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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Canada’s cultural scene—Toronto’s architectural heritage

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My interest in Canada’s history began when I was a young boy in public school. As a teacher, I taught Canadian history to high school students and later to university students who were studying for the Bachelor of Education degrees. When I retired, I wanted to continue promoting Canada’s history. Because I lived in Toronto, I began placing posts on a blog about the city’s architectural heritage. Recently I have expanded the blog to include the city’s old movie theatres, as well as those that continue to serve the cinematic needs of the city today.

Other than hoping to generate an interest in our nation’s past, the blog attempts to create a library of photos that record the architectural details of Toronto’s 19th and early 20th-century buildings. Judging by the response to the blog, I am amazed at how much enthusiasm exits for exploring the architecture of Toronto. It helps explain the reasons for the success of the “Doors Open” program, held annually in May, when thousands of people stand in line to enter the city’s historic buildings, as well as those that are modern. 

Below are links to the various posts about the building that have been examined. I can be contacted at tayloronhistory@gmail.com.

Doug Taylor

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

To view the post that contains a list of Toronto’s old movie houses and information about them:

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

Links to posts about the history of Toronto and its heritage buildings:

The Manufacturers Building at 312 Adelaide St. West 

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/07/05/torontos-manufacturers-building-at-312-adelaide-street-west/

The old Eaton’s College Street (College Park and the Carlu)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/torontos-architectural-gemscollege-park-the-carlu-eatons-college-street/

The John Kay (Wood Gundy) Building at 11 Adelaide St. West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/john-kay-wood-gundy-building-toronto11-adelaide-st-w/

The Grange (AGO)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/06/26/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-grange-and-ago/

The Eclipse Building at 322 King Street West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/06/22/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-eclipse-company-building-at-322-king-st/

The Toronto Normal School on Gould Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/02/22/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-old-toronto-normal-school-on-gould-st/

The Capitol Building at 366 Adelaide Street West, near Spadina

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/03/14/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-capitol-building-at-366-adelaide-west/

The Reid Building at 266-270 King Street West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-reid-building-at-266-270-king-west/

Mackenzie House on Bond Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/mackenzie-housetoronto/

Colborne Lodge in High Park

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/torontos-architectural-gemscolborne-lodge-in-high-park/

The Church of the Redeemer at Bloor West and Avenue Road

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-church-of-the-redeemer-avenue-rd-and-bloor/

The Anderson Building at 284 King Street West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-anderson-building-at-284-king-west/

The Lumsden Building at Yonge and Adelaide Street East

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-lumsden-building-at-2-6-adelaide-street-east/

The Gooderham (Flatiron) Building at Wellington and Front Streets East

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-gooderham-flatiron-building/

The Sick Children’s Hospital on University Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/toronto-architectural-gemsthe-sick-childrens-hospital-and-mary-pickford/

St. James Cathedral at King St. East and Church St.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/torontos-architectural-gemsst-james-cathedral-on-king-st-east/

The E.W. Gillett Building at 276 Queen King St. West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-e-w-gillett-building-at-276-king-st-west/

The Oddfellows Temple at the corner of Yonge and College Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/28/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-oddfellows-hall-at-2-college-st/

The Birkbeck Building at 8-18 Adelaide Street East

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/24/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-birkbeck-building-at-8-10-adelaide-st-east/

The Toronto Seventh Post Office at 10 Toronto St.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-7th-post-office-on-toronto-st/

Former hotel at Bay and Elm streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-former-hotel-at-bay-and-elm-streets/

The 1881 block of shops on Queen near Spadina

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-1881-block-at-388-396-queen-west/

The stone archway on Yonge Street, south of Carlton Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/torontos-architectural-gemsstone-archway-on-yonge-south-of-college/

The former St. Patrick’s Market on Queen West, now the City Market

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-st-patricks-queen-st-market/

The Brooke Building (three shops) at King East and Jarvis streets.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-brooke-building-at-jarvis-and-front/

The old Work House at 87 Elm Street, an historic structure from the 19th century.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-old-workhouse-at-87-elm-street/

The building on the northwest corner of Yonge and Queen Street.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/12/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-northwest-corner-of-yonge-and-queen-st-west/

The former student residence of Upper Canada College, built in 1833, at 22 Duncan Street, at the corner of Adelaide streets.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/13/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-1833-structure-at-duncan-and-adelaide/

Church of the Holy Trinity beside the Eaton Centre

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/16/torontos-architectural-gemschurch-of-the-holy-trinity-beside-eaton-centre/

