The Queen/Saulter branch of the Toronto Public Library (that is to say, the branch at the corner of Queen Street East and Saulter Street) was the filming location for the exterior views of the 96th Precinct police station during the second and third seasons of Forever Knight.
For the purposes of exterior filming, the north end of Saulter (alongside the building) was treated as a broad laneway leading to a parking lot. This was created south of the building simply by positioning cars on both sides of Saulter to give the visual impression of a parking lot. Interior scenes were filmed on a set on the soundstage, particularly a large set comprising connected rooms representing the squad room, interview rooms, and offices.
Where is the 96th Precinct?Edit
In Black Buddha Pt. 1, when Tracy told Vachon to drive her to the police station, the directions she gave him were to "Queen and Spadina". From this, the 96th Precinct police station is usually taken to be located at the intersection of Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue. However, the public library that was used as the location site for filming the exterior of the station is at Queen and Saulter—Queen Street East, not Queen Street West. Although it is indeed the Queen streetcar that runs in front of the building, this is not one of those situations where the location of the film site can be used directly to identify the address of the fictional building.
Exterior views of the station clearly indicate that it cannot be at the intersection of two main streets. On one side there are buildings, and on the other side the laneway to the parking lot. Therefore, the police station cannot actually be at the intersection of Queen and Spadina. Tracy must just have been giving Vachon directions to the nearest main intersection.
So, is the station east or west of Spadina? Actually, there is a possible clue. Given the frequency with which we see Nick turning west onto Bloor Street at Honest Ed's (a gaudily lit store at the corner of Bloor and Bathurst Streets), the station is probably somewhere west of the Queen and Spadina intersection, between Spadina and Bathurst. If the station were east of Spadina, it would make more sense for Nick to cut north to Bloor via Spadina, rather than Bathurst; but this is not the route we normally see him use. If the station is west of Spadina, on the other hand, it would be very reasonable for Nick to continue west on Queen to Bathurst, drive north on Bathurst to Bloor, and then turn west onto Bloor when he needs to drive to somewhere in the western part of the central city area.
The 96th Precinct is located, therefore, somewhere on Queen Street West between Spadina Avenue and Bathurst Street.
The Front of the Police StationEdit
The Queen/Saulter branch of the library has a classical façade on two sides: one fronts on Queen Street East and the other on Saulter. Each has several large windows that are separated by columns.
The main entrance is on the corner of the library, i.e. at the intersection of Queen and Saulter. For the police station, therefore, this means that the main entrance is right by the broad drive leading to the parking lot. Structurally, it is quite impressive, with a short flight of stone steps underneath an arched canopy set into the façade. Above the entrance, near the roof, there is a public clock.
In establishing shots, police officers are sometimes seen coming and going by this entrance. In particular, when the station had to be evacuated in Black Buddha Pt. 1 because of the threat of Vudu's bomb, it was this route that Captain Reese took to leave the building. On these steps, he was met by Natalie, who was frantic with worry about Nick, who had stayed inside with the bomb. Reese and Natalie then retreated across the street to a safe distance.The main entrance to the library corresponds on the interior set to the stairway entrance at the front of the squad room from which visitors go to the front desk.
On the sidewalk outside the main entrance of the police station, there is a large, illuminated sign reading "96th Precinct Metropolitan Police". There is also an official Community Watch billboard, with a large map occupying the left side, and a number of notices posted on the right.
The Rear of the Police StationEdit
There are two further entrances to the public library. One is a side door onto Saulter at the far end of the building and the other is a rear entrance just around the corner, about ten feet along the back of the building by a narrow concrete path.
The architectural style at the back of the library is decidedly utilitarian: dirty brick, with much smaller windows which have grilles over them on the ground floor level. Basement windows are clearly visible.
Both of the rear entrances to the library were used in the course of filming one or more episodes of Forever Knight. The side rear entrance became the route to the parking lot that was created on Saulter just to the south of the library. The back entrance became the route from the holding cells to a paddy wagon parked by the corner of the building.
Side Rear DoorEdit
This door is much less impressive than the main entrance: just a single door up a short flight of steps with an iron railing. Like the main entrance, it is marked with an illuminated sign for the police station. The door itself, however, is clearly marked as "No Entry", with "Police Personnel Only" underneath.
On the set for the interior of the police station, this entrance corresponds to the exit at the far left of the squad room as you face the back of the room. In filming, actors coming onto the set from this direction are often shown wearing overcoats. Presumably, they have just come into the station by the rear of the building, probably from the parking lot.
When a prisoner is taken from the holding cells to be transported elsewhere, whether to court or jail, the back exit is used. This is at the rear of the building, partway along the rear wall. Just around the corner are the steps up to the parking lot entrance used by the police officers when they go to their cars.
There are several signs posted on the back wall of the police station.
- A dark sign on the wall between the windows prohibits unauthorized parking.
- A red and white sign designates the parking spot nearest the station as being for the captain's car.
- A small white sign says "Police Vehicles Only".
- A larger sign further on, high up, says something about parking, though it's not possible to make out the fine print at the bottom.
- The polygonal sign at the corner states that this area is private parking, with one car maximum permitted.
The polygonal sign is the only one still remaining on the building today. The others were presumably used to dress the set as a police station.
It is at this corner of the building that the paddy wagon was parked in Killer Instinct, when Nick was framed for murder. He was brought down the steps from the back door, and then walked along the back wall to the corner where the paddy wagon was parked. Once he was loaded into the van, it turned out and went left around the corner, and then drove up the laneway (i.e. Saulter) to Queen Street.
On the set for the interior of the police station, the likeliest correspondence for this entrance is the central rear exit. Actors coming onto the set this way are often seen wearing overcoats. More significantly, that is the route taken by uniformed police officers taking prisoners to and from interrogation—which is to say, up from or back down to the holding cells. The set for the holding cells is clearly supposed to be in the basement of the station. Presumably, besides a stair leading up to the squad room, the holding cells also have an exit at the rear of the building so that prisoners can be taken out for transportation elsewhere.
Beyond the building, Saulter was dressed with parked cars to represent the parking lot of the 96th Precinct police station. In various episodes, uniformed officers are seen leaving the building, heading for squad cars. The personal cars of the detectives are also parked here. In particular, in Hunted, it was here that Schanke was drugged and kidnapped, and a taped message left for Nick to find in his Cadillac.Whereas the paddy wagon in Killer Instinct turns left up Saulter, the parking lot is to the right. When the street was dressed for filming, it was narrowed to one central lane by cars parked on either side. Nick normally parks the Caddy on the outer side of the parking lot; and his partner's car is parked close by.
Set in the asphalt of the street near to the curb next to the library, there is a manhole cover leading down into the sewers. In Hunted, when Nick had to go and rescue his partner in daytime, this was the route he was forced to take to get to the location where Schanke was being held.