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This week, he loves the ROM

Julian Richings

Julian Richings


Queen Street West is the stage British-born actor Julian Richings has loved since moving here in 1984. Richings, a star of the upcoming production of Noble Parasites, spoke to Philip Alves about life in West Queen West and downtown.

PARKDALE DAYS It hasn’t completely gentrified and become homogeneous, so it has its own character, it has its own edge. It has the most fantastic houses in the city. It’s a great neighbourhood.

SLAUGHTERHOUSES Maple Leaf Gardens is a fantastic place. The ACC fulfills certain criteria, and again that’s part of modernization. I love the Gardens as a building, as an ambience and as a historical place. Also the place opposite Citytv, which is now kind of a market. It was called Stork and Sons slaughterhouse. It’s now got a bunch of fast-food outlets in there. When I first came to Toronto I was amazed that they would have live pigeons and birds and they would slaughter them there.

SWAN SONG One of my favourite places is the Swan [892 Queen St. W.]. It’s in exactly the same condition as it was in the 1950s. The owners, they’ve not messed with it at all. And daily specials that bring you in but also a good, reasonable lunch menu that keeps me going back (their Reuben sandwich is great). Whether it’s for an anniversary or a birthday, or whether it’s just to have a late-night drink, the Swan’s a great place.

THE ROM DEBATE I actually really like the ROM. We have an ongoing discussion about whether we like it or whether we hate it. And it changes from week to week as we see it change and go up. I think that’s fine. It’s provocative architecture and it’s bold. I think that’s the way it should be. And the Opera House, it’s a different thing. It’s a much more formal, classical, sort of established place on University. I like that, too.

MINDING PINTS AND QUARTS For actors working at the Factory Theatre, or at Theatre Passe Muraille, even at some of the theatre spaces farther east – a lot of people gravitate toward the Epicure. It’s kind of weird because it’s moved four stores down. It’s now the mirror image of what it used to be. The bar was on one side and now you go in and it’s completely on the other side, and you’re trying to figure out what’s different, but the whole decor is exactly the same. It’s one of those strange experiences.

EVENING WEAR There’s a place right next to the Spin Gallery that’s got retro clothing and it seems to open at 10 o’clock at night. So I’m going home and then I suddenly realize this place with all these cool retro clothes that’s been closed every time I’ve walked to work, on my way home, is open.

Noble Parasites runs from April 5 to 29 at Theatre Passe Muraille, 16 Ryerson Ave. Tickets start at $15 and are available from the Arts Box Office at 416-504-7529 or Visit for more information.

National Post
Saturday, March 31, 2007
Page: TO3
Section: Toronto: The City
Byline: Philip Alves
Column: My Toronto