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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Toronto’s old movie theatres—the Mayfair

image

  Mayfair Theatre, City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, Fl. 108 SC 488-3200

The Mayfair Theatre at 347 Jane Street opened in  September, 1927. It was located on the east side of the street, a short distance south of Annette Street. When it opened, it was in a remote suburban community, to the northwest of the downtown area. The theatre mostly attracted people from the surrounding community, as there was no TTC service. The Mayfair was relatively modest in size, containing 478 seats, the centre section having eight seats, with five seats on either side. There was no balcony. The air-conditioning was filtered water-washed air. 

In 1942, the Roseland Bus Line commenced service in the area. The bus route began at the Junction (Dundas and Keele Streets). The buses travelled north on Keele to St. Clair, which was where Keele Street changes its name to Weston Road. On Weston Road, it continued northward as far as Lambton Avenue. Here, it turned west to Jane Street. It continued southbound on Jane Street to Annette Street, where it terminated. Where the Roseland buses turned around, was where the Mayfair Theatre was located. This was advantageous for the theatre, since it was easier to reach by public transit.

My family moved into the Roseland area (near Jane Street and Lambton Avenue) in 1954. We often travelled on the Roseland Bus Line. In this year, if we journeyed south on the bus line to Annette Street, there was the Annette trolley bus that connected with the bus to continue our journey to Bloor Street. Thus, during the 1950s, the Mayfair  Theatre was near two public transportation lines. The Roseland Bus Line ceased operating when the TTC extended its service into the area.

Ref. Lib, Baldwin Room, S-1-512

The Roseland buses in 1955. Photo from the Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Room, S-1-512 

photo-toronto-ttc-electric-trolley-bus-annette-street-route-1950s[1]

An Annette trolley bus from the 1950s. Photo from chuckmantorontonostalgia.wordpress

In the 1950s, I attended Runnymede Collegiate on Jane Street, a ten minute walk north of the Mayfair Theatre. I seem to recall that the theatre was named the Annette in those years, but I have been unable to locate any information to substantiate this memory. Many of the students at Runnymede regularly attended the theatre, and the favourite place for a cup of coffee or milkshake after the movie was the Dairy Dell. It was around the corner from the theatre, on Annette Street. It had the reputation of being a “teenage hang-out.”

The theatre closed in April 1959 and the building was placed on the real estate market at the price of $48,000. It was eventually purchased and converted for other retail purposes.

Mayfair, File 1278, Fl. 108, SC 488-3200 dated 1928    Annette

The Mayfair Theatre in 1928, the year after it opened. The view gazes south on Jane Street from near Annette Street. The houses on the opposite side of Jane Street (west side), remain there today (2014). In the above photo, there is a vacant building lot on the north side of the theatre. Empty building lots are also visible further down the street, on the west side. Photo from City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, FL. 108, SC 488-3200.

Mayfair  File 1278-108 SC 488-3200   3

Architects plans for the Mayfair, showing the west facade and a side view of the theatre. Photo from the City of Toronto Archives.

Series 1278, fl.108, SC 488-3200  site of Mayfair

The site on Jane Street where the Mayfair Theatre was located. City of Toronto Archives. 

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

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

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

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

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

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. 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 Allenby (Roxy, Apollo) Theatre on the Danforth

Allenby 1113-116

           The Allenby Theatre in 1936, City of Toronto Archives, 1113-116

The Allenby Theatre was at 1219 Danforth Avenue, near Greenwood Avenue. Because I knew that the building where this venerable theatre was located still  existed, on a hot summer day in 2013, I travelled on the subway to find it. Having always resided in the west end of Toronto, I had rarely ventured any great distance to the east of Yonge Street.

After exiting the subway at the Greenwood Station, I walked west along the Danforth. I was intrigued and delighted with the streetscape, as the shops, cafes and restaurants were interesting and inviting. However, I must admit that locating the old theatre was the highlight of my trip. When I saw the theatre, I was amazed to discover that its facade and box office remained attractive and in excellent condition. They appeared not to have changed since as the day they were built.

