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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Toronto’s old Allen Beach Theatre (the Beach)

Telegram, June 26, 1964

The above photo is from from the Toronto Telegram of June 26, 1964 (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 21). The Beach Theatre was located at 1971 Queen Street East, on the south side of the street, three shops to the west of Waverley Avenue. It opened in 1919 as the Allen Beach, in the east end of Toronto, which at the time was mainly cottage country. For as long as I can remember, the area was known as the Beaches, but it is now officially named The Beach.

In 1923, the Allen chain over-extended itself financially and the theatre was taken over by Famous Players Corporation. It then was known simply as “The Beach,” a suburban theatre that screened first-run films. The theatre was a considerable size, containing 1288 leatherette seats, with three aisles and no balcony. It was renovated in 1970, its brick facade covered with stucco.

A notation in the file in the Toronto Archives mentions that a patron remembers seeing at the Beach “Follow the Fleet” with Fred Astaire, “The Thin Man,” “Moon Over Miami,” and several Andy Hardy movies. I am certain that others who lived in the Beaches retain similar memories of films they saw at the theatre.

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The Beach Theatre after the theatre closed. City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, Fl. 21

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous blogs about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

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.  

                           cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

                 To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

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)

 

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Toronto’s old Metro movie theatre at 679 Bloor West

                    Series 881-File 350

The above photo from the City of Toronto Archives (Series 881 – file 350) depicts the Metro Theatre in 1939, the year it opened. The feature on the marquee is “Delinquent Parents,” released in 1938. It was a grade-B film, which was the usual class of film that the theatre screened in the years ahead. In the above photo, the neon “Metro” sign protrudes from the facade. In future years, it was flattened against the wall, and eventually, it was entirely removed.   

The Metro Theatre, at 679 Bloor Street West, is located in an area that today is referred to as Korea Town, due to the number of Korean restaurants and shops located there. The theatre is on the south side of Bloor, a short distance from Manning Avenue. The Metro commenced operation in 1939, one of the last theatres to open before the outbreak of the Second World War. It was a welcomed addition to the four other neighbourhood theatres along that section of Bloor Street. On opening night, a fire broke out in the Metro. There was not much damage, but the fire created much free publicity as the event was reported in all the newspapers.

The theatre was intimate in size, containing only about 300 seats. The box office was originally in the centre of the entranceway. It architects were Kaplan and Sprachman, and it was one of the last theatres they designed with touches of Art Deco. The yellow-brick facade was quite plain, with rows of raised bricks forming vertical pilasters (columns) that extended upward to the plain cornice. Atop the building was a stone parapet with rounded edges, clearly influenced by Art Deco. 

In 1978, the theatre began showing porn movies and offering burlesque. Although VCRs in homes soon diminished the popularity of porno films in theatres, the Metro continued showing them. It became known as “Toronto’s last porno house.” The theatre eventually deteriorated and became rather seedy.

The Metro was renovated in 2012 and brought back to life, specializing in adult movies and art films. It is also rented out for special events.

 

Series 881 - file 350

The interior of the Metro (City of Toronto Archives, Series 881, file 350). The photo is undated.

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              The Metro Theatre during the summer of 2013.

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The facade of the theatre. At the top of the structure, the narrow parapet is visible. It consists of several rows of cut stone. The corners of the parapet are rounded, in the Art Deco Style.

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The entrance to the theatre in August of 2013.

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                       The marquee and the facade above it.

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                 Signage at the front of the theatre (August 2013)

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                     The entrance to the Metro (photo 2013).

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The Metro  at 679 Bloor West, looking east along Bloor Street.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous blogs about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

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.  

                           cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

                 To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

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)

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2014 in Toronto, toronto's old theatres

 

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Toronto’s old Paradise movie theatre (Eve’s Paradise)

            Paradise 1150N-147

This photo from the City of Toronto Archives (1150N-147) was likely taken about 1937, the year the Paradise Theatre opened, as the film starring the ice-skating star Sonja Henie was released in 1936. The building that contained the theatre still exists today, located at 1008 Bloor Street West, on the northwest corner of Bloor and Westmoreland.  Its architect was Benjamin Brown, who also designed the Victory Theatre at Dundas and Spadina. Brown was one of the city’s finest 20th-century architects, having designed several Art Deco buildings on Spadina that remain in existence today—the Tower, Balfour and Reading buildings. Born in Lithuania in 1890, as a child he immigrated to Canada with his family. He received his education in Toronto. Most of his buildings reflect the Art Deco style, and the Paradise was no exception.

