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Monthly Archives: April 2012

St. Lawrence Market selected as world’s best by National Geographic

In a recent post, I extolled the virtues of the St. Lawrence Market. I was pleased to read in the newspaper that National  Geographic has selected the market as the best in the world.  In 2004, Food and Wine Magazine chose the market as being among the top 25 markets in the world. We have a real treasure in Toronto that has attracted world-wide attention.

To learn more about the market, follow the link: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/enjoying-torontos-architectural-gems-the-st-lawrence-market/

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Toronto

 

Enjoying Toronto’s architectural gems – the St. Lawrence Hall

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             The St. Lawrence Hall in 1890, Ontario Archives, 10021840(1)

Whether a person passes the St. Lawrence Hall on a streetcar, in an automobile, or simply walk to the market on Front Street, the building rarely fails to impress. It is one of the grandest historic structures in the city. The impetus for its construction began across the seas in Britain.

Following the coronation of Queen Victoria, the 1840s became an era when new ideas and a desire to create grand buildings seized the imagination of Britain. The attitude quickly spreading to various cities throughout the Empire. In 1849, in Toronto, a disastrous fire. Beginning in a frame building and stable on George Street, it swept along King Street and the surrounding area. It eventually destroyed almost 15 acres of shops and homes, annihilating a large portion of the city. At its heights, the flames were evident as far away as St. Catharines.

Because it destroyed much of the northern section of the St. Lawrence Market complex, built in 1831, the city realized that they must rebuild the red-brick building on its King Street side. In the spirit of the age, civic politicians decided to rebuild the entire square and include a grand concert hall at its north end.

They hired William Thomas to design the hall. Born in Gloucestershire, England, he trained as an architect and engineer. Shortly after completing his education, he immigrated to Canada with his wife and ten children. In Toronto, he designed St. Michael’s Cathedral and Bishop’s Palace in 1845. In future years, he would create the plans for the Brock Monument at Queenston Heights. However, many consider the St. Lawrence Hall his greatest achievement. It is one of the finest examples of Victorian classicism in Canada.

Thomas was influenced by the Italian Renaissance style. When the Hall was officially opened in 1851, it was admired for its elegance. Its ornate facade was crowned by a cupola that resembled a Roman temple. It contained clocks that faced the four points of the compass. At the front of the building, on the ground level of the four-story structure, were three archways. The central one provided access to the market shops and stalls located within. The city’s coat-of-arms was carved in stone on the front facade, where ornate pilasters separated the arches.

On the second floor, which contained offices, Corinthian pilasters ornamented the facade. The third storey possessed a hall that held 1000 people. The fourth floor was beneath a French Mansard roof, designed to prevent the heavy snow of Canadian winters from piling up on the structure.

The St. Lawrence Hall in 1867, photo Ontario Archives, 10005329 (1)

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The north (front) facade of the St Lawrence Hall on King Street, with its three grand archways and detailed stone carvings. A functioning replica of an old gas lamp is on the sidewalk in front of the building. Photo 2011.

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                North and east facades of the St. Lawrence Hall.

The grand hall on the third floor was enormous for its day. The richly ornamented plaster ceiling soared 34 feet above the wooden floor, its upper windows located in the Mansard roof. The dimensions of the room were 100 feet by 38 feet, 6 inches. A huge crystal chandelier, lit by gas, illuminated the space, along with numerous gas sconces along the walls. A gallery was along the north side of the room to provide extra seating.

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Ornate ceiling and crystal chandelier in the grand ballroom, photo taken in 1969.

For over seventy-five years, until replaced by Massey Hall, the St. Lawrence Hall was Toronto’s main cultural centre. The St. Lawrence Hall hosted some of the most important personages of the nineteenth century, including John A. Macdonald and George Brown.

Festival balls, banquets, bazaars, magicians, soirees, and minstrel shows were held within its walls. People gathered for Shakespearean readings and plays, oratorios, operas, and musical concerts. Handel’s Messiah was first performed in the hall in 1857, and though a few of the 200 singers were from outside the city, the remainder were residents. Cycloramas, panoramas, and travelogues delighted the public. Jenny Lind, the famous Swedish singer filled the hall in 1851 on two successive evenings, even though the lowest-price tickets were the exorbitant price of $3.00 per person. Lectures on slavery, spiritualism, immigration, phrenology, and anatomy fascinated the crowds.  