The Allenby commenced its life in 1936. It was designed by Kaplan and Sprachman, the prolific architects who created about 75 percent of the theatres constructed in Canada between 1921 and 1950. The Allenby is one of the finest theatres that they designed in the Art Deco style. The symmetrical yellow-brick facade has strong vertical lines, employing raised bricks to divide the facade into sections. In the cornice at the top, the sections are capped with stone. In typical Art Deco style, the cornice has rounded shapes and corners. A central column of stone rises from the canopy and extends up to the cornice. The overall effect is that of simple elegance. The canopy over the entrance is large, but it does not obscure the facade and detract from the over-all design. The entrance contains an attractive box office, and on either side of it are shops that in their day were rented to offset the costs of operating the theatre.

The  auditorium of the Allenby contained 775 seats, in a pattern of eight on either side and fifteen in the centre section. There was no balcony. In 1942, the theatre received permission to allow 25 patrons to stand at the rear of the theatre, behind the centre section. The air-conditioning consisted of water-washed air, typical of the era.

In the late-1930s, the theatre inaugurated a children’s movie club—the Pop Eye Club. For the price of 10 cents, children saw two feature films, a newsreel, and two “Popeye the Sailor” cartoons. In the cartoons, Popeye attained magical strength after gulping a tin of spinach. The Pop Eye Club commenced at 1 p.m. each Saturday. At these matinees, children were able to purchase a soda pop and a big bag of candy for 5 cents. Surely this deal was enough to make any kid swallow a tin of spinach. 

I located only one complaint against the theatre in the files at the Toronto Archives. In 1947, someone observed that the matrons on duty were not in uniform. This infraction of the rules was officially investigated.

The name of the Allenby was eventually changed to the Roxy. The movie “The Rocky Horror Show’ was screened there before it moved to the Bloor Theatre. For a brief period, the theatre enjoyed considerable success. Unfortunately, the Roxy was unable to compete with the popularity of TV and it eventually was closed. For a few years it was named the Apollo and screened Greek films. But this too was unsuccessful.

The building was vacant for a few years and in danger of being demolished. However, it was declared a heritage site in 2007. The building was finally became the location of a coffee shop. Today, to enter the shop, customers pass under the magnificent canopy of the old Allenby and view the box office, where in former decades, eager patrons purchased theatre tickets.

1278-15  SC 488-1117   dated 1935

The Allenby in 1935. City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278-15, SC 488-1117.

Allenby, 1119-116

Lobby of the Allenby, its Art Deco designs evident in the ceiling. City of Toronto Archives, 1119-116.

1278-15  AO 2259

Auditorium of the Allenby, City of Toronto Archives,1278-15 (AO 2259)

AO 2258

Entrance and box office of the Allenby. The film “Up Goes Maisie” is displayed on the marquee. The movie was released in 1946. Photo from the Ontario Archives, AO 2258.

DSCN8242

The former box office and entrance to the coffee shop in 2013.

DSCN8243  DSCN8244

Details on the theatre’s facade (photo taken in 2013).

                DSCN8238

Centre column of stone that rises from above the marquee, upward to the cornice. (Photo, 2013)

                  DSCN8239

The canopy on the north facade, facing Danforth Avenue, and a portion of the west facade that reveals the original yellow colour of the bricks.

May 21, 2013

The restored Allenby, which now contains a coffee shop, during the summer of 2013. Similar to when the theatre opened, there is a gasoline station on the west side of the theatre.

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

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

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

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

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

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

SC 488-1128  film was 1936

The Scarboro Theatre was located at 960 Kingston Road, on the north side of the street, west of Bingham Avenue. It was in the area of Toronto that for decades was known as the Beaches, although today it is officially named The Beach. The above photo from the City of Toronto Archives (SC488-1128) was taken in 1936, the year the theatre opened. Its architect was Herbert (Henry) Duerr, who also designed the Hollywood Theatre on Yonge Street, as well as the Village Apartments at 404 Spadina Avenue in the Forest Hill Village.

When Duerr designed the Scarboro Theatre, he created a building with an unadorned facade of yellow brick and a plain cornice of stone, the design reflecting the Art Deco style. The original licence for the Scarboro was granted to a Mr. Slate, but was held by the B&F chain of theatres. Its auditorium contained almost 700 plush seats, with no balcony. It possessed water-cooled air conditioning.

