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Monthly Archives: June 2014

John Kay (Wood Gundy Building), Toronto—11 Adelaide St. W.

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The facade of the John Kay Building (Wood Gundy),  at 11 Adelaide Street West, Photo taken in 2013.

Unfortunately, only the ornate facade of the building that at one time housed the John Kay Company remains. It is located at 11 Adelaide Street West. The facade was originally located at 33-36 King Street West. The building it was removed from contained the showrooms and offices of one of Canada’s largest retailers of linoleums, carpets, rugs, draperies, wallpaper and furniture. The date on the facade suggests that the company was founded in 1843, and the building on King Street West was constructed in 1898, to replace an earlier structure that had housed the business firm. The John Kay carpet and furniture company also built an annex next door to its King Street site, on the east side, and manufactured many of their products in the building. This structure was entirely demolished and nothing of it remains.

The five-storey building at 36-38 King Street was designed in the Renaissance Revival style. Its architect was Samuel G. Curry, who also designed the Bank of Montreal at Yonge and Front Streets, where the Hockey Hall of Fame is located today. The facade of the John Kay Building contains numerous designs and symbols from ancient Greece and Rome. In its day, the cornice was one of the most impressive in Toronto. Beneath it are ornamental modillions (brackets), and below them is a row of the Greek “egg and dart” patterns. Beneath the modillions is a row of dentils (teeth-like designs.) The windows are exceedingly large to provide excellent lighting for the interior display areas. Stone Ionic pilasters (faux-columns) decorate the corners of the second floor, and above this floor is a lower cornice. More pilasters rise from the third to the fourth floor. The height of the ceilings on the fifth floor are half the size of the floors below it. This suggests that when it was inhabited by the John Kay Company, the fifth floor contained offices, rather than display space. The various designs on the facade were created through the use of glazed terracotta tiles, with a cream-coloured patina.

In 1910, the John Kay Company merged with one of their competitors, located at 17-31 King West, the W. A. Murray and Company. The new firm was named Murray-Kay Furnishings. In 1923, the business was sold and renamed “Petley and Murray-Kay.” It was likely that this is when the company relocated to 462 Yonge Street, a short distance north of College Street. During the 1930s, it reverted to its original name—John Kay Company, which remained in business until the 1980s.

The former site of the John Kay Company on King Street became the offices of the Wood Gundy Company. Owned by George H. Wood and James Gundy, their company handled government and municipal bonds. On the ground floor, the large windows that had contained carpets and furniture displays were removed, replaced with a frontage that was better suited to a prosperous financial institution. The Wood Gundy firm eventually evolved into an international investment company, extending its business to other cities around the globe.

When the John Kay building on King Street was demolished, its facade was relocated to 11 Adelaide Street West. It became a part of the Scotia Plaza. The site chosen for the facade had a history of its own. It had formerly been where the Grand Opera House had been located, which opened in 1874. Its millionaire owner, Ambrose Small, disappeared in 1919 and was never seen again. His theatre was demolished in 1927.

There was much controversy when it was decided to relocate the facade of the John Kay Carpet Company from its King Street location and install it in the Scotia Plaza site at 11 Adelaide Street West. I can understand the reasons, but having the facade of the old building is better than having the entire structure destroyed. I believe that Scotia Plaza is to be congratulated for preserving a piece of the city’s architectural history. The facade is a poignant reminder of an era when business firms felt that creative, well-designed buildings were important. 

Sources:

Toronto Architecture, Patricia McHugh, McClelland and Stewart Incorp. 1985

Torontoists.com

books.google.ca

                  postcard-toronto-john-kay-company-king-street-w-carpets-furniture-draperies-c1910[1]

The John Kay Company Building, c. 1910, at 36-38 King Street West. The large display windows on the first-floor level are visible. The facade of this building was dismantled and relocated to 11 Adelaide Street West. Postcard is from the collection of John Chuckman (Chuckmanothercollectionvolumes.ca)

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The upper portion of the structure, with the ornate designs created with terracotta tiles.

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View of the cornice and the intricate designs below it. The large half-shells that resemble scallop shells, are designs from ancient Greco-Roman times and represent prosperity. Their symmetrical shape was appealing to 19th-century architects.

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Dates on the corners of the facade that denote the year the John Kay Company was formed (left) and the year the building was erected (right).

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The facade of the John Kay building, later Wood Gundy, at 11 Adelaide Street West. Photos taken in 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 previous blogs about old movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern

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[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 .

