Canada has long held a close connection with even the most American of Christmas tales. Bob Clark’s A Christmas Story, set in small-town Illinois, was noticeably shot in Ottawa, as were other Christmas classics and alternatives, such as Black Christmas and Silent Night. In recent years, though, Lifetime and Netflix have seized on the country’s gorgeous filming locations to tell their Yuletide tales. The answer to why is simple: the weather is mild and the tax incentives are appealing. The appeal of Hallmark Christmas films isn’t hard to see either. The holiday season can make you more persuadable to the pleasantries of hot chocolate and easy-to-follow narratives. You’re not looking for a challenge during the holidays, just a film with which you can unwind.
This year, Canadians can look forward to Christmas cheer with local faces such as Yannick Bisson’s in Baking All the Way. It’s a major moment for Bisson. Not only is Baking his first directorial feature after working behind the camera for 13 episodes of Murdoch Mysteries, it also features his young daughter Mikaela — making it a true family affair.
Canadian singer and actor Cory Lee, best remembered for her role as Miss Oh on Degrassi: The Next Generation, stars as Julia Wilson, a Chicago pastry chef determined to finish her Christmas cookbook. She ventures to Wisconsin to seek out fellow chef Kris Thompson’s (Bisson) famous gingerbread recipe. The chemistry may be instantaneous, but Thompson is reluctant to share his private recipe. It’s the kind of light, harmless Christmas conflict that provides room for Bisson and Lee to get to know each other better. The plots of Lifetime movies never strive for controversy or heated moments of intense passion; they exist for audiences to vicariously relive some of their best Christmas moments.
Bisson has long been one of the most reliable of Canada’s own acting stable. Ever since first appearing in the 1984 CBC Movie of the Week Hockey Night, he has kept his work primarily in-country. It’s rare to find talent so committed to staying on this side of the border, but Bisson’s titular role on Murdoch kept him busy in Toronto.
Much like Bisson’s first role, Baking also features some of Canadian comedy royalty — Colin Mochrie. A Second City performer most famous for performing on Whose Line is it Anyway?, Mochrie is guaranteed to bring the film the required holiday levity. Since appearing in The Kids in the Hall reboot on Amazon Prime, his name is firmly in the annals of Canada’s many contributions to comedy.
The holidays have forever been associated with home, and it’s always a little thrilling to recognize and celebrate a part of your own home during the season. Even just catching a glimpse of a cafe you once frequented or a restaurant you know offers a sense of inclusion.
Baking All The Way premieres on Lifetime on November 24. Blankets, hot chocolate, and a warm fire are all mandatory viewing requirements.
Kenny Hedges | Contributing Writer