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Monthly Archives: September 2013

Toronto’s old Odeon Humber Theatre

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The Odeon Humber in 1949, located at 2442 Bloor Street West, slightly west of Jane Street. (photo Ontario Archives AO 2154)

In the years following the Second World War, for a period of about a decade, prior to the advent of television, the movie theatres of Toronto thrived. People were weary of the shortages and rationing of the war years, and had more money to spend. The terminus of the Bloor Streetcar line was at Jane Street, and the community to the north and west of it was expanding as more housing was required to accommodate the city’s expanding population. These factors made the Bloor/Jane intersection an ideal location for a movie theatre. As a result, in 1948, the Odeon chain decided to build a new modern theatre—the Odeon Humber. It was to be one of five theatres that the chain owned—the Carlton, the Danforth, Fairlawn, and the Hyland.

Map of 2442 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6S 1R1

                                 Map from Google, 2014

My own personal memories of this theatre are rather embarrassing. One Saturday evening I attended a double-bill screening. When purchasing a soda drink from the vending machine, nothing happened. In frustration, I gave the machine a whack with my fist, which brought an angry response from the manager. I slinked into the auditorium with my popcorn, but no drink. I was soon immersed in the film and forgot about the great financial loss that I had suffered—well, I never completely forgot, as forty years later I still remember the incident. By the way, the drink that I had attempted to buy was “Tahiti Treat,” made by Canada Dry. This drink has long since disappeared from the scene, along with the Odeon Humber.

As theatre attendance diminished, the Odeon Humber was partitioned into into two theatres in an attempt to draw larger crowds. In 1999, over $400,000 were spent to install larger seats, digital sound, new carpets, expanded washroom facilities, and a new concession stand. However, the Odeon chain closed the theatre in 2003, and for several years it sat vacant. In April of 2011 it was reopened by Rui Pereira, the owner of the Kingsway Cinema. It is now the named the “Humber Cinemas” and has four auditoriums.

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An autographed program for a musical that was held on the stage of the Odeon Humber in 1955 or 1956.  Katherine Dunham and her dancers were extremely popular throughout Europe and North America during the 1940s and 1950s. Program courtesy of Walter Godfrey.

Odeon Humber, Photo Gilbert A. Milne, 51618

The Odeon Humber Theatre after it had been partitioned into two auditoriums (Humber 1 and Humber 2). Photo, Gilbert A. Milne, City of Toronto Archives 51618

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The interior of the Odeon Humber, photo Ontario Archives AO2152

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Exterior lobby, foyer and ticket booth of the Odeon Humber c. 1960. Photo from Ontario Archives, AO 2153.

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The old Odeon Humber Theatre in July of 2013, after being converted to the Humber Cinemas. Its facade appears rather severe with the large letter spelling ODEON having been removed. 

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                 The colourful lobby of the Humber Cinemas in 2013

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The doorway leading to the stairs that allow entry to the theatre auditorium.

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The windows that allow light into the lobby, the buildings on the south side of Bloor Street reflected in the glass.

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The Odeon Humber has disappeared, but thankfully it is still maintained as a functioning theatre by its present owners. This photo gazed west along Bloor Street, at Jane Street in March of 2013.

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 phoning University of Toronto Press Distribution at 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 Photodome, 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 old movie houses—the Oakwood Theatre at St. Clair and Oakwood

Oakwood, phot Mandel Sprach.

The Oakwood Theatre c. 1940.  Photo from City of Toronto Archives, Mandel Sprachman Collection. The film “Dark Victory” starring Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart was released in 1939.

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This photo was also likely taken about 1940, as the film “Four Daughters Courageous” was released in 1939. Photo from City of Toronto Archives, Series 881, File 350.

Series 881, File 350

Another photo from c. 1940, as the classic film “Wizard of Oz” is playing. It was released in 1939. Photo from City of Toronto Archives, Series 881, File 350.

Oakwood Tor. R. Lib. 

The above photo shows the interior of the Oakwood. It had approximately 1200 seats, with two centre aisles and two side aisles. This undated photo is from the Toronto Reference Library Collection.

The Oakwood Theatre opened in 1917 in the suburban community of Earlscourt,  to the northwest of the downtown area. When it opened, the much smaller Royal George Theatre, west of Dufferin Street, was the only other theatre in the district. Recently, the area where the Oakwood Theatre once stood was renamed “Regal Village.”

