The streets and surroundings of Toronto have an incredibly long list of movie credits, from American Psycho to X-Men. While there are relatively few movies actually set in the city, its modern downtown skyline and historical districts have stood in for New York, Chicago and Detroit, among many others. It has also played the part of a huge range of fictional places and alternative timelines, both from the recent past and the distant future.

    While walking around many major cities will show you iconic landmarks frequently immortalised on the silver screen, the many cameos and stand-in roles of Toronto’s landmarks will give you a very different experience. You might be surprised when you come across movie locations you probably didn’t know are around Toronto.


    Yonge-Dundas Square

    Kick-Ass (2010) and Suicide Squad (2016)

    Often just called Dundas Square, the glitzy junction of Yonge Street and Dundas Street East has the same look and vibe as London’s Piccadilly Circus or New York’s Times Square. The square regularly hosts big public events, including musical performances and art exhibits, while fountains in the centre provide a so-called “urban beach”, allowing you to cool off your feet after walking around the many shops nearby.

    Yonge-Dundas Square and the surrounding streets appeared in the 2016 movie Suicide Squad, where it played battle-ravaged areas of the fictional Midway City. In 2010’s Kick-Ass, the titular character and Hit Girl ride down the street towards the movie’s climax, despite the fact the film is set in New York. The square even returned in the 2013 sequel.

    Location: 1 Dundas St E, Toronto, ON M5B 2R8, Canada

    Phone: +1 416-979-9960


    photo by Jeff Hitchcock (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Toronto City Hall

    Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

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    The look of the Toronto City Hall building is a little controversial. Some call it striking and futuristic and cheered when it appeared in a 1989 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, while others call it ugly (especially when compared to Toronto Old City Hall, which is next door) and cheered when it was blown up in 2004’s Resident Evil: Apocalypse. However, the square in front is a popular meeting point in the heart of the city, where people enjoy sitting by the fountain and the 3D Toronto sign. With 3-metre-tall letters, it’s quite an iconic spot for a selfie. There’s also a good café in the square, with plenty of other options nearby.

    Location: 100 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5H 2N2, Canada

    Open: Monday – Friday from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm (closed at weekends)

    Phone: +1 416-392-2489


    Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres

    Chicago (2002) and The Shape of Water (2017)

    The beautiful Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres first opened their doors in 1913, and originally showed vaudeville acts and silent movies. Despite being in the same building, the two theatres were kept separate for different classes of patron, with the gold-and-marble grandeur of the Elgin reserved for big spenders. Following extensive renovation in the ‘80s, the venues now stage plays, operas and concerts and is one of the hosts of the annual Toronto International Film Festival.

    The grandeur of the setting – particularly the 7-storey Elgin Theatre – has not only attracted movie-goers, but also movie producers. It played the role of the Chicago Theater in the 2002 movie Chicago, based on the Broadway musical of the same name. It also took the part of the Orpheum theatre in The Shape of Water in 2017.

    Location: 189 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M5B 1M4, Canada

    Phone: +1 416-314-2901


    photo by Amanda N Sherrington (CC BY 2.0) modified


    The Danforth

    My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)

    Danforth Avenue is the heart of the Greek community in Toronto. Commonly known simply as “The Danforth”, it runs from the Broadview metro station to the suburb of Scarborough, where it splits away to become Danforth Road. It’s a colourful neighbourhood with lots of great local restaurants. There’s even an annual food festival in August – Taste of the Danforth – where you can try great Thai, Chinese, Indian, Brazilian and, of course, Greek food.

    Despite being set in Chicago, much of the filming of 2002’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding was done in Toronto – unsurprisingly, in Greektown and along the Danforth. Take a walk around and see if you can spot the settings of some of the street shots.

    Location: Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON, Canada


    Casa Loma

    X-Men (2000), The Tuxedo (2002) and The Pacifier (2005)

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    Despite being built between 1911 and 1914, Casa Loma has the look of an 18th-century Gothic Revival castle. It was originally an ostentatious show of wealth, created by the man who built the first hydro-electric plant on the Niagara River. It’s now a museum, landmark and popular venue for wedding ceremonies, thanks to its beautiful 5-acre gardens, which are open from May to the end of October.

