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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Toronto’s old Odeon Danforth Theatre

Odeon Danforth  4

                           Photo, City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 119

The Odeon Danforth Theatre was located at 635 Danforth Avenue, on the south side of the street, a short distance west of Pape Avenue. Similar to the other theatres in the Odeon chain—the Carlton, Humber, Fairlawn and Hyland—the Danforth originally featured mainly British film. When the theatre opened its doors on April 16, 1948, Toronto was enjoying the postwar economic boom, and no section of the economy benefitted more than the theatre industry. Families had been reunited after the men returned from Europe and the Pacific front. They wished to forget the hardships of the war years, and going to the movies was a favourite past-time. The film on the marquee in the above photo, taken on opening night, had been released in 1947. It was a gripping melodrama.

Theatres had existed on the site of the Odeon Danforth prior to the Odeon chain purchasing the property—the Rex and the Athena Palace. The new Odeon Theatre was designed by Jay English. It contained 852 seats in the auditorium and a further 476 in the balcony. Because I lived in the west end of Toronto, I was never inside the Odeon Danforth. I rarely ever travelled east of Yonge Street, which was the great divide. However, I was aware of it, as I had seen its name in the newspaper ads when I was checking to determine what was playing at other Odeon Theatres.

DSCN4162   DSCN4163

These ads appeared in the Toronto Star on February 16, 1952. The Odeon Carlton was still referred to as the Odeon Toronto. The ad also reveals that the Christie Theatre was a part of the Odeon chain. The year 1952, when the above ad appeared, was when the popularity of the city’s movie theatres was at its height. The following year, TV sets were purchased by the thousands across Toronto to view the Coronation. It was the beginning of the end for many theatres, particularly those in local neighbourhoods.

In 1964, at the Odeon Danforth, faulty wiring caused the popcorn machine at the concession stand to catch fire. Patrons were immediately evacuated. The theatre passed out 587 free tickets for a return visit, although 13 people requested refunds. The damage was minimal, mostly caused by the thick smoke, but the repair bill was $50,000. In March 1965, another fire occurred in the balcony, caused by a cigarette butt smouldering in a seat. The seat was removed, cut open, and thrown into a snow bank outside the theatre. The disturbance was minimal. 

Unfortunately, I have not been able to discover the exact year that the Odeon Danforth closed, but it was likely in the late-1960s or early 1970s. The building was renovated to accommodate other commercial purposes, and today contains an Extreme Fitness outlet. Roger Smith of Toronto informed me that the interior of the theatre remains basically intact. He vividly recalls viewing the film “Jaws” in the theatre in 1975.

Dec. 1950, Odeon Danforth

The notation on this photo from the City of Toronto Archives (Series 1278, file 119) states that this photo was taken in 1950. If this is accurate, then the Odeon Danforth was screening films that were quite old—“Cavalcade” was released in 1933 and “On Approval” in 1944.  This was confirmed by Roger Smith of Toronto, who remembers that the theatre had difficulty renting more up-to-date films. The view in the above photo looks east along the Danforth. The eastbound PCC streetcar is stopped at Pape Avenue. The marquee of the Palace Theatre is visible on the north (left-hand side) of the street.

Odeon Danforth -  AO 2141

Lobby of the Odeon Danforth and stairs leading to the balcony. Photo, Ontario Archives, AO 2141

Odeon Danforth   AO 2142   2

            Auditorium of the Odeon Danforth. Photo, Ontario Archives 2142

                                  Odeon Danforth (3)

The site of the Odeon Danforth in 2013, at 635 Danforth Avenue.

DSCN8250

The bank on the right in the photo is the building that was next door(west side) of the Odeon Danforth, and the large brown-brick building across the road on the left (north side of Danforth Avenue) is where the Palace Theatre was located.

Odeon Danforth (2)

The bank on the west side of the Odeon Danforth in the summer of 2013. The site of the theatre was to the east 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/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its heritage 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. 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 old Bay (Colonial) Theatre

f0124_fl0001_id0137[1]

This photo of the Bay Theatre, directly across from Toronto’s Old City at Queen and Bay Streets, was taken in the 1960s. The featured film on the marquee is “The Small World of Sammy Lee, “ a British crime drama that was released in 1963. When I was a teenager in the 1950s, I remember the Bay Theatre, but was unaware of its importance in the history of Toronto’s movie theatre scene.

When “moving pictures” first arrived in Toronto in 1896, they were shown on a bed sheet in a small space within Robertson’s Musee. People sat on kitchen chairs to view the films. During the next few year, various modest rental spaces were rented in the downtown area to show movies. In 1906, the city’s first permanent theatre, the Theatorium, opened on Yonge Street.

The next advancement in theatre history occurred in 1909, when a building was constructed for the exclusive purpose of screening moving pictures. This was the Colonial Theatre, later renamed The Bay. It was located at 45 Queen Street West, a short distance east of Bay Street. Although it was in a separate building, its heating system was connected to the Simpson’s Store, which occupied most of the city block between Yonge and Bay. The theatre possessed no basement.

                          New Colonial- opened 1909, Ist Nickleodeon, for moviesd only

This architectural sketch of the theatre is from the collection of the Toronto Reference Library. The theatre’s symmetrical neo-classical-style facade was of brick and stone, containing a conglomeration of fluted columns, arches, pilasters and an overly heavy ornate cornice.

I discovered various data for the number of seats in the interior. The one that was the most specific stated that there were  228 seats in the auditorium, 115 in the mezzanine, and 130 in the balcony, which wrapped around the auditorium.  The seats were velour leatherette, with two aisles and further aisles along the sides. Stairs on the east side led to the mezzanine level, and a set of steel stairs to the balcony. The projection booth was atop the balcony in an area referred to as the Gallery. 