The Oakwood Theatre was a project of the developer James Crang Jr. The street one block west of Oakwood Avenue is named Crang Avenue, after him. When the theatre opened, it claimed to be the largest theatre auditorium in the city, which was not true as Shea’s Hippodrome seated 3000. In 1924, after the Rogers Road streetcar line was inaugurated, its southern loop at St. Clair was constructed around the theatre. Eventually, the Oakwood streetcar used the same loop. Thus. the Oakwood’s location an ideal as it was situated at a transportation hub, with thousands of people able to travel to the theatre either of the two streetcar lines.

Descriptions of the theatre in the files of the Toronto Reference Library state that the theatre had large crystal chandeliers. They are the over-exposed bright spots in the above photo. There was no balcony. The facade facing Oakwood Avenue was plain but attractive, with terracotta tiles on the slanted roof. These tiles (Mediterranean/California-style) were quite popular throughout the 1920s. The apartment buildings on the south side of St. Clair, immediately east of Oakwood Avenue, possess the same type of tiles and they still can be seen today.  

The Oakwood eventually became part of the Famous Players Chain. While downtown theatres screened the latest Hollywood films, the Oakwood showed movies that appealed to the British immigrants who lived in the surrounding area. The theatre was demolished in 1962, and there is now an apartment building on the site, with the postal address of 161 Oakwood Avenue.

I remember the the Oakwood Theatre well, since I attended it many times as a teenager. During the evenings, between film features, there was an intermission. Many patrons came outside to enjoy a cigarette. A friend and I sometimes mingled with the crowd and entered the theatre for free to view the second film of the evening. Somehow, we managed to live with our guilt and enjoy the films.

Sources, files of the City of Toronto Archives and Toronto Reference Library, as well as John Sebert’s book, “The Nabes.”

#9825, Tor.A. TTC Oakwood Avenue

Oakwood Avenue, looking north from St. Clair Avenue in the 1920s. The Oakwood Theatre is on the right-hand side of the picture. In the background can be seen the Rogers Road or Oakwood streetcars. Photo City of Toronto Archives, 9825.

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Same scene as above, in 2013. The northbound set of streetcar tracks is now paved over. The tall apartment building on the right is where the Oakwood Theatre was located. 

Oakwood Theatre, Tor. A. 9825

                  The entrance of the Oakwood in the 1920s.

 

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Apartment building on the site of the Oakwood Theatre (2013)

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Streetcar loop that at one time went around the Oakwood Theatre (August, 2013). The houses on the north side of the loop have survived since the days when the theatre was located to the south of it.

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

To view previous posts about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/torontos-old-movie-theatrestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to Toronto’s Heritage Buildings

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/canadas-cultural-scenetorontos-architectural-heritage/ 

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog.

                           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 .

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2013 in Toronto

 

Toronto’s architectural gems—St. George’s Hall—Arts and Letters Club

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The Arts and Letters Club at 14 Elm Street. (Elm St. is a small avenue between Yonge and Bay streets, two blocks north of Dundas.)

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The Goad’s Atlas map of 1884, which depicts Elm Street prior to the construction of St. George’s Hall. Yonge Street is on the far right of the map, and Bay Street is on the far left. Today, it is difficult to believe that there were empty fields on Elm Street in the 1880s. Notice that on the south side of Elm, the houses #7 and #9 appear, which today house Barbarian’s Steak House.

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This Goad’s Atlas map is from 1900, and shows Elm Street after St. George’s Hall was erected. It is to the right of the YWCA. Again, Yonge St. is on the right and Bay St. on the left. The Methodist Church that is on the map is the Elm St. Methodist Church, which has since been demolished. Interestingly, the house at #54 Elm is on this map. It is where Tom Thomson rented a room when he arrived in Toronto as a young man in 1905.

The majestic St. George’s Hall at 14 Elm Street resembles a baronial castle. Built in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, similar to Toronto’s Old City Hall, its massive stone base, turrets, and the Roman arch above the entrance hearken back to the days of Mediaeval knights.  Designed by Edwards and Webster, this fortress-like structure was completed in 1891. It was built for the St. George’s Society, an organization founded in 1834, the year the colonial town of York was incorporated as a city and changed its name to Toronto. The society was dedicated to maintaining British traditions in North America  and assisting needy families. In the 1920s, the Arts and Letters Club took over the premises.