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                  View of the third floor area outside the grand hall.

As the population of the city increased, and the city’s boundaries expanded, the area around the St. Lawrence Hall  became less accessible. When Massey Hall opened in 1894, the cultural activities of the city gravitated to the new and larger venue on Shuter Street. 

In 1967, The St. Lawrence Hall was restored as the city’s centennial project. While the restoration was in progress, the east wall of the building collapsed onto Jarvis Street. However, it was faithfully restored and today the structure appears as elegant as the day it first opened.

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                 The hall shortly after its restoration in 1967. 

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Rear (south) side of the St. Lawrence Hall, when the north market was under construction.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous blogs about movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories of the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                      cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852

   To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Store and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791

Theatres Included in the Book:

Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto

Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), the Photodrome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)

Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons

Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown

Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s

 Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede

Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression

Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro

Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years

University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)

 

 

 

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Enjoying Toronto’s historic architectural gems – Queen Street’s Black Bull Tavern

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The Black Bull, 298 Queen St. West, Northeast Corner of Soho and Queen Streets. This photo was taken before the 2012 renovations.

The idea of enjoying the city’s architectural gems has a different connotation when a person views “The Black Bull Pub,” since it remains today a functioning drinking establishment, as it did over a century ago, but now has a great outdoor patio.

The sign attached to the south side of the building states that the tavern was established in 1822. However, in that year, it was a modest wood-frame, two-storey building, with a steep-pitched roof. The doorway was located at the southwest corner of the premises, allowing patrons to enter from either Queen or Soho Streets.

In 1861, the owner added a third storey with a Mansard roof. During this year, patrons in the pub hotly debated the merits of confederation with the other North American British colonies.

In 1885, they added an extension on the north side, on Soho Street. This was the year of the Northwest Rebellion, when John A. Macdonald sent troops to the west. In 1910, they again extensively renovated the Black Bull, employing brick cladding to encase the entire building. In this year, King Edward VII died. He had been the most popular British monarch since the mid-seventeenth century.

Today, the pub is an attractive Second Empire style building of red brick, with yellow-brick pilasters on the 1885-addition, on the west side. The main door, which at one time was at the corner, has been relocated to the Queen Street side of the tavern. The slate-rock tiles on the roof survived until 2011, but were painted yellow.

During the restoration in 2012, the Mansard roof and third-floor windows were renovated, and the slate tiles replaced with asphalt tiles, in a pattern that was the same as the earlier tiles of slate. Though not authentic, they are more in keeping with the original appearance of the building as they are slate coloured.

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  Yellow-brick pilasters (flattened pillars) on the west wall of the Black Bull

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        # 3 Soho, attached to the north side of the Black Bull pub

Attached to the north end of the Black Bull is #3 Soho Street, a building that matches the brickwork of the pub. However, it is in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, as it includes heavy stone blocks and Roman arches above the windows and door. The most famous civic building constructed in this style is the Old City Hall.  

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            A PCC streetcar passing the Black Bull in April of 2012.

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Mansard roof on the south side of the Black Bull (prior to renovations)

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The old angled doorway is now a window (left side of photo) and the modern doorway faces Queen Street 

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West side of the Black Bull, with the popular sidewalk patio. This photo was taken prior to the restoration, the original slate tiles remaining on the roof remain, covered with yellow paint.

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                The patio of the Black Bull on a hot summer night.

I have spent much of my adult life researching the history of Toronto. I love the city. It has provided the background for my books, one of which, “The Villages Within”, was short-listed for the Toronto Heritage Awards. If interested in novels with a Toronto setting, descriptions of the books are available by following the link: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/toronto-author-publishes-seventh-novel/

They can be purchased in soft cover or electronic editions. All books are available at Chapters/Indigo and on Amazon.com. The electronic editions are less that $4. Follow the links:

There Never Was a Better Time: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000056586/THERE-NEVER-WAS-A-BETTER-TIME.aspx

Arse Over Teakettle: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000132634/Arse-Over-Teakettle.aspx

The Reluctant Virgin; http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000188306/The-Reluctant-Virgin.aspx

The Villages Within:  http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000175211/The-Villages-Within.aspx 

Author’s Home Page: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

Authors can be contacted at: tayloronhistory@gmail.com

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2012 in Toronto

 

Was there ever a CSI Toronto?

