Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Police Academy

During my trips to Toronto, I've visited almost every shooting location from the original Police Academy movie.  You can click on the photos to enlarge them.

Steve Guttenburg stars as Mahoney, a fun-loving, but mischievous rascal who starts out working as a parking attendant before being arrested and forced to join the police academy in lieu of a prison sentence.

The parking lot in which Mahoney creatively squeezed in the customer's car was located at Simcoe and Wellington in downtown Toronto, right next to the Roy Thomson Hall, but it's no longer there. Instead it's the 43-storey RBC Centre.

In order to deal with declining interest in police recruitment, the mayor of the movie's unnamed city declares that EVERYONE is now permitted join the police academy, resulting in the ragtag group of misfits who endearingly wreaks havoc and high jinks throughout the film.

One of those recruits is Leslie Barbara, the man with two female names, played by Donovan Scott.

Barbara's Fotofast kiosk was located in a shopping plaza in Riverdale, near Gerrard and Pape, right in the heart of many vintage Degrassi locations.

For reasons unexplained, Barbara is harassed by a group of random guys, which will eventually lead him to join the academy.

The Goodyear store is still there, though it's now called "Goodyear Select."

The Pape Street pedestrian bridge seen peeking over the top of the plaza played a significant role in an episode of The Kids of Degrassi Street.


The hoodlums get off their truck to terrorize the helpless Barbara.

Though blocked by the truck in the film, the CN Tower can be clearly seen from here.

Barbara, photobooth and all, are loaded onto the guy's truckbed and taken to a bridge where they toss him into the water. For no reason.

The bridge is on Cherry Street, right near Polson Pier. The bridge is made of metal and the entire thing shakes violently whenever a vehicle drives over it. As I was leaning over the rail to get this shot, a huge truck drove by and I nearly dropped my camera into Lake Ontario!

The next recruit we meet is Douglas Fackler, whose wife is very adamant that he's not joining the police academy.

The Fackler house is located in Etobicoke and is still very recognizable today. It was seen again in Police Academy 3.

Fackler takes off anyway in his car down the road, losing his hubcap and nearly colliding with another driver.

I'm not sure what the pylons were there for when I was there. I might come back in the spring or summer to get some snowless pics.

This location was a bitch to find, but I was quite excited when I eventually discovered it. I've since been by there a couple of times but never came across any domestic disputes.

Other than the missing canopy and a different porch light, the front of the house is almost exactly the same as it was nearly thirty years ago. Both the inside and screen doors appear to be the same ones. And it looks like the address numbers and the plant hook have remained the same, too, as have the railings.

Mrs. Fackler has no choice but to hop over several backyard fences and through pools to head her husband off.

This neighbourhood had TONS of people walking about the morning I was here. It was very, very strange.

Mrs. Fackler finally catches up with her husband and jumps in front of his car.

The snow had all melted in the rain a couple days before I took these pictures, so I was happy they were going to be clear, but then everything got dumped on again just before I got there.

Mrs. Fackler hops onto the hood of her husband's car to stop him from going to the academy. Naturally this doesn't work and he proceeds to drive the entire way there with her on top of the car.

Again, you can see the parade of people going for their morning walk. So weird.

One very interesting thing to notice is that the house on the right not only had an extension built onto it, but also a second floor! I didn't even know it was possible to add a second floor to a house without tearing it down and starting from scratch.


Enter the lovely Kim Catrall as Karen Thompson. She's enlisted at the academy to meet interesting people. Looking out the window, she sees some crazy woman clinging to the hood of a car, speeding down the highway.

The highway in question is the QEW, just before it turns into the Gardiner. The Dixie Road overpass can be seen in the background of the shot. The road Thompson and her mother are driving on is actually the South Service Road.

Fortunately for the residents of the area, but unfortunately for me, they've since put up a sound barrier wall between the service road and the highway, so it's not possible to recreate the scene very accurately.

Finally the new cadets arrive at the Police Academy!

This was filmed at the Humber College campus, the same location as Oktoberfest in Strange Brew.

The same circular lawn seen in Strange Brew.

Plain and boring now.

This place was originally opened in 1890 as the Mimico Lunatic Asylum, but closed down in 1979. Until it was acquired by Humber College in 1991, it remained abandoned and deteriorating, mainly used as a site for film making.

The main building which houses Commandant Lassard's office is the former hospital's Administration Building, or Building G, which for some reason has yet to ever be fully renovated by Humber.

As a way to try to get kicked out of the academy, Mahoney plays a prank on Barbara, telling him he needs to pick up his uniform in the house behind him. The house is actually the Commandant's house, where Barbara walks in on Mrs. Lassard in the shower. Derp!

In real life, the building is the Cumberland House, built in 1896, where the asylum's superintendent lived. It now houses the Jean Tweed Centre for women's substance abuse counseling.

Mahoney walks out of the bunkhouse.

The main entrance to the building has been extensively redone.

The bunkhouse at night in 1983.

The bunkhouse in the daytime in 2010. Other than the front entrance area and the bricked in main-level windows, it still looks pretty much the same as it did twenty-seven years ago.