The theatre’s ownership changed from B&F to 20th Century Theatres in 1948. The same year, in October, a candy bar was installed. In 1949, a fire broke out in the women’s lounge, the cause of the blaze being a cigarette. The furniture in the room was totally destroyed and the plaster severely damaged. The cost of the repairs was $500, a considerable amount of money in that day. Until smoking was banned in theatres, fires were a constant worry for theatre owners.

In February of 1957, the Adam Beck Home and School Association refused to place ads for the Scarboro Theatre in their bulletin as they declared that the theatre screened movies that were “detrimental to our young people, especially teenagers.” I would like to know the name of the films that prompted the complaint, as I might wish to view them if they ever appear on TCM.   

Many theatres in Toronto gave free dinnerware and silverware on weeknights to encourage people to attend. The Scarboro engaged in these promotions as well, but it was one of the very few that gave away a volume of an encyclopaedia when a patron purchased a ticket. I remember when the Steinberg Supermarket chain did this, and the brand of encyclopaedia was Funk and Wagnalls. Perhaps it was the same time type at the Scarboro Theatre. I also can recall when Silverwood Dairy gave free silver plate serving spoons to its customers. The spoons curled around the neck of the bottles.

I was unable to discover when the Scarboro Theatre closed, but the building remains in existence today.

AO 2187

The auditorium of the Scarboro. Photo from Ontario Archives, AO 2187

AO 2186

View of the auditorium from the front, looking toward the rear of the theatre. Photo, Ontario Archives, AO 2136.

Scarboro, 1130-127

The auditorium when the lights dimmed to commence the show. Photo, City of Toronto Archives, 1130-127.

City of Tor. Archives

The site of the Scarboro Theatre after it closed. The Art Deco stone cornice is clearly evident. Photo from the City of Toronto Archives.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bayview 1112-109

The Bayview Theatre at 1605 Bayview Avenue, in Leaside, was built by Harry Davidson in 1936. The above photo from the City of Toronto Archives (Series 1278-Fl.20 It. 488-1112) was taken the year it opened. The film on the marquee is “Dark Angel,” starring Frederick March, which had been released the previous year. The architects for the theatre were Kaplan and Sprachman, its Art Deco facade typical of their work. The yellow-brown bricks on the facade were arranged in raised sections, creating a strong vertical design from above the first storey, upward to the stone cornice. The 672-seat theatre was managed by 20th Century Theatres. In the above photo, the two shops that were included within the theatre building remain unrented.

In 1943, the box office was held up at gunpoint. The cashier refused to hand over the cash. She pushed the alarm button and the man fled. He was never apprehended. In July 1945, two women reported that they had been molested by five men who were sitting behind them. No matron was on duty when the women reported the incident, and as the men had departed, the authorities were unable to investigate further.

In 1961 the Bayview ceased to operate as a movie theatre. It was renovated and reopened as the Bayview Playhouse, which showcased live theatre. The Broadway musical “Godspell” played at the Bayview for 488 performances, starring Martin Short, Eugene Levy, Dave Thomas, Andrea Martin and Gilda Radner. 

The theatre closed in the late-1990s. The building was renovated to create several retail spaces.

series 1278-20 AO 1978

The Bayview in 1942, when the shops on either side of the entrance to the theatre were rented. City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278 Fl. 20 (AO 1978).

1278-20  AO 1979

The Bayview’s auditorium, City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278-30 (AO 1979).

1278-20  AO 1920

Lobby of the Bayview, the Art Deco designs evident in the ceiling. Ontario Archives, AO 1920.

                      series 1278-20

Architects drawing for the Bayview, City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278 –20

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Toronto’s old movie theatres—the Carlton on Parliament St.

