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Monthly Archives: January 2013

In mid-winter, recalling the sunshine of Toronto’s Sunnyside Beach

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The Bathing Pavilion at Sunnyside in July of 2012. The building was opened to the public in 1922.

During the dreary days of Toronto’s mid-winter, it is pleasant to recall the times I spent as a child under the hot sun at Sunnyside Beach. During the 1940s, one of the highlights of the summer was a visit by streetcar to the sandy shoreline beside Lake Ontario. In this decade, Sunnyside was the location of the city’s largest amusement park. Known as “the poor man’s Riviera,” it is a pity that it has completely disappeared from the scene.

My father arrived in Toronto as an immigrant in 1921, and the following year, glorious Sunnyside officially opened as the city’s new amusement park, adjacent to the beach that had been an attraction for generations.  Prior to the opening of Sunnyside Amusement Park, the main amusement park was located on the Toronto Islands, at Hanlan’s Point, known as “Canada’s Coney Island.” It included the city’s baseball stadium, where Babe Ruth hit his first homerun. In 1926, the  Maple Leaf Team relocated to the mainland, at the foot of Bathurst Street. This was necessary as fewer people were visiting Hanlan’s Point after Sunnyside opened.

The area that we know today as Sunnyside was annexed to the City of Toronto on 22 January 1888. Sunnyside stretched from Humber Bay in the west, to Roncesvalles Avenue in the east. The name Sunnyside was derived from the summer home of John G. Howard, who in 1848, built a modest structure in the area. He named it Sunnyside,” as it was on the “sunny side” of a grassy hill, a short distance north of the present-day Queensway Avenue. The structure was located between Glendale and Sunnyside Avenues. However, Howard’s main residence was further west, in High Park, and was named Colborne Lodge. On the site of Howard’s Sunnyside Villa, in 1876, the Sisters of St. Joseph’s Sacred Heart built an orphanage that they named the Sacred Heart Orphanage. Howard’s Sunnyside Villa was retained by the orphanage as an office. The villa survived until 1945, when the villa and orphanage were demolished to construct St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Sunnyside Beach

By the year 1900, Toronto had expanded westward, and the land to the north of Sunnyside was becoming increasingly populated. At Sunnyside, there was a narrow wooden boardwalk alongside the sandy beach, and on the other side of the boardwalk, the old Lake Shore Road.  As the 20th century progressed, Sunnyside increasingly became a favourite place during the summer months for Torontonians to stroll the boardwalk or have a dip in the waters. One of the most popular bathing spots was at the foot of Roncesvalles Avenue. 

Around the year 1910, the City of Toronto Councillors began discussing the possibility of building an amusement park at Sunnyside, at a projected cost of $19 million. It necessitated reclaiming land from the lake through landfill. The project was finally approved and the work began in 1913, but unfortunately the outbreak of the First World War interrupted the project. The landfill work commenced again in 1918, and by the time it was completed, over 1400 acres of land had been reclaimed from the lake. The landfill was derived from the dredging of the Toronto Harbour and Humber Bay.

The city’s new amusement park was opened by Mayor Mcguire on June 28, 1922. The project was not finished, but the Bathing Pavilion and Amusement Park had been completed, along with 75% of the western section of the landfill. During the next few years, over 200 more acres of land were added. To create a protected area for bathers, a short distance from shore, a 17,895 feet break wall was built, providing a hundred acres of protected waterways for swimmers. The break wall remains to this day. 

The first year Sunnyside was open, thousands of people descended on the amusement park to enjoy the enlarged beach, and stroll the newly-built 20-foot wide boardwalk. Many others visited the Canoe Club. Included among the popular attractions were the concession stands, which rented beach chairs, as well as those that sold root beer, popcorn, and hotdogs. Sunnyside also possessed a drug store, a dance pavilion, guess-your-weight scales, souvenir stands, an open-air theatre named the Band Stand, a delicatessen, sight-seeing services, and a shoe-shine shop.