In 1909, a theatre named the Kitchener had been built on the site where the Paradise was to be located. The Kitchener had cost $3000 to build. When the Paradise opened in 1937, it was the height of the Great Depression and money was scarce. However, the theatre was instantly popular, as attending a movie was one of the few forms of entertainment that people could afford. The theatre contained 643 seats, with 466 in the auditorium and an additional 177 in the balcony, all of which had plush backs and leather seats. It possessed two 35mm projectors, broadloom covered floors, and air-conditioning. The original cost of the theatre was $110,000, not including the equipment. It also possessed a stage to accommodate live theatre or musical acts, and two dressing rooms for the actors, one to the left of the stage and the other to the right.

For a brief period in the 1980s, the theatre changed its name to Eve’s Paradise and screened movies that today would be referred to as soft-core porn. Most of these films could today be shown on primetime television.  The theatre closed in 2006.

I was afraid that the Paradise might be demolished, even though it is officially listed as a Heritage Building. The laws projecting our heritage architecture are too weak to prevent them from a fateful meeting with a wrecker’s ball. However, I recently learned that the theatre is to be restored and will once more screen films. If these plans succeed, it will be reopened in 2015.

Paradise, OA 2308

Interior view of the Paradise, looking toward the screen and stage. Ontario Archives, AO 2308

Paradise, OA Seies 1278, File 127, Item 2306

View of the auditorium, gazing to ward the rear of the theatre from the stage area. Ontario Archives AO 2306.

Paradise, OA 2307

The theatre’s lobby, containing a rather quaint popcorn machine. Ontario Archives AO 2307

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The busy section of Bloor Street where the Paradise Theatre is located (photo, July 2013)

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View of the Paradise Theatre on the northwest corner of Bloor and Westmoreland.

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View of the south facing facade and the marquee of the theatre (July 2013)

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Entrance of the theatre in July of 2013. The pay telephone appears quaintly out of place.

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            Details on the south facade of the theatre in 2013.

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         View of the Paradise, looking east on Bloor Street in 2013.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous blogs about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

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.  

                           cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

                 To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

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)

 

 

 

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Toronto’s old movie theatre—the Mt. Pleasant (Hudson)

                 450px-Mt_Pleasant_Cinema[1]

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.

AO 2286

This photo was taken about 1945, the “H” on the box office to signify the Hudson Theatre. Photo from the Ontario Archives, AO 2286.

Mt. Pleasant      AO 2288

Interior of the Hudson Theatre. Photo from Ontario Archives, AO 2288

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The marquee and facade of the Mount Pleasant Theatre in August of 2013.

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The unadorned cornice of the theatre and the rows of brick below it.

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                   The Mount Pleasant Theatre, August 2013.

Note:

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

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous blogs about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

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.  

                           cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[1]

                 To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

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)

 

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Toronto’s Broadway Theatre (Globe, Roxy) on Queen St. West

Fonds 124, Fl0124, Id.0017  Broadway, Queen and Bay, 1960s

The above photo from the City of Toronto Archives (Fonds 124, file 0124, It. 0017) shows the Broadway Theatre at 75 Queen Street West c.1960. To the east of the theatre (to the left of it in the photo) is the low-budget White Hotel, one of several economy hotels along the strip where the Broadway was located. In the photo, the land on the north side of Queen Street has already been cleared of buildings to construct the New City Hall. The street in the foreground of the photo is Bay Street, where it intersects with Queen Street West. The traffic lane for cars to negotiate a right turn on Queen Street is evident. The Casino was five doors to the west of the Broadway, its marquee visible in the above photo.

The Broadway opened in 1919 as the Globe Theatre, with almost 500 seats. Around the year 1933, it changed its name to the Roxy and commenced offering “Girlie Shows” as well as vaudeville and B-movies. In February of that year, two eighteen-year olds decided to be married on the stage of the theatre. The event attracted a large audience as the ceremony had been advertised as part of the show. A Baptist minister was hired, the bride was on stage in her bridal gown, and the groom was in his tuxedo. The jazz band in the orchestra pit was preparing to play the wedding march when the police crashed into the theatre. The parents of the teenagers claimed that their children were under age. However, the marriage was performed the following afternoon, after the participants proved to the police that they were of sufficient age. The event gave the theatre much free publicity, although many people in Toronto frowned upon the entire affair.