    Casa Loma has appeared in many films. Perhaps most notably, it played the part of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters in the 2000 movie X-Men, but the role was taken by Hatley Castle in Victoria, British Columbia for most of the franchise’s movies since then. Self-guided audio tours of the 98-room Casa Loma and its grounds are available in several languages. Entry costs about $30 for adults and $20 for kids.

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    Location: 1 Austin Terrace, Toronto, ON M5R 1X8, Canada

    Open: Daily from 9.30 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 416-923-1171


    Sherway Gardens

    Mean Girls (2004) and The Sentinel (2006)

    Sherway Gardens is a large shopping mall at the western end of the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke, close to Mississauga. Packed with about 200 stores and eateries, it specialises in fashion brands like Hudson’s Bay, Abercrombie & Fitch and H&M. It’s among the larger malls in the Greater Toronto Area, spanning about 110,000 sq metres, so be sure to bring some comfortable footwear for your shopping spree.

    It’s modern and quite elegant interior design saw Sherway Gardens play the part of the Westfield Old Orchard mall in Skokie, Illinois, USA in the 2004 movie Mean Girls. It was also the scene of the dramatic mall shootout in 2004’s The Sentinel.

    Location: 25 The West Mall, Etobicoke, ON M9C 1B8, Canada

    Open: Monday – Friday from 10 am to 9 pm, Saturdays from 9.30 am to 9 pm, Sundays from 11 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +1 416-621-1070


    photo by Jeff Hitchcock (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Port Hope

    It (2017)

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    Port Hope isn’t really in Toronto. In fact, it’s about an hour’s drive away, 100 km east along the shores of Lake Ontario. However, it’s a really beautiful rural town, with regular farmers’ markets, many historical buildings, a yacht club, a golf club and good fishing in the Ganaraska River, which flows right through the middle of town. That distinctive historical look was used to great effect in the filming of the 2017 blockbuster It. Port Hope played the part of Stephen King’s fiction American town of Derry, Maine. You can reach Port Hope by train from Toronto.


    photo by XeresNelro (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Morningside Park

    The Incredible Hulk (2008)

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    Morningside Park, in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough, is the area’s largest municipal park, spanning 241.46 hectares. While there are some big grassy areas where you can kick a ball about, have a picnic or play in the playground, the more attractive part of the park is the natural bit. Here, the Highland Creek runs through a beautiful forest on its way towards Colonel Danforth Park and, eventually, Lake Ontario. Towards the end of autumn, you can see the salmon run up the creek towards their spawn sites. Take a look around the forested part of Morningside Park and you might recognise some of the scenery from the 2008 movie The Incredible Hulk, in which Edward Norton played Bruce Banner.

    Location: 390 Morningside Ave, Scarborough, ON M1C 1B9, Canada

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +1 416-338-4386


    photo by Jeff Hitchcock (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Metro Toronto Convention Centre

    Total Recall (2012)

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    The Metro Toronto Convention Centre is an expensive expo space near the CN Tower. It regularly hosts major conferences, summits, concerts and events in its 2 ballrooms and 64 meeting rooms, with a total space of 56,000 sq metres available. Despite having been built in the ‘80s, the building is still quite futuristic in design, to the extent that its south entrance played a part in the 2012 remake of the cult sci-fi classic movie Total Recall, which is set towards the end of the 21st century. The Metro Toronto Convention Centre is very conveniently located right next to Union Station, in the heart of Downtown Toronto.

    Location: 255 Front St W, Toronto, ON M5V 2W6, Canada

    Phone: +1 416-585-8000


    Hearn Generating Station

    RED (2010), Pacific Rim (2013) and Robocop (2014)

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    How many movies and TV shows can you name which involve a scene set it an abandoned factory? Dozens, right? Well, a fair few were shot at the old Hearn Generating Station, a former power station in the Port Lands district of Toronto. Although it’s not technically a tourist attraction, the site has been attracting urban explorers and photographers for years, and has also been used for several big parties and music festivals. If you are going to take a look at the building, be extremely careful as there have been accidents here.

    Location: 440 Unwin Ave, Toronto, ON M4M 3B9, Canada


    photo by Cameron Norman (CC BY 2.0) modified

    Ben Reeves | Compulsive Traveler

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