Originally, seven amusement rides were approved by the city, including the Whip, Aero Swing, two other low-level swings, Dodgem ride, the Frolic  and a Merry-Go-Round (carousel). Nine games of chance were approved – Monkey Racer, Coney Racer, a shooting gallery, Kentucky Derby, Torpedo Race, Balloon Race, and Figure 8. There were also ten food stands, several boat rentals, and some high-powered telescopes. Sunnyside also became the site of the annual Easter Parade, where Torontonians displayed their new spring outfits as they strutted along the boardwalk.

The 1930s and 1940s were the height of Sunnyside’s popularity. Even the wealthy who owned large cottages in Muskoka paid a visit to the amusement park when they were in the city. Fireworks displays and the burning of old sailing vessels attracted crowds in the evenings. A ladies’ softball league played their games at Sunnyside, and well-known entertainers performed at the Bandstand. Beauty pageants attracted a diverse crowd. Every weekend during the summer months, families departed early in the morning to spend the day at the famous beach. The smell of popcorn, hot dogs, frying onion at the food stands, as well as the cries of the barkers for the games of chance, and the click-clack of the amusement rides, were all a part of the symphony of Sunnyside.

During the 1950s, as automobiles became more affordable, Torontonians took to the highways and Sunnyside was less attended. In 1955, the Toronto Harbour Commission ordered the demolition of Sunnyside. By the end of 1956, the demolition had been completed. For those who had enjoyed Sunnyside as a retreat from the hot humid streets of the city, a glorious era had ended. All that remained were the fond memories. The site of Sunnyside is now buried beneath the Gardiner Expressway or a part of the expanded Lakeshore Boulevard.

I am grateful to Mike Filey and his book “I Remember Sunnyside.” (published by Dundurn Group in 1996) for some of the information contained in this post.

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A 1920s postcard of Sunnyside amusement park and the famous boardwalk. The view faces west toward Humber Bay. The famous boardwalk is on the left of the photo. The lake is to the left of the boardwalk, but is not visible. The large circular building with the red roof is the merry-go-round.

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Crowds in 1920 on the beach in front of the Bathing Pavilion, watching a regatta. Toronto Archives, S1257, S1057, Item 090.

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Sunnyside Beach and Bathing Pavilion in 1970. Photo from the City of Toronto Archives, F0124, fl0003, id 0027.

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It 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 by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

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

   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 Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

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Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s former movie theatres will be released in June, 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs and relates interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating history.

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will be released on June 1, 2016. For further information follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or to contact the publisher directly:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21.

 

 

 

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Toronto’s architectural gems–the Ogden mansion at 170 Spadina Avenue in 1910

Ogden Estate

This photo from the City of Toronto Archives, taken in 1910, is of the grand home of Dr. W. W. Ogden,  at 170 Spadina. It was located on the west side of the street, a short distance north of where a McDonald’s restaurant is located today, at the corner of Queen and Spadina. The McDonald’s postal address is #160. Unfortunately, the Ogden mansion was demolished.

Dr. William W. Ogden’s name remains alive today in the city of Toronto as the school at 33 Phoebe Street is named after him.  Phoebe Street is located on the east side of Spadina Avenue, two blocks north of Queen Street, almost directly across from where the Ogden mansion was once located.  Dr. Ogden served as member of the Toronto School Board for 43 years, and was the Chairman of the Board in 1876, 1877, and 1908. Ogden was born in 1866, one year before Confederation, and died in Toronto in 1910.