In 1919, an additional storey was added on the building, built from stones, brick, columns etc. from the demolished Custom House on the southwest corner of Front and Yonge. The original facade of the theatre was already impressive, but the addition of another floor created a building that appeared top-heavy. The windows on the top floor were massive, containing overly ornate surrounds. Unless there were offices behind these windows, they were faux windows to enhance the ornamentation of the facade.

                          Colonial_Theatre,_south_side_of_Queen_Street,_east_from_Bay_Street,_constructed_from_fragments_of_old_Customs_House[1]

In the photo above, from the City of Toronto Archives (Fonds 1231, Item 85), the remnants from the old Custom House are evident on the upper portion of the facade. When this photo was taken, the melodrama “Tess of the Storm Country,” released in 1922, was showing. The film was an enormous hit for Mary Pickford, the popular Canadian star, who had starred in a silent version of this film eight years earlier. On the ground floor of the theatre, on the west side (right-hand side of photo) was an antique shop, operated by the Franklin brothers, two bachelors, who also owned the theatre.

The Colonial closed in 1933, when the “talkies” (sound films) began to dominate the movie scene. However, the Franklin brothers refused to sell the property. I was unable to discover how the property was employed in the years ahead, but the theatre’s auditorium must have basically remained intact, as in 1950, after extensive renovations, the theatre was reopened, its name changed to the Bay Theatre. It survived in the years ahead by showing B-films, usually offering three films for a single admission price. However, it permanently closed in 1965, because Simpson’s Department Store needed space to expand. The retailer purchased the property and the theatre was demolished. The Simpson Tower today occupies the site.

f1244_it0515[1]  Bay theatre, 1920

This photo from the City of Toronto Archives (Series 1244, It. 515 (1)) shows the Bay Theatre when it was the Colonial Theatre, before the 1919 addition was added, employing architectural pieces from the old Custom House at Front and Yonge Streets. The tall building in the background is the Temple Building, Toronto’s first real skyscraper. There is no war monument in front of the Old City Hall.

DSCN0068

This photo was taken in the 1940s. The building that had been the site of the Colonial Theatre is on the right, with the large arch over its entrance. This is the same arch that was in the sketch of the Colonial Theatre in the Toronto Reference Library. To the east of it is the ACE Theatre, at 39 Queen West. In the photo is a PCC streetcar, westbound on Queen Street. These streetcars first arrived in Toronto in 1938 and were the original “red-rockets.” The view is looking east along Queen Street, toward Yonge Street. The Simpson’s Store (now The Bay) is in the upper left-hand corner of the photo.

 

Bay when sold, 1959

The Bay Theatre in 1959. The marquee advertises the film “Seven Thunders,” released in 1957. It was a World War Two film about two escaped British prisoners of War. The building on the southwest corner of Bay and Queen Streets is a branch of the Bank of Toronto, before it amalgamated with the Dominion Bank to create the TD Bank.

Bay, 43 Queen W.

This photo was taken in the early-1960s, as the film on the marquee is “Man on a String.” It was a spy and espionage movie that was released in 1960. In this photo, the shop to the right of the entrance to the theatre, where the two Franklin brothers had sold antiques in earlier decades, was occupied by “Century—Handbag and Luggage Repairs.” 

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/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its heritage 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. 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 old movie houses—the Paramount Theatre at 1069 St. Clair Ave.

Paramount 1100-N-97

The Paramount Theatre was on the south side of St. Clair Avenue West, between Lauder and Glenholme avenues. (Photo City of Toronto Archives, Series 488, It.1100). I remember the Paramount Theatre quite clearly, although the above photo does not quite match with my memories, which are from the late-1940s and early-1950s, when its attractive facade was decidedly shabby. In the above picture, the two films listed on the marquee were both released in 1935, so the photo likely dates from 1936, the year the Paramount opened. It was named after the famous Paramount Studios in Hollywood, but had no connection to it. However, in the 1930s, its name created a glamorous image of the glories of the silver screen. The year the Paramount opened, it was licensed to J. B. Goldher and Garson Solway. The auditorium had a concrete floor and its ticket booth was in the lobby. It possessed two aisles, with the following seating pattern of — five seats on the left, an aisle, nine seats in the centre section, another aisle, and five more seats on the right-hand side. The air-conditioning was “water-washed cooled.”

During the 1950s and 1960s, with the advent of television, the Paramount operated on an increasingly tight budget. It attempted to lure customers by offering three feature films for a single admission price. It mainly screened B-movies, cowboy and crime films, and adventure films, accompanied by cartoons, newsreels, and serials. The latter were short films that ran consecutively for several weeks and were also referred to as “cliff-hangers.”

In 1951, the front of the theatre was remodelled by Herbert Duerr. Perhaps this was when the tower was added above the marquee.

When the theatre ceased to operate as a theatre, it became an appliance store. I remember this well, as my friends and I often stopped to watch the television sets in the window. The medium was in its infancy, and stores placed sets in their windows for people to view. As well, they mounted speakers outside the stores to provide the sound. It was an excellent form of advertising. The black and white pictures were grainy and of poor quality, but we thought they were marvellous.  We dreamed of having such a marvel in our living rooms. When the appliance store was sold, the building was listed by the Toronto Real Estate Board at a price of $100,000. 

           Paramout   4

Architect’s drawing for the Paramount Theatre, dated 1936. Drawing from the Toronto Archives.

Paramount 488-11-01-98

The Paramount Theatre in 1936, looking east along St. Clair Avenue toward Oakwood. Photo, City of Toronto Archives, Series 488-11-01-98.

Paramount (2)

The site of the old Paramount when it became a furniture and appliance store. The tower that was above the marquee of the theatre was recycled by the store. Photo from the City of Toronto Archives, from the Toronto Real Estate Board.     

DSCN1472

     The site of the old Paramount Theatre at 1069 St. Clair Avenue in 2013.

DSCN1474   DSCN1473

                     The site of the Paramount Theatre in 2013.