Other than the "sound-effects guy" the most memorable part of the Police Academy series is probably the recurring trips to the Blue Oyster gay bar. Because homophobia is hilarious.

The interiors of the Blue Oyster were filmed at the Silver Dollar Room on Spadina, which has been open since 1958! I haven't taken any pictures from inside yet, but I hear the black and white checkered floor is still the same.

I'm unsure if the exteriors were used in the movie, since they look totally different. I even went around to the back door to see if that was the area they used in the movie, but it doesn't look familiar either.


Another shot of the bunk house at dawn as Cadet George Martin staggers from the women's building back to the men's after a wild night with Lt. Callahan.

It appears they were building something behind here, but I'm not sure what.

After a memorable and somewhat disturbing podium experience, Cmndt Lassard parks his golf cart... uh, in the bushes.

This entryway is really neat. It's too bad it's all boarded up and closed off. Much like it appeared in the movie Urban Legend.

Guttenberg being the shit.

The stairs are gone and the ground has been leveled off somewhat.

Terrified that he's going to fail the driving portion of his training, Hightower wakes Mahoney up in the middle of the night to get him to teach him how to drive.

Mahoney agrees: "Sleeping's for fags."


Appropriately enough, there's now some sort of truck driving business at this exact spot.

They steal Copeland's car, but Hightower has to make some "adjustments" to fit inside.

Mahoney: "Yeah, you're doing beautifully! You can even turn off the windshield wipers."


These scenes were filmed along Lake Shore Boulevard in Etobicoke.

Hightower approaches another car at the intersection.

The intersection is Lake Shore and Islington (aka Seventh Street).

Mahoney neglects to mention to step on the breaks, so Hightower crashes into the car in front of him. The driver of the car is Hugh Wilson, the director of the movie!

I had to wait forever to get a shot this clear without any cars.

Feeling the power and freedom of being behind the wheel, Hightower is soon racing and swerving around town.

Actually, just up and down a couple blocks of Lake Shore, not far from the police academy. Amazingly, this TNT boot store is still there.

The police soon give chase.

This car lot has been replaced with apartment buildings.

Hightower manages to evade the cops by causing them to smash into a pole. I'm sure they all laughed about it later once Mahoney and Hightower joined them on the police force.

There were people on the porch of the house seen here and I thought of mentioning to them that their house was in Police Academy. But then I realized that they were probably drug dealers, so I changed my mind.

The climax of the movie begins when Fackler inadvertently starts a riot with a carelessly tossed apple.

The dive bar they were parked outside of is a Domino's Pizza today. Still pretty divey, with the graffiti on the wall there.

Who threw that?

If I'd had an apple with me, I would've totally tried to start a riot. Maybe next time I'm there.

Fackler drives off, leaving behind a lot of confusion and fruit.

Dundas Street West in Toronto.

Someone mistakenly gets the wrong end of the stick and takes a tumble through the window!

I couldn't help but wonder if any of those people across the street would let me throw them through the window.


The people inside the restaurant eating pizza thought I was strange because I kept touching the glass, wondering how hard it would be to throw someone through it.

A chain reaction is set off which results in a pinball machine careening out of control in the middle of an intersection.

The intersection is about ten blocks east of the Domino's Pizza, on Dupont.

The pinball game hits the curb next to some sort of sidewalk junk sale.

The sale was long over by the time I arrived.

Somehow this signals that people should start looting.

Incredibly, the exact same variety store is there with the exact same sign. Also the street sign hasn't been changed and has now accumulated much rust over the decades.

A rogue pinball machine? That means free stuff!

See? Nothing left.

Since Lassard never forgets a number, he deploys the cadets to the wrong part of town to help with the riot.

Incidentally, there was no riot when *I* got there, either.

Bystanders watching the action. I've always suspected they were actual people watching a movie being filmed in front of their house.

If my suspicion about those being the real residents is true, I'd be curious to know if any of them still live there. It was too cold for them to be out gawking while I was there, however.

Off they go to find the riot.

The deployment area took me a while to find. Turns out it's tucked away on a little side street called Hook Avenue, just off Dundas. Presumably named after Cadet Hooks from the movie.

Mahoney and Jones survey the, um... quiet riot.

I didn't have a crane with me, so I wasn't able to get a shot even close to the one in the movie. These big transport trucks would become the bane of my existence that day.

Fackler is fascinated with all the lovely stores in Toronto.

Fackler has wandered quite a ways away to Lake Shore Boulevard, not far from the police academy location.

The door here is different, but I wonder if those are the same numbers stuck on it. The building in the reflection is still the same colour as it was in 1983.


Back on Hook Avenue, the real police arrive.

All of these pictures were taken in the winter because I didn't find this location until several months later.

"What are you doing here?"

"We're with the academy."

"You’re supposed to be blocks away. The riot’s right down the street!"


I might return to get snowless pictures some day.

While inexplicably helping a Japanese woman with her television, Cadet Martin explains that he's into all kinds of Japanese stuff like sushi and back rubs. "My car stereo? It’s a Sony."