Carlton AO 2033

The Carlton Theatre on Parliament Street is not to be confused with the Odeon Carlton, located on Carlton Street east of Yonge. The Carlton was at 509 Parliament Street, on the east side of the street, a short distance north of Carlton Street, near Aberdeen Street. The 700-seat Carlton opened in 1919, as a neighbourhood theatre, catering to the cinematic needs of the community that today is referred to as Cabbagetown. Originally, the area was named Don Vale, as it was on the west side of the Don Valley, close to the Winchester Street bridge, which spanned the Don River in the days prior to the construction of the Prince Edward Viaduct across the valley at Bloor Street. The Carlton Theatre possessed a red-brick facade, with few ornamentations, and a plain cornice.

When the Carlton Theatre opened, it drew many of its patrons from the residents who lived near Cabbagetown. In the 1940s, the Carlton Theatre became part of the B&F chain, a company formed in 1921, through a business partnership of Samuel Fine and Samuel Bloom. At its peak, it operated 21 theatres. In 1927, it became associated with Famous Players Corporation. B & F prospered until the 1950s, when the effects of television and the  demographic changes of the city diminished the appeal of the neighbourhood movie houses.

B&F operated such theatres as the Donlands, Century and the Vaughan. It was B&F that pioneered the concept of screening double-bill (two movies) programs for a single price. This idea allowed smaller theatres to compete with the larger downtown theatres that showed first-run films. The first time they attempted this idea was in 1923 at the Christie Theatre on St. Clair, near Wychwood Avenue. B&F were also the first to introduce midnight showings to attract the late-night crowds.

In November 1948, a candy bar was installed in the Carlton Theatre. In the 1950s, in the projection room, a 15-year old boy was hired to play 78 rpm records during intermissions. The songs were the latest titles from the hit parade. The idea proved highly popular with teenagers. In January 1952, the matron who patrolled the aisles during screenings, discovered children sitting on the floor near the stage, even though there were many empty seats. They were a group that all wanted to sit together. Fearing there would be trouble, they were all ejected from the theatre. In December 1952, the theatre advertised a “New Year’s Eve Midnight Show,” and titled it “The Frolics of 53—Girls, Gags, Comedy.”

The Carlton Theatre closed its doors on Saturday, September 25, 1954. The building became studio space for the CBC. After the CBC vacated the premises, it was occupied by the Children’s Dance Theatre.  They remain in the building today (2014).

Carlton  AO 2034, Series 1278, File 39

                            Interior of the Carlton Theatre

Series 1278  File 39     4

 The auditorium of the Carlton, viewed from the stage area at the front. City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 39

Series 1278  File 39    7

The lobby of the theatre, City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 39

Series 1278 File 39

             The Carlton when the CBC had their studios on the site.

800px-Dance_Theatre_509_Parliament_St[1  the Carlton]

             The site of the Carlton Theatre during the summer of 2013. 

DSCN9679

                  The entrance to the building 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

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

To view previous blogs about Toronto’s heritage buildings and the city’s history:

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 Gooderham (Flatiron) Building on Wellington and Front Streets

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The red-brick Gooderham Building at 49 Wellington Street East is located at the confluence of Wellington Street East, Front Street East, and Church Street, in the St. Lawrence Market area. The present-day building is the second structure that has existed on this small triangular piece of land. The original building on the site was constructed in 1845, and was smaller than the one that exists there today, it having only three-storeys. It was a part of the Wellington Hotel on nearby Church Street, and was referred to as the Coffin Block as the land on which it was built was similar to that of a coffin. The odd shape occurred because the streets of the early-day town of York (Toronto) had been laid-out on a grid pattern, but the straight lines were slanted to accommodate the curve of the shoreline of Lake Ontario.

Fonds 1244, Item 7335

This photograph from the City of Toronto Archives (Series 1244, It. 7335-1) was taken in 1883. It shows the original three-storey Coffin Block, built in 1845. There is a three-storey bank across the street from the building, on the right-hand side of the photo. It is the structure with the imposing portico.

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This is the building that is presently on the site. The photo from the City of Toronto Archives (Fonds 124, Fl.0124, Id.0065) was likely taken in the early 1970s, since one of the towers of the TD Centre is evident in the background. The top of the Royal York Hotel is on the left-hand side of the picture. There is no CN Tower visible, as it was not completed until 1976.