The Arts and Letters Club had been founded in 1908, and in 1910 had met on the second floor of the old County of York’s Magistrate’s building at 57 Adelaide Street West.  The club was formed by a group of men dedicated to promoting the arts in Toronto. In 1913, they hosted Sir. Wilfred Laurier, and through the years such notables as Vincent Massey, Sir Ernest MacMillan, Dr. Healey Whillan, and Sir William Mulock were entertained on the premises.  When the club took over St. George’s Hall on Elm Street, they wanted the building to include a Great Hall, and hired Henry Sproatt to design it. With its long oak tables, timbered ceiling and baronial fireplace, it resembled a Tudor dining hall with heavy wood panelling and heraldic crests invented specifically for the club. It became an ideal place for Toronto’s art community to spend winter evenings to discuss artistic events and trends, as well as attend pageants, plays, and musicals.  Today, the Arts and Letters Club continues to be a gathering place for artists. Its walls contain artwork and memorabilia that preserve Canadian culture. The building is now designated a heritage site under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Sources of Information: Historic plaques on Elm Street and St. George’s Hall, “Toronto Architecture, a City Guide,” by Patricia McHugh, and Eric Arthur’s “Toronto, No Mean City.”

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The Arts and Letters Club on the north side of Elm Street, flags flying on its south facade. It is situated between other 19th-century structures.

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The impressive entrance to St. George’s Hall, now the Arts and Letters Club.

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                 Detailing above the doorway of the Hall.

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Stone carving on the building portraying St. George slaying the dragon.

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                     Heraldic carvings on the south facade.

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     Roof of the structure with its gabled windows, turrets and pinnacles.

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            Entrance to the Arts and Letters Club and the grand staircase. A carving of the Britannic Lion is at the base of the stair rail.

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                   St. George’s Hall (Arts and Letters Club) in 2013.

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             St. George’s Hall in 1919. Photo from the City of Toronto Archives.

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

To view other posts about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

The 1860s houses on Elm St. (Barbarian’s Steak House)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/torontos-architectural-gems1860s-houses-on-elm-streetbarbarians-steak-house/

The old “Silver Snail” shop on Queen St. West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-old-silver-snail-comic-store-at-367-queen-st-w/

The 1888 Toronto Club at Wellington and York

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-toronto-club-at-wellington-and-york/

The north building at the St. Lawrence market that is to be demolished

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/the-north-building-at-the-st-lawrence-market-in-autumn-of-2013/

The Ellis Building on Adelaide Street near Spadina Ave. 

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-ellis-building-on-adelaide-near-spadina/

The Heintzman Building on Yonge Street, next to the Elgin Theatre

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-heintzman-building-on-yonge-street/

The tall narrow building at 242 Yonge Street, south of Dundas

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/torontos-architectural-gems242-yonge-st-south-of-dundas/

Toronto’s first Reference Library at College and St. George Streets.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-original-toronto-public-reference-library/

The Commodore Building at 315-317 Adelaide St. West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-commodore-building-315-317-adelaide-st/

The Graphic Arts Building (condo) on Richmond Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-graphic-arts-building-on-richmond-st/

The Art Deco Victory Building on Richmond Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-victory-building-at-80-adelaide-street-west/

The Concourse Building on Adelaide Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-concourse-building-on-adelaide-st/

The old Bank of Commerce at 197 Yonge Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-old-bank-of-commerce-at-197-yonge-street/

The Traders Bank on Yonge Street—the city’s second skyscraper

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/torontos-architectural-gemstraders-bank-on-yonge-st/

Toronto’s old Union Station on Front Street, built in 1884

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/torontos-lost-architectural-gemsthe-old-union-station/

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church at King and Simcoe Streets.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/torontos-architectural-gemshistoric-st-andrews-on-king-st/

The row houses on Glasgow Street, near Spadina and College Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/torontos-architectural-gemsrow-houses-on-glasgow-st/

The bank at Queen and Simcoe that resembles a Greek temple

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-bank-at-queen-west-and-simcoe-streets/

The cenotaph at Toronto’s Old City Hall

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/torontos-architectural-gemscenotaph-at-old-city-hall/

The magnificent Metropolitan Cathedral at King East and Church Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/torontos-architectural-gemsmetropolitan-cathedral/

St. Stanislaus Koska RC Church on Denison Avenue, north of Queen West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/torontos-architectural-gemsst-stanislaus-koska-rc-church-at-12-denison-avenue/

The historical St. Mary’s Church at Adelaide and Bathurst Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/torontos-architectural-gemsst-marys-alterations-nearly-completed/

The Bishop’s (St, Michael’s) Palace on Church Street, Toronto

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/torontos-architectural-gemsbishops-palace-on-church-street/

The Union Building at Simcoe and King Street West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-union-building-on-king-st/

The Ed Mirvish (Pantages, Imperial, Canon) Theatre, a true architectural gem on Toronto’s Yonge Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-ed-mirvish-theatre-pantages-imperial-canon/

The Waverly Hotel on Spadina near College Street.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/16/toronto-architectural-gemsthe-waverly-hotel-484-spadina/

