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

26 Nov

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.      


     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:

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

The Uptown 5 Multiplex Theatre on Yonge south of Bloor

The Odeon Carlton Theatre

The infamous Casino Burlesque Theatre on Queen Street 

The Garden Theatre at 290 College Street.

The Grant Theatre on Oakwood Avenue near Vaughan Road

The Odeon Hyland Theatre at Yonge and St. Clair

Loew’s Uptown Theatre (the Uptown)

The Elgin Theatre (Loew’s Downtown)

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

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

The St. Clair Theatre, west of Dufferin Street

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

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

The Biltmore Theatre on Yonge, north of Dundas St.

The Coronet Theatre on Yonge St. at Gerrard

The Nortown Theatre on Eglinton, west of Bathurst St.

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

The Mount Dennis Theatre on Weston Rd, north of Eglinton

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

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

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

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

The Eglinton Theatre

The magnificent Odeon Carlton at Yonge and Carlton Streets

The Revue Theatre at 400 Roncesvalles Avenue

The Cineplex Odeon Varsity Theatre at Bloor and Bay

The “Bloor Hot Docs Cinema” on Bloor Street West

The Vaughan Theatre on St. Clair Avenue

Toronto’s first movie screening and its first movie theatre

The ultra-modern Scotiabank Theatre at Richmond and John Streets

Cineplex Theatre at Yonge and Dundas Streets

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

The Downtown Theatre (now demolished) at Yonge and Dundas

The Orpheum Theatre on Queen St., west of Bathurst

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

Old movie houses of Toronto

The Victory burlesque and movie theatre on Spadina at Dundas:

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

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

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

Archival photos of the Imperial and Downtown Theatres on Yonge Street

The Elgin/Winter/Garden Theatres on Yonge Street

The now vanished Avon Theatre at 1092 Queen Street West

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

The Ellis Building on Adelaide Street near Spadina Ave.

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

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

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

The Commodore Building at 315-317 Adelaide St. West

The Graphic Arts Building (condo) on Richmond Street

The Art Deco Victory Building on Richmond Street

The Concourse Building on Adelaide Street

The old Bank of Commerce at 197 Yonge Street

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

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

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

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

The bank at Queen and Simcoe that resembles a Greek temple

The cenotaph at Toronto’s Old City Hall

The magnificent Metropolitan Cathedral at King East and Church Streets

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

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

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

The Union Building at Simcoe and King Street West

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

The Waverly Hotel on Spadina near College Street.

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

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

The Bellevue Fire Station on College Street

The Bank of Nova Scotia at King and Bay Streets

Toronto’s old Sunnyside Beach

Toronto’s architectural gems—the Runnymede Library

Spadina Avenue – sinful, spicy and diverse

The Reading Building, a warehouse loft on Spadina Avenue

The Darling Building on Spadina Avenue

The amazing Fashion Building on Spadina Avenue

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

The Balfour Building at 119 Spadina Avenue

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

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

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

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

Historic bank building on northeast corner of Spadina and Queen West

History of the Backpackers’ Hotel at King and Spadina

Hamburger corner – Spadina and Queen Streets

Lord Lansdowne Public School on Spadina Crescent

The Victory Burlesque Theatre at Dundas and Spadina

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

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

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

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


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

The Art Deco bus terminal at Bay and Dundas Streets.

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

The old Dominion Bank Building at King and Yonge Street

The Canada Life Building on University and Queen Street West.

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

A study of Osgoode Hall

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

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

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

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

Gathering around the radio as a child in the 1940s

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

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

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

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

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

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

Toronto’s architectural gems in 1912

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

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

The St. Lawrence Hall on King Street

Toronto’s streetcars through the past decades

History of Trinity Bellwoods Park

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

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Posted by on November 26, 2013 in Toronto


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