This photo of the Glendale Theatre (Ontario Archives AO 2116) was likely taken about the years 1949, as the main feature on the marque is “The Fuller Brush Man,” starring Red Skelton. The theatre was located at 1661 Avenue Road, on the east side, near Brookdale Avenue, which was six blocks north of Lawrence Avenue. The Glendale opened in late-December 1947, by United Century Ltd., and leased to Twinex Century Corp. The first manager was Grant Garrett. The year it opened, it was located in an area that at that time a suburb of Toronto. The theatre possessed a large parking lot, a feature not common in the 1940s, although cars were being purchased in increasing numbers. The Glendale contained a luxurious lobby and seating for almost 1000 patrons, with 582 seats in the auditorium and another 413 in the balcony.
A confection booth was incorporated into the lobby for the opening, but no popcorn was allowed. This was a part of the original agreement. The reason for banning popcorn was that patrons invariably dropped it on the floor, adding to the theatre’s cleaning costs. Also, when empty popcorn boxes were flattened and folded, they became missiles in the hands of kids attending matinees. However, when vendors began selling popcorn from stands outside the theatres, the theatre owners relented. The had to clean up the mess on the floors anyway, and received none of the profits. Today, popcorn is considered an integral part of the movie experience.
In February 1952, three teenagers were forced to leave the Glendale Theatre when it was discovered that only one of them was of age to view an adult film. The older boy had purchased the tickets for his two companions, and the doorman had allowed them to enter. He was warned to be more vigilant in enforcing “Section 9.”
In 1962, the theatre was warned about advertising posters in the lobby that were not “sniped.” The inspector who filed the report stated that the theatre should employ snipes more freely. When the report arrived at the censor board offices, an official exclaimed, “What the hell are snipes?” It is to be assumed that the inspector was referring to the strips of paper that were used to cover the objectionable parts of the movie posters. Since August of 1944, the Ontario Censor Board had demanded that all exterior and interior advertising photos be sent to the board for approval. The theatre had not complied with this rule.
The Glendale remained a popular suburban theatre for many decades. The film “2001 Space Odyssey” played at it for two years. I can recall viewing the film at the Glendale, and saw it again on the big screen at the TIFF Lightbox in 2012. At the Lightbox, I again marvelled at the movie’s cinematography and enjoyed its magnificent sound track.
The wide-screen format, Cinerama, which had commenced in Toronto at the University Theatre, was last seen in the city at the Glendale. However, as theatre attendance declined and the property values on Avenue Road skyrocketed, the theatre was eventually was sold. The last film to be screen was in 1974—the Godfather, Part Two. The theatre was soon demolished, and today there is a Nissan Dealership on the site.
The interior of the Glendale, Ontario Archives AO 2116
Lobby of the Glendale Theatre, Ontario Archives, AO 2113
The Glendale Theatre in 1949, Ontario Archives, AO 2115
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Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It also relates anecdotes and stories from those who experienced these grand old movie houses.
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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)
7 thoughts on “Toronto’s old movie theatres—the Glendale Theatre on Avenue Rd.”
Re Popcorn. Likely the restriction re popcorn stemmed from the fact that kids would use the empty popcorn box like a frisbee. I remember the manager,at the time, stopping the movie to admonish the kids in the audience for this! Good idea; get hit in the eye and lose the eye!
Thanks for the memories. I haven’t been to Toronto since 1974, but I lived on Brookdale, and actually worked at Glendale Theater while in attending Lawrence Park C. I. After 2001 A Space Odyssey started it’s long run there, folks would sit in the balcony smoking pot while watching the show.
If I am not mistaken, I believe the “2001 Space Odyssey” actually played there for 4 years. In addition during the mid 60’s, the theatre showed horror movies as I remembered going there as a kid with admission being 25 cents.
Re: the Glendale, the phrase, “The film “2001 Space Odyssey” played at it for two years.” is incorrect. Memory tells me that the film played at Glendale for 4 or 5 years. Peter Howell’s article in the Star (Nov.1/14) about the Kubrick Exhibition at TIFF Bell Lightbox purports it was, “. . . more than four years. . .”.
my mother and father emigrated to Canada after World War 2 they lived in Toronto for two years and used to enjoy going to the Glendale Cinema and told me about lining up outside excited and looking forward to the movie. We still have a china plate that was given to my mum from the cinema, this takes pride of place on the wall now for decoration and holds good memories for mum who is now 91 years young.
The Cinema made such an impression on my parents that when they returned to England they named their bungalow after the Cinema “Glendale” obviously was very special to them. Happy Days!!
I lived just a few blocks away & my favourite movie was Rock around the clock with Bill Haley & the Comets.
Two and a half years is correct for 2001. Best movie ever made period!