There is always something happening in Market Square and the streets surrounding Stratford City Hall. Harlem of the early 1900s arrived this week as part of a Netflix film shoot of the Madam C.J. Walker story. Faux store fronts, antique cars, pop-up vintage lamp posts, and outdoor café tables bring movie set visuals to 2019 Stratford, Ontario.

Pop-up cafe

Grocery and barber pole

Two old cars

Sarah Breedlove, known as Madam C. J. Walker, was an African-American entrepreneur, philanthropist and political and social activist. She was considered to be the wealthiest African -American businesswoman and wealthiest self-made women in America when she died in 1919. Madam C.J. Walker made her fortune developing and marketing cosmetics and hair products for black women. The series is starring Octavia Spencer, Tiffany Haddish, Carmen Ejogo, Blair Underwood, Garrett Morris, and Kevin Carroll.

Store fronts

Flower truck

Flower shop

The Victorian architecture in Market Square easily facilitates the transformation of store fronts and street scenes.

Tea bottles


Special props add to the atmosphere.

Actors waiting

Actors rush to wardrobe and makeup early in the morning and then wait to be called for their scenes.

Street scene

Wellington Street fills with movie-making equipment.

Cameras rolling

Cameras roll.

Babies don't cry

An actor pushes a baby buggy in a street scene. These doll babies never cry.


Actors walk in and out of a scene. When they reach the edge of the camera’s range they stop and wait for direction to do it again.

Standing on the corner

Actors stand on a Harlem corner in Stratford.

1919 bicyclist

A cyclist waits for his cue.

2019 bicyclist

A Stratford spectator fits right in.

cell phone actress

Market Square may appear to be Harlem in the early 1900s but 2019 cell phones are never far away.

Good prices

Shocking prices from the “good old days”.

Old and new

Stratford businesses on the square remained open. Some had to be accessed through back doors. The Butcher and the Baker was a perfect spot to watch the action.

The new Netflix series, C.J. Walker, touted as an untold, irreverent story, will air in 2020.