The former site of the “Silver Snail” comic store at 367 Queen Street West.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-old-silver-snail-comic-store-at-367-queen-st-w/

The Toronto Club at 107 Wellington, built 1888,  at the corner of York Street.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-toronto-club-at-wellington-and-york/ 

The YMCA at 18 Elm Street, built in 1890, now the Elmwood Club.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-old-ywca-at-18-elm-st/

The old St. George’s Hall at 14 Elm Street, now the Arts and Letters Club.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/28/torontos-architectural-gemsst-georges-hallarts-and-letters-club/

The 1860s houses on Elm St. (now Barbarian’s Steak House)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/torontos-architectural-gems1860s-houses-on-elm-streetbarbarians-steak-house/

The old “Silver Snail” shop on Queen St. West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-old-silver-snail-comic-store-at-367-queen-st-w/

The north building at the St. Lawrence Market, which is slated to be demolished

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/the-north-building-at-the-st-lawrence-market-in-autumn-of-2013/

The Ellis Building on Adelaide Street near Spadina Ave. 

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-ellis-building-on-adelaide-near-spadina/

The Heintzman Building on Yonge Street, next to the Elgin Theatre

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-heintzman-building-on-yonge-street/

The tall narrow building at 242 Yonge Street, south of Dundas

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/torontos-architectural-gems242-yonge-st-south-of-dundas/

Toronto’s first Reference Library at College and St. George Streets.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-original-toronto-public-reference-library/

The Commodore Building at 315-317 Adelaide St. West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-commodore-building-315-317-adelaide-st/

The Graphic Arts Building (condo) on Richmond Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-graphic-arts-building-on-richmond-st/

The Art Deco Victory Building on Richmond Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-victory-building-at-80-adelaide-street-west/

The Concourse Building on Adelaide Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-concourse-building-on-adelaide-st/

The old Bank of Commerce at 197 Yonge Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-old-bank-of-commerce-at-197-yonge-street/

The Traders Bank on Yonge Street—the city’s second skyscraper

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/torontos-architectural-gemstraders-bank-on-yonge-st/

Toronto’s old Union Station on Front Street, built in 1884

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/torontos-lost-architectural-gemsthe-old-union-station/

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church at King and Simcoe Streets.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/torontos-architectural-gemshistoric-st-andrews-on-king-st/

The row houses on Glasgow Street, near Spadina and College Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/torontos-architectural-gemsrow-houses-on-glasgow-st/

The bank at Queen and Simcoe that resembles a Greek temple

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-bank-at-queen-west-and-simcoe-streets/

The cenotaph at Toronto’s Old City Hall

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/torontos-architectural-gemscenotaph-at-old-city-hall/

The magnificent Metropolitan Cathedral at King East and Church Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/torontos-architectural-gemsmetropolitan-cathedral/

St. Stanislaus Koska RC Church on Denison Avenue, north of Queen West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/torontos-architectural-gemsst-stanislaus-koska-rc-church-at-12-denison-avenue/

The historical St. Mary’s Church at Adelaide and Bathurst Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/torontos-architectural-gemsst-marys-alterations-nearly-completed/

The Bishop’s (St, Michael’s) Palace on Church Street, Toronto

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/torontos-architectural-gemsbishops-palace-on-church-street/

The Union Building at Simcoe and King Street West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-union-building-on-king-st/

The Ed Mirvish (Pantages, Imperial, Canon) Theatre, a true architectural gem on Toronto’s Yonge Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-ed-mirvish-theatre-pantages-imperial-canon/

The Waverly Hotel on Spadina near College Street.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/16/toronto-architectural-gemsthe-waverly-hotel-484-spadina/

The Art Deco Bank of Commerce building on King Street West.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-bank-of-commerce-cibc-on-king-street/

The Postal Delivery Building, now the Air Canada Centre (ACC)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-postal-delivery-building-now-the-acc/

The Bellevue Fire Station on College Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/14/torontos-architectural-gems-bellevue-fire-station/

The Bank of Nova Scotia at King and Bay Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/torontos-architectural-gems-the-bank-of-nova-scotia-at-king-and-bay/

Toronto’s old Sunnyside Beach

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/in-mid-winter-recalling-the-sunshine-of-torontos-sunnyside-beach/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/01/a-pictorial-journey-to-sunnyside-beach-of-old-part-one/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/a-pictorial-journey-to-torontos-old-sunnyside-beach-part-two/

Toronto’s architectural gems—the Runnymede Library

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/torontos-architectural-gems-runnymede-library/

