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.
Entrance and marquee of the Mount Dennis Theatre in 1959.
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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.
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