The first school built on Phoebe Street opened on 16 April in 1855, and was named Phoebe Street School. In that year, the Queen/Spadina area was heavily residential, and the school soon became one of the largest in the city. An addition was added to the structure in 1868, and another in 1890. In 1905, a fire damaged a section of the school, and it was decided to build a new school rather than repair the old. The new school opened in 1907 and was renamed Ogden Public School, in honour of Dr. Ogden.

f1257_s1057_it0200[1]  1920s

The above photo of Ogden Public School was taken in 1907, the year the school opened. However, as the neighbourhood surrounding the school became less residential and increasingly commercial and industrial, enrolment declined. The impressive old building was eventually demolished, and a new 14-room school was opened on 12 December 1957. Today, the school maintains an excellent reputation and possesses a “naturalized playground” for its pupils. It is a delight to behold during the months when it displays its greenery, an oasis within the city’s mainly concrete environment. 

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The Ogden Public School of today, tucked behind the busy intersection of Queen and Spadina.

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The naturalized playground on the north side of the school.

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                 Another view of the naturalized playground.

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

To view other posts about the historic buildings on Spadina Avenue:

Spadina Avenue – sinful, spicy and diverse

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/sinfully-saucy-and-diversetorontos-spadina-avenue/

The Reading Building, a warehouse loft on Spadina Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-reading-building-on-spadina/

The Darling Building on Spadina Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-darling-building-on-spadina/

The amazing Fashion Building on Spadina Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/12/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-amazing-fashion-building-on-spadina/

Toronto’s architectural gems – the Tower Building at Spadina and Adelaide Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/torontos-architectural-gemstower-building-at-spadina-and-adelaide/

The Balfour Building at 119 Spadina Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/07/20/enjoying-torontos-architectural-gemsthe-balfour-building-at-spadina-and-adelaide

The Robertson Building at 215 Spadina that houses the Dark Horse Espresso Bar

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/torontos-architectural-gemsrobertson-building-dark-horse-espresso-bar/

An architectural gem – Grossman’s Tavern at Spadina and Cecil Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/architectural-gem-grossmans-tavern-at-377-9-spadina/Historic

History of the house that contains the Paul Magder Fur Shop at 202 Spadina

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/exploring-torontos-architectural-gemsthe-paul-magder-fur-shop-at-202-spadina-avenue/

An important historic building that disappeared from the northeast corner of Spadina and College

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/a-historic-building-that-disappeared-from-the-northeast-corner-spadina-and-college/

Historic bank building on northeast corner of Spadina and Queen West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/torontos-architectural-gemsbank-at-spadina-and-queen-west/

History of the Backpackers’ Hotel at King and Spadina

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/history-of-the-backpackers-hotel-at-king-and-spadina/

Hamburger corner – Spadina and Queen Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/torontos-hamburger-cornerwhere-is-it-and-why/

Lord Lansdowne Public School on Spadina Crescent

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/22/torontos-architectural-gems-lord-lansdowne-school-on-spadina-cres/

The Victory Burlesque Theatre at Dundas and Spadina

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/09/08/the-sinful-victory-burlesque-theatre-at-dundas-and-spadina/

The Dragon City Mall on the southwest corner of Dundas and Spadina

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/08/25/torontos-heritage-the-southwest-corner-of-queen-and-spadina/

Buildings on the west side of Spadina a short distance north of Queen Street.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/torontos-architectural-historyspadina-north-of-queen-kings-court/

History of the site of the Mcdonalds on northwest corner of Queen and Spadina

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/08/27/mcdonalds-at-queen-and-spadina-on-an-historic-site/

A former mansion at 235 Spadina that is now almost hidden from view.

ttps://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/07/04/torontos-architectural-gems-is-this-one-a-joke/

Military hero of the War of 1812 lived near corner of Spadina and Queen West.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/01/military-hero-of-war-of-1812-lived-near-mcdonalds-at-queen-and-spadina/

To view other posts about Toronto’s past and its historic buildings:

The Art Deco bus terminal at Bay and Dundas Streets.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/torontos-architectural-gems-art-deco-bus-terminal-on-bay-street/

Photos of the surroundings of the CN Tower and and the St. Lawrence Market in 1977

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/photos-of-the-surroundings-of-the-st-lawrence-market-and-cn-tower-in-1977/