Spadina Avenue – sinful, spicy and diverse

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/sinfully-saucy-and-diversetorontos-spadina-avenue/

The Reading Building, a warehouse loft building on Spadina Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-reading-building-on-spadina/

The Darling Building on Spadina Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-darling-building-on-spadina/

The amazing Fashion Building on Spadina Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/12/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-amazing-fashion-building-on-spadina/

Toronto’s architectural gems – the Tower Building at Spadina and Adelaide Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/torontos-architectural-gemstower-building-at-spadina-and-adelaide/

The Balfour Building at 119 Spadina Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/07/20/enjoying-torontos-architectural-gemsthe-balfour-building-at-spadina-and-adelaide

The Robertson Building at 215 Spadina that houses the Dark Horse Espresso Bar

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/torontos-architectural-gemsrobertson-building-dark-horse-espresso-bar/

An architectural gem – Grossman’s Tavern at Spadina and Cecil Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/architectural-gem-grossmans-tavern-at-377-9-spadina/Historic

History of the house that contains the Paul Magder Fur Shop at 202 Spadina

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/exploring-torontos-architectural-gemsthe-paul-magder-fur-shop-at-202-spadina-avenue/

An important historic building that disappeared from the northeast corner of Spadina and College

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/a-historic-building-that-disappeared-from-the-northeast-corner-spadina-and-college/

Historic bank building on northeast corner of Spadina and Queen West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/torontos-architectural-gemsbank-at-spadina-and-queen-west/

History of the Backpackers’ Hotel at King and Spadina

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/history-of-the-backpackers-hotel-at-king-and-spadina/

Hamburger corner – Spadina and Queen Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/torontos-hamburger-cornerwhere-is-it-and-why/

Lord Lansdowne Public School on Spadina Crescent

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/22/torontos-architectural-gems-lord-lansdowne-school-on-spadina-cres/

The Dragon City Mall on the southwest corner of Dundas and Spadina

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/08/25/torontos-heritage-the-southwest-corner-of-queen-and-spadina/

Buildings on the west side of Spadina a short distance north of Queen Street.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/torontos-architectural-historyspadina-north-of-queen-kings-court/

History of the site of the Mcdonalds on northwest corner of Queen and Spadina

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/08/27/mcdonalds-at-queen-and-spadina-on-an-historic-site/

A former mansion at 235 Spadina that is now almost hidden from view.

ttps://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/07/04/torontos-architectural-gems-is-this-one-a-joke/

Military hero of the War of 1812 lived near corner of Spadina Avenue and Queen Street West.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/01/military-hero-of-war-of-1812-lived-near-mcdonalds-at-queen-and-spadina/

The Art Deco bus terminal at Bay and Dundas Streets.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/torontos-architectural-gems-art-deco-bus-terminal-on-bay-street/

Photos of the surroundings of the CN Tower and and the St. Lawrence Market in 1977

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/photos-of-the-surroundings-of-the-st-lawrence-market-and-cn-tower-in-1977/

The old Dominion Bank Building at King and Yonge Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/the-old-dominion-bank-buildingnow-a-condo-hotel-at-one-king-st-west/

The Canada Life Building on University and Queen Street West.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/exploring-torontos-architectural-gemsthe-canada-life-building/

Campbell House at the corner of Queen Street West and University Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/18/a-glimpse-at-the-interior-of-campbell-house-at-university-avenue-and-queen-street/

A study of Osgoode Hall

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/enjoying-torontos-architectural-gems-osgoode-hall/

Toronto’s first City Hall, now a part of the St. Lawrence Market

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/torontos-first-city-hall-now-a-part-of-the-st-lawrence-market/

Toronto’s Draper Street, a time-tunnel into the 19th century

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/05/23/torontos-draper-street-is-akin-to-a-time-tunnel-into-the-past/

The Black Bull Tavern at Queen and Soho Streets, established in 1822

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/enjoying-torontos-historic-architectural-gems-queen-streets-black-bull-tavern/

History of the 1867 fence around Osgoode Hall on Queen Street West, near York Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/enjoying-torontos-architectural-gems-the-cast-iron-fence-around-osgoode-hall/

Gathering around the radio as a child in the 1940s

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/listening-to-the-radio-as-a-child-in-the-1940s-the-lone-ranger-the-shadow-etc/

The opening of the University Theatre on Bloor Street, west of Bay St.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/the-opening-of-torontos-university-theatre-on-bloor-street/