There certainly was never a TV program of this name. However, I believe such a show would be popular, since the various CSI shows presently available have addicted many viewers to the methods of forensic science as they relate to solving murders. The highly-rated program “Murdock,” about a policeman who attempts to apply scientific analysis and techniques to crimes in Toronto in the 1890s, capturers much interest for similar reasons. Few people ever wonder how police coped in earlier decades, prior to the use of DNA and other advanced methods of examining crime scenes.

The recently published murder/mystery, “The Reluctant Virgin,” tells the story of two Toronto detective who must solve a crime during the 1950s, before the days of DNA. It begins when they are summonsed to a crime scene in the Humber Valley, where a young woman has been brutally murdered and much of the blood drained from her body. More killings occur, but lacking the ability to perform DNA tests, they remain unaware that they are looking for a serial killer.

The novel leads readers through the streets, back alleys, ravines, and public parks of the city as the police find more bodies. Those who enjoy a classic “who-done-it” will enjoy the twists and turns of the convoluted plot as the detectives try to apprehend the murderer. Their crime methods may be simple by today’s standards, but they are interesting to observe.

I love living in Toronto and enjoy employing it as the background for my writing. I have spent much of my adult life researching the history of the city and include it in all my writing, even the fictional. One of my books, “The Villages Within”, was short-listed for the Toronto Heritage Awards.

If interested in a murder/mystery with a Toronto setting, “The Reluctant Virgin”can be purchased in soft or hard cover, as well as in electronic editions.  The electronic editions are less that $4. It is also available at Chapters/Indigo and on Amazon.com. Follow the link:

The Reluctant Virgin; http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000188306/The-Reluctant-Virgin.aspx

If interested in other books with a Toronto setting, follow the links:

There Never Was a Better Time: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000056586/THERE-NEVER-WAS-A-BETTER-TIME.aspx

Arse Over Teakettle: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000132634/Arse-Over-Teakettle.aspx

The Villages Within:  http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000175211/The-Villages-Within.aspx 

Author’s Home Page: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

Authors can be contacted at: tayloronhistory@gmail.com

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Toronto

 

Recent posts on a blog about Toronto’s historic architectural gems

In the past few weeks, I have been placing posts on my blog about Toronto’s architectural gems. I have attempted to provide a detailed history of these buildings from the past, which remain important to the city today. The posts include both archival and modern photographs.

Below is a list of the posts and the links to view them. 

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The St. Lawrence Market at King and Jarvis Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/enjoying-torontos-architectural-gems-the-st-lawrence-market/

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                The Old City Hall on Queen Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/enjoying-torontos-architectural-gems-old-city-hall/

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Toronto’s first City Hall (1845) on Front Street (photo, City of Toronto Archives)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/torontos-first-city-hall-now-a-part-of-the-st-lawrence-market/

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The Bay Store (Simpson’s) at Yonge and Queen Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/enjoying-torontos-architectural-gems-the-bay-at-queen-and-yonge-streets/

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Campbell House at Queen and University, built in 1822

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/16/enjoying-torontos-architectural-gems-campbell-house/

         from Can. Life 1929

Aerial views of Osgoode Hall at Queen and University

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/enjoying-torontos-architectural-gems-aerial-views-of-osgoode-hall/

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Cast iron fence surrounding Osgoode Hall on Queen Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/enjoying-torontos-architectural-gems-the-cast-iron-fence-around-osgoode-hall/

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The interior of historic Osgoode Hall

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/enjoying-torontos-architectural-gems-the-interior-of-osgoode-hall/

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https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/enjoying-torontos-architectural-gems-osgoode-hall/

I have spent much of my adult life researching the history of Toronto. I love the city. It has provided the background for my books, one of which, “The Villages Within”, was short-listed for the Toronto Heritage Awards. If interested in novels with a Toronto setting, descriptions of the books are available by following the link: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/toronto-author-publishes-seventh-novel/

They can be purchased in soft cover or electronic editions. All books are available at Chapters/Indigo and on Amazon.com. The electronic editions are less that $4. Follow the links:

There Never Was a Better Time: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000056586/THERE-NEVER-WAS-A-BETTER-TIME.aspx

Arse Over Teakettle: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000132634/Arse-Over-Teakettle.aspx

The Reluctant Virgin; http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000188306/The-Reluctant-Virgin.aspx

The Villages Within:  http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000175211/The-Villages-Within.aspx 