 

 

 

 

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Characteristics of Canadians—happy Canada Day 2014

For Canada Day 2014, I am repeating a section of a post that I placed on this blog on August 8, 2011. It is a based on a passage from the book, Arse Over Teakettle, Book One of the Toronto Trilogy.” The main character in the novel is a young boy named Tom Hudson. In the story, he relates his father’s version of the ten most common characteristics of Canadians. It is readily obvious that Tom’s father had a tongue-in-cheek sense of humour. As a proud Canadian, similar to Tom’s fictional dad, I cannot resist poking fun at my fellow Canadians and myself.

1. As Canadians, we are possessed with the seasons and thus never stop talking about them. Without weather to grumble about, we would be forced to remain silent in elevators, or heaven forbid, go out and vote in an election for something to do.

2. Before we will believe that something or someone is great, we require confirmation by other nations, especially Americans. However, after we guzzle two bottles of Canadian wine, we concede that our vintages are among the world’s finest and our hangovers are “world class.”

3. Those of us who do not live in the Toronto area, all know that it is an evil place, even if we have never stepped foot within its precincts. Astute political observers expect a Toronto Separatist Party to develop sometime in the near future.

4. In a crowd, we prefer invisibility to being obvious. We are invisible when in foreign lands, despite the fact that we are the only people in the world who speak the English language without an accent. Also, we are the only North Americans who know that the final letter of the alphabet is pronounced “Zed.” We know that “double-double” means. In summer, we have barbeques, not “barbies” or “cook-outs.”

5. Though Canada is not a Christian nation by constitutional law, the majority of us believe in a code of ethics that is similar to “Christian values,” whether we are a Muslim, Jew, Buddhists, atheist, or agnostic. The phrase, “I’m going to put up an agnostic tree next Christmas,” is as Canadian as hockey, maple syrup, or Tim Bits.

6. We strive to see both sides of an argument. Tolerance and compromise are preferred to dogmatism. However, if our favourite hockey team does not make it to the play-offs, we allow no arguments over the statement, “Well, there’s always next year.”

7. We are passive by nature, hate to make a fuss, and prefer to keep our opinions private. (The latter quality, I might add, is now being destroyed by Facebook, Twitter and blogging.) However, if we are aroused, we can become a potent force. An international hockey tournament is a sure-fire way to arouse the land of the maple leaf. We are quick to adopt Europe’s finest sporting traditions (Google articles written about “crazed” soccer fans at professional games.)

8. We believe that patriotism is an internal emotion, independent of flags, symbols, and rousing anthems. Besides, most of us do not know the lyrics of our national anthem. We would hold our hands over our hearts when saluting the flag, but during most of the year, it is too cold to take our hands out of our pockets.

9. We are usually practical by nature, though it is said that we are the only people in the world who step out of the shower to take a pee.

10. We hate the “HST” with a passion and love asking, “Can I pay cash?” (wink-wink). As well, we believe we should obey the law, even if it is inconvenient. However, we do not recognize any customs that refer to “tipping,” and resent adding the expected fifteen or twenty percent to our restaurant bills.

I might add that if Americans are asked the difference between a canoe and a Canadian, some might reply, “Unlike Canadians, a canoe tips.”

Happy Canada Day—from Doug Taylor

I have written eight books that employ Toronto as a background. Their titles are listed on my Home Page.

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 heritage buildings:

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

To view previous posts about old movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern

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

My most recent publication is entitled “Toronto’s theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen.”

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 .

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2014 in Toronto

 

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen

Book published in 2014 about Toronto’s old movie theatres. The book 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.  

“Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen”

                           !cid_6E1BDA0D-74B3-4810-AB4C-AC5CC5C0BE31@thehistorypress

        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)

Why a book on theatres ?

Several years ago I commenced this blog about Toronto’s heritage buildings and included posts about Toronto’s old movie houses. Seeking further information about the theatres of yesteryear, I searched for books to assist me, only to discover that very few were available. However, I secured a copy of John Sebert’s book, “The Nabes,” published in 2001. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as it excellently chronicled Toronto’s neighbourhood theatres, referred to as “Nabes,” but it did not include the movie houses located in the city’s downtown.

