City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278-Fl. 10
When it opened, the Brighton was an intimate theatre with slightly more than 400 wooden seats, the backs of the seats covered with leatherette. Located at 127 Roncesvalles, on the northeast corner of Galley and Roncesvalles Avenues, the Brighton was an integral part of the community for many decades. A two story building, with three apartments on the third floor, the auditorium of the theatre was the equivalent of two storeys, its floor sloped toward the screen. There was no balcony. The red-brick structure possessed a rather unadorned cornice on its west facade, facing Roncesvalles, though it possessed a row of large modillions (bracket-like ornamentations). The cornice on its south facade, on Galley Avenue, was even less detailed, with straight simple lines. The third-storey apartments enjoyed much sunlight in winter as they contained windows that faced south.
The Brighton was originally licensed to Clarence and William Welsman. The ticket office was to the right of the lobby. The women’s washrooms were located to the right, off the foyer, with stairs on the left leading to the men’s in the basement. There was no air-conditioning, but it possessed fans on either side of the screen that circulated the air. A file in the Toronto Archives states that for many years, prior to the beginning of the evening’s first film, a recording of “God Save the King” was played.
After the theatre closed, the ground-floor premises were remodelled to create retail space. In 2014, a grocery store occupied the ground floor of the building where the old Brighton Theatre once welcomed its patrons for a night’s movie entertainment.
This undated photo from the City of Toronto Archives (Series 1278 fl.33) depicts the theatre on a winter day.
Auditorium of the Brighton, with a piano inserted in the space under the screen. It was employed to supply music to accompany silent films. The City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278 Fl. 33, Ontario Archives, AO 2268.
The lobby of the Brighton, c. 1940. City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278 fl.33, AO 2267.
The site of the Brighton Theatre in 2013, the canopy of the old theatre basically unchanged, although the vertical marque with the theatre’s name has been removed.
The theatre’s facade in 2013, looking south on Roncesvalles Avenue. The doors of the grocery store on the site appear similar to when the building was an active theatre.
The arched window above the old theatre’s canopy and the west-facing windows of the apartments on the third floor. Photo taken in 2013.
The west (front) facade of the old Brighton Theatre in 2013.
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Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It also relates anecdotes and stories from those who experienced these grand old movie houses.
To place an order for this book:
Theatres Included in the Book:
Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto
Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), thePhotodome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)
Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons
Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown
Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s
Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede
Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression
Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro
Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years
University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema
Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres
Savoy (Coronet), Westwood
Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes
Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)