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. 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)

 

 

Tags: , , ,

Toronto’s old movie houses—the Paramount Theatre at 1069 St. Clair Ave.

Paramount 1100-N-97

The Paramount Theatre was on the south side of St. Clair Avenue West, between Lauder and Glenholme avenues. (Photo City of Toronto Archives, Series 488, It.1100). I remember the Paramount Theatre quite clearly, although the above photo does not quite match with my memories, which are from the late-1940s and early-1950s, when its attractive facade was decidedly shabby. In the above picture, the two films listed on the marquee were both released in 1935, so the photo likely dates from 1936, the year the Paramount opened. It was named after the famous Paramount Studios in Hollywood, but had no connection to it. However, in the 1930s, its name created a glamorous image of the glories of the silver screen. The year the Paramount opened, it was licensed to J. B. Goldher and Garson Solway. The auditorium had a concrete floor and its ticket booth was in the lobby. It possessed two aisles, with the following seating pattern of — five seats on the left, an aisle, nine seats in the centre section, another aisle, and five more seats on the right-hand side. The air-conditioning was “water-washed cooled.”

During the 1950s and 1960s, with the advent of television, the Paramount operated on an increasingly tight budget. It attempted to lure customers by offering three feature films for a single admission price. It mainly screened B-movies, cowboy and crime films, and adventure films, accompanied by cartoons, newsreels, and serials. The latter were short films that ran consecutively for several weeks and were also referred to as “cliff-hangers.”

In 1951, the front of the theatre was remodelled by Herbert Duerr. Perhaps this was when the tower was added above the marquee.

When the theatre ceased to operate as a theatre, it became an appliance store. I remember this well, as my friends and I often stopped to watch the television sets in the window. The medium was in its infancy, and stores placed sets in their windows for people to view and mounted speakers outside the stores to provide the sound. It was an excellent form of advertising. The black and white pictures were grainy and of poor quality, but we thought they were marvellous.  We dreamed of having such a marvel in our living rooms. When the appliance store was sold, the building was listed by the Toronto Real Estate Board at a price of $100,000. 

           Paramout   4

Architect’s drawing for the Paramount Theatre, dated 1936. Drawing from the Toronto Archives.

Paramount 488-11-01-98

The Paramount Theatre in 1936, looking east along St. Clair Avenue toward Oakwood. Photo, City of Toronto Archives, Series 488-11-01-98.

Paramount (2)

The site of the old Paramount when it became a furniture and appliance store. The tower that was above the marquee of the theatre was recycled by the store. Photo from the City of Toronto Archives, from the Toronto Real Estate Board.      

DSCN1472

     The site of the old Paramount Theatre at 1069 St. Clair Avenue in 2013.

DSCN1474   DSCN1473

                     The site of the Paramount Theatre in 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

The Uptown 5 Multiplex Theatre on Yonge south of Bloor

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/torontos-old-movie-housesthe-uptown-5-multiplex-theatre/

The Odeon Carlton Theatre

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/11/08/torontos-old-movie-housesthe-odeon-fairlawn/

The infamous Casino Burlesque Theatre on Queen Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-infamous-casino-on-queen-st/ 

The Garden Theatre at 290 College Street.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/discovering-two-of-torontos-lost-movie-theatres/

The Grant Theatre on Oakwood Avenue near Vaughan Road

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-grant/

The Odeon Hyland Theatre at Yonge and St. Clair

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/torontos-old-movie-housesthe-odeon-hyland/

Loew’s Uptown Theatre (the Uptown)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/torontos-old-movie-housesloews-uptown/

The Elgin Theatre (Loew’s Downtown)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/torontos-old-movie-housesloews-downtown-the-elgin/

The Hollywood Theatre on the east side of Yonge Street, north of St. Clair Avenue.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-hollywood-theatre/

The St. Clair Major Theatre on St. Clair Avenue, east of Old Weston Road.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/04/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-st-clair-major/

The St. Clair Theatre, west of Dufferin Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/torontos-old-movie-housesthe-st-clair-theatre-near-dufferin-st/

The Odeon Humber theatre at Bloor and Jane Streets (now Humber Cinemas)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-odeon-humber-theatre/

The Oakwood Theatre on Oakwood Avenue, near St. Clair Avenue West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/28/torontos-old-movie-housesthe-oakwood-theatre-at-st-clair-and-oakwood/

The Biltmore Theatre on Yonge, north of Dundas St.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/torontos-old-movie-housesthe-biltmore-theatre/

The Coronet Theatre on Yonge St. at Gerrard

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/torontos-old-movie-housesthe-coronet-savoy-on-yonge-at-gerrard/

The Nortown Theatre on Eglinton, west of Bathurst St.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/16/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-nortown-at-bathurst-and-eglinton/

The Radio City Theatre on Bathurst, south of St. Clair.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/13/torontos-old-movie-housesthe-radio-city-theatre/

The Mount Dennis Theatre on Weston Rd, north of Eglinton

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-mount-dennis-on-weston-rd/

The Royal George Theatre on St. Clair W., west of Dufferin Street.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-royal-george-on-st-clair-near-dufferin/

The Colony Theatre at Vaughan Rd. and Eglinton Ave. West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/torontos-old-movie-housesthe-colony-at-eglinton-and-vaughan/

The Radio City Theatre on Bathurst Street, a short distance south of St. Clair

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/13/torontos-old-movie-housesthe-radio-city-theatre/

The Runnymede Theatre in the Bloor West Village (now a Chapters/Indigo Book Store)

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

The Eglinton Theatre

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-eglinton-theatre/

The magnificent Odeon Carlton at Yonge and Carlton Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/torontos-great-old-theatresthe-odeon-carlton/

The Revue Theatre at 400 Roncesvalles Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-revue-theatre-at-400-roncesvalles-ave/