Author’s Home Page: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

Authors can be contacted at: tayloronhistory@gmail.com

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2012 in Toronto

 

Enjoying Toronto’s architectural gems – the St. Lawrence Market

The April 2004 edition of “Food and Wine Magazine” declared the St. Lawrence Market to be among the 25 greatest market in the world. I believe this honour is richly deserved. Many people agree when they wander among the food-crammed aisles of the market to view the vast array of cheeses, spices, meats, seafood, produce, and breads. The variety of food seems endless, representing the best of local produce and the finest gourmet treats from around the world. The market scenes resemble an oil painting, rich in colour and texture.  It is not only a place to shop, as the market contains numerous cafes and food stalls. One of the most popular is “Buster’s Sea Cove” at the south end of the building. Each Friday, the line-ups for seafood are unbelievable. Another factor that adds to the atmosphere when purchasing items or enjoying a coffee, is the history of this venerable Market.  

In1803, Governor Peter Hunter ordered that a farmers’ market be created in the town of York. It was to occupy property south of King Street, east of Church Street, west of Jarvis Street, and north of Front Street. It was built on land reclaimed from and lake and named the St. Lawrence Market, in honour of the Patron Saint of Canada.

At first, the market square was simply a spacious field with a water pump, where local farmers sold their produce and livestock. On Saturdays, farmers arrived from the neighbouring townships, having departed their farms long before daybreak, travelling by horse and cart along the muddy roads that led to the town of York. About the year 1814, they erected a small wooden shelter 35’ by 40’, at the north end of the square, adjacent to King Street. In 1820, the sides of the structure were enclosed.

In 1831, an impressive quadrangular market complex was constructed, stretching from King Street on the north to Front Street on the south. 

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The picture above is a photo of a model of the old market complex of 1831. (City of Toronto Archives)

In the foreground of the above picture is a red-brick market building, with three entrance archways. It fronted on King Street East. The complex included a rectangular central courtyard for farmers’ carts and wagons. Surrounding the courtyard were sheltered spaces with butcher stalls and vegetable stands. The covered section protected vendors and customers from the whims of the weather. 

In 1834, the town of York was incorporated as a city and renamed Toronto. Because there was no City Hall, for a decade after its incorporation, city officials met in the red-brick structure on King Street, at the north end of the St. Lawrence Market complex. Thus, the building doubled as both a City Hall and market venue.

In 1844, the market expanded to the south side of Front Street, and in 1845 a permanent City Hall was built on this site. In 1849, fire swept along King Street, destroying the north market. When they rebuilt it in 1851, a grand hall was added – the St. Lawrence Hall. It became the cultural centre for the city, where the citizenry gathered for recitals, concerts, and important speakers.

In 1899, both the north and south market buildings were rebuilt, the construction completed in 1904. The architect was John W. Siddal. The wings on either side of the 1845 City Hall were demolished, as well as its pediment and cupola. The remaining central part of the old structure was incorporated into a much larger building, with sweeping arched walls. It contained plenteous space for food stalls and shops under its massive domed roof. The architectural styles of the north and south buildings complemented each other.

The 1904 south-market building remains to this day, but the north building was rebuilt in 1968. This building is now slated for demolition and a new structure is to be built.

People entering the south building of the St. Lawrence Market today, pass through the archways of the 1845 City Hall. This entranceway and the rooms above it are all that remain of the old City Hall. Today, the council chamber on the third floor contains the Market Gallery, which showcases the art city’s collection, as well as special exhibits.

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North facade of the south St. Lawrence Market building of today, with the three stone archways that were a part of the 1845 City Hall. The 1904 building has sweeping walls and a high-domed ceiling that provide ample space for the modern market.

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Market stalls and in the background the rear wall of the 1845 City Hall

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Colourful shops and stalls along the wide aisles of the market. The great domed-roof floats high over the stalls.

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                                 One of the popular meat stalls

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                                Stairs to the basement level

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                        Cafe in the basement, with its colourful mural

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View of the south side of the 1904 St. Lawrence Market. The great domed roof is clearly visible.