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This photo from the City of Toronto Archives (Fonds 124, Fl.0124, Id.0025) gazes east along Front and Wellington Streets. In the picture, the Gooderham building is isolated. Beside it on its western side, there are only parking lots, and where the condo Market Square now exists, is another large parking lot. The St. Lawrence Hall is in the upper left-hand corner of the picture. The South Market Building of the St. Lawrence Market can be seen on the south side of Front Street. The old North Market Building is also evident, which was demolished in the late-1960s.

The Story of The Gooderham Building

In 1837, William Gooderham and his brother-in-law William Worts founded a distillery. By the 1890s, it was the largest  producer of spirits in Canada. In the early 1890s, George Gooderham, the eldest son of William Gooderham, purchased the Coffin block to construct a new headquarters for the Gooderham and Worts Distillery. He ordered that the building on the old Coffin Block be demolished. He hired David Roberts Junior (1845-90) as his architect, and at a cost of $18,000, instructed that a four-storey building be erected, which was completed in 1892. In the basement, the windows were partially above ground, creating an extra level. The design of Gooderham’s building was the inspiration for the famous Flatiron Building in New York City, built in in 1902.

Toronto’s Gooderham Building is Romanesque in design, with traces of Gothic. The cornice above the fourth floor has a wealth of intricate Romanesque designs. Above the cornice is a steeply-sloped roof that was originally covered with copper, although the copper has since been removed. The roofline is broken by eight peaked gable windows, four on the north side of the building and four on the south. On the east side, the apex of the triangular shape is rounded and topped with a pointed tower, its top still sheathed in copper. The building has several entrances, but the main entrance is on its north side, on Wellington Street. 

Interestingly, a tunnel was built under Front Street that connected the Gooderham Building to the bank across the road on Front Street. It allowed large amounts of cash to be safely transferred between the buildings without being seen from the street. The bank building can be seen in one of the above pictures placed in this post. Also, the first manually-operated Otis elevator was installed in the Gooderham Building.    

The Gooderham Building was the headquarters of Gooderham and Worts Distillery until 1952. In 1975, it was officially declared a Heritage site. The building was restored in the late-1990s, and remains coveted as office space. Its rooms, with their 12-foot ceilings, are ideal for companies that wish to rent space in an historic property.

                     April 2013

View of the Gooderham Building in April of 2013, gazing west along Front Street.

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Views of the apex of the triangular building, the top crowned with a copper-sheathed tower.

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The Front Street facade, the iron fire escape attached to the red-brick wall. In the basement, which is partially above ground, there is a pub. (Photo, July 2013).

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View of the top of the building, with the ornate cornice and the copper-sheathed pointed tower.

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                    The Romanesque ornamentations in the cornice.

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Impressive main entrance on Wellington Street, with its Romanesque surround.

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Architectural detailing on the building, with the date of its completion.

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The west facade of the Gooderham Building, containing the mural by Derek Besant, painted in the autumn of 1980. It is a mirror image of the Perkins Building across the street. It creates the illusion that there are windows on the west facade of the Gooderham Building.

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                View facing west along Front Street in July 2013.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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The E. W. Gillett Building at 276 King St. West

                276 King 2

The E. W. Gillett Building at 276 King Street West is one of the structures that will be demolished if the Mirvish Condo project receives approval from the City of Toronto. This four-storey building, containing a full basement level, was constructed in 1901. In the 19th century, the campus of Upper Canada College was on the site, before it relocated to the hill atop Avenue Road. The Gillett Building was the headquarters of a company that manufactured baking ingredients. An Edwardian gem, it has survived for over a century, although because its bricks have been covered with white paint, it is difficult to appreciate the attractiveness of the structure.

The windows on the top floor, below the unadorned cornice, have Roman arches. The other floors possess rectangular windows, curved at the top. The magnificent porch on the King Street entrance of the Gillett Building is supported by square columns, which have Doric designs at the top. The cornice of the roof of the porch contains simple parallel lines, and below them is a row of small dentils (teeth-like designs). On the porch roof is an arch that also has dentils. When the Gillett Building was constructed, the grand porch was considered appropriate as the building was situated across the street from the palatial Government House, on the southwest corner of Simcoe and King Streets. Government House was the residence of the Lieu. Governor of the Province. Today, Roy Thomson Hall occupies the site.

