This photo from the City of Toronto Archives (1103-100) of the Bloordale Theatre was likely taken in 1937, the year the theatre opened. The view looks east along Bloor Street toward Dundas Street West. The Bloordale was located at 1606 Bloor Street West, on the north side of the street, between Dorval Road and Indian Grove. It was designed by the architects Kaplan and Sprachman, Toronto’s prolific theatre designers. From the 1920s until the late 1960s, they designed over 300 theatres across Canada. In 1937, they were awarded the bronze medal at the 6th Biennial Toronto Exhibition for their design of the interior of the Eglinton Theatre. Many consider the Eglinton to be the finest Art Deco theatre ever created in Canada. For the Bloordale Theatre, Kaplan and Sprachman chose the Art Deco style, with strong vertical lines and an unornamented stone cornice.
The theatre opened as a venue for moving pictures and vaudeville, but the stage contained no moveable scenery. It possessed almost 700 seats, with two aisles and no balcony. However, the theatre received permission to allow standing room for 40 patrons, behind the back row. In 1938, the theatre featured Sunday afternoon amateur competitions that were broadcast at 2 p.m. over CKCL. The program was named, “Do you want to be an actor?” Admission was free, which circumvented the Sunday closing laws of the time. The shows were sponsored by the Hudson Coal Company. The theatre’s name was eventually changed from the Bloordale to the State.
As a teenager, I worked at the Dominion Bank at Bloor Street and Dovercourt Road. I travelled on the Bloor streetcars to work and passed the theatre every weekday. Like any teenager, I always glanced out the streetcar window to view the films advertised on the Bloordale’s marquee. However, I was never inside it. The theatre closed in 1968, but the structure survives today (2013), though it is employed for other commercial purposes.
The Bloordale Theatre when it first opened. City of Toronto Archives, 1108-99
The theatre c. 1950, when it was named the State. Photo from Ontario Archives AO 2188.
Interior of the Bloordale Theatre. Photo, Ontario Archives, AO 2190.
The Bloordale Theatre (State) after the premises ceased to be employed as a theatre. Photo from City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, It. 31
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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.
To place an order for this book:
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)