The Art Deco Bank of Commerce building on King Street West.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-bank-of-commerce-cibc-on-king-street/

The Postal Delivery Building, now the Air Canada Centre (ACC)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-postal-delivery-building-now-the-acc/

The Bellevue Fire Station on College Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/14/torontos-architectural-gems-bellevue-fire-station/

The Bank of Nova Scotia at King and Bay Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/torontos-architectural-gems-the-bank-of-nova-scotia-at-king-and-bay/

Toronto’s old Sunnyside Beach

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/in-mid-winter-recalling-the-sunshine-of-torontos-sunnyside-beach/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/01/a-pictorial-journey-to-sunnyside-beach-of-old-part-one/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/a-pictorial-journey-to-torontos-old-sunnyside-beach-part-two/

Toronto’s architectural gems—the Runnymede Library

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/torontos-architectural-gems-runnymede-library/

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/

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/

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2013 in Toronto

 

Toronto’s old movie theatres—the Mount Dennis on Weston Rd.

Series 1278, File 8

When the Mount Dennis Theatre opened its doors in 1927, it was located at 1006 Weston Road, on the west side of the street, north of Eglinton Avenue. It was named the Maple Leaf Theatre, but it was changed to the Mount Dennis Theatre in 1929. Because the postal numbers were changed, the address became 1298 Weston Road. The above photo, from the City of Toronto Archives (Series 1278, File 8), was taken in August of 1959. The features films are “The Golden Age of Comedy,” released in 1957 and “Hercules,” released in 1958. Considering that the theatre was in the Township of York, and remote from the downtown, the two films were recent productions. The Township of York later became the City of York and then it was amalgamated with Toronto.

When the theatre opened in 1929, Mount Dennis was a small town on the northwest fringe of the city. The old single-track trolley cars connected the town to the Junction area, situated at Keele and Dundas Street West. I remember travelling on these streetcars when I was a child in the 1940s, from Rogers Road to the town of Weston. The theatre was built to serve the needs of the local residents, as in the 1920s, it was located in the business district of the town, at its north end. It was a privately owned theatre and attracted many patrons in its heyday.

I remember the theatre well, although I was never inside it. Between the years 1956 to 1957, I worked at the Reward Shoe Store in Weston to earn pocket money when I was in high school. In those days, my family lived to the west of Jane Street, south of Lambton Avenue. Jane Street ended at Lambton, as the road that today descends through Eglinton Flats had not been constructed. The Flats, that now contain parkland and a public golf course, was market gardening. It was severely flooded in 1954 when Hurricane Hazel devastated the city. Because of the floods, the area became part of the Metropolitan Conservation Authority and no homes were permitted in the flood-prone area. During the next few years, the two sections of Jane Street were connected. Prior to this, when I bicycled from home to the town of Weston, I was forced to travel east along Lambton Avenue and then, north on Weston Road to reach the shoe store. On these occasions, I passed the Mount Dennis Theatre.

During the 1950s, I also remember the Loblaws store, on the west side of Weston Road, a short distance north of Eglinton. When it closed, the premises were rented by the Queensbury Hotel, which was forced to relocate from its former site at East Drive and Scarlett Road because of being flooded by the water of the Humber River during Hurricane Hazel.

When the 1950s ended, television was greatly affecting attendance at the movie houses of the city. In August of 1959, the theatre was offered for sale at the asking price of $65,000, which included the apartments on the second floor. The real estate listing suggested that it would be ideal for a bowling alley or a furniture store. However, the theatre was purchased and continued to operate as a movie house until 1975. After it closed, it remained for many years, employed as a site for various commercial enterprises. It was eventually demolished and today an apartment building is on the site. 

Note: information on the address of the Mount Dennis Theatre was obtained from the Toronto Directories at the City of Toronto Archives.

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    Entrance and marquee of the Mount Dennis Theatre in 1959.

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

To view previous blogs about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/torontos-old-movie-theatrestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to Toronto’s Heritage Buildings

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/canadas-cultural-scenetorontos-architectural-heritage/ 

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 .

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2013 in Toronto

 

Toronto’s architectural gems—the Toronto Club at Wellington and York

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The impressive building at 107 Wellington Street, on the southeast corner of York and Wellington streets, remains a mystery to me. Other than the information posted on Wikipedia and an historic plaque, I have been unable to locate any other information. My usual sources do not mention the club, even though it apparently dates back to the early years of Toronto. The plaque states that the club was founded in 1837, the same year that William Lyon Mackenzie led the rebels down Yonge Street. However, it does not reveal who founded the club or where its first site was located. The building in the above picture is of the building that was constructed for the club in 1888.

