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.
The auditorium of the Scarboro. Photo from Ontario Archives, AO 2187
View of the auditorium from the front, looking toward the rear of the theatre. Photo, Ontario Archives, AO 2136.
The auditorium when the lights dimmed to commence the show. Photo, City of Toronto Archives, 1130-127.
The site of the Scarboro Theatre after it closed. The Art Deco stone cornice is clearly evident. Photo from the City of Toronto Archives.
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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)