The Mount Pleasant Theatre is one of Toronto’s oldest surviving movie theatres. When it opened in 1926, it was named the Hudson. At the time, the northern part of Toronto that centred on Yonge/Mount Pleasant and Eglinton, was undergoing a residential building boom. Located at 675 Mount Pleasant Road, the Hudson was on the east side of the street, between Soudan and Hillsdale Avenues. Similar to other small neighbourhood venues, it was unable to compete with the large downtown theatres that offered first-run films, so instead screened double–bills. Also, shops were built on either side of its entrance and rented to provide extra income.
The architect of the Hudson was La Marque and the builder was R. Luxton. Its auditorium had a wooden/macadam floor with two aisles, but no balcony. It contained 456 seats, with wooded backs and leatherette seats. The air-conditioning system was water-washed air, typical of theatres in that decade. However, a more advanced system of air-conditioning was installed in 1936.
In 1951, the name of the theatre was changed from the Hudson to the Mount Pleasant. A candy bar was added, but it possessed no popper, meaning that the popcorn was pre-popped and delivered to the theatre in large bags. In 1959, the ticket booth located in the centre of the lobby area was relocated to the street line. The only major renovations to the theatre were in 1936.
Today the Mount Pleasant Theatre continues to offer two films per show and remains an integral part of the community.
This photo was taken about 1945, the “H” on the box office to signify the Hudson Theatre. Photo from the Ontario Archives, AO 2286.
Interior of the Hudson Theatre. Photo from Ontario Archives, AO 2288
The marquee and facade of the Mount Pleasant Theatre in August of 2013.
The unadorned cornice of the theatre and the rows of brick below it.
The Mount Pleasant Theatre, August 2013.
I recently received information from Carolyn Winstanley who has a personal connection with the Hudson Theatre. I would like to share her thoughts with readers of this blog.
My grandfather William Armstrong,was the first owner of the Hudson theatre. My mom and her two sisters worked there as teenagers. In the Depression,mom and her family were well off and well dressed,as people continued to go to the movies, and would often pay by ” merchandise ” such as ” nylons”.
My grandfather owned the first Limousine service driving physicians around the Toronto General Hospital area. He then opened the first car garage, in the same area??although,I cannot recall the name,and it was just torn down “recently” so to say. My cousin Billy would know that information.
Hope you found this interesting.
Thank you for the beautiful internal pictures of Grandpa’s theatre
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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)