In 1935, the manager of the Broadway was found murdered in his office, shot twice in the head, sprawled in a pool of blood. It was found that $378 was missing from the safe, but the police did not believe that robbery was the motive. A friend had talked with the manager two days prior to the murder, and told the police that his friend had appeared worried. He had enquired, “What’s the matter? Business no good?” He received no reply. The manger’s son-in-law said at the inquest that there were problems among the actors in the burlesque show and that several of them had threatened to quit. The murder was never solved.

In 1937, the name of the theatre was changed to the Broadway, which conjured images of the fashionable theatre district of New York City. However, it did not reflect the glamour of its namesake. In 1938, the theatre was purchased by Ben Ulster, the son of Sam Ulster. It then showed mainly western and action movies.

When the city expropriated the land for the New City Hall, civic officials decided that the row of buildings on the south side of Queen Street was not compatible with the image that they wished to project. In 1965, the land was expropriated and the buildings were demolished. The Broadway Theatre disappeared, only memories and a few photographs remain of a theatre that was both infamous and famous. The Sheraton Hotel is now on the site. 

Note: I am grateful to Mildred Ulster, wife of Ben Ulster, for some of the information in this post. 

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The front of the theatre when it was the Roxy, c. 1932-34. City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, Fl. 176.

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The Roxy Theatre in the mid-1930s. City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, file 176. The lad on the bicycle seems fascinated by the display at the theatre entrance.

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View of the marque of the Broadway, in the upper left-hand side of the photo, the view looking west from the Old City Hall.

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The entrance of the Broadway Theatre (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1143, File 140)

                  Broadway 1145-142

The Broadway Theatre, likely during the 1930s. (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1145, It. 142 (2))

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A penny (front and reverse sides) handed out by the Broadway Theatre as a promotional stunt for a war movie during the 1950s. Cardboard was glued to the back of the penny. The movie was playing on December 10, 11, and 12, but does not indicate the year. Penny from the collection of Walter Godfrey, Toronto.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous posts about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/torontos-old-movie-theatrestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to Toronto’s Heritage Buildings

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/canadas-cultural-scenetorontos-architectural-heritage/ 

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.  

                           cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852

                 To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

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)

 

 

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Toronto’s architectural gems—St. James Cathedral on King St. East

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St. James Cathedral at 65 Church Street, on the northeast corner of Church and King Street East, is one of Toronto’s most historic churches. It was the first congregation established in Toronto, after Governor John Graves Simcoe laid out the plans for the town of York in 1793, and provided a land grant for an Anglican Church. Until it was built, church services were held at Fort York. In 1807, a wooden building was finally constructed.

During the War of 1812, the church was employed as a hospital to attend to the wounded and dying. In 1831, it was decided to replace the wooden structure with a larger stone church. It was consecrated in 1832. Unfortunately, this building burnt in 1839, but was replaced by another structure, constructed on the same site. This church was destroyed by the Great Fire that swept King Street in April of 1849, which destroyed much of Toronto’s downtown.

Following the fire, there was considerable discussion concerning the rebuilding of the church. Some members preferred to sell the frontage that the church owned on King St. or rent it for commercial purposes, and construct new cathedral on Adelaide St. Others wanted to augment the insurance money and rebuild on the original location. Most of the congregation voted for the Adelaide Street site. However, City Hall intervened and disallowed the proposal. By June 1850, it was confirmed and the church would be rebuilt on its former site. The positioning of the church was to break with tradition, as it was to be aligned on a north-south axis.

A national competition for the design was held. John G. Howard was requested to decide on the terms of the competition. Awards were  to be granted to the winner, as well as the second and third-place entries. The amounts were to be 75, 50, and 25 pounds, respectively. After seven weeks, Col. Frank William Cumberland  and Thomas Ridout won the competition, with Mr. Ortelo in second place and Mr. Kivas Tully in third. Fifteen months after the fire, on July 1, 1850, construction commenced. The cornerstone was laid on November 20, 1850. Only 5000 pounds remained of the insurance money, but an extra 5000 was raised through selling pew subscriptions and other fund-raising activities. Cumberland agreed to design a serviceable church, but with the amount of funds available, he was unable to complete the tower.