The old Dominion Bank Building at King and Yonge Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/the-old-dominion-bank-buildingnow-a-condo-hotel-at-one-king-st-west/

The Canada Life Building on University and Queen Street West.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/exploring-torontos-architectural-gemsthe-canada-life-building/

Campbell House at the corner of Queen Street West and University Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/18/a-glimpse-at-the-interior-of-campbell-house-at-university-avenue-and-queen-street/

A study of Osgoode Hall

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

Toronto’s first City Hall, now a part of the St. Lawrence Market

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

Toronto’s Draper Street, a time-tunnel into the 19th century

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/05/23/torontos-draper-street-is-akin-to-a-time-tunnel-into-the-past/

The Black Bull Tavern at Queen and Soho Streets, established in 1822

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/enjoying-torontos-historic-architectural-gems-queen-streets-black-bull-tavern/

History of the 1867 fence around Osgoode Hall on Queen Street West at York Street

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

Gathering around the radio as a child in the 1940s

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/listening-to-the-radio-as-a-child-in-the-1940s-the-lone-ranger-the-shadow-etc/

The opening of the University Theatre on Bloor Street, west of Bay St.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/the-opening-of-torontos-university-theatre-on-bloor-street/

122 persons perish in the Noronic Disaster on Toronto’s waterfront in 1949

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/122-perish-in-torontos-noronic-disaster-horticultural-building-at-cne-used-as-morgue/

Historic Victoria Memorial Square where Toronto’s first cemetery was located, now hidden amid the Entertainment District

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/victoria-square-in-torontos-entertainment-district-is-a-gem/

Visiting one of Toronto’s best preserved 19th-century streets-Willcocks Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/visiting-torontos-best-preserved-nineteenth-century-street-willcocks-street/

The 1930s Water Maintenance Building on Brant Street, north of St. Andrew’s Park

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-water-maintenance-building-on-richmond-street-west/

Toronto’s architectural gems-photos of the Old City from a book published by the city in 1912

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-old-city-hall-photographed-in-1912/

Toronto’s architectural gems in 1912

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/torontos-architectural-gems-in-1912/

Toronto’s architectural gems – the bank on the northeast corner of Queen West and Spadina

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/torontos-architectural-gemsbank-at-spadina-and-queen-west/

Photos of the surroundings of the CN Tower and and the St. Lawrence Market in 1977

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/photos-of-the-surroundings-of-the-st-lawrence-market-and-cn-tower-in-1977/

The St. Lawrence Hall on King Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/enjoying-torontos-architectural-gems-the-st-lawrence-hall/

Toronto’s streetcars through the past decades

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/memories-of-torontos-streetcars-of-yesteryear/

History of Trinity Bellwoods Park

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/the-history-and-beauty-of-trinity-bellwood-park/

A history of Toronto’s famous ferry boats to the Toronto Islands

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/remember-the-toronto-island-ferries-the-bluebell-primroseand-trillium/

Toronto’s Old City Hall at Bay and Queen Streets

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

 

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2013 in Toronto

 

A Torontonian viewing Mexican mural art (post #2)

Living in downtown Toronto, I have become very conscious of graffiti mural art and graffiti in general. In Puerto Vallarta, a well-known restaurant, “Cafe des Artistes”,  has painted the building that houses it with brightly painted mural art. It has attracted much attention from the locals and tourists alike.