The Cineplex Odeon Varsity Theatre at Bloor and Bay

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-cineplex-odeon-varsity/

The “Bloor Hot Docs Cinema” on Bloor Street West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-bloor-hot-docs-cinema/

The Vaughan Theatre on St. Clair Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/torontos-lost-treasuresthe-vaughan-theatre-on-st-clair-ave/

Toronto’s first movie screening and its first movie theatre

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/torontos-first-movie-screening-and-first-movie-theatre/

The ultra-modern Scotiabank Theatre at Richmond and John Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-modern-scotiabank-theatre/

Cineplex Theatre at Yonge and Dundas Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/torontos-architectural-gems-cineplex-at-dundas-and-yonge-streets/

The Ed Mirvish Theatre (the Pantages, Imperial and Cannon)

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

The Downtown Theatre (now demolished) at Yonge and Dundas

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/torontos-lost-movie-theatresthe-downtown-theatre-on-yonge-st-south-of-dundas/

The Orpheum Theatre on Queen St., west of Bathurst

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/torontos-old-movie-theatres-the-orpheum-on-queen-st-w/

The Bellevue Theatre on College Street that became the Lux Burlesque Theatre

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/the-bellevue-theatre-lux-burlesque-theatre-on-college-street/

Old movie houses of Toronto

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/06/27/old-movie-houses-of-toronto/

The Victory burlesque and movie theatre on Spadina at Dundas:

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

The Shea’s Hippodrome Theatre on Bay St. near Queen

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/07/04/sheas-hippodrome-theatre-where-the-nathan-phillips-square-exists-today/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/photographs-from-the-1950s-of-sheas-hippodrome-theatre-located-on-the-site-of-torontos-new-city-hall/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/old-movie-houses-of-toronto-fond-memories-of-sheas-hippodrome/

Attending a matinee in the old movie houses of Toronto during the “golden age of cinema”

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/attending-a-movie-matinee-in-toronto-during-the-golden-age-of-cinema/

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

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

Archival photos of the Imperial and Downtown Theatres on Yonge Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/02/04/archival-photos-of-torontos-old-theatres-give-reality-to-historical-novel/

The Elgin/Winter/Garden Theatres on Yonge Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/05/31/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-elgin-winter-garden-theatres/

The now vanished Avon Theatre at 1092 Queen Street West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/torontos-lost-movie-theatresthe-avon-at-1092-queen-west/

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

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 November 26, 2013 in Toronto

 

Toronto’s old Uptown 5 Multiplex Theatre

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Loew’s Uptown Theatre c. 1993, after it was converted into five separate theatres. Photo from the City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 251, Series 1278, File 165.

A previous post on this blog about Toronto’s Uptown Theatre, explored the past of this grand movie palace. It mentioned that this theatre was closed and it reopened on December 25, 1969 as a multiplex theatre with five separate auditoriums. At the time, Nat Taylor owned the theatre. In 1979, he partnered with Garth Drabinsky to create Odeon Cineplex Corp. The architects for the renovations of the Uptown were Mandel Sprachman and Marvin Giller. Nat Taylor’s experience with the conversion of the Uptown culminated in the construction of the Eaton Centre Odeon Cineplex, which when it opened, was the largest multiscreen venue in the world.

The Uptown 5 was among first multiscreen cinema complexes in the world. When the conversion had been completed, the main auditorium of the old Uptown had been divided lengthwise to create two theatres, which were side by side—the Uptown Two and the Uptown Three. In the former balcony, a ceiling extended out over the auditorium below to create a separate theatre—the Uptown One—containing 922 seats. The lobby was redone in vibrant greens for the new multiscreen theatre. 

For a link to the previous  blog, about Loew’s Uptown Theatre : https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/torontos-old-movie-housesloews-uptown/ 

DSCN1673

This view of the entrance of the Uptown is prior to it being converted into the Uptown 5. The view gazes from the top of the escalator, where patrons entered the Uptown from Yonge Street. Although the colours were changed when the theatre was renovated to create the multi-screen complex, this photo reveals the splendour of the old Uptown, as the decorative plasterwork was retained after the conversion.  Photo from City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 122, Series 881, File 241

                   Fonds 122, Series 122, File 241 DSCN1668

The entrances for the Backstage One and Two were on Bulmuto Street. The two smaller theatres were created from backstage area of the former Uptown Theatre, which were a considerable size as the theatre had originally been built for live theatre, including vaudeville. The Backstage theatres screened art film. The Backstage One seated 185 patrons, and the Backstage Two seated 149. After the old Uptown was converted, the five theatres had a total of 2268 seats, which was almost equal to the capacity of the former Uptown.   Photo-city of Toronto Archives,Fonds 122, Series 122, File 241

Backstage   Fonds 122, Series 881,  File 241

The Backstage Two Theatre, Photo City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 122, Series 881, File 241

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Another view of the Backstage Two Theatre, Photo City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 122, Series 881, File 241

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 posts about Toronto’s Heritage Buildings

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

Book published in 2014 about Toronto’s old movie theatres, which 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.  

“Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen”

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To place and order for this book, either in electronic or hard copy format, follow the link below.

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 old Odeon Fairlawn Theatre

                Odeon Fairlawn  G&M 135157

City of Toronto Archives, Globe and Mail Collection, 135157. The film “Saraband” on the marquee was released in 1938.

The plans for the Odeon Fairlawn Theatre were submitted to the City of Toronto by the architect Jay English in December 1945. The sleek, ultra-modern theatre opened two years later, on August 14, 1947, at 3320 Yonge Street, a short distance north of Fairlawn Avenue, in North Toronto.

Map of 3320 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4N 2M4

The theatre contained 1165 seats, plus another 754 in the balcony. It was owned by Snowden Investors Ltd., but leased to the British Odeon chain. Its first manager was Howard F. Elliott. The Fairlawn was the Odeon chain’s first entry into the Canadian theatre scene, offering British movies to compete with the American films that dominated the screens of Toronto. The year after the Fairlawn opened, its architect, Jay English, was hired to design the flagship theatre for the company—the Odeon Carlton. He also redesigned the lobby of the Fox Theatre, on Queen Street East, which survives to this day.

