All of the St. Catharines Hangouts in Linda Evangelista’s First Foray Into Styling

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Forget Neil Peart or Walter Ostanek. As a native of St. Catharines, my hometown pride has always beamed bright for one of the greatest supes of all time, Linda Evangelista. Circa 1990, my friend Joanna and I would have fashion magazine page tearing parties and extensive convos about the models of that era, but we always felt a special glee over the fact that one of them was from the SAME CITY AS US! So you can imagine my joy when I saw that Evangelista (her childhood home pictured above) headed back there to style her first shoot for the September issue of Harper’s Bazaar.

The story, a tribute to her life in the years leading up to when she eventually fled the Garden City for model superstardom, casts Raquel Zimmerman as Evangelista but it was seeing locations from my place of birth used as fashion shoot settings that sent me over the edge.

Kwong Chow is a Chinese restaurant downtown on St. Paul Street and is meant to represent one of the open late, dive-y Asian eateries that Linda would head to with her friends when everything else shut down. “So far, no business from it,” says owner Wing Tam of appearing in the glossy. That’s likely because the place isn’t credited, but I will definitely pop in the next time I’m home. (Side note: it would have been so great if they’d shot at my Grandma’s place, Cosy Restaurant on Lake Street. Cue brain melt.)

Just next door is All About You, a salon and beauty supply store. “I was just looking outside my door and saw a photo shoot happening,” says owner Deborah Bush, who was told that the choosing of the spot had something to do with the lighting and the way the shadow was being cast.  She got a quick pic with Zimmerman, but was asked not to release it until September. Though Bush did not get to meet Evangelista, she says she knows her parents. Do you think everyone says that?

This Bell phone booth is on Ontario Street, minutes from the QEW. Though it’s hard to tell, right behind it is a McDonald’s, the very location where I ate many Happy Meals as a kid and drive-thru fries as a teen. Also, can we just talk about the fact that there’s still a phone booth? Ah, St. Catharines, where time stands still.

St. Alfred’s is a huge Roman Catholic church on Vine Street, and the parish Evangelista attended growing up. It’s also where my aunt and uncle were married. When I reached Lorraine, the church secretary, she didn’t have much to say about the experience. “There really is nothing we can tell you about the shoot,” she wrote by email. “Someone called asking permission to shoot her picture in front of the church. Permission was granted.” Thanks Lorraine. Moving on….

Gales Gas Bar has locations throughout the Niagara region. I’ve driven by this one on Ontario Street many times, which has been around since the mid 70’s says CEO Jessica Friesen. Though she suggested a more modern looking one, the team (“Awesome people,” she says) preferred this gritty spot because it looks older. “It’s also in an area that Linda frequented when she was living in St. Catharines,” says Friesen, who closed down the station the night of the shoot. She even got to chat with the supe herself, who mentioned that she still comes home pretty regularly (!). Though she’s thrilled to see the story now that it’s out (especially with the company logo prominently on display), Friesen didn’t bat an eye the day she was initially contacted about using the space. “I get calls like this every now and then,” adding that the show Heroes reached out once. “But this one was solid.” Indeed.

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