Where Queer as Folk's First Season Was Filmed in Toronto

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Where Queer as Folk’s First Season Was Filmed in Toronto

You're not in Pittsburgh anymore.

Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.

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It’s amazing to consider it’s been a decade since the groundbreaking Queer as Folk went off the air. The set-in-Pittsburgh-but-filmed-in-Toronto remake of the British series by the same name ran for five seasons, and while we’ve come a long way since it first hit the airwaves, it’s no less remarkable today.

Over the course of that run it redefined how LGBTQ culture was portrayed on television and gave a who’s who of local indie directors—including David Wellington, John Greyson, John L’Ecuyer, and the very busy Jeremy Podeswa—a chance to hone their skills, and a chance for local locations to do their thang, too.

With Pride Month set to wrap, it’s a perfect time to take a look back at the series’ first season.

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Pittsburgh’s Gay Village is centred around Liberty Avenue and while there isn’t much of an immediate visual similarity, it’s not surprising that our own Church Street is where much of the action was filmed. (And, before we get into things, a quick shoutout to this blog, that nailed down several locations before we showed up.) So this corner, for example…

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…is actually at Maitland, and the bistro is now a Firkin.

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The distinctive windows of Garage look much the same.

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Suffice it to say there are a lot of shots along Church

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…and even though some of the outlets have changed over the years…

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…things look largely the same.

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Like any TV series, there are a few locations we keep coming back to. Probably the biggest, and the first we see…

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…is Babylon…

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…the huge dance club the guys all dig. The exterior and its adjacent alley are on Duncan Street.

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Babylon’s interior was shot at the now-defunct Fly, on Gloucester Street.

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The landmark bar, Woody’s

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…is another major hangout…

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…though you’ll note they mocked up a Pittsburgh address. (467 Liberty does not seem to really exist, alas.)

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The guys also hang out in this diner…

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…the since-departed Swan Diner.

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Of course, the exterior is also used…

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…at Queen and Crawford.

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The young and naive Justin (at least at the outset)…

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…goes to school at the St. James Academy.

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But it’s actually Western Tech.

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His new friend, Brian, doesn’t live on Ross Street (wherever that is)…

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…but at 6 Church Street.

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Our narrator, Mike, lives at 7 Glen Road, in the historic Rosslyn Apartments.

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You can see a bit more of the street, and the often-filmed retail strip on Howard Street, in the back here.

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You can see it a bit better in the day.

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But it’s not all dudes all the time! Their lesbian friends, Melanie and Lindsay, live at 178 Crawford Street, right by the diner.

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This church hall houses both a speed-dating session…

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…and an art show. Both were shot in the main auditorium at The Great Hall.

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Similarly, this doctor’s office is tricky but the Victorian houses here…

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…and that more modern one-off in the distance suggest it may be around Church and Park Road.

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Back to things we do know! Brian does some driving back in the pilot and this is most def not in Pittsburgh.

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Neither is the CityTV building.

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Nor the former offices of Toronto Life and the delightful C’est What, on Front.

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Thanks to the presence of the Royal York in the back…

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…we can ID this alleged hospital rooftop as the Citi Bank building.

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There’s lots of pumping iron at the gym too.

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The only exterior shot zips by very quickly, but enough to ID it as this building, at Yonge, north of Charles. Based on the view out the window there, looks like it’s the same place for the interiors. (Somewhat oddly, there’s a “65” in this shot and a “67” there today. Why? Don’t know.)

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This exterior shot even more clearly shows the balustrade visible there, not to mention the view down Charles of the YMCA and Rogers HQ.

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Always easy to spot: the AGO.

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This comic book shop…

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…used to be at 513 Yonge, though that whole block is now going the way of the dodo.

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And right nearby is this former Way Cool Tattoo shop…

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…also on Yonge.

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In the eighth episode, Brian goes to the local car dealer, where the salesman is a homophobe.

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There’s been lots of development in the area, but you can juuust see the Distillery out the window…

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…and the dealership is still there, on Front Street.

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Brian walks down Hayden Street to go to this union hall…

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…actually the Naval Club, since lost to the development of 1 Bloor.

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Road trip! NYC montage! Except, actually they’re only moving a block or two!

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Yeah, probably this is supposed to be along Central Park…

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…but that Second Cup is easy to ID, at Church and Front

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…meaning it’s actually Berczy Park.

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And look at this series of pictures! This female extra is totally bending the laws of space and time, eh? She’s in the back! She’s in the front! She’s everywhere!

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Some more park strolling in episode 11. This time at Trinity-Bellwoods.

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Here we have the interior…

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…and (geographically modified) exterior of Seduction.

And, phew. That’s it for our first 11 episodes. Next time, we’ve got prom night and outdoor skating and all sorts more groundbreaking fun!


CORRECTION: Thanks to a pair of commenters who correctly identified the locations of the speed-dating event and the exterior of Babylon. The article has been updated accordingly.

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