In 1948, the Fairlawn held a “Casanova Contest,” employing four young women as judges. From among the 22 competitors, they chose a twenty-year-old man, Edward King, as the winner. It was at the Fairlawn that the chain introduced a “Saturday Morning Movie Club,” which was a matinee offered at a time of the week when the theatre would have normally been empty. The idea was a success and the company opened similar clubs at their other theatres. I remember attending them when they commenced at the Colony Theatre, on Eglinton West near Vaughan Road. Unlike other matiness, they had an emcee who introduced the films. They often included lucky draws and contests. I believe that they also gave out small badges, which we pinned to our shirts. It may all sound pretty tame today, but in the 1940s, we were excited about attending the clubs and proud to wear the badges.  

During the 1950s and 1960s, the Fairlawn had many successful long-term showings of popular films. These included such classics as Lord Jim, Funny Girl, and Lawrence of Arabia. These films often had their debuts at other theatres, but settled in at the Fairlawn for the long haul, often for many months and sometimes a year. I remember seeing Cabaret, starring Liza Mannelli and Michael York, at the Fairlawn and can recall the long lines outside the theatre to purchase tickets.

In 1976, the theatre was redesigned, creating a separate auditorium in the space that had formerly been the balcony. This necessitated building another projection booth to accommodate the new space. The marquee was also altered.

The theatre remained popular throughout the early 1980s, but was abruptly closed on December 31, 1985. A retail/residential complex was erected on the site. The city lost a grand movie house, the loss felt keenly by the residents of North Toronto. 

Series 1278, file 7 DSCN1682

This photo was likely taken in 1947, the year the theatre opened, as the film on the marquee, “The Best Years of Our Lives” was released in 1946. Photo from the City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 7.

Odeon Fairlawn  OA 2150

Lobby of the Odeon Fairlawn. Photo from Ontario Archives, AO 2150

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The auditorium of the Fairlawn—photo from Ontario Archives AO 2151

Odeon Fairlawn

Article in the Globe and Mail of July 28, 1948, about the Casanova Contest at the Fairlawn Theatre. Article from the City of Toronto Archives.

Odeon Fairlawn site

The site on Yonge Street where the Odeon Fairlawn was located. Photo from the City of Toronto Archives.

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

To view links to posts about other old movie theatres of Toronto.

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

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

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

Book published in 2014 about Toronto’s old movie theatres, which 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.  

“Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen”

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To place and order for this book, either in electronic or hard copy format, follow the link below.

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), the Photodrome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

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

 

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Favourite cartoons of Rob Ford (2013)

It’s difficult to believe how much ink Rob Ford has provided for the pens of the cartoonists. The examples below are from the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail. Although they are highly amusing, it is also sad to see the elected mayor of the city being lampooned to this degree.

G & M March 2013

From the Globe and Mail, March 2013. It is my favourite

Globe 2012

                            The Globe and Mail

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Toronto Star, September 4, 2013

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Toronto Star

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Toronto Star

June 26, 2013

The Toronto Star

June 2013

Toronto Star, June 2013

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Toronto Star

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Toronto Star (This cartoon hurts)

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Toronto Star, June 2013

Star

Toronto Star

Tor. Star, Oct 10, 2013

Toronto Star, October 10, 2013

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

To view links to posts about the history of Toronto and its heritage buildings:

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

To view links to posts that rediscover Toronto’s old movie houses:

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

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2013 in Toronto

 

Toronto’s old movie theatres—the infamous Casino on Queen St.

              Casino, TTC PC147

This photo from the City of Toronto Archives (TTC Collection, PC147), depicts the Casino Theatre and the Casino Cigar and Coffee Shop located in the same building. The shop is on the right-hand side of the picture. Valerie Parks, whose name appears on the marquee, was a famous burlesque star during the 1940s. She was known as the “Personality Girl.” Many men attended the casino to view her “big personalities.”

Throughout the theatre history of Toronto, other than perhaps the Victory Theatre on Spadina, there is no entertainment venue that has elicited as much praise, raunchy stories, condemnation and newspaper coverage as the infamous Casino Theatre. It was located at 87 Queen Street West, on the south side of the street, directly across from today’s new City Hall. The antics in the council chamber of the City Hall pale in comparison to those that occurred inside the Casino during the many decades that it operated in the heart of the city.

My father was one of ten sons, who immigrated to Toronto with my grandparents in the early 1920s. My grandmother was a stern woman who held deep religious convictions. She often overheard her young sons talking about a theatre named the Casino, and prayed that they would never darken the doors of such a den of iniquity. The theatre was famous for its raunchy comedians and risqué burlesque acts. My grandfather assured her that her worries were unnecessary, as “the boys” had been well taught to avoid such sin traps. However, one evening the boys decided to travel secretly downtown and visit the famous theatre. It was the early days of the Great Depression, and I suppose they thought that the display of a little bare skin might take their minds off their employment problems. Much to their surprise, when they entered the Casino, they saw their father sitting in the front row. There were many embarrassed faces that evening and creative excuses offered for their lapse of judgment. However, they all agreed that my grandmother should never learn of their escapades.

When I was a boy, I often heard my father and uncles tell stories of their experiences at the Casino and marvelled that my grandmother never overheard them. To the best of my knowledge, when she passed away in the 1960s, she never knew that her husband and sons had frequented Toronto’s most famous burlesque house. I also remember my father saying that during the depression of the 1930s, if he were unable to secure a job, as a last resort he might seek employment picking the fly buttons off the ceiling of the Casino. These were the days before zippers replaced the buttons on the fly in men’s trousers. My brother and I thought this was a great joke and felt very mature, when we finally figured out what it was that caused the buttons to pop.