The previous church had been built closer to Church St., but the new church was constructed in the centre of the property.  It was built in the Gothic Revival style, with yellow bricks from the local brickyards, and trimmed with Ohio stone quarried from near Queenston, Ontario. The interior columns of red granite were from the Bay of Fundy area. The canopied pew of the Lieu. Governor was placed at the front of the nave. 

Services of consecration occurred on June 19, 1853, and it is this church that remains on the site today.  In 1873-74, the spire on the tower and the transepts were finally added, designed by Henry Langley. The clock was placed in the tower the following year, a gift of the citizens of Toronto, representing all denominations. The clock is still maintained by the city. When completed, the spire was the tallest in Canada and served for many years as a beacon for ships entering Toronto harbour.

Dr. John Strachan, Toronto’s first bishop, appointed in 1839, was buried under the chancel in 1867. Today, the brass plaque over his resting place reflects the light from the chancel windows. When the churchyard beside the church was closed, gravestones in the cemetery were cemented into the walls of the entranceway. Included is the stone of John Ridout, who died in the last pistol duel fought in the town of York, fought near Yonge and Grosvenor on July 12, 1817.  Another interesting stone cemented into the entranceway is that of 27-year-old William Butcher of Walpole in Sussex. On October 31, 1839, he fell from a height of seventy feet, while labouring on the spire of the tower of the church that was on the site before the fire that occurred later in the year in which he perished. Today, in the interior of St. James are many commemorative brass plaques, including one to Col. Sir Casimir Gzowski (1818-98), aide-de-camp to Queen Victoria. It is on the east wall of the nave, and was donated by officers of the Toronto Garrison.

Visiting the church today is a memorable experience, particularly the St. George’s Chapel. To enter the cathedral is to experience Toronto’s early-day history, and to worship in a structure that has been sacred to many for over 160 years.

Sources.

“Toronto No Mean City,” Eric Arthur, University of Toronto Press, 1964.

Canadian Encyclopaedia’s web site

1850, Arthur Eric Book

St. James in the 1850s, before the spire was completed. Photo from the book, “Toronto No Mean City,” Eric Arthur, University of Toronto Press, 1964.

s0376_fl0001_it0068[1]   1890s

The streets of Toronto surrounding St. James Cathedral in the 1890s, the spite of the church dominating the area. City of Toronto Archives, Series 376, File 0001, It.0068

                   f1568_it0278[1]  1903

Southwest view of the tower and spire of St. James in 1903. Photo from the City of Toronto Archives, File 1568, It. 0278 (1)

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                  Spire of St. James Cathedral in the spring of 2013.

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The interior of St. James, gazing north toward the chancel where Bishop Strachan is buried. Photo taken in 2013.

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               The magnificent stained-glass windows above the chancel.

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                         Windows in the St. George’s Chapel.

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Close-up view of the windows in the St. George’s Chapel, depicting King George V and Queen Mary

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St. James Cathedral, gazing west from St. James Park in the spring of 2013.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

To view the links to posts that rediscover Toronto’s old movie houses:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

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.  

                           cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[1]

                 To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

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)

 

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The Bedford (Park) Theatre, Toronto, on north Yonge St.

Series 1278, Fl 23, SC 612.  Stranded in Paris-1926

The above photo of the Bedford Theatre (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 23, SC 612), was taken in 1926, likely the year it opened. Later renamed the Park, the theatre was located at 3291 Yonge Street, on the east side of the street, near Glenforest Road.

In the 19th century, the area had been a farming community to the north of the city, and a favourite stop-over for farmers hauling their produce to Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market. In the early decades of the 20th century, the area developed as a middle-class residential community, with mostly semi-detached houses. Eventually it possessed sufficient population to support a movie theatre. The Bedford Theatre was designed by Murray Brown, who was also the architect for the Belsize Theatre on Mount Pleasant Road, which survives to this day, although it has been renamed the Regent. The Bedford Theatre possessed Mediterranean style architecture, with a white stucco facade and terracotta tiles on the steeply-sloped roof.

In the early 1940s, the name of the theatre was changed to the Park, and operated by Famous Players Corporation. In 1948 the management of the Bedford was chastised by the authorities for holding a Thursday afternoon matinee without proper authorization. The following year, the theatre was again in trouble. It opened on a Sunday afternoon to allow actors to audition for an amateur production, which was against the law since Sunday openings were forbidden. The theatre argued that only 20 people were in the theatre at the time and no admission charge had been paid by those who attended. The matter was dropped. 