The Global Cheese store is still there after all these years, but they've gotten a much bigger sign.

"My friend’s father was killed at Pearl Harbor.  Hey, maybe your family had something to do with it!"

Most of the stores in this area have changed completely.

"You know saki the wine? I know a place where they heat it up before they serve it!"

Uh oh! Here comes trouble!


The group of rioters coming at ME was a lot smaller, fortunately. And calmer.

Martin passes off the TV and starts running, as the mob takes chase.

This whole sequence of the movie was filmed in Kensington Market. Unfortunately, I arrived at delivery time, I guess, since all of these tiny one-way streets were crammed with giant transport trucks delivering goods to the stores. It was so tight with trucks that it was ridiculous.

Martin, Jones and Mahoney take refuge in Lassard's cruiser as the mob comes at them.

It was confusing and crowded enough maneuvering through the narrow crowded streets, I couldn't imagine ever DRIVING through Kensington. I had to wait and wait and wait to get shots like this that were relatively clear.

Seconds before the mob swarms the car.

Another clear shot I waited patiently for.

Jones saves the day by "shooting" at the crowd and Lassard speeds away around the corner...

... to the BUSIEST street in Kensington. I don't know how long it took them to film this part of the movie, but it must've been quite an ordeal to take over all of Kensington Market for the day.

Lassard does a wonderful job parking the cruiser. Even better than his golf cart.

How utterly amazing is it that there's "The Warriors" graffiti on that building? Too bad that movie was filmed in NYC, not Toronto.

Mahoney: "You should park cars for a living."

Given how much yelling was going on among the truck drivers that day, you would've thought they were parking the same way Lassard does.

The four of them abandon the cruiser and duck into an alley to avoid the rioters.

Words can't describe how much I absolutely love this Brit punk guy leaning against the wall. It's like he came right from the '80s himself.

Fackler stops in and gets himself a snazzy new suit.

I was tempted to stop in and look at their wares, but I was really antsy to get my pictures and get out of there. Too many people. And trucks.

The four of them run around the corner, but suddenly they're all the way down in Liberty Village!

Liberty Village has undergone a drastic change over the past couple decades, going from a faltering industrial centre to somewhat of an artist colony.

Some random evil bad guy has stolen Copeland and Blanks' guns and taken Harris hostage on the roof of an abandoned warehouse. In reality, the building was the Irwin Toy factory. Thompson takes cover behind a crate, unable to move.

Irwin Toys declared bankruptcy in 2003 and the building was extensively renovated and converted into lofts, appropriately called Toy Factory Lofts!

Across the street the others take cover behind a truck parked in front of the old Brunswick Factory, which produced materials for billiard tables, bowling alleys and bar fixtures.

While some of the building has been fixed up since the '80s, it still hasn't been painted in over 100 years since it was first built in 1905. Much of the original painted lettering can even be seen on the walls, now faded with age.

Mahoney reassures Cadet Thompson.

The Toy Factory is nearly unrecognizable after the renovations.  As a result, it took me quite a while to figure out where this was filmed.

Mahoney gets an idea and heads up to the roof to save the day.

Since the Toy Factory looks so drastically different, I was only able to concretely verify this location because the Brunswick Factory has hardly changed at all. The exact same faded bricks can still be seen today as they were when this movie was filmed.

Mahoney's plan doesn't work and he also becomes a rooftop hostage. Tackleberry and Barbara watch anxiously from down on Hanna Av.

Hanna Av. used to curve right around the Brunswick Factory, but the northern section has been extended out to a brand new Metro grocery store and this portion of the road has been named Snooker St., presumably because of the billiard factory.

Various crates of fruit and stuff were placed at this location to try to make it match up with the stuff filmed at Kensington Market.

The same number "2" can still be seen on the wall.

It isn't Mahoney who saved the day, but Hightower. After the disaster has been averted, Lassard confidently steps out, proud of his academy students.

The Brunswick Factory now houses a billiard restoration company called "The Academy of Spherical Arts" which has also become an upscale pool hall and restaurant. It was a total coincidence that the owner of this company discovered this building in his search for a business location.

Tackleberry is devastated that he and his gun weren't the ones to take down the bad guy.

The building on the other side of Snooker Street is the West Elm home furniture store. I'm not sure what was there prior to this, but it was presumably another factory of some sort.

Hopefully some day I'll get the locations from Police Academy 3 and 4 done, which were both also filmed in Toronto.


  1. Great work and really interesting to see.

  2. Wow, bravo! So thorough and in order from start to finish! Love seeing 80's Toronto. You did an amazing job!!

  3. great job, still cant believe that alot of the movie was filmed in the neighborhood where i used to live.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I like so much!!!! Great job!! Really interesting.

  6. Congratulations for your work !!! Some things never changed in so ,, many many " years. Comandant Lassard were using frequently these words :)

  7. Great to see all this, police academy was a movie I loved growing up

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  10. I used to live at 13 Hook Ave, which is shown where you say you might return to take snowless pictures one day. You got a nice shot of my landlord's Subaru! I had moved out the year before you took this, I believe.