During the First World War, the Gillett Building was the home of the Russell Motor Company. In the 1940s, the James Morrison Brass Manufacturers occupied the site. Today (2014), the building contains offices.

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The portico of the Gillett Building (left) and the designs on its roof, above the Doric columns.

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The Roman arches above the windows on the fourth floor, on the south facade, on King Street West.

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View of the narrow south facade of the Gillett Building on King Street, and the east facade that extends to the north from King Street, on Duncan 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/

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[1]

   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 Bell Lightbox (TIFF) on King St. West

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I remember when the site of the Bell Lightbox, the headquarters of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), was a parking lot. I also recall the excitement that occurred when they announced that a permanent home for the festival was to be built, designed by the architectural firm of Kuwbara Payne McKenna Blumberg (KPMB). Until it was completed, the festival’s offices were to remain in several different buildings in the downtown area. The new headquarters would allow TIFF’s support facilities to be located in a single structure. Another difficulty, prior to the construction of the new building, was that the screening venues for the festival were scattered from Bloor Street in the north to King Street in the south. Since the new headquarters was to be located in the heart of the city’s Entertainment District, it was hoped that the festival’s screening venues would eventually cluster around it. This did indeed occur. 

After construction began, I anxiously watched the storeys rise, one after the other. Located at 350 King Street West, on Reitman Square, on the northwest corner of John and King Streets, it soon towered to a height of 46 floors. The name “Bell Lightbox” seemed appropriate, since Bell Corporation was a major financial contributor, and the word “lightbox” was an early-day name for a camera. The building opened on September 12, 2010, the 35th year since the inauguration of the festival, with a massive street party on King Street. Featuring live performers and concerts, it was a gala that lit the night until the early-morning hours.

The TIFF Lightbox occupies the five-storey podium of the 46-storey tower, its entire space dedicated to film—screening, archival, and educational. Above the Lightbox is a hotel/condo complex named the Festival Tower, set back from the street, with a separate entrance at 80 John Street. When sales commenced for the condos, rumours spread in the press and on the internet that Hollywood stars were purchasing condo units in the tower to provide accommodations and entertainment suites during the festival. However, the identity of the stars was kept a secret. These stories added to the mystery and glamour surrounding the building.

The TIFF Lightbox contains five cinemas, three studios, two restaurants, the Film Reference Library, a gift shop, two art galleries, a licensed lounge and a museum-quality display gallery. The members’ lounge is on the second floor, on the southeast corner of the building, with panoramic views of the street below where colourful streetcars ramble along the crowded avenue. The lobby is the equivalent of three storeys in height. An exceedingly tall escalator ascends from the lobby to the second floor. The south facade of the podium contains sheets of glass that during the day reflect the ever-changing panorama of historic King Street, and at night, its interior lights illuminate the streetscape like a giant beacon.

The theatres in the complex are among the most comfortable in the city. The rows are steeply-sloped to create stadium seating, ensuring that each seat possesses an unobstructed view of the screen. The Lightbox owns five types of 35 mm cameras, as well as one that is 70 mm.   

I toured the building after it opened in 2010 and enjoyed the experience. However, I must admit that I had never attended the festival itself. I had resisted because I did not enjoy line-ups and did not wish to sit in a darkened theatre on a sunny late-summer day. However, in 2011, a friend had an extra ticket for a screening of a South Asian film at TIFF and offered it to me. I attended and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, particularly the discussion with the stars of the film following the screening. The next day, I purchased tickets to view a movie at the Elgin, and on arrival at the theatre, my friends and I were dismayed at the length of the line-up. However, when the doors opened, the lines entered within minutes. The organizational skills of the volunteers were amazing. My resistance to attending TIFF crumbled. I purchased a membership that I intended to use the following year.

