Under the Bridge: Is Seven Oaks Youth Home a Real Place?

Image Credit: Darko Sikman/Hulu

On a November night in 1997, 14-year-old Reena Virk went out to party with her friends and never came back. As rumors swirled about what may or may not have happened to her, the cops started looking for her at the bottom of the river, which, according to one rumor, she was supposed to be floating in. Once the truth started to come to light, bit by bit, some startling discoveries were made, and this is what Hulu’s ‘Under the Bridge’ focuses on. Several things become important markers when it comes to finding out what really happened to Reena, and one place becomes the focus of the investigation: Seven Oaks Youth Home.

Seven Oaks was a Real Place Where Reena Virk Once Lived

Based on a true story, ‘Under the Bridge’ sticks to the details of the case, using real names and places wherever possible, especially if there is no legal bind preventing them. Seven Oaks Youth Home falls in the category of places that were not only real but also incredibly important in Reena Virk’s life and case. The youth home was a government-run facility that housed runaway girls or the ones who caused too much trouble at home. It wasn’t a foster home but a temporary place for the girls to stay until they moved somewhere else, preferably a better place. Reena wanted to escape the stifling atmosphere of her house and had once run away from home. She stayed at Seven Oaks, which is where she met Nicole Cook (named Josephine Bell in the show) and the other girls who eventually paved the path for her demise.

When Reena Virk’s murder came to light, the case immediately gained media attention and became quite a huge thing. Her case also highlighted the failings of the system when it came to handling the wayward youth. With the residents of Seven Oaks landing at the center of the case, the place’s existence invited a lot of questions. Eventually, instead of answering those questions, the authorities decided to do away with the place entirely. Seven Oaks was shut down a short while after the investigation in Reena Virk’s case wrapped up and remains so even now. When the place shut down, the girls, who weren’t sentenced for their involvement in Reena’s grisly fate, were either sent back to their families or were put in foster homes.

The scenes concerning Seven Oaks in the Hulu series were filmed at a house in Cornwall Place, New Westminster, British Columbia. Currently, there is a facility named Seven Oaks in Victoria, but it is a tertiary mental health facility that caters to people struggling with serious mental health issues and is not concerned with troubled youth. It is run by Island Health, a publicly funded healthcare provider established by the Government of British Columbia in 2001. While the show’s creators couldn’t use the real-life location of the youth home, they used other locations in Saanich to give a more realistic touch to the story.

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