122 persons perish in the Noronic Disaster on Toronto’s waterfront in 1949

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/122-perish-in-torontos-noronic-disaster-horticultural-building-at-cne-used-as-morgue/

Historic Victoria Memorial Square where Toronto’s first cemetery was located, now hidden amid the Entertainment District

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/victoria-square-in-torontos-entertainment-district-is-a-gem/

Visiting one of Toronto’s best preserved 19th-century streets-Willcocks Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/visiting-torontos-best-preserved-nineteenth-century-street-willcocks-street/

The 1930s Water Maintenance Building on Brant Street, north of St. Andrew’s Park

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-water-maintenance-building-on-richmond-street-west/

Toronto’s architectural gems-photos of the Old City from a book published by the city in 1912

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-old-city-hall-photographed-in-1912/

Toronto’s architectural gems in 1912

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/torontos-architectural-gems-in-1912/

Toronto’s architectural gems – the bank on the northeast corner of Queen West and Spadina

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/torontos-architectural-gemsbank-at-spadina-and-queen-west/

Photos of the surroundings of the CN Tower and and the St. Lawrence Market in 1977

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/photos-of-the-surroundings-of-the-st-lawrence-market-and-cn-tower-in-1977/

The St. Lawrence Hall on King Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/enjoying-torontos-architectural-gems-the-st-lawrence-hall/

Toronto’s streetcars through the past decades

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/memories-of-torontos-streetcars-of-yesteryear/

History of Trinity Bellwoods Park

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/the-history-and-beauty-of-trinity-bellwood-park/

A history of Toronto’s famous ferry boats to the Toronto Islands

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/remember-the-toronto-island-ferries-the-bluebell-primroseand-trillium/

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)

 

 

Toronto’s old movie theatre—the Donlands

                  DSCN3344

The above photo of the Donlands Theatre, from the Ontario Archives (AO 1981), was taken in 1949. This suburban theatre was located at 397 Donlands Avenue, near Plains Road. Its architect was Herbert (Henry) Duerr who designed the Hollywood Theatre on Yonge Street, north of St. Clair Avenue West, and the Willow Theatre on north Yonge Street. He also designed the Village Apartments at 404 Spadina Avenue in the Forest Hill Village. He chose a modern style for the Donlands, with sleek lines and a wide entrance containing large glass doors. The auditorium possessed over 800 seats, including the loges, but no balcony. The B&F chain owned and operated the theatre, and its first manager was Martin Bloom. 

Excavations commenced on April 15, 1947, but the opening of the theatre was delayed due to a plasterers’ strike. It finally opened on November 20, 1948 and was immediately popular with the local residents. Torontonians were attending the movies in greater numbers, as the Second World War had ended three years before, the economy was booming, and people had more money to spend. TV had not yet entered the living rooms of the nation, and the local movie house was the centre of entertainment for communities across Toronto.  

Saturday afternoon matiness at the Donlands commenced at 1:30 p.m., and if a restricted movie were on the marquee, a substitute was shown at the matinees. The theatre was careful to always ensure that a matron was on duty, especially during children’s matinees. Matrons were women who patrolled the aisles to ensure that the kids behaved, and during adult screenings, that there was no smoking in inappropriate areas or any overly-romantic behaviour in the back rows of the theatre. The theatre was renovated in the years ahead by Kaplan and Sprachman, Canada’s most famous theatre architects. A confection bar was added, but it sold no popcorn. For a period in the 1970s, the theatre showed East Indian films.

According to Michael Sale, the Donlands Theatre was where Canada’s famous comedian John Candy fell in love with the movies. Candy was born in East York, and the Donlands was one of the theatres that was near his home.

I was unable to discover when the Donlands closed, but a reader recently informed me that a reliable source stated that the theatre’s screen went dark in 1969. However, after it ceased to operate as a theatre, it was rented as studio space. I believe the building still exists and is used for other commercial enterprises.

Donlands AO 1985

The auditorium of the Donlands Theatre, Photo from Ontario Archives, AO 1985

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     Lobby of the Donlands, Photo from City of Toronto Archives, 1268-71 

           Donlands

The Donlands Theatre after it ceased screening films. The marquee is covered over by an advertisement and several of the glass doors, as well as the box office, have been removed. Glass blocks cover much of the entrance. Photo, City of Toronto Archives, Series 1268, File 71.

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

Books by the Blog’s Author

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

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   To place an order for this book, published by History Press:

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

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

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Another book on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by |Toronto Life Magazine: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21

 

 

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