Most of us attended neighbourhood theatres only until we were of an age to travel further afield. Then, as teenagers, the downtown movie houses became the main attraction. Attending them became high adventure. After all, few memories in life are more golden than those of our teenage years and in the past, movie theatres played a major role during the formative years of many teenagers. To some extent, this remains true today.

Despite including the downtown theatres in my book, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” it is not a comprehensive study of the old movie houses of Toronto. There are too many to accomplish this within a single edition. As a result, I have selected a combination of downtown and local theatres, from the earliest days of cinema to the arrival on the Toronto scene of multiplex theatres and the Bell Lightbox, headquarters of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). I retain fond memories of many of the theatres mentioned and have included personal anecdotes, as well as stories from those whom I interviewed.

Movie houses started popping up around Toronto in the 1910s and ‘20s. The main theatre drags became the places to stroll, as young guys cruised for gals and couples wandered around places like St. Clair Avenue, the Danforth or Gerrard Street before catching films. The book entitled “Toronto’s Theatres” revisits Toronto’s historic movie houses of yesteryears, beginning with the early-day nickelodeons and the great movie palaces that followed. It explores an era when unattended cigarettes were a great danger to theatre goers. In these early decades, moral standards and restrictions on the content allowed in films were very different to today.

Discover the “Theatre Without a Name” which remains open today as one of the oldest continuously used theatres in the city. The Toronto International Film Festival now brings cinema to the city’s centre stage. Discover how Toronto became the Hollywood of the north and how the city’s love affair with film started in the movie houses of its past.

To place and order for this book, either in electronic or hard copy format, follow the link below.

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

 

 

 

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Toronto’s Blue Bell Theatre (the Gay)

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                The Blue Bell Theatre, May 1946, City of Toronto Archives

The original plans for the Blue Bell Theatre were submitted to the city by Hubert Duerr in 1929. A neighbourhood venue that screened silent movies, its architecture was a curious mixture of styles, and the canopy over the entrance unpretentious. Located at 309 Parliament Street, on the west side of the street, it was south of Dundas Street East. Located in a working-class community, where many Irish immigrants had settled in the 19th century, it was in the southern part of Cabbagetown.

On January 4, 1930 a driver failed to engage his emergency brake and his car rolled down the slight slope on Parliament  Street and crashed into the ticket booth of the theatre. The cashier was too stunned to flee, but fortunately was not injured, although the ticket booth was damaged. Despite it being a relatively new theatre, it was renovated in 1933 by the architects Kaplan and Sprachman. It was a free-standing structure, with no shops included in the building that could be rented to provide extra revenues. However, it remained financially profitable for several decades. It originally contained 941 seats, with leather backs. It was cooled by water-washed air, which was typical in that decade.

In September 1954, the theatre was remodelled by Murray Sklar, and its named was changed to the Gay. The word had no connotation with the present-day meaning of the word. When it was renovated in 1954, the number of seats was reduced and a candy bar installed. The Gay was owned by Zelif Unger, who was well known for maintaining strict control during children’s Saturday-afternoon matinees. Any kid who misbehaved was promptly ejected from the theatre. This information was obtained from a post on the “Cabbagetown Regent Park Community Museum,” which also stated, “It was not uncommon [for kids] to receive a boot to the ass upon ejection.”

When theatre attendance dwindled, the theatre ceased screening Hollywood films and commenced showing East Indian films. It was considered a “Bollywood” theatre, and was operated by  S. G. P. Jafry. The theatre finally was closed during the 1980s. Today, there are townhouses located on the site.

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   Sketch for the 1933 renovations by Kaplan and Sprachman.

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The Blue Bell on a rainy evening in 1932, photo from the Mandel Sprachman Collection at the City of Toronto Archives.

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The theatre after it was remodelled in 1954 and its named changed to the Gay.

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Auditorium of the Blue Bell, photo from Ontario Archives AO 2278-35

Feb.  1972

Real Estate photo, when the theatre was for sale in February 1972, asking price $198,000.

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

To view previous posts on this blog 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 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 . 

 

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Toronto’s architectural gems—the Grange and AGO

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The Grange and the modern south facade of the Art Gallery of Ontario behind it. (Photo, 2013).

