"Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans"
was a Hollywood tv show production from 1957, which starred John Hart (the Lone Ranger) as Hawkeye and Lon Chaney Jr. as Chingachgook. It was made in co-operation with the CBC.
Living in Durham Region and being a classic tv buff, I had heard that the show was filmed somewhere up Duffin's Creek at the north end of the City of Pickering, just east of Toronto.
I was put in touch with a man named Phil Ionadiss, who supplied the show's crew with food and who also appeared as an extra in three episodes. When he gave me the exact filming location I had a hard time believing it was true. The show was actually shot close to the heart of Pickering and not further out as I had been told. These days the area is a densely populated residential area.
Phil was nice enough to take me over to this location where all the show's action took place- on the old Gottlieb Farm and at Ganatsekiagon Creek, which are both located between Valley Farm Rd. and Brock Rd. on Concession 3.
I took some modern photos of the area, as well as some off the tv screen from the show's dvd release, and have compared them at this link Last of the Mohicans Filming Locations in Pickering
, which is run by fellow Hawkeye (John Hart) fan Steve Jensen. The photos are captioned so you can tell what you are looking at. The change from then to now is unbelievable. Go to Steve's site at the above link as you will love what he has done.
Most of the show was shot at 2 locations- one being at the trading post village/fort exteriors, built right on Arthur Gottlieb's farmstead (today the address for this location is Major Oaks Rd.) , and the other being at the exact spot where Ganatsekiagon Creek crosses under Concession 3 (this area was slightly dammed up to make a pond where all the canoe scenes and Indian village scenes were shot). A few scenes were also shot down in the Duffin's Creek valley beside the local landfill site just down the road a bit. Fellow fan, Ian Macpherson, found these articles from The Toronto Star archives back in 1956 about the show and the filming location. Go here http://www.members.tripod.com/~JohnHart/starhawk.htm to read them.
Mr. Ionadiss told of another interesting tidbit regarding the filming site, "In the 1970's someone was digging around in the bush and found an old sacred native burial ground adjacent to the pond, about 200 metres into the forest. They filmed some scenes from the show at this spot as well." I thought that was an amazing coincidence- a tv show about Indian history in the colonization days was filmed in the exact location where actual Indian history took place.
After I learned about all this stuff I contacted some other local fans of the show and we all came up with a plan. We thought it would be cool to get an historical plaque erected at Concession 3, where the creek passed under, to commemorate the show and also the Indian burial site. We also asked the city to consider changing the name of the road from "Concession 3" to "Hawkeye Drive". Though they voted against it, I still think it was worth the try as nobody in the area even knows that the show- which is based on a classic American novel- was even filmed there, right in Canada's most densely populated area (the GTA).
For the "then" and "now" photos click the link above. The photos in the gallery below are a few "then" and "now"s.
* The actual Seneca ghost town of Ganatsekiagon has its own write-up on this site, also under the listings for "Pickering". It was located at Frenchman's Bay and was one of the largest native cities before the white man came.
I received this from a fan of the show who appeared on it back in the day:
" Hi Clay,
I know you are anxious for any notes, but we have a serious illness in my wife's family and my time is taken .... However, I've put together some 'entry' material which may be of interest. I will add to this in the weeks to come ... I do plan in using much of this in a 'memoire' at some time in the future, but here's a beginning for you to draw from:
"I spent my teen years at Pickering Village, Ontario from about 1953 until 1959, when I struck out on my own, heading for a job at Canadian Broadcasting Corp's film library in Toronto. My Mother, Father & two brothers stayed on, and my Mother remained their until the late 90's.
During the time of the production of the television series "Hawkeye and the Last Of The Mohicans in 1957 I was a 16 year-old student at Pickering District High School (PDHS). The Village of Pickering is not to be confused with the Pickering of 2012, now a part of the greater metropolitan area of Toronto. Although the physical remains of the village as I knew it exist today, sadly it has become a part of the town of Ajax, and simply known as 'Ajax'.
We teen residents of the village came to know about the location filming of the 'Mohicans' initially as a rumor, finally to be confirmed by several articles in Toronto newspapers. It so happened that a friend of mine from high-school lived in bungalow on the west side of the Brock Road located in adjacent territory to the river crossing & small lake site so often used as a forest location by Chingachcook & Hawkeye. Bob and I were golfing buddies, playing at the Pickering Golf Club, just across the road from his family home, so I had every occasion to visit, It was on one of those after golf moments when we decided to try to find the Mohican location. We tracked it down at the bottom of the hill, behind his house -- probably no more than a half mile as the crow flies.
It was at this time that we infiltrated the perimeter of the filming crew ... never an issue as we were local lads, and soon quickly learned to stay out of the way of the filming. Chingachcook and Hawkeye paddled earnestly across the lake ... it was no more than a pond in reality, formed by a small dam at the lower end, which blocked a very small stream, forming the "lake" .... with the proper selection of camera angles the 'pond' must have served as a lake crossing or river headwaters of a much larger stream, or a bay entrance with a much larger lake or river in the distance or just around the bend."