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Updated: Nov 15, 2023

A Deep Dive into Scott Pilgrim's Movie and Comic Locations

It’s no secret that the widely popular comic book series Scott Pilgrim (by Bryan Lee O’Malley) and its film adaptation (dir. Edward Wright) are proudly based in Toronto, Ontario. With the material being made into a new animated show featuring the original cast, let’s revisit some popular Scott Pilgrim x Toronto locations, from page and screen.

Upon release, the Scott Pilgrim movie was faced with a problem. Its setting and subject of Canadian Indie Rock were super niche. Who would care to see this 'too Canadian' movie in theatres? Scott Pilgrim's cinematic release didn't even break even for production costs, but over time Scott has solidified as a Canadian cult classic.

Toronto often becomes shy on screen, with the CN Tower edited out of the landscape shots. Despite Toronto becoming a Canadian focal point, buffed by the film industry boom which has seen Toronto frequently cast for its ambiguity, playing the background city for TV shows like The Boys and DC Heroes. Toronto street signs, blue and white, are induced with green and our orange and green cabs become the classic yellow-black combination in an attempt to mirror N.Y.C. Again, Toronto is obscured.

Toronto is frequently accused of having no true identity. This is often based on one of two factors: Toronto’s multiculturalism fails to produce a distinct Toronto-nian identity or Toronto, is too young of a place to have developed its own ‘oomph’ factor. Surface level takes, IMO. Toronto has a rich history and a unique personality, if you care to look.

Obscuration of Toronto was not the task of Scott Pilgrim's author, Bryan Lee O’Malley who sets Scott Pilgrim smack in the middle of 2010’s Toronto, with the characters running up and down and around Bathurst Street. O’Malley proudly displays Toronto in all its real-ness, going so far as to detail the exact buses and streetcars the protagonist takes on his journeys. Re-reading the comic book series, and being a resident of Toronto (specifically the Clair-hurst area), I could pinpoint just how much has changed.

As a rapidly developing city, and after being hit by the COVID-19 pandemic which altered many local businesses, many of the film’s (and comic’s) iconic locations have been altered or entirely shut down. So, in honour of memorializing an older Toronto and celebrating the return of Scott Pilgrim, I took to the streets (and Google Maps) to demonstrate the changing city.

First Up-- Honest Eds

Featured in the film only in the background, Honest Ed’s plays a larger role in the comic book. Scott and Todd (one of Ramona’s seven evil exes and Envy Adams's super-vegan boyfriend) face off in a challenge of endurance and stamina for great deals.

Honest Ed’s is a site of sensory overload, with its screaming bargains and disruptive layout. Yet, Ed’s is no more. The two-story landmark at Bloor and Bathurst has been bulldozed in favour of a condominium, the destruction aided by Todd’s explosive vegan-psychic powers.

Ed’s can also be seen in the film The Long Kiss Goodnight and in Side of Smooth’s (featuring famous Canadian Nathan Felder) music video.

The new condominium now towers over the intersection, a mark of black and white plaster change. A few residents and business owners held out against the wave of progress, and their buildings have been consumed by the new structure.

Some smaller properties consumed by the condo monolith

Right across the street, Pizza Pizza

After a comic-book battle, what’s better than the most low-tier pizza Toronto has to offer? Across from Honest Ed’s, on the northwest side of the Bloor-Bathurst intersection, is the famous Scott Pilgrim Pizza Pizza. Recently, the location was repainted in accordance with Pizza Pizza’s new, sleek aesthetic leaving behind what was portrayed on page and screen.

And, diagonally across from Pizza Pizza on the southeast corner is where the phone booth where Knives surprises Scott used to be -- but is no more, because phone booths are ancient relics.

Steps away, Lees Palace

Another Toronto dive bar has been immortalized through the Scott Pilgrim treatment. The colourful exterior and dim interior still stand proud, now joined by an addition of a Bombay Roti in the front.

A few blocks down is Sneaky Dees...

If Sneaky Dee’s gets bulldozed in favour of cardboard costly condos, Toronto will have riots in the streets. Thankfully, this is not the case. Though not featured in the screen version of Scott Pilgrim, O’Malley’s comic displays Scott and his friends repeatedly gathering for good food and cheap drinks.

Sneaky Dee's has remained unscathed, as well as the intersection surrounding the dive bar (College and Bathurst). Sneaky Dee's also hosts Friday night emo nights and a plethora of other events. Check out their Instagram for more information: @thesneakydees

Over by Spadina, Sonic Boom

The location captured on screen is no more, but Sonic Boom still remains a premiere Toronto music store just at the bottom of Kensington. For all your band tees, vinyl, and CD needs (Plum Tree and Broken Social Scene preferred, in honour of Toronto and Scott Pilgrim) pay a visit to this Toronto institution.