On January 23, 1948 the theatre was robbed at gun point, but the thief was apprehended with fifteen minutes. The police arrest him in another theatre, where he had attempted to hide in the darkness amid the patrons. The same year, the theatre was extensively renovated, and in June of the following year, air-conditioning was installed.

In 1951, the theatre was again in  trouble with the law as it allowed its Saturday evening screenings to extend past midnight. On one occasion, it was discovered that a film had ended at 12:45 a.m., a major offence. It seems that the theatre possessed a propensity for offending the provincial regulations. 

After the theatre ceased screening films, it was employed for other commercial enterprises, but the walls and facade of the theatre remain. 

Series 1278, file 23, AO 2165

Interior of the Bedford Theatre, City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, file 23

Series 1278, File 23, SC 612

The lobby of the Bedford, with its high ceiling and Mediterranean-style detailing. City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 23, SC 612

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The Bedford Theatre in 1942, before its name was changed to the Park. Its facade is hidden by the enormous marquee.

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The theatre c. 1950 when it was named the Park. Ontario Archives AO 2163

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The theatre site after it ceased to screen movies. Photo, City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 23.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous blogs about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

To view previous blogs about Toronto’s heritage buildings and the city’s history:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

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.  

                           cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[1]

                 To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

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)

 

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Toronto’s old Pickford (Auditorium) Theatre at Queen and Spadina

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                       Photo from City of Toronto Archives, c. 1933.

The Pickford Theatre at 382 Queen Street West was located on the northwest corner of Queen Street and Spadina Avenue. It opened in 1908 as the Auditorium Theatre, occupying the ground floor of the three-storey Moler Barber Building. Its entrance was on Queen Street, and it contained 356 seats with plush backs, but possessed no balcony. However, it contained a stage for live theatre and vaudeville. The floors above the theatre were rented for offices and as residential apartments. It’s corner location was ideal as the two streets it faced contained much foot traffic. As well, two of the busiest streetcar lines in the city passed by its doors (Queen and Spadina).

The theatre was renovated in 1913, extending the auditorium slightly to the north. This allowed the seating capacity to be increased to 456 seats. The entrance was improved and its name was changed to the Avenue Theatre.

In 1915, the theatre was renamed the Pickford. During the First World War, it entertained many of the troops. Mary Pickford, for whom the theatre was named, had been born in Toronto. Her real name was Gladys Marie Smith, but she changed it to Mary Pickford when she appeared on Broadway in 1907. Her career in films began in 1909, and by 1915 she was a rising star on the Hollywood scene. She became known as “America’s Sweetheart” and became the first truly international star of the silver screen. Her final silent film was in 1927. In a “talkie” (film with sound), at the Academy Awards of 1929 she won the Oscar for best actress for her role as Coquette. She was one of the founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which was responsible for the Academy Awards. Mary Pickford was also one of the creators of United Artists Studios, along with her husband Douglas Fairbanks, in partnership with Charles Chaplin and W. D. Griffiths. Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks were the first stars to officially place their footprints in cement in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Mary Pickford died in 1979.

In January 1938, water-washed air cooling was installed in the Pickford Theatre to create a more comfortable environment during Toronto’s humid summer days. After the theatre closed, in the years ahead, the building was occupied by Bargain Benny’s. Eventually the Moler Building was demolished and a small cafe was constructed on the site. Today (2014) a Macdonald’s restaurant is situated where the Pickford Theatre once stood.

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Mary Pickford as a young actress (left) and in the 1930s (right). Photos, City of Toronto Archives.

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The front of the theatre c. 1913, when it was the Auditorium Theatre. It advertised vaudeville and silent movies.

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Drawing for the improved front of the theatre on Queen Street.

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The Moler Building at Queen and Spadina, c. 1920s. The theatre is on the first-floor level.

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The Moler Building when it was occupied by Bargain Benny’s.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous blogs about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

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.  

                           cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[1]

                 To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

           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)

 

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Toronto’s old Bloordale (State) movie theatre

              Bloordale 1103-1004

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.

                       Bloordale 1108-99

The Bloordale Theatre when it first opened. City of Toronto Archives, 1108-99

           AO 2188

The theatre c. 1950, when it was named the State. Photo from Ontario Archives AO 2188.