The theatre was the brainchild of Jules and Jay Allen, two brothers from Brantford, Ontario, who partnered with Murray Little, who owned the Broadway Theatre. Their new theatre was to be a burlesque house. They hired the famous architectural firm of Kaplan and Sprachman. The Casino was to contain an auditorium with a balcony, the combined seating being 1124 seats. Its facade would possess traces of Art Deco. It would have an orchestra pit in front of the stage, and rehearsal space and dressing rooms on the second floor, above the auditorium. Because the  Broadway and the Casino theatres would be close to each other, they felt that it would be possible to attract large numbers of male customers. It was the height of the Great Depression, when many men were unemployed. Prohibition was the law, so there were few places where a man could afford to be entertained. It was also an era when films were heavily censored.  A burlesque house was ideal to take men’s minds off their problems. All these factors indicated success for a theatre such as the Casino.

The grand opening of the Casino was on April 13, 1936, and it  did indeed attract large numbers of men. It was a prudish era, and although the “strippers” and burlesque shows would be considered tame by today’s standards, the stage performances at the Casino outraged many of the “decent” citizens of “Toronto the Good.” They referred to the theatre as a “sin palace.” It was also declared that it attracted the criminal elements of the city. Rumours circulated that some of the showgirls were available for private sessions for male customers with the funds. As well, people said that bookies often collected bets and paid the winners within the darkened privacy of the Casino.

The area of Queen Street near to the Casino contained five budget hotels, several pawnbrokers, and a few budget clothing stores. The Broadway burlesque theatre was in the same block as where the Casino was being built, five or six shops to the east. Shea’s Hippodrome Theatre, a vaudeville house, was nearby on Bay Street, opposite the Old City Hall.  All these establishments attracted mainly male clientele. The restaurants in the area were not too classy, the smell of friend onions permeating the air. However, although the Casino was located not too far from Yonge Street, it was discretely tucked away from the prying eyes of wives and mothers who shopped at the city’s main downtown shopping area at Queen and Yonge streets. It was thus an ideal location for a discrete and “naughty” few hours of entertainment.

The Casino offered three films per day, as well as a comedian, a love band, and a girlie show. City historian, Mike Filey, wrote in an article in 1993 in the Toronto Sun Newspaper that the Casino offered “every type of performance allowed by law, and some that weren’t.” The girls in the chorus who could dance reasonably well, were placed in the front row. The girls behind them simply went through the motions. Chorus girls were paid $27.50 a week, but the striptease girls were paid about $300 per week, for 24 shows. This was very tempting money during the 1930s. One young woman who was hired as an usherette, since she was attractive, was persuaded to try her luck on the stage. She was pleased with the raise in pay. It is not known if they placed her in the front line or if she was one of the “rhythm” girls in the back.

In January of 1937, a few minutes after midnight on a Sunday, the “Monte Carlo Girls” were on stage at the Casino. In April 1936, the “Lovely Ladies Ensemble—Paris Nights” was the highlight. Gypsy Rose Lee also performed at the Casino.

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Newspaper ads for the shows at the Casino (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 40.) 

                     Carmell-Sophia Loren of Burl. 881-344

The above photo (City of Toronto Archives, Series 881, fl. 344) is a publicity picture for “Carmella,” who was billed as “The Sophia Loren of Burlesque.” She starred at the Casino in 1948. On one occasion, the Casino screened the film, “The Case of Mr. Conrad,” a short movie depicting a gallbladder operation. During the two times it was screened, 14 men fainted. In the late 1940s, the Casino was fined $100 for over-crowding. This was considered a steep amount, as the usual fine was $20, even though the maximum by law $200.

During the 1950s, the Casino attracted rising stars who wanted to hone their skills in front of live audiences. They were housed at the Ford Hotel, at Bay and Dundas, within walking distance of the theatre. In this decade, the hotel was one of the best in the city. During this decade, stars such as Burl Ives and Gordon McRae appeared, as well as the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, Dizzy Gillespie, Jimmy Boyd, and Lillian Rush.

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An ad in the Toronto Star newspaper of February 16, 1952, for the Casino.

During the years, teenagers sometimes skipped school to attend the Casino. To them, the shows were sexy and exotic. The usual ploy was for the boy who was the tallest or the most mature looking, purchase the tickets. On one occasion, the principal of a Toronto high school suspected that his students were going to the Casino. He parked his car on Queen Street, and sat in the auto observing the theatre entrance. It was not long before he saw a group of his students appear at the theatre’s box office. He confronted them. The next day, they appeared with their parents in the principal’s office. It would be interesting to have been a fly on the wall when this encounter occurred inside the hallowed precincts of academia.

There is an orange slip of paper in the file for the Casino in the City of Toronto Archives (Series 1278, File 37) that reveals an amusing story. Apparently the Casino kept a cat on the premises as a “mouser.” The feline sometimes wandered on stage during performances. It did this one evening when a comedian was on stage. He stopped his act, gazed down at the cat and said, “Scram pussy. This is a monologue not a catalogue.”  

In September 1957, audiences were delighted by “Claudette the Torrid Temptress and the 7 Lucky Girls.” The main film of the day was “Abandon Ship” starring Tyrone Power. The 1950s was also the advent of TV into the living rooms of the nation. It soon took its toll on theatre attendance across the city. The program that had the most effect was “Hockey Night in Canada.” Young men began viewing hockey games instead of the girls and adult films at the Casino. Then, the Horseshoe Tavern at Queen and Spadina mounted a TV screen above the bar and commenced broadcasting hockey games. The marriage or beer and hockey began. Times became increasingly difficult for the theatres throughout the city.