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                                 The Cafe des Artistes in Puerto Vallarta

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To view posts about the Toronto graffiti scene:

A Torontonian’s view of Mexican graffiti art and graffiti

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/a-torontonian-viewing-mexican-graffiti-and-graffiti-art/

Toronto graffiti murals amid the winter snows

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/graffiti-murals-in-toronto-amid-the-winter-snow-2012/

Uber5000 painting a building in Graffiti Alley

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/uber5000-has-new-graffiti-art-in-mcdougall-lane/

New commissioned mural by Uber5000 at 74 Denison Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/new-graffiti-mural-by-uber5000-on-dennison-avenue/

New mural on McCaul Street has traces of Diego Rivera

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/11/03/new-mccaul-st-mural-has-traces-of-diego-rivera/

Black and white graffiti in Kensington Market is unique

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/11/02/new-black-and-white-graffiti-art-in-kensington-market-is-unique/

McDougall Lane has a new graffiti display (Nov. 2012)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/mcdougall-alley-has-a-new-display-of-graffiti-art/

The graffiti-decorated “hug-me-tree” on Queen Street West.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/10/25/queen-street-wests-graffiti-adorned-hug-me-tree/

Graffiti in a laneway amid the colours of autumn

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/graffiti-amid-autumn-in-the-city/

A mural in the Kensington Market, with tongue-in-cheek humour:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/10/17/clever-humorous-graffiti-in-the-kensington-market/

In July of 2011, I placed a post on this blog about the abstract expressionists. At that time, there was an exhibition of their work at the AGO. I received comments from readers who strongly disagreed with the post. Their opinions were indeed valid, but the ideas expressed in the post may also have validity. To view this post:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/06/abstract-expressionist-masters-at-the-ago-waste-of-time-or-meaningful/

In August of 2012 I placed another post in which I compared the work of the graffiti artist Uber5000 to the abstract expressionists. This too became a controversial post.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/in-graffiti-alley-torontos-artists-put-to-shame-new-york-abstract-expressionists/

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

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2013 in Toronto

 

Toronto’s Spadina Ave. when it was a quiet rural location

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Viewing this photo of Spadina Avenue, with its bustling retail shops, set amid modern and 19th-century buildings, it is difficult to visualize it as a quiet rural avenue that extended through land recently reclaimed from the heavily wooded forests of Upper Canada. The creator of the wide avenue that today we call Spadina was Dr. William Warren Baldwin. His wife Phoebe and his sister-in-law, Marie Willcocks (nee Baldwin), owned the land. The sisters had inherited the property from their cousin, Elizabeth Russell, sister of Peter Russell. However, it was Baldwin, in his capacity as adviser to the two women, who originated the idea for a grand avenue extending through the property. Dr. Henry Scadding, in his book “Toronto of Old,” stated that the width of the roadway was to be 160 feet throughout its mile-and-a-half course. However, it was actually 132 feet. Construction on the avenue commenced in 1815.

In the early decades of the nineteenth century, the portion of Spadina south of Queen Street was named Brock Street, after Sir Isaac Brock, killed at the Battle of Queenston Heights. Spadina commenced at Queen Street and extended as far north a Bloor. As the 19th-century progressed, modest homes were constructed along the street. They were cottage-like in appearance, and possessed small kitchen gardens, since these families were living a considerable beyond the boundaries of the town of  York. It was huddled close to the lake, and to the east of where Spadina Avenue exits today. In the modern era, It is difficult to think of the area around Spadina as being remote, as it is now in the heart of the city.

         pictures-r-149[1] Tor. Ref. 

This sketch, drawn from memory by R. L. Mulligan, depicts Spadina Avenue as Mulligan remembered it in his boyhood days, in the mid-1860s. At that time, there were only a few scattered houses along the avenue, surrounded by open land. The section of the street that is today named Spadina Circle, contained market gardens. In the bottom, right-hand side of the sketch is an open area (common), employed for training and reviewing the militia. 

se corner, Coll.-Spa. parade grounds, 1863. Tor Ref.

Artist’s painting of the troops being reviewed on the military common on the site of the present-day southeast corner of Spadina and College Streets.

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Spadina, north from College, 1870Tor. Ref. Lib.

This section of Spadina is between St. Patrick Street (Dundas Street West) and St. Andrews.

Spa. w side north of College, 1870. Tor. Ref.

