historical stuff from your posts. I watched the video because I like the behind the scenes stuff (also because I've done such film stuff too). I love how, through the magic of editing, one can combine two locations to create another.
    I hope your upcoming trip will be everything you hope and need. I'm excited for you. Murdock Mysteries sounds like a show I'd love to watch but alas... I'm still mired in kiddie shows with the Gupster. He occasionally allows momma to watch one of her shows. *heh* Actually, I try to write while he watches, so it sort of works - well, the operative word there is try. *grin*
    Glad I popped by the Inkwell today. Now, break-time is over and must go back to work.

    1. Hey there Deb H, you're a great start to my day!

      Yes, I believe you'd enjoy Murdoch. Maureen Jennings is such a wonderful writer who effectively puts staid, anal Murdoch into humorous situations. I'm not sure who adds the 21st century touches into the show, but every week there's something that relates to the present - if you're quick enough to catch it.

      For instance, Monday's show did a scene spoof where David Chilton (the Wealthy Barber) played himself as the inspector's barber - dispensing financial info as he worked. So funny when they didn't take him seriously.

      Ah well. So nice to talk with you again. :)

  2. Anita, what a funny coincidence. A co-worker was telling me about this show just a couple hours ago. I already decided I'd try to find and watch. I love your pictures and detail. I can't wait for the opportunity to watch this.

    1. Hey, that is cool, Suzie. Good to know it's being talked about. Hope you can get it down there, and thanks for letting me know. :)

    2. Suzie, you will enjoy Murdoch Mysteries!

  3. Cool! I love family history... somebody let me know if they do any shipwrecks from the Civil War, please!

    1. Would that be on dry land or actually in the water, Niki? :D

      But yeah, I will. Tks for commenting. :)

  4. Delightful post and pictures, as usual, Anita Mae. Loved it.

    And I enjoy Murdoch Mysteries! Unfortunately, Netflix doesn't offer episodes past the third season, I believe, so I'm woefully behind. (However, should you pop over to the Pinterest page for my upcoming novella from the Most Eligible Bachelor Collection, you will be pleased by the model for my hero!)

    1. Susie, I've already seen him there! Really liked that, too. :)

      Good to know that Netflix is carrying the show because they are so expensive when you have to buy them.

      Thanks, Susie.


Share This Post

How Our Giveaways Work: The Official Rules

We, the ladies of Inkwell Inspirations, would love to give free stuff to everybody. Since we can't, we will often have a giveaway in conjunction with a specific post. Unless otherwise stated, one winner will be drawn from comments left on that post between the date it was published and the end of the giveaway as determined in the post. Entries must be accompanied by a valid email address. This address is used only to contact the commenter in the event that he/she is the winner, and will not be sold, distributed, or used in any other fashion. The odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. NO PURCHASE, PLEDGE, OR DONATION NECESSARY TO ENTER OR TO WIN. ALL FEDERAL, STATE, LOCAL AND MUNICIPAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS APPLY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.