Oct 2018 25

Vancouver Film Locations: Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden

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Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden was the first "scholar" Chinese garden built outside of China. Designed by architects Joe Wai, Donald Vaughan and Wang Zu-Xin it was opened for public in 1986 and since then promoted the bridge between Chinese and Canadian culture.

No wonder many film-makers started using this garden build on principles of feng shui as a backdrop for their scenes. The exotic garden was often used for many outdoors scenes set in Asia, but also for some more fun and random scenes like a psychic's home. Here are some popular TV show that filmed on this spot:


Arrow is the series that started off the DC popularity on the smaller screen. This dark superhero drama was the first experiment to transform the comics into a longer running format, that ultimately ended up suiting it better in case of DC's experimentation both with movies and TV shows.

There were two episodes of  Arrow where Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden took the main stage, both in season 3. First, it appeared as Master Jansen's Garden where the crew is looking for The Dark Archer played by nobody else than the iconic John Barrowman.

It made its second appearance as Botanical Garden in Hong Kong, where Oliver walked with young Akio Yamashiro talking about his parents, not being aware that they have been followed.


Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow is one of those superhero groups that picks up all the rejected misfits from around the franchise and gives them at least a TV show to star in. Think of it as a Suicide Squad of the DC TV universe. Traveling in time, trying to right past wrongs, this group of questionable heroes is lead by Rip Hunter - a time soldier from the future, on a quest to save the Earth from the horrible fate he knows as his own timeline.

One of the most iconic scenes with the speedster Wally West happened exactly in Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden. The garden is set as Chinese monastery where Rip Hunter comes to recruit Wally West aka Kid Flash for his team of misfit superheroes. Wally is not keen on joining the group and the duo proceeds to get drunk and spill their secrets, steal a time courier and wake up with a raging hangover the next morning.

The Flash

The Flash began the new wave of DC shows not taking themselves too seriously. With a very healthy dose of humour to balance the dramatics of previously mentioned Arrow, but still showing an emotional connection to characters, Flash quickly becomes what's probably the most popular TV shows in the DC Universe. And of course almost all of it was filmed in Vancouver.

Big Sir, the falsely accused convict that Team Flash helps to escape from prison, gets his happy ending in the Chinese garden, which serves as a small Chinese village in this episode. Flash transports him here to hide him from the police and gives him a chance for a new life, leaving him an amusing note and a gift of freedom.


From DC, let's move to the most charismatic TV devil of all times. The story of Lucifer who had enough of hell and decided to take vacation in L.A. became widely popular thanks to the performance of the handsome Tom Ellis.

Together with his ex-demon Maze and Detective Chloe Decker, they start solving cases. Because of course the Devil can't rest on the 7th day but has to punish the bad guys.

The show is mostly filmed in Vancouver. In the second season, Lucifer goes to question a suspect and Maze has to fight for them to get all the information they need. And it's quite hard to beat a demon, right?


Magicians is a fantasy series telling a story about students at a magical university, trying to cope with the aftermath of magic and its complicated world. Dealing with heavy themes but still managing to maintain its fantasy feel, Magicians is a TV show for people that have no illusions about the college life but still loved Harry Potter when they were little.

In this case, the Garden is featured as streets of Shanghai, where one of the main characters, Penny, ends up lost, after some consequences of Advanced Spellcasting and discovers his new power.


We already wrote about the very unsympathetic detective Backstrom in the Marine Building Filming Location article. He is the modern Sherlock Holmes without the Cumberbatch charm who solves cases nobody else wants or can solve.

The Chinese Garden here plays a role of a psychic's den, where Backstrom comes to question her about a recent murder, discovering some gambling dens and somr definitely fake powers in the process.


Continuum is one of those rare shows that are actually canonically set at the city they filmed it in. As the detective Kiera Cameron from the year 2077 is trapped in present-day Vancouver tracking very dangerous criminals from the future, she crosses paths with young Alec Sadler, a teenage genius, who aids her in her quest and adaptation to the world she knows only from history books.

As said, the show is set in Vancouver and filmed here as well. So there weren't really many changes they have done to the city in the scenes set in the present day. The Chinese Garden stays the same as we know it now, maybe with a slightly better lighting through the scenes.


Meet The Photographer: Ricardo Vacas

Ricardo VacasRicardo Vacas

Ricardo Vacas, owner of the firm Kerp Photography, always showed intense interest in many forms of creative arts. His professional photography career started in his home country, Spain, where he was the official photographer of several music bands, models and clothing brands. He decided to move to Wellington, New Zealand in 2012, knowing his real interest was fashion photography more than any other field. Currently living in Vancouver, Canada, he now combines his fashion, editorial and commercial photography projects with regular trips to Europe and USA.


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