C David Johnson is most widely recognized for his role as Chuck Tchobanian on CBC’s long-running drama Street Legal. But his greatest body of work has been in Canadian theatre, where he has graced stages across the country for the past 30 years, including Soulpepper in Toronto, the Stratford Festival and the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. And, wherever a job takes him, the 55-year-old actor generally sits behind the wheel of his black 2005 Honda Element to get there.
“When I’m acting in theatres in various places around the country, I prefer, if I can, to drive there. I like the road trip,” says the Toronto-based father of two. In fact, this summer, Johnson and his ex-wife are heading to Wolfville, N.S., where they’ll be performing in Love Letters.
“We’re thinking about driving down and taking out kids with us,” he explains.
“We’re hoping that at the age of 19 and 21, they’re not going to sit in the back and go, ‘When are we going to get there.’ We hope they’re past that stage.”
Having driven a Chevy Suburban for years, Johnson decided to get a new car four years ago that wasn’t a gas guzzler, but still offered lots of room to transport his fishing equipment and kayak and a durable interior.
An avid outdoorsman, who admits he has no penchant for luxury cars, Johnson praises his “fishin’ machine,” as he affectionately refers to his Honda, with getting him through a few sticky situations, namely last spring, when the road to a friend’s trout camp in Quebec was flooded by beaver dams.
“Although it’s a four-wheel drive, it doesn’t have a lot of clearance,” he explains of his car that offers the room of an SUV but drives more like a Civic. “It’s not meant for off-road work. But I was pushing water up to my headlights, going across this stream. She got through with no problems and didn’t even stall.”
Come October, Johnson will be making the trip to St. Jacobs, Ont., where he’ll be starring in The Heiress. “That’s going to be a bit of a road trip every day,” he says. “Hopefully I’ll be going against traffic!”
– Heather Buchan is a Toronto-based journalist whohas worked at several magazines including Hello! Canada, where she cut her teeth in the world of celebrities.