However, in the 1960s, the theatre continued to attract some well known performers—Tony Bennett, Peggy Lee, Eartha Kitt, Pearl Bailey, Toronto’s famous quartet the Four Lads, Johnny Ray, Patti Page, Gene Nelson, and Mickey Rooney. These performers stayed at the Royal York rather than at the Ford Hotel.

In 1961, the Casino attempted to clean up its act. It was remodelled and renamed the Festival Theatre. However, all attempts to revive its fortunes failed. When the new City Hall was planned for the land across the street from the theatre, it was deemed that the theatre was sadly out of place. It was time for the grand old burlesque and strip joint to disappear. It was demolished in 1965, and the Sheraton Hotel was constructed on the site.

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The balcony of the Casino (City of Toronto Archives, Series 881-File 350)

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Johnny Ray signing autographs at the Casino (left) and Nova Scotia-born Hank Snow at the theatre (right)

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The Casino in January 1952, when Gordon McRae was on stage at the theatre.

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A performance at the Casino, the audience being mostly male. The small orchestra pit can be seen.

Casino, 1106-103

This photo from the City of Toronto Archives (Series 1106, It. 103) was taken in 1965, when the theatre was being demolished.

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/

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2013 in Toronto

 

Toronto’s architectural gems—stone archway on Yonge south of College

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While walking Toronto’s Yonge Street, the city’s “main drag,” I have often walked past the Gothic stone archway located on the sidewalk on the east side of Yonge Street, south of Carlton Street, opposite College Park. The plaque on the arch states that it was once a part of the former St. Andrew’s United Church, built in 1923, at Bloor Street East at Park Road (formerly named Gwyne Road). Park Road runs southwest through the Rosedale Valley Ravine and terminates at Bloor Street, between Church and Yonge streets.

Central Methodist (1890-1925) and Westminster Presbyterian Church (1891-1925) joined and became Westminster-Central United Church in 1925. These two congregations joined with the Old St. Andrew’s United to form St. Andrew’s United Church, located at Bloor Street East and Park Road. When their church was demolished in 1981, it was an arch from this building that was placed on Yonge Street. A commercial tower was constructed on the site, and the church retained space in the business complex, located at 117 Bloor Street East.

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                   Historic plaque on the McGill Street Arch.

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(Left photo) View of the arch from the north side, looking south on Yonge Street. (Right) A view of the west side of the arch, the view from inside the arch, looking east on McGill Street.

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               The west side of the McGill Arch in March of 2013.

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View gazing from the McGill Street Arch to College Park, on the west side of Yonge Street, south of College Street.

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

To view the links to posts that rediscover Toronto’s old movie houses:

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

 

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2013 in Toronto

 

Toronto’s old movie theatres—the Grant

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                  City of Toronto Archives, 1146N-143

The above photo of the Grant Theatre was likely taken about 1940, as the films on the marquee were both released in 1936. The Grant was located at 522 Oakwood Avenue, where it intersects with Vaughan Road. Of all the theatres in Toronto, the Grant retains the most memories for me, as it was the first movie theatre that I ever attended. I was five years of age when my older brother and I departed the family home in 1943, fifteen cents clutched in our fists, and walked to the theatre. On arriving at the theatre, we visited the Oakwood Confectionary Store, next door to the theatre, and spent the grand sum of five cents on penny candy. The gentleman behind the counter was of considerable girth, and my brother informed me that everyone referred to the store as “Fats.” We knew nothing in those days about being politically correct.    

We purchased our ten-cent tickets at the box office, where a stern looking lady eyed our coins as if they might be counterfeit. Entering the theatre, we handed our tickets to another woman, who, similar to the man in the confectionary store, was of considerable girth. However, she had a slight moustache and the man in the candy store was cleanly shaved. I later learned that not only was she the ticket-taker, but was also the theatre’s “matron.” By law, theatre’s in this decade, theatre’s were forced to hire matrons to patrol the theatre to ensure the patrons behaved.

My brother and I thought that the matron at the Grant looked as if she could wrestle “Whipper Billy Watson” in the ring at Maple Leaf Garden. I thought that all matrons looked like the one at the Grant, but I later discovered that some of them were slender and pretty.  My brother told me that the matron did not allow anyone to spit, seat-hop, throw stink bombs, toss popcorn boxes into the aisles, and above all, she made certain that in the back rows of the theatre, no one became too “frisky” with a girl. Being five years old, I did not truly understand the latter offence, but I thought it sounded intriguing.

Matrons also patrolled the evening screenings, when mainly adults attended. They made certain that there was no smoking, except in the smoking section, which was in the loges or a few designated rows at the rear of the auditorium. During evening performances, the back rows of the theatres remained under careful scrutiny of the matron, should there be any wandering hands.

I will always remember my first movie experience in 1943. The screams and yells when the curtains opened and screen came alive with light, sound, and dazzling images, was sufficient to rock the foundations of the building. The matron, unable to subdue the wild antics of the youthful audience, gracefully slinked back to wherever it was that slinky matrons hid on such occasions. The first feature of the afternoon was a murder story. A man wanted to kill his wife, so tampered with the brakes of her car. She drove off a steep cliff and the automobile became a pile of rubble on the rocks below. Each time the murderer drove past the sight of the wreck, he gazed down. The film almost scared me to death.  The second feature of the afternoon was a skating film, starring Sonja Henie. It bored me to death and halfway through the film, I departed the theatre. To this day I have not decided if it is better to be scared to death or be bored to death. On second thought, I suppose the answer is neither—it is best to be pampered to death.

The Grant Theatre was a family owned theatre that opened in 1930. Because it was a neighbourhood theatre, its patrons were from the surrounding residential area. It was not possible to charge downtown ticket prices. As a resuIt, the Grant was unable to screen recently released films as they were too expensive to rent. Instead, they showed films that had been released several years earlier. To compensate for this, they always featured two movies per night or matinee. If one of them was classified by the censor board as “adult,” then an alternative film was shown at the Saturday afternoon children’s matinee. One pair of films was shown Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and another two movies on the remaining three days. By law, no movies were allowed on Sundays.