Each year since, I have faithfully attended TIFF, and now consider it one of the highlights of my year. Several weeks prior to the festival, I purchase a package and choose the films I wish to see. I tend to avoid the popular Hollywood films as they will arrive in the regular theatres at some point following the festival. Instead, I concentrate on foreign movies and films that I might otherwise never have an opportunity to see. I choose mainly evening performances to enable me to continue enjoying September’s late-summer days. This  approach works well for me, though it would not be everyone’s approach to choosing movies. I consider attending TIFF a wonderful experience. I am hooked.

The atmosphere on King Street during the festival is amazing. It’s wild, a kaleidoscope of colour and motion. While attending the various screenings, I have enjoyed conversations with strangers during the short waiting times before the theatre doors open. Inside the theatres, while waiting for the movies to begin, invariably people chat with me and share their opinions about films they have seen.

My visits to the Bell Lightbox are not restricted to when TIFF is in operation. I attend films there throughout the year. Viewing movies there is akin to attending a live theatrical performance, whether it is a movie classic from yesteryear, a foreign film, a recent Hollywood release or an art film. One evening I went to see a film about the painter Tom Thomson and was surprised to see that the theatre was full. It was gratifying to realize how much interest the famous artist generated.

On another occasion I viewed “2001 Space Odyssey,” viewing it as it was intended, with a 70 mm projector and Dolby sound. Another night a group of us saw the 1979-film “Love at First Bite.” The movie was corny and delightfully campy. Great fun! After the movie, the star of the film, George Hamilton, appeared and answered questions. The same group of friends also saw “Jaws,” and after viewing it on the big screen, we rediscovered what a terrifying film it was. The Bell Lightbox has become a regular haunt for my friends and me as it offers a wide range of films and experiences 365 days a year.

The Bell Lightbox is now an integral part of the Toronto scene. It participates in various events of the city. During the summer of 2012, the City of Toronto placed second-hand pianos throughout the downtown area and encouraged people to perform on them. Artists decorated the pianos, each one representing a country that would be participating in the 2015 Pan Am Games. The piano representing Costa Rica was in the lobby of the Bell Lightbox.

Toronto is greatly enriched by the presence of the Bell Lightbox, home to one of the world’s greatest film festivals. 

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The TIFF Lightbox and the Festival Tower Hotel/Condo above it during the summer of 2012. View gazes west on King Street.

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             The lobby of the Bell Lightbox from the second-floor level

Lobby of Light box, 2013

          Lobby of the Bell Lightbox during TIFF 2013, the red carpet visible.

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                              The Bell Lightbox during 2012 TIFF

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                 Entrance to the three-storey lobby of the Bell Lightbox

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              The south facade of the Bell Lightbox on King Street West

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

              Books by the Author

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“ Lost Toronto”—employing detailed archival photographs, this recaptures the city’s lost theatres, sporting venues, bars, restaurants and shops. This richly illustrated book brings some of Toronto’s most remarkable buildings and much-loved venues back to life. From the loss of John Strachan’s Bishop’s Palace in 1890 to the scrapping of the S. S. Cayuga in 1960 and the closure of the HMV Superstore in 2017, these pages cover more than 150 years of the city’s built heritage to reveal a Toronto that once was.

 

                         cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses. To place an order for this book, published by History Press:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

 

                  image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[2]

“Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again” explores 81 theatres. It contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by Toronto Life Magazine: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear 

 

 Toronto: Then and Now®

“Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21

 

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Toronto’s old Christie Theatre

                 Christie, SC 488, 4169

The Christie Theatre, located at 665 St. Clair Avenue West, was on the south side of the street, between Wychwood Avenue and Christie Street. I was unable to discover much information on this theatre, but according to the web site of the Earlscourt History Club, the theatre opened in 1919. This would be consistent with the above photo from the City of Toronto Archives (SC 488, Fl. 4169) as the automobiles in the pictures date from the 1920s. I remember the theatre well, because as a teenager I visited the Strathcona Roller Skating Rink on Christie Street, a short distance south of St. Clair Avenue. On these occasions, I sometimes attended the Christie Theatre after an hour or two at the rink.