Spadina Avenue in 1870, south of College Street, looking north. The brick building in the background, which is under construction, is on the northwest corner of College and Spadina, the site of the future Waverley Hotel.

spadina, north from College, 1870

Close-up view of the northwest corner of College and Spadina in 1870.

W. side-Spa, north of Glen Baille PLace c.1885

Home on the west side of Spadina in 1885, between Dundas Street and the alleyway named Glen Baillie Place.

Spad. 1890, Tor Ref.

Horse-drawn streetcar on Spadina Avenue in 1890. By this decade, many fine homes had been built on the avenue, one of them seen in the background. 

pictures-r-149[1] Tor. Ref.

Northwest corner of College and Spadina in 1895, and one of the first electric streetcars in Toronto. Building in the background was the YMCA, which later was the first building occupied by the Waverley Hotel. 

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     Looking north on Spadina at College Street c. 1915.

Today, the Spadina Avenue that Baldwin created has many Asian and fusion restaurants that are enjoyed by tourists and residents from all over the city. The sketches and photographs in this post are from the collection of the Toronto Reference Library, except for the final photograph, which is from the City of Toronto Archives.

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

Links to other posts about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

Links to posts about Toronto’s movie houses—past and present.

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 also relates anecdotes and stories from those 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 .

      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), thePhotodome, 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–Robertson Building-Dark Horse Espresso Bar

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The Robertson building at 215 Spadina Avenue is an architectural gem located among the many warehouse/loft structures on Spadina, between King Street West and Dundas Street West. The five-storey structure was built between the years 1911 and 1913 to accommodate the needs of James Robertson and Company, which moved into their new building from their former location on King Street. The firm manufactured and distributed plumbing fixtures. The architects were Denison and Stephenson. The exterior walls of the building are of attractive red bricks, the 100,000 square-foot interior containing douglas fir support posts and beams, as well as magnificent pine flooring.

The building was purchased by the Urban Property Group in 2002, and has been meticulously renovated and restored. The 250-square-foot bio-filter green wall in the lobby contains a myriad of plants, with a constantly flowing waterfalls. These features reduce the contaminants in the air that float inside the building from the traffic on Spadina Avenue. The filtered air is circulated throughout the entire five floors. The building also has a 4000 square-foot roof garden that features Ontario wild flowers. Sadly, I have never had the opportunity to view the garden.

The present-day owners provide an excellent web-site that explains the history of the Robertson Building, and also placed signs in the lobby to provide pertinent information. The building today is home to many tenants, perhaps the most visible being the Dark Horse Espresso Bar on the ground floor, facing Spadina Avenue. It is worth a visit, not only for the great coffee, but to see the interior of the cafe. The coffee beans for a customer’s order are not ground until the order has been placed. The flavour of the brew more than justifies the few moments delay.

The Urban Property Group is to be highly commended for their sensitive restoration of this historic building, which otherwise might have been demolished, as has been the fate of so many of Toronto’s architectural gems. 

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The Robertson Building in 1920 – photo from City of Toronto Archives. The building is on the east side of Spadina, between Queen Street West and Dundas Street West. Pictures such as this one never cease to amaze me, as it is difficult to picture any main street in Toronto with so few automobiles.

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Modernized doorway to 215 Spadina and detailing above the doorway.

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The west facade of the building, the Dark Horse Espresso Bar evident on the ground floor. The cement and stone trim on the ground floor greatly enhance the building.

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In summer, the space in front of the building has attractive flowers, which I believe, are provided by the building’s owners.

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The bio-filter green wall in the lobby. It is worth visiting the building to view this installation, particularly in winter, when the street outside is so bleak and colourless. Douglas fir beams and a small section of the plank ceiling are also visible.

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Lush vegetation is maintained year-round in the bio-filter green wall.

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The door in the lobby that leads to the Dark Horse Espresso Bar, and the serving area in the cafe.

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              The Robertson Building on a hot summer night.

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

Links to other posts about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

Links to posts about Toronto’s movie houses—past and present.