Moving uptown, Scott and Wallace’s Apartment

See that little door? That’s where the magic happens. Movie magic transformed this storage space (that tiny wood door) into Scott and Wallace’s lovely home.

O Malley cleverly disguised the real street name by dropping the 'a' in 65 Alberta Ave, the comic location identifying as 65 Albert Ave.

A six-minute walk from there, Stacey’s Second Cup

“It’s called a job, Scott.”

Stacey’s Second Cup's comic book location is right at the Bathurst and St Clair intersection. The film went with a more downtown location, by Queen Street. Both Second Cups have closed, with the Queen Street location becoming an Aroma Espresso Bar and the St Clair location becoming my optometrist’s office. Nice!

A few stores down, Goodwill

The Goodwill, pictured above, where Knives buys her beautiful green jacket has been replaced by Hone Fitness (memberships start at $16.95 bi-weekly -- unlimited tanning included!). At the time when Scott and Knives would have been on their date, the 512 street-car line was still not fully complete -- which is the construction in the middle of the street.

Hillcrest Park

"Well it's certainly chilled here ... chilled as in cold."

One of Toronto’s most romantic public parks. Scott and Ramona come here to overlook outstanding Toronto views, with the glistening city skyline below. Google Maps does not do this location justice and I urge Torontonians to take their Tinder dates here. Fun fact: Hillcrest overlooks Davenport Road, which is actually where Lake Iroquois (Lake Ontario's super-sized predecessor) use to come up to.

Which Wood? Wychwood Barns

"Honey, I'm a little bi-furious!"

Steps away from Hillcrest Park is Wychwood Barns, which used to house Toronto Streetcars, but now offers a wonderful mixed-use space. There is a theatre, a dog-park, a human-park, and a local garden. The Barns hosts a farmers market on Saturdays, which is a great time to check out the inside of the Barns and where the Ramona vs. Roxy girl-on-girl fight went down.

Toronto Public Library - Wychwood Branch

The library has recently undergone some shiny new renovations, but rollerskates are still allowed inside (provided you’re a manic pixie Amazon delivery girl). The comic book series also featured another Toronto Library, the Toronto Reference Library which resides at 789 Yonge Street. Here, Ramona and Knives engage in a battle that was left out of the film.

St. Mikes

Just down the street from the Wychwood Library is St. Mikes College School, which was disguised as Knive's co-ed catholic school. The St. Clair West and Bathurst Intersection has changed since the movie was shot, with a brand new high-rise building on the corner and one more on its way.

Casa Loma

It’s hard to bulldoze a castle, so Casa Loma has survived the test of time. Casa Loma, as seen in the Scott Pilgrim movie, is a frequently shot spot and you can often see various productions going on.

The Baldwin Steps, just behind the castle, have also survived unscathed. If you're ever in Toronto and need a 2-for-1 Scott Pilgrim satisfier, Casa Loma is primo. In fact, most of the locations in this article are within walking distance from each other if you're ever in the mood to see the Scott-ly sights.

Lees Palace

Another Toronto dive bar has been immortalized through the Scott Pilgrim treatment. The colourful exterior and dim interior still stand proud, now joined by an addition of a Bombay Roti in the front.

Speed Run: Assorted Down Town Locations

The Distillery District housed a few movie locations, such as the exterior of Gideon's Club. There are also the waterfront condos from the comic series, where Scott and crew would attend many parties. Studio locations used also included Cinescape Film Studios and Pinewood Toronto Studios.

Tour Concluded.

Reading the books, watching the movie, and anticipating what the upcoming series will feature, I am super pleased that Toronto is portrayed in all its depth. The Scott Pilgrim series features many popular locations that have survived the test of time, and even the ones lost to progress are iconic in their own right.

This is a call to all artists to work with the spaces around them and to focus on their own communities. Toronto catches a lot of flack -- a lot of it rightfully so, traffic, cost of living, crowded, etc. etc. -- but there is such a rich city to be explored if you care to look. And, a lot of that city (the 2008 version) was captured by O'Malley. Today's artists are left with the task of capturing and immortalizing the Toronto of today.

If you are interested in this topic of Scott Pilgrim x Toronto and want to read/learn more, here are some cool links:

This Flickr board captures and compares the comic to Toronto '09:

And here's a cool article about the filming process and about capturing Toronto:

Thanks for reading and thanks to Google Maps for the images.

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