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.
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).
The Bayview’s auditorium, City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278-30 (AO 1979).
Lobby of the Bayview, the Art Deco designs evident in the ceiling. Ontario Archives, AO 1920.
Architects drawing for the Bayview, City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278 –20
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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)