It was at the Grant that I viewed the antics of the “Bowery Boys,” who in earlier films had been known as “The Dead End Gang.” Their name was changed after they changed to Monogram Pictures. Many parents disapproved of their pictures as they thought the characters exhibited rude and disrespectful behaviour. They were a gang of New York ruffians who hung around Louie’s Sweet Shop, inventing schemes to make a few dollars. Their leader was Slip Mahoney, played by Leo Gorcey. The funniest character was Horace Debussy Jones, whom the Bowery Boys called “Sach.” This character was played by Huntz Hall. The plans of the gang invariably failed as they were a bunch of clowns at heart. The movies were cheap to produce and generated vast amount of money for the studios. The Laurel and Hardy, as well as the Abbott and Costello movie were similar in this respect. Other popular movies at the Saturday afternoon matinees were those that starred Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and Hopalong Cassidy. Any movie with John Wayne was popular, whether it was a cowboy flick or a war film. We quickly learned that in cowboy movies, the bad guys wore black hats and the good guys wore white. It was a morally simplistic and wonderful world. Perhaps today’s politician should adapt the “hat method” of identification so voters can tell if they are bad or good.

The Grant was listed in the newspaper ads in 1952 under “National Theatres,” but it was eventually taken over by the Odeon chain. Screenings commenced at 5 p.m. and were continuous until near midnight. People entered and departed at any hour. When people decided to attend the movies, they simply walked to the theatre, rarely bothering to check when the features started. For this information, it was necessary to phone the theatre (Orchard 7331), as except for the large downtown theatres, the newspaper ads did not give the starting time. Patrons departed the theatre after viewing the sections that preceded their entry.

The auditorium of the Grant contained 672 seats, and there was no balcony. Blackout curtains were placed across the entries to the aisles to prevent light from the lobby from disturbing the viewing in the auditorium. This was necessary as patrons were continually arriving and departing. This was not necessary during children’s matinees, as they started at 1:30 p.m. and ended after the second feature film was over. The washrooms of the theatre were on the second floor, reached by stairs located on either side of the lobby.

Because theatre attendance was less on Monday and Tuesday nights, the Grant offered special promotions to attract patrons. Free dinnerware was a favourite, the women receiving a different piece of dinnerware each time they attended. Sometimes, the offer was extended to include weekends as well. While the films were in progress, woman sometimes stood up to allow other patrons to enter or depart the theatre. Forgetting they had a plate or cup and saucer on their lap, the dinnerware crashed to the floor with a resounding clatter. Each time this occurred, the audience noisily applauded, whistled and cheered. Some nights, the theatre distributed autographed photos of movie stars. As a kid, I always marvelled that Cary Grant, Roy Rogers, and John Wayne had the time to sign so many pictures.   

My family moved away from the neighbourhood where the Grant was located in 1953, so I was not aware for several years that the Grant Theatre had closed its doors in 1956. Another entertainment venue “bit the dust,” as the cowboys of the purple sage would have said.

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The above ad appeared in the Toronto Star on Saturday, February 16, 1952. Even though it was a Saturday, night, the theatre was offering “Lorraine” dinnerware. The Grant is the only theatre in the above ad that is offering dinnerware. In 1952, many films were still filmed in black and white, so the theatre informed patrons when the movie was in colour. The evening’s performance commenced at 5 pm, but there was an afternoon matinee for children.

The auditorium of the Grant contained 672 seats, and there was no balcony. Blackout curtains were placed across the entries to the aisles to prevent light from the lobby from disturbing the viewing in the auditorium. This was necessary as patrons were continually arriving and departing. This was not necessary during children’s matinees, as they started at 1:30 pm and ended after the second feature film was over. The washrooms of the theatre were on the second floor, reached by stairs located on either side of the lobby. The men’s was on the south side, and the women’s on the north.

Because theatre attendance was less on Monday and Tuesday nights, the Grant offered special promotions to attract patrons. Free dinnerware was a favourite, the women receiving a different piece of dinnerware each time they attended. Sometimes, the offer was extended to include weekends as well. While the films were in progress, woman sometime stood up to allow other patrons to enter or depart the theatre. Forgetting they had a plate or cup and saucer on their lap, the dinnerware crashed to the floor with a resounding clatter. Each time this occurred, the audience noisily applauded, whistled and cheered. Some nights, the theatre distributed autographed photos of movie stars. As a kid, I always marvelled that Cary Grant, Roy Rogers, and John Wayne had the time to sign so many pictures.   

My family moved away from the neighbourhood where the Grant was located in 1953, so I was not aware for several years that the Grant Theatre had closed its doors in 1956. Another entertainment venue “bit the dust,” as the cowboys of the purple sage would have said.

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This platter was given to my mother in the early 1950s by the Grant Theatre, for attending the theatre on a Monday night. The reverse side of it indicates that the platter’s design contained 22-K gold.  For the photo, the fork was placed on the platter to enable the viewer to judge its size. I believe that my mother attended several evening and collected coupons, which enabled her to receive a platter. Normally, it was just dinner or side plates that were given out.

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Reverse side of the platter. Photo of the platter was taken in 2013. Pottery from this company remain available on E-Bay, listed as antique.

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Interior of the Grant, showing the south wall. City of Toronto Archives, 1147-144

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  Interior of the Grant and the north wall, City of Toronto Archives, Series 1147, File 145 

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After the theatre closed, it was the Oakwood Bowling Alley, but the marquee was retained. In the this photo, the confectionary store that we referred to as “Fats,” can be seen to the right of the old theatre’s marquee.

Grant 532 Oakwood

Later, when the Grant became a banquet hall, the marquee was removed.

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               The site of the Grant Theatre in August of 2013.

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

To view previous posts on this blog 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.

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

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 .