It appears that the club was established as a private establishment for prominent CEO’s and professionals, where its members could to gather to read and discuss various topics. The building contains  a reading, dining and billiard room. It has marble fireplaces, rich wood panelling, and ornamented plaster ceilings. The plaque states that the structure was constructed in various architectural styles, with the second floor being Renaissance Revival, containing faux balconies in front of the windows. However, it is the enormous stones of the base of the building and the heavy fortress-like first floor that dominate the street. Similar to Toronto’s old City Hall, the first floor is Richardsonian Romanesque. It has large windows with Roman arches, the ornamented pilasters, and detailing typical of this architectural style. The ornamentation under the cornice is highly detailed, and the heavy doors are impressive.

The architects of the building were Frank Darling and S. George Curry. These partners also designed the Bank of Montreal at Front and Yonge Street (now the Hockey hall of Fame) and the old Sick Children’s Hospital at 67 College Street. 

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           The south facade of the Toronto Club, facing Wellington Street.

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            The doors of the club, and the face carved into them.

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Ornamentation above the doorway, showing the year the building was opened (1888).

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Window on the first floor, and the stone ornaments at the base of one of the pilasters.

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             The Wellington Street facade as viewed from the street.

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Two other buildings designed by the architects Darling and Curry. The left-hand photo is the old Bank of Montreal at Front and Yonge streets, now the Hockey Hall of Fame. The right-hand photo is the Sick Kids’ Hospital (Victoria Hospital) at 67 College Street, which is now occupied by the Canadian Blood Services.

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

To view other posts about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

The old “Silver Snail” shop at 367 Queen St. West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-old-silver-snail-comic-store-at-367-queen-st-w/

The 1860s Georgian-style houses at 7-9 Elm Street, now the site of Barberian’s Steak House

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/torontos-architectural-gems1860s-houses-on-elm-streetbarbarians-steak-house/

Hughes Terrace, a row of four building on King Street West, across from TIFF

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/torontos-architectural-gemshughes-terrace-on-king-st-w/

The Runnymede Theatre that is now a book store in the Bloor West Village.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-runnymede-theatre-on-bloor-street/

The building on the northwest corner of Dundas and Yonge that was once a bank

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/07/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-bank-building-at-yonge-and-dundas-streets/

The Ellis Building on Adelaide Street near Spadina Ave. 

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-ellis-building-on-adelaide-near-spadina/

The Heintzman Building on Yonge Street, next to the Elgin Theatre

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-heintzman-building-on-yonge-street/

The tall narrow building at 242 Yonge Street, south of Dundas

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/torontos-architectural-gems242-yonge-st-south-of-dundas/

Toronto’s first Reference Library at College and St. George Streets.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-original-toronto-public-reference-library/

The Commodore Building at 315-317 Adelaide St. West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-commodore-building-315-317-adelaide-st/

The Graphic Arts Building (condo) on Richmond Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-graphic-arts-building-on-richmond-st/

The Art Deco Victory Building on Richmond Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-victory-building-at-80-adelaide-street-west/

The Concourse Building on Adelaide Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-concourse-building-on-adelaide-st/

The old Bank of Commerce at 197 Yonge Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-old-bank-of-commerce-at-197-yonge-street/

The Traders Bank on Yonge Street—the city’s second skyscraper

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/torontos-architectural-gemstraders-bank-on-yonge-st/

Toronto’s old Union Station on Front Street, built in 1884

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/torontos-lost-architectural-gemsthe-old-union-station/

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church at King and Simcoe Streets.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/torontos-architectural-gemshistoric-st-andrews-on-king-st/

The row houses on Glasgow Street, near Spadina and College Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/torontos-architectural-gemsrow-houses-on-glasgow-st/

The bank at Queen and Simcoe that resembles a Greek temple

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-bank-at-queen-west-and-simcoe-streets/

The cenotaph at Toronto’s Old City Hall

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/torontos-architectural-gemscenotaph-at-old-city-hall/

The magnificent Metropolitan Cathedral at King East and Church Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/torontos-architectural-gemsmetropolitan-cathedral/

St. Stanislaus Koska RC Church on Denison Avenue, north of Queen West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/torontos-architectural-gemsst-stanislaus-koska-rc-church-at-12-denison-avenue/

The historical St. Mary’s Church at Adelaide and Bathurst Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/torontos-architectural-gemsst-marys-alterations-nearly-completed/

The Bishop’s (St, Michael’s) Palace on Church Street, Toronto

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/torontos-architectural-gemsbishops-palace-on-church-street/

