Toronto’s old movie theatres—the Kingsway Theatre on Bloor West

27 Dec


The Kingsway Theatre at 3030 Bloor Street West is in the attractive Kingsway Village, a short distance west of Royal York Road and the Royal York subway station. It is an ideal location, as the street in front of the theatre has much vehicle and pedestrian traffic. The community is fortunate that this historic theatre has survived for over seventy years. However, its survival has not occurred without considerable effort on the part of its present-day owner, Rui Pereira. And best of all, the theatre features first-run films, as opposed to screening movies that are readily available on DVDs or other electronic formats.

The 700-seat Kingsway Theatre opened its doors in 1939, the year the Second World War commenced. Its facade contains elements of Art Deco, particularly evident in the parapet that rises above the simple cornice at the top of the building. Near the mid-way point of the facade, there is a horizontal row of cut stone (it’s possible it is concrete), which has been inserted into an otherwise plain, yellow-brick facade. The pilasters (fake columns) constructed from bricks, ascend from above the marquee to the roof line, and are capped in the same material as the parapet. The impressive marquee is positioned flat against the facade. The theatre originally had an enormous marquee, triangular in shape, which covered most of the facade. I have been unable to discover when the present-day sign was added or when the marquee was changed to one that possesses curved lines.

In 1954, the Kingsway’s theatre license was transferred to Twinex Century Theatre Company. In this year, the staff consisted of a manager, two ushers, a doorman, a matron (required by law) and three candy girls. The theatre was taken over by the Festival Chain of theatres, which also owned the Fox, Revue, and the Royal. This company folded in 2006, and the Kingsway remained vacant for two and a half years. It was purchased  by Rui Periera, who renovated the old theatre. Carpets were replaced, seats reupholstered and the washrooms refurbished. The front doors were replaced and a new candy bar installed. Several letters in the large neon sign on the theatre’s facade were repaired as they were broken. The theatre reopened on January 2, 2009. 

To attend the Kingsway Theatre today is to experience a piece of living history, harkening back to the days when local theatres were the centre of entertainment in communities throughout Toronto. People walked to them, visiting at least once a week and sometimes several times. It was the glorious era of the silver screen, an age when you chatted with your neighbours and made friends at the local cinema.

f1257_s1057_it7997[1] The Kingsway

The section of Bloor West where the Kingsway Theatre is located, c. 1960. The large marquee is triangular in shape and covers most of the facade. It would appear that the letters were removed from the top of the marquee in the photo and placed on the marquee that exists today (2014). Photo, City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, S 1057, It. 799.


The marquee that is flat against the wall, situated above the curved canopy above the entrance of the Kingsway Theatre. (Photo, July, 2013)


            A section of the parapet on the roof of the theatre.


                          The box office of the Kingsway


                            The theatre’s lobby, July 2013


                               The candy bar of the Kingsway


           The Kingsway Theatre in the picturesque Kingsway Village

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Posted by on December 27, 2013 in Toronto


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