The land where the Grange is located was at one time part of an hundred-acre park lot granted by Governor Simcoe to Solicitor General Robert I. D. Gray in the 1790s. In 1808, Mr. D’Arcy Boulton Jr., the eldest son of Attorney General D’Arcy Boulton, purchased 13 acres of Gray’s park lot for 13 pounds and named it the Grange Estate, after his ancestral home in England. In 1818, he erected a residence on the property, which he designed himself, at a time when brick buildings first began to appear in the town of York. The original gates to the estate were located at today’s Queen Street West and John Street. Queen Street was the southern boundary of his property, and Boulton had a gatekeeper’s cottage constructed at John and Queen Street. Later, Boulton ordered that the gates of the Grange be relocated further north, closer to his residence. The Boultons raised eight children within the home.

Inside the gates of the Grange, historical accounts state that two of Mr. Boulton’s horses encountered a wild bear and fended off an attack by the animal. The carriageway that led from the Grange to Queen Street, became the northern section of John Street, named in honour of Governor John Graves Simcoe. A street to the east of John Street also honoured the governor and was named Graves Street. However, it was eventually changed to Simcoe Street and retains this name today. 

When the Grange was built, to the north of it was the St. Leger race track on Dundas Street, the track extending as far north as the College Street of today. The south facade of the Grange was Neoclassical in design. It was symmetrical, with nine large windows facing the spacious grounds that gently sloped southward to Queen Street and Lake Ontario beyond. The Grange was one of the “truly important houses built in York in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. . . . not a shelter for immediate physical needs but a house like the one[s] at home [in Britain].” (The Ancestral Roof, Marion MacRae and Anthony Adamson, Clarke Irwin and Company, 1963).

The Grange possessed a large heavy door, designed to impress those who approached it. A fan-shaped transom window was above the door. Upon entering the home, guests were ushered into a spacious entry hall, and in front of them was a grand circular staircase that led to the second floor, where there was a music room for entertainment. Halfway up the staircase was a leaded glass window that contained the family crest and motto. The dining room and parlour were panelled with black walnut from the local forest, quality wood panelling employed generously throughout the remainder of the interior rooms as well. In front of the house was an oval carriage drive, which remains in existence today.

Upon the death of D’Arcy Boulton, the Grange was inherited by his son, William Henry Boulton, who was mayor of Toronto between the years 1845 and 1847, and again in 1858. When he died in 1874, his widow, Harriett, married Dr. Goldwin Smith the following year. Prior to immigrating to Canada, Goldwin had been a professor at Oxford. He enlarged the house by adding a west wing where grapes had previously been grown, and this addition became his library. It was also employed for formal afternoon tea parties. He also replaced the wooden porch with one of stone. The support pillars of the porch were an ornamented version of Doric columns.

During the years ahead, as the city expanded, Toronto’s art community grew, along with a desire for a permanent venue for exhibiting paintings. Mr. and Mrs. Goldwin Smith decided to bequeath the Grange to the City of Toronto to fulfill this need. However, they demanded that the facade of the house and the park surrounding it be preserved. Harriette died in 1909, and Goldwin Smith died in 1910. The house then became the property of the Art Museum of Toronto. From 1911 to 1918, it was used for art exhibitions and various administrative functions of the museum. However, if the museum were to expand, it was necessary to obtain land on Dundas Street. The Government of Ontario purchased the land for the gallery. The first section of the new galleries opened to the public on April 4, 1918. From its beginning in the Grange, the Art Museum of Toronto expanded and evolved into the Art Gallery of Toronto, now renamed the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). Today, the Grange contains the members’ lounge and administrative offices of the AGO.

Sources

Toronto of Old, Henry Scadding, Toronto Oxford University Press, 1966 (original edition, 1873).

Toronto, Romance of a City, Cassell and Company, Toronto, 1956. 

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

The Estates of Old Toronto, Liz Lundell, The Boston Mills Press, 1997

Toronto, the Place of Meeting, Frederick H. Armstrong, Ontario Historical Society, 1983.

Fonds 1244, Item 304

The Grange in 1907, with a gazebo-like porch, which no longer exits, on its east side. Photo, City of Toronto Archives, Series 1244, It. 0304 (1)

Series 372, Subseries 53, Item 70

The Grange and the park surrounding it in 1922. Photo, City of Toronto Archives, Series 372, Subseries 53, It. 70.

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                           The stone porch on the Grange in 2013.

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                        The Grange on a summer evening in 2013.

                 Fonds 1244, Item 691

                Dr. Goldwin Smith in 1909, the year before he died.

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Dr. Smith’s library, located in an an extension built of the west side of the house.

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The free-standing circular staircase in the Grange that led to the second floor.