The Union Building at Simcoe and King Street West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-union-building-on-king-st/

The Ed Mirvish (Pantages, Imperial, Canon) Theatre, a true architectural gem on Toronto’s Yonge Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-ed-mirvish-theatre-pantages-imperial-canon/

The Waverly Hotel on Spadina near College Street.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/16/toronto-architectural-gemsthe-waverly-hotel-484-spadina/

The Art Deco Bank of Commerce building on King Street West.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-bank-of-commerce-cibc-on-king-street/

The Postal Delivery Building, now the Air Canada Centre (ACC)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-postal-delivery-building-now-the-acc/

The Bellevue Fire Station on College Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/14/torontos-architectural-gems-bellevue-fire-station/

The Bank of Nova Scotia at King and Bay Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/torontos-architectural-gems-the-bank-of-nova-scotia-at-king-and-bay/

Toronto’s old Sunnyside Beach

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/in-mid-winter-recalling-the-sunshine-of-torontos-sunnyside-beach/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/01/a-pictorial-journey-to-sunnyside-beach-of-old-part-one/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/a-pictorial-journey-to-torontos-old-sunnyside-beach-part-two/

Toronto’s architectural gems—the Runnymede Library

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/torontos-architectural-gems-runnymede-library/

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/

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/

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2013 in Toronto

 

Toronto’s old movie theatres—the Royal George on St. Clair near Dufferin

Royal George Sept. 54

This photo of the Royal George is from the City of Toronto Archives. When it was taken, there was a billiard parlour on the third floor, the door going up to it on the west (right-hand) side of the theatre entrance. A shop is on the left-hand side of the entrance. The front of the building is symmetrical, with a parapet above a cornice that consists of decorative rows of bricks that simulate dentils. To the east of the theatre is laneway, which has since disappeared. This photo dates from September of 1954. The film on the marquee, “Sophia,” starring Gene Raymond, was released in 1948. It is strange that a 1920s car is parked in front of the theatre.

The Royal George Theatre at 1217 St. Clair Avenue West, a short distance west of Dufferin Street, was originally was located farther east along the street, on the southwest corner of Dufferin and St. Clair. It opened as “The Picture Palace” sometime during the early years of the 20th century. The building that housed the theatre remains in existence today, and now houses shops, and offices. The Picture Palace was the first theatre to open in the rural Earlscourt District, in the days when it was a remote community above the Davenport Road Hill. The area did not have a streetcar line that connected it to the downtown until 1913, but despite its isolation, it attracted numerous immigrants, mostly from Britain. They constructed houses in Earlscourt as land prices were cheap and there were almost no building codes. It was known at the time as “muddy Earlscourt” as the rains of spring and autumn turned the streets into a sea of mud. It was into this environment that the “Picture Palace” opened its doors.

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This photo from the City of Toronto Archives (SC 231, Item 221) gazes west along St. Clair at Dufferin Street. “The Picture Palace” can be seen on the southwest corner of Dufferin and St. Clair Avenue West. The picture was likely taken about the year 1920, as the streetcar tracks are already in place and movie playing at the theatre was “The Fatal Fortune,” starring Helen Holmes, released in 1919. Because the auditorium of the theatre was aligned east-west, parallel to the street, after the theatre relocated it was easy to convert the building to small shops that faced busy St. Clair Avenue. Apartments were located above the theatre to offset operating costs of the theatre.

When the theatre opened, attending movie houses was frowned upon by the churches and “respectable society.” Several years ago I interviewed a lady who was over 90 years of age at the time. She had lived on Rosemount Avenue, located two blocks south of St. Clair, west off Dufferin. As a child, her family attended the small Salvation Army congregation who worshipped in a small hall beside the theatre, on its west side. The church was named the Earlscourt Citadel Corps. As a child she often passed the theatre and gazed at the advertisements for the films. Her parents had warned her never to enter the theatre, as to do so was very sinful. However, because movies were not allowed on Sundays by law, her church often rented the theatre for special musical programs and religious campaigns.  She was inside the theatre many times on these occasions. She said that she often wondered what sins occurred within the building during the weekdays. One of the farewell services for the Canadian Staff Band of the Salvation Army was held within the theatre. On May 29, 1914, most of the members of this band perished when the HMS Empress of Ireland sank in the St. Lawrence River, claiming the lives of over 800 victims.

During the First World War, the theatre continued to operate on its corner location. Sometime during the war years, its owners decided to relocate farther along the street, to the west, at 1217 St. Clair. Due to the patriotic fervour created by the war, and because the area was inhabited mostly by British immigrants, the name of the theatre was changed to the “Royal George.”  Its owner was Mr. A. McCullock, and his new theatre contained 456 seats, which was less than in its former location. 

