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.
Gazing east on St. Clair Avenue West in 1928, the theatre on the south (left-hand) side of the street. Photo, Toronto Archives
Christie Theatre in 1928, City of Toronto Archives
Sketch for changes to the Christie Theatre for the B&F chain by Kaplan and Sprachman in July 1936.
The Christie Theatre after it ceased screening films
A view of the building (white structure) in 2013, where the Christie Theatre was located.
The site of the Christie in the summer of 2013.
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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)