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East side of the 1904 market building, sloping toward where the shoreline of the lake was once locate.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous blogs about movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories of the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                      cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852

   To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Store and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791

Theatres Included in the Book:

Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto

Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), the Photodrome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)

Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons

Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown

Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s

 Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede

Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression

Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro

Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years

University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF

 

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Toronto’s Architectural gems – Old City Hall

In the heart of Toronto’s financial district, each day thousands of people pass the Old City Hall. The reverberating sound of the bells in its clock tower has rung out across the downtown for over a century. Today, the building bustles with more activity than at any time in its history, as it contains numerous law courts. Its hallways are crammed with lawyers and those who must appear before the judges for their various misdemeanours. The TV program “Wonderland” ably captured the “Alice in Wonder” world that exists with the walls of the Old City Hall today.

I remember the days when it was possible to enter the building to explore its architectural splendour and photograph its interior. Today a person must submit to extensive security checks, and no photography is allowed within the interior. This is sad, as the history of the building can no longer be enjoyed by the residents of the city.

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This photo of the City Hall on Queen Street was taken in 1901. The building opened two years before, on 18 September. There was not yet a war memorial. When this picture was taken, to the street of the right was Terauley Street. In 1922 it was renamed Bay Street so that it would have the same name as the street in front of the Hall that proceeds south toward the lake. (Photo from City of Toronto Archives)

Toronto’s first permanent City Hall, built in 1845, was located at the corner of Front and Jarvis Streets. When the city’s population increased, they decided that a new court house was required. In 1885, an international contest was held, in which fifty architects submitted designs. The chosen site was on Queen Street, at the head of Bay Street. The cost of the building was not to exceed $200,000. It was soon discovered that the funds were insufficient, as the space requirements of the building were so immense. The foundations of the building were put out to tender, and they alone cost $110,000. Arguments over the cost of the project created extensive delays, to the frustration of the city officials and voters, but to the delight of the children of the city, who used the site as an ice rink. 

Finally, they decided that a new City Hall was needed, as well as a court house, and they hired the Toronto architect  E. J. Lennex to prepare a design for a building that would fulfill both functions. The total cost was expected to be $300,000. Construction commenced in 1889.

Lennox planned a Romanesque design, and as he admired the buildings of the Chicago architect, H. H. Richardson, he incorporated some of his ideas. One of Richardson’s most famous buildings was the Pittsburgh Courthouse of 1884. However, though Lennex was influenced by Richardson’s style, his creation for Toronto was not a mere imitation. The design was truly creative and original. Its massive red sandstone blocks were from a quarry at the Forks of the Credit River Valley. When the building was officially opened by Mayor Shaw on September 18, 1899, the final cost was $2,500,000.  It contained 5.4 acres of floor space. However, the final cost created great controversy, much of the criticism directed at E. J. Lennox.

Similar to the CN Tower of today, the clock tower of the Old City Hall, which soars over 300 feet into the air, was visible from many vantage points throughout the city. It was the tallest structure on the skyline at the time. It was highly visible when people crossed the harbour to the Toronto Islands to attend a baseball game or enjoy the amusement park. Its hour-bell weighs 11,648 pounds. The civic officials climbed the tower on 31 December 1899 to “ring-in” the 20th century.

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The Old City Hall in 2012. The gargoyles on the tower were removed several decades ago as they were falling to the street below. One of them crashed through the roof of the Old City Hall. They have now been replaced by bronze gargoyles.

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        The bronze gargoyles (protruding ornaments) on the tower in 2012.

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                   Massive stone blocks and tower of the Old City Hall

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  Marble columns line the interior view of the Old City Hall. Photo taken in 1965.

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                                                Grand staircase in 1965

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Allegorical stained-glass window designed by Robert McCausland. It is located on the staircase, facing the entranceway. At the top of the colourful window is the city’s coat-of-arms, the panels below it illustrating the union of commerce and industry.

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           Roman-style mosaic inlaid tiles on the floor of the first-floor level

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Although Lennox said little about the above designs, it has been said that the carved stone faces at the top of several of the columns resemble those of the politicians who criticised him. One theory suggests that the politicians are trapped in the fires of hell, as depicted in “Dante’s Inferno,” the leaves around the faces representing the flames.

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It was discovered that under the eaves of the building, Lennox had secretly ordered a series of letters to be carved, which spelled out his name. Lennox was severely criticized for this act of immodesty. A letter “N” can be seen in the photo above. 

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                        View of City Hall today, looking north on Bay Street

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To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous blogs about movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories of the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

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   To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Store and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791

Theatres Included in the Book:

Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto

Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), the Photodrome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)

Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons

Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown

Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s

 Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede

Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression

Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro

Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years

University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)

 

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