Several years ago, a woman was interviewed whose mother was employed as a cleaner at the Royal George Theatre in 1919. She said that in that year it was Mrs. MCullock who operated the theatre. It is assumed that her husband had passed away. The cleaning woman said that Mrs. McCullock was very kind, on one occasion purchasing a winter coat for her. Mrs. McCullock ran the theatre and sold tickets in the ticket booth, where she always placed a bouquet of flowers. The interviewed woman’s mother, when cleaning the auditorium, lifted the seats to clean and was delighted if she discovered a nickel or penny that had dropped to the floor.

An ex-colleague of mine told me that he remembers attending the Royal George in 1944, when the film “The White Cliffs of Dover” was playing. A woman became hysterical during the screening and an ambulance was summonsed. This was during the war, and he thought that perhaps the emotional impact of the war movie was “too real” for her. 

The Royal George remained as a thriving theatre for many decades, even after the St. Clair Theatre opened in 1921, a block to the east. However, similar to most of the city’s old theatres, the age of television diminished the crowds. In September of 1954, the theatre was for sale for the price of $147,000, but it remained a functioning theatre for another decade. It eventually closed and was converted for commercial purposes.

I have only one connection to the theatre that stands out in my memory. In the early 1950s, when Sunday movies remained illegal, the theatre was rented to the Christian Science Church. I had an uncle who had converted to the religion, and he took my brother and me to a service in the theatre. The guest soloist for the occasion warbled so badly off key that my brother and I had great difficulty restraining our laughter. I find it strange that this memory remains with me after all these years.

Today, the building remains on St. Clair Avenue, but all traces of the theatre have disappeared. The facade has a new layer of bricks. Most who pass by on the street have no idea that it was once the sight of a highly popular neighbourhood theatre.

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The box office and billboards for “Picture Palace Theatre” on the corner of Dufferin and St. Clair (left-hand photo). The right-hand picture shows porch of the small Salvation Army Hall to the west of the theatre, and a shop with a Coca Cola sign on it.

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This view is gazing east along St. Clair Avenue, the Royal George Theatre on the south side of St. Clair.  In the foreground is a Peter Witt streetcar on the Bay Street route. These cars began service in Toronto in 1921, and were employed on Yonge Street until the Yonge Subway opened in 1954. The Bay streetcars ran along St. Clair as far west as Lansdowne Avenue, and on the return trip went eastbound on St. Clair, down Avenue Road, east on Davenport, and then south on Bay St. to the ferry docks. This photo was likely taken in the 1940s. Notice that the theatre marquee is different to the one shown in the 1954 photo.

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The southwest corner of Dufferin and St. Clair in 2013. The yellow building was the site of “The Picture Palace.” Shops have been constructed into the east and north facades of the old theatre. Apartments and offices remain above the former auditorium, but the upper windows have been enlarged. 

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The east facade of the old theatre, on Dufferin Street. The box office of the theatre was located on the corner where the man can be seen standing with his hands in his pockets.

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(Left) The site of the Royal George in 2013, and (right) the theatre in 1954. Notice that the shop to the right of the theatre remains recognizable today.

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The refaced south facade of the former “Royal George Theatre” on St. Clair West in September of 2013.

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

To view previous blogs about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new

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

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

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

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog.

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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 .

 

 

 

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Toronto’s architectural gems—the old “Silver Snail” comic store at 367 Queen St. W.

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The “Silver Snail” comic shop at 367 Queen Street West has departed the scene. Those who remember it might recall its colourful facade, interesting window displays, and west wall decorated with graffiti art. This Second-Empire building was constructed in 1890 for the clothing business of George Adams. The third-floor mansard roof appears somewhat shabby in the above photo, but in the latter days of the 19th century, its rectangular windows with their ornate trim were quite attractive. The brickwork on the west side of the structure indicates that the third floor and mansard roof were added at a later date. The building continued to be altered during the years ahead. In 2012, the windows facing the street, on the second floor, were filled-in with cement blocks and large commercial signage placed across them. However, when the above photo was taken the interior rolled-tin ceiling remained in tact.

The building has now been demolished, only its facade remaining. It is a pity that this building has not survived, but at least its facade will continue to grace the street, after its present building phase has been completed. 

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       The Queen Street facade as viewed from the street level in 2012.

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           A colourful window display of the Silver Snail.

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                           Another window display (2012).

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                    The mansard roof of the Silver Snail building in 2012.

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                                         The north and west facades of the building.