The Christie was operated by the B&F chain, and in 1923 inaugurated the concept of screening double-bill features. This was an important innovation and was instantly copied by other neighbourhood theatres, allowing them to compete with the larger downtown venues that featured the latest Hollywood films. Viewing two movies for the price of one soon became popular with audiences throughout the city. The theatre was renovated by the architects Kaplan and Sprachman in 1936.

In June of 1963, the Christie ceased showing movies and the premises were converted into a dance club—“The Maple Leaf Ballroom.” The U2 Band played there in February 1981. The building remains on St. Clair Avenue today (2013), and is a thrift store.  

1278- file 44  photo 1928

Gazing east on St. Clair Avenue West in 1928,  the theatre on the south (left-hand) side of the street. Photo, Toronto Archives

                     photo 1928

                             Christie Theatre in 1928, City of Toronto Archives

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Sketch  for changes to the Christie Theatre for the B&F chain by Kaplan and Sprachman in July 1936. 

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                  The Christie Theatre after it ceased screening films

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A view of the building (white structure) in 2013, where the Christie Theatre was located.

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The site of the Christie in the summer of 2013.

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

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

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

To view previous blogs about Toronto’s heritage buildings and the city’s history:

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[1]

   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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Memories of Toronto’s International Cinema (the Oriole, Cinema)

Inter. Cinema (Oriole) 2061 Yonge, OA 2122

                    Photo from the Ontario Archives (AO 2122).

The above photo depicts the Oriole Theatre in 1945, when it was the Cinema. Its name was later changed to the International Cinema. Located at 2061 Yonge Street, it was on the east side of the street, near Manor Road. Plans for the theatre were submitted to the city by the architect Kirk Hyslop in June 1933. The simple unadorned facade of the theatre reflected the austerity of the years of the Great Depression. It was a modest-size theatre, with a concrete floor and 576 leatherette seats with plush backs. The balcony was exceptionally small, as the files in the archives reveal that there were only 29 seats. Perhaps it was the loges, reserved for smoking.

The theatre was renovated by Kaplan and Sprachman in December of 1941 for Botany Theatres, the changes completed by May 1942. Perhaps this was when the name of the theatres was changed to the Cinema Theatre. This was during the war years, when theatres played a major role in maintaining morale on the home front. During 1940s, other than the radio and newspapers, there were no visual images of the war effort. News reels in theatres were the public’s only source of actually viewing the devastations of the conflict. Today, viewing war movies from the 1940s, the films may appear overly simplistic and heavy on Allied propaganda, but they were an important tool of war in their day. The 1944 movie “The White Cliffs of Dover” is an excellent example. The speech narrated by Irene Dunne at the end of the film is inspirational, and even now, listening to it is a deeply emotional experience. It was films such as this, many of them screened at theatres such as the Cinema, which gave Canadians hope that the nation’s armed forces would be triumphant and that the men and women serving overseas would return home safely.

There were other great movies that were produced during the war years. The extravagant MGM musicals helped a weary nation sooth the wounds of war, and for a few hours forget the terrible news from the Allied front. I remember viewing films such as: “For Me and My Girl” (1943) with Gene Kelly,”Girl Crazy” (1943) with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland,“Meet Me in St. Louis” (1944) with Judy Garland, and “Anchors Away” (1945) with Frank Sinatra and Kathryn Grayson. At one time or another, many of the these great film played at the Cinema.

Eventually the Cinema Theatre became the International Cinema. Its sister theatre was the Town Cinema at Bloor and Yonge Streets. Both theatres specialized in art films and other adult entertainment. They did not screen cartoons or other films that appealed to children. In 1947, the movie version of Shakespeare’s “Henry V” played for a record-breaking nineteen weeks at the International Cinema. For the occasion, they decorated the theatre with streamers representing the colours of the French flag. During the 1950s,  art exhibitions were displayed in the lobby of the International Cinema. They were curated and arranged by Beatrice Fischer. Air–conditioning was added to the theatre in 1954.

Inter. Cimema (Oriole) OA 2121

Auditorium of the Oriole, photo from the Archives of Ontario AO 2121

site of Inter. Cimema

The site of the International Cinema at 2061 Yonge Street. Photo from City of Toronto Archives.

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

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

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

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

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

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