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 also relates anecdotes and stories from those 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 .

      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), thePhotodome, 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– Lord Lansdowne School on Spadina Cres.

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Lord Lansdowne Public School is located on the west side of Spadina Crescent. Its unusual round shape and the colourful panels beneath the windows are striking, often attracting the attention to those who walk past it or view it from the Spadina streetcars.  However, a Victorian-era school was previously located on the site. It opened in March of 1888, and contained 945 pupils. This attendance figure indicates the degree to which the area was populated during the later decades of the 19th century. From the day the school opened, its was over-crowded.

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The Victorian building that opened in March of 1888, with its ornate tower that dominated Spadina Crescent. A small Second Empire-style house can be seen to the south of the school.

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The round section of the Lord Lansdowne School, which faces Spadina Crescent

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The west section of the school facing Robert Street, where the main entrance of the building is located.

When the old Victorian school opened in 1888, it was over-crowded. As a result, an addition was added to the ornate structure the following year. The population of the area continued to increase, so another addition was added in 1909. A fire damaged the building in 1913, necessitating much rebuilding. Eventually, more land was purchased on Borden Street by the school board, and in 1961, the old Victorian structure was demolished, replaced by the school that remains on the site today. At this time, the school’s name was changed to Lord Lansdowne to avoid confusion with another school, which was located on Lansdowne Ave. The new school was designed by Toronto’s Board of Education architectural and engineering staff. A round building was thought to be more economical and functional as it made better use of the land.

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This massive rock is located on the lawn of the school, near the fence, on the east side that faces Spadina Crescent.

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This plaque on the rock explains the reason it remains on the grounds of the school. It does not indicate if the rock was found during the excavation for the Victorian structure or the school that was built in 1961.

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

Links to other posts about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

Links to posts about Toronto’s movie houses—past and present.

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 also relates anecdotes and stories from those who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                           cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

                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 Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s old movie theatres will be released in the spring of 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 130 archival photographs.

A second publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will also be released in the spring of 2016. 

 

 

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Toronto’s architectural gems–The Reading Building on Spadina

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The seven-storey Reading Building at 116 Spadina Avenue is located on the northwest corner of Spadina Avenue and Camden Street. Constructed in 1925, it is a solid concrete structure with an attractive red-brick exterior containing a magnificent “brick and beam” interior. It was built as a warehouse loft to accommodate the needs of Toronto’s garment trade during the 1920s. The architect was Benjamin Brown, and it is the least ornate of the structures he designed on Spadina Avenue, the Tower Building (1927) and the Balfour Building (1929-30) being two other examples of his work that are located close to the Reading Building. Brown also designed the Victory Theatre that at one time occupied the northeast corner of Spadina and Dundas Street West. The theatre is long gone, but the building remains.

Unlike its sister buildings, The Reading was no traces of Art Deco in its cornice. The rectangular windows are inset into plain facades that have strong vertical lines to increase the appearance of height. The first and second-floor levels have impressive stone trim that enhances its appeal for those walking past it on Spadina Avenue.

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This 1921 photo from the City of Toronto Archives shows the southwest corner of Spadina and Camden Street, the future location of the Reading Building. The Darling Building is visible to the south.

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The ground floor of the Reading Building facing Spadina, where several retail shops are located. The stone trim on the first and second floors level greatly enhance the building.

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Modern entrance to the Reading Building, surrounded by the original stone work.

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          Large window above the doorway of the Reading Building

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The east facade of the building facing Spadina Avenue. The stone work on the first two storeys in visible.

                                    116 Spadina

                   Staircase leading up from the lobby of the building

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    North facade of the Reading Building, facing Camden Street.

To view other posts about the historic buildings on Spadina Avenue:

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

Links to other posts about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

Links to posts about Toronto’s movie houses—past and present.

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 also relates anecdotes and stories from those who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                           cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

                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 .

      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), thePhotodome, 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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