Private Eyes, they’re watching you

Matt Shade (Jason Priestley), left, and Angie Everett (Cindy Sampson) in the Beach on Balsam Avenue, in a scene from the show ‘Private Eyes.’

If you are watching Private Eyes (Thursday nights on Global), you may recognize the leafy streets of the Beach.  Jason Priestley stars as Matt Shade, a former pro hockey player who has lost all his money, but lives in one of those beautiful homes with the wrap-around balcony we all dream about. The vintage silver Porsche in the Balsam Avenue driveway is pretty special, too.

This popular summer series has Shade turning private investigator with boss/partner Angie Everett (Cindy Sampson) in solving crimes around Toronto. Shade is no Sherlock Holmes, but he gets by on his charm – or so he thinks. If the premise seems familiar, the show entertains with all the usual witty banter, bickering and romantic tension of the genre (see: Castle, Republic of Doyle, Moonlighting).

Private Eyes has a real sense of place, showcasing Toronto. Our fair city never looked so good!

The show doesn’t present a generic big city. This is the Toronto we know. Watch for the recurring motif of streetcars rolling along Queen Street East.

“Streetcars everywhere,” quips Sampson, “CN Tower. We’re celebrating Toronto and all its glory.”

There is even a Maple Leaf joke and a cameo from Doug Gilmour.

Priestley told Global News, “We’re shooting Toronto for Toronto which is great. It’s a very international, multicultural, vibrant city. So why not celebrate it?”

Each episode features a different side of the city or a unique place like the Toronto Islands, but always comes back to Shade’s stately Beach home or the P.I. office on Queen Street East in Leslieville.

Jason Priestley is shown on location in the Beach alongside a car that might just occasionally steal the show. ‘Private Eyes’ is not the only production taking advantage of the East End to film, according to film columnist Bernie Fletcher.
Jason Priestley is shown on location in the Beach alongside a car that might just occasionally steal the show. ‘Private Eyes’ is not the only production taking advantage of the East End to film, according to film columnist Bernie Fletcher.

Location managers can turn a lovely place into a sinister horror on shows like American Gothic, Hannibal or the new film It. While Toronto looks glamorous and bright in Private Eyes, director/producer Guillermo del Toro needed “dark, isolated, haunted and terrifying” for the vampire virus TV series The Strain that recently filmed scenes on Eastern Avenue and at Ashbridges Bay (where zombies chased Sarah Polley and a boat blew up in 2004’s Dawn of the Dead remake).

Television production is booming in Toronto thanks to our low dollar, tax credits, abundant studio space, experienced local crews and talented actors as well as diverse locations like the Scarborough Bluffs, where Gangland Undercover has been filming with Beach resident Melanie Scrofano (who also stars as Wyonna Earp out west). Who has time to watch all these TV series?

Taken is a TV prequel to the Liam Neeson movie franchise about an ex-spy with “a very particular set of skills.” There is one famous “spy” living in our midst. Shhh! Don’t tell anyone, we wouldn’t want to give away his identity, but a certain “Bourne”-again actor has been living quietly on one of those lovely Beach streets with a tree name. “How do you like them apples?” (Jason Bourne opens July 29.) He’s been here shooting Downsizing for the last couple of months, but forget his name, you didn’t hear it from me. They may be watching us!

Are you a smooth talker? Do you have what it takes to be a P.I.? A Jim Rockford or a Jessica Fletcher? Take the tongue-in-cheek Private Eyes quiz. Here’s a sample question:

  • What’s the best P.I. accessory?
  1. a) trench coat; b) Groucho glasses; c) deerstalker hat; d) killer smile.

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18 comments

did I see wimpys hamburger on the show at kennedy and st clair it look like it to me and driving by the pine hill cemetery

Shade (Jason Priestley) drives a vintage 1969 Porsche 911S on the series which was filmed mostly in the east end of Toronto. One episode was all about the Beach area with a few “Beach” jokes thrown in for laughs: “How can you not love the Beach?” And yes, that probably was somewhere in Scarborough that Darren saw whizzing by in the background in one episode .

Where is the diner located that Shades father works at? It reminds me of The Goof at at Queen and Lee.

The “Red Bird” diner in Private Eyes is actually Sauvignon on Queen St. E. at Rainsford. Sorry I didn’t see your letter sooner.

Tough questions. Does anyone know where the police station is in “Private Eyes”? Does anyone know what kind of car Angie drives? Modern SUVs tend to look alike to me. I’ll take the vintage 1969 Porsche 911S that Matt Shade drives.

Sharp “Eyes” Stan, yes, that beautiful “Matt Shade” home is on Balsam Ave. The homeowner told me she went downstairs in her bathrobe one morning and there was Jason Priestley offering her a coffee. Priestley cast quite a “Shadow”. Watch out for that vintage Porsche. My guess is Angie drives a Toyota SUV.

So, does that mean the Shade house exterior and the inside of the house don’t actually belong to the same place? Oh, wow! What “trickery!? What about the PI office?
Thanks for the info!!

The popular Global show “Private Eyes” will return for Season 5 with 8 episodes this year. The office of Everett & Shade Private Investigations is at 1144 Queen St. E. near Jones Ave. in Leslieville. The beautiful home on Balsam Ave. is used for the Shade exteriors, but productions often re-create interiors on a sound stage… the magic of television. The “Red Bird” diner is actually Sauvignon on Queen St. E. at Rainsford Ave.

Thanks for your question, Shelagh. According to toronto.com Jason P. was filming in Schomberg last Oct. 28. Cindy Sampson described the filming as a country episode which also filmed at Black Creek Pioneer Village. That sounds like the episode “Angie Get Your Gun”. In 1885 Annie Oakley actually performed at the old Woodbine Race Course with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

My whole family loves Private Eyes, a Canadian show with mostly real Toronto shots! However, we are sad to hear this is the final season, but we’ve heard no reason for the shows demise. Can anyone enlighten us?!

It’s a mystery why the show is ending. Thursday is the final episode and apparently it ends on another cliffhanger. “Private Eyes” is the most-watched scripted, original series in Canada with over a million viewers a week. Global pulled the plug saying the producers wanted the show to “go out on top”. That makes no sense. Jason Priestley has said he is open to revisiting the character. Who knows? “Murdoch Mysteries” was cancelled after 5 seasons, the CBC picked it up and the rest is history.

We lived in this house 62 Balsam ave 1964 my family emigrated from Scotland ..I got married from this house and loved living there great memories of the Beaches .

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