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Interior of the Bloordale Theatre. Photo, Ontario Archives, AO 2190.

1278-31

The Bloordale Theatre (State) after the premises ceased to be employed as a theatre. Photo from City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, It. 31

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous blogs about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

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.  

                           cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[1]

                 To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

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)

 

 

 

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Toronto Sick Children’s Hospital

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The above picture is from a 1950s post card. On the reverse side of the card is a purple 4-cents stamp with the image of a young Queen Elizabeth ll. The card was mailed in 1955, just two years after the Queen’s coronation. The hospital was a popular choice for post cards in that year as the facility had opened only four year earlier, its impressive symmetrical facade and enormous size greatly admired by Torontonians.

However, there was a Sick Children’s Hospital that preceded the one on University Avenue. The idea of creating a medical facility that catered to the needs of children commenced in 1875, and was contained in an eleven-room house. The following year, due to the increasing demands of a rapidly growing city, larger premises were found, which accommodated sixteen beds.

By 1891, the need for paediatric care had grown to the extent that funds were raised to construct a larger building.  The new facility was to be on the southeast corner of Elizabeth and College Streets, near the University of Toronto. The building was designed by the firm of Darling and Curry, constructed from red sandstone, likely quarried from the Credit River Valley. The style was Richardsonian Romanesque, similar to the Old City Hall on Queen Street West. The base of the structure contained massive stones, and over the entranceway was a great Roman arch. The building had a gabled roof and a cupola. The hospital officially opened in May 1892, and was named the Victoria Hospital for Sick Children. It was the first hospital in Canada built for the sole purpose of meeting the Health needs of children.

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The Victoria Hospital for Sick Children that opened in May of 1892. Photo taken in 2013.

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The entrance to the hospital (left) and the intricate carvings above it (right)

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View of the gabled roof, with terracotta tiles, and a small cupola at the top.

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View of the upper portion of the south facade that fronts on College Street. By the late 1940s, it was obvious that the size of the Victoria Hospital was inadequate. After securing government grants, supplemented by considerable fund raising, property was purchased at 555 University Avenue, on the east side of the street, a short distance south of College Street. The architectural firm of  Goven, Ferguson, Lindsay, Kaminker, Maw,  Langley and Keenleyside were hired. Patients were transferred to the new hospital on February 4, 1951. The Victoria Hospital was occupied by the Canadian Blood Services but they have since vacated the premises.

The site of the new hospital on University Avenue was where the house was located where Mary Pickford was born. Mary Pickford was Hollywood’s greatest star in the era of silent films. Her real name was Gladys Marie Smith, but she changed it to Mary Pickford when she appeared on Broadway in 1907. She became known as “America’s Sweetheart” and was the first truly international star of the silver screen. Her career in films began in 1909 and her final silent film was in 1927. In 1929, in a “talkie,” she won the Oscar for best actress at the Academy Awards of 1929 for her role in “Coquette.” She was one of the founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which was (and still is) responsible for the Academy Awards. Mary Pickford was also one of the creators of United Artists Studios, along her husband Douglas Fairbanks, in partnership with Charles Chaplin and W. D. Griffiths. Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks were the first stars to officially place their footprints in cement in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Mary Pickford died in 1979.

s0071_it3734[1]  

The site of the new Sick Children’s Hospital on University Avenue in 1925. The house to the right of the small one-storey house is where Mary Pickford was born. In this year, the postal address was 211 University Avenue. Photo from the City of Toronto Archives, Series 71, S 0071, It. 3734.

                     f1257_s1057_it3999[1]

The Pickford home shortly before its demolition. Photo from City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, S 1057, It. 3999.

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Mary Pickford as a young actress (left) and in the 1930s (right).

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Mary Pickford on March 24, 1924, in front of the house on University Avenue where she was born in 1893. Photo from the City of Toronto Archives.

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The Pickford Theatre, on the northwest corner of Spadina and Queen Street, named after Mary Pickford. The building was later occupied by Bargain Benny’s. Today, a McDonald’s restaurant is on the site. 

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            The Sick Children’s Hospital on University Avenue in 1955.

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Today, there is an historic plaque and a sculpture in front of the Sick Children’s Hospital, commemorating the birthplace of Mary Pickford on University Avenue.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

To view the links to posts that rediscover Toronto’s old movie houses:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

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.  

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                 To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

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)

 

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