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Signs in the window in 2012, announcing that the store was relocating. It is to open on Yonge Street, north of Dundas Street.

March 2013

In this photo, the 1890 building has not been demolished, but work on it has already commenced.

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This picture was taken in the summer of 2013, when only the facade and a small portion of the building remains.

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Artist’s drawing of the building when the complex has been completed. The ground floor of the 1890 clothing store of George Adams will be completely modern However, the second and third floors will appear much as they did in the 19th century.

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

To view other posts about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

The 1860s Georgian-style houses at 7-9 Elm Street, now the site of Barberian’s Steak House

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/torontos-architectural-gems1860s-houses-on-elm-streetbarbarians-steak-house/

Hughes Terrace, a row of four building on King Street West, across from TIFF

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/torontos-architectural-gemshughes-terrace-on-king-st-w/

The Runnymede Theatre that is now a book store in the Bloor West Village.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-runnymede-theatre-on-bloor-street/

The building on the northwest corner of Dundas and Yonge that was once a bank

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/07/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-bank-building-at-yonge-and-dundas-streets/

The Ellis Building on Adelaide Street near Spadina Ave. 

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-ellis-building-on-adelaide-near-spadina/

The Heintzman Building on Yonge Street, next to the Elgin Theatre

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-heintzman-building-on-yonge-street/

The tall narrow building at 242 Yonge Street, south of Dundas

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/torontos-architectural-gems242-yonge-st-south-of-dundas/

Toronto’s first Reference Library at College and St. George Streets.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-original-toronto-public-reference-library/

The Commodore Building at 315-317 Adelaide St. West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-commodore-building-315-317-adelaide-st/

The Graphic Arts Building (condo) on Richmond Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-graphic-arts-building-on-richmond-st/

The Art Deco Victory Building on Richmond Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-victory-building-at-80-adelaide-street-west/

The Concourse Building on Adelaide Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-concourse-building-on-adelaide-st/

The old Bank of Commerce at 197 Yonge Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-old-bank-of-commerce-at-197-yonge-street/

The Traders Bank on Yonge Street—the city’s second skyscraper

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/torontos-architectural-gemstraders-bank-on-yonge-st/

Toronto’s old Union Station on Front Street, built in 1884

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/torontos-lost-architectural-gemsthe-old-union-station/

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church at King and Simcoe Streets.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/torontos-architectural-gemshistoric-st-andrews-on-king-st/

The row houses on Glasgow Street, near Spadina and College Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/torontos-architectural-gemsrow-houses-on-glasgow-st/

The bank at Queen and Simcoe that resembles a Greek temple

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-bank-at-queen-west-and-simcoe-streets/

The cenotaph at Toronto’s Old City Hall

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/torontos-architectural-gemscenotaph-at-old-city-hall/

The magnificent Metropolitan Cathedral at King East and Church Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/torontos-architectural-gemsmetropolitan-cathedral/

St. Stanislaus Koska RC Church on Denison Avenue, north of Queen West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/torontos-architectural-gemsst-stanislaus-koska-rc-church-at-12-denison-avenue/

The historical St. Mary’s Church at Adelaide and Bathurst Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/torontos-architectural-gemsst-marys-alterations-nearly-completed/

The Bishop’s (St, Michael’s) Palace on Church Street, Toronto

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/torontos-architectural-gemsbishops-palace-on-church-street/

The Union Building at Simcoe and King Street West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-union-building-on-king-st/

The Ed Mirvish (Pantages, Imperial, Canon) Theatre, a true architectural gem on Toronto’s Yonge Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-ed-mirvish-theatre-pantages-imperial-canon/

The Waverly Hotel on Spadina near College Street.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/16/toronto-architectural-gemsthe-waverly-hotel-484-spadina/

The Art Deco Bank of Commerce building on King Street West.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-bank-of-commerce-cibc-on-king-street/

The Postal Delivery Building, now the Air Canada Centre (ACC)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-postal-delivery-building-now-the-acc/

The Bellevue Fire Station on College Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/14/torontos-architectural-gems-bellevue-fire-station/

The Bank of Nova Scotia at King and Bay Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/torontos-architectural-gems-the-bank-of-nova-scotia-at-king-and-bay/

Toronto’s old Sunnyside Beach

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/in-mid-winter-recalling-the-sunshine-of-torontos-sunnyside-beach/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/01/a-pictorial-journey-to-sunnyside-beach-of-old-part-one/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/a-pictorial-journey-to-torontos-old-sunnyside-beach-part-two/

Toronto’s architectural gems—the Runnymede Library

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/torontos-architectural-gems-runnymede-library/

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/

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/

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2013 in Toronto