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The stained-glass window midway up the staircase, and a statue in an alcove on the staircase.

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Medallion on ceiling of the Grange. The chandelier originally contained gas fixtures.

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                Classical designs on the crown mouldings in the Grange. 

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Interior view of the impressive front door of the Grange, with its fan-shaped transom window.

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                         Two of the fireplaces in the Grange

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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 heritage buildings:

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

To view previous blogs about old movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern

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. T he 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 La Salle Theatre—Dundas and Spadina

c. 1953

        The La Salle Theatre in 1953. Photo City of Toronto Archives, S-1-484B

The above photo is the only picture of the La Salle Theatre that I was able to locate in the archives. It was fortunate that someone took this picture of a fire engine racing along Dundas Street West on a spring afternoon in 1953. The fire truck had been called to extinguish a fire at M. Mandel and Sons Lumber Yard, on the west side of Spadina Avenue, north of Dundas Street.

The theatre opened in 1928, and was originally named the Liberty; it was licensed to Mr. A. Finkelstein. Located was at 526-528 Dundas Street West, it was on the north side of the street, immediately to the west of a branch of the Bank of Nova Scotia of today, on the northwest corner of Dundas and Spadina. The building where the theatre was located survives to this day (2014), as well as the bank. The bank remains an active branch, but the theatre disappeared decades ago. The two building are separated by a narrow alley, which also remains.

The theatre possessed a floor of concrete and steel, with 450 seats in its auditorium and another 200 seats in the balcony. There were two aisles downstairs. The ladies’ room was to the right of the foyer and the men’s room was in the basement. This arrangement was typical for washrooms in decades past—the ladies received the preferred location, on the ground-floor level. The theatre was cooled by water-washed air, installed by the Canadian Air Conditioning Company.

In 1938, the theatre was renovated, the plans designed by Harry Dobson. In this year, the theatre’s name was changed from the Liberty to the La Salle. In 1940, an inspector reported that the theatre was not being maintained properly, and that the owner was uncooperative. A similar report was  issued the following year, and again in 1943 and in 1944. An inspector also noted that the matron on duty at the La Salle was wearing the mandatory white uniform, but the word “matron” was missing from it. Apparently, this was a mandatory requirement for all matrons’ uniforms. This information in the file of the LaSalle Theatre in the archives is the first time I have seen this requirement stipulated.

After the area where the LaSalle was located changed demographically, the theatre changed its name to the Pagoda and screened Chinese films. I received this information from Carlos De Sousa, who lived on Kensington Avenue in the 1960s. He also informed me that the theatre closed in the late-1960s or early-1970s.

Because I often shop at the Kensington Market, I have passed the building where the La Salle was located many times, but was unaware that a theatre had been located on the site. After my research, I re-examined the building and for the first time became aware that the shape of the structure resembled a theatre.

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The La Salle Theatre (left-hand photo) and the building after it was renovated for other commercial purposes. Both photos are from the City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 99.

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  The building where the La Salle Theatre was located, in June of 2014.

 

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The building at 526-528 Dundas Street West, in June 2014. The Bank of Nova Scotia is on the right-hand (east side of the theatre’s former site).

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The site of the old La Salle Theatre, with the east facade and the laneway beside it visible (June 2014).

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

To view previous posts on this blog 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 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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The Eclipse Building at 322 King St. West Toronto

corner King and John

The Eclipse Building at 322-324 King Street West, on the northeast corner of John and King West.

The building that was constructed for the Eclipse White Wear Company at 322-324 King Street West, is on the west side of the Princess of Wales Theatre. This warehouse has an historic plaque on its southwest corner that commemorates the York Hospital, an early-day medical facility in the town of York, prior to it being incorporated as a city in 1834 and its name changed to Toronto.

After the military hospital at Fort York closed, following the War of 1812, the town was without a hospital. Funds were eventually secured and in 1824, a hospital was opened on the northwest corner of John and King Street West, adjacent to where the Eclipse White Wear Company warehouse was built almost a century later. TIFF’s Bell Lightbox is on the site today. The York Hospital was a modest two-storey, red-brick structure with space for about 100 patients. However, almost immediately it was requisitioned by the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada (Ontario) as a place to hold its sessions, as its premises had been destroyed by fire. 

After regaining the premises for medical purposes, the hospital continued to play an important role in the history of the city. During the summer of 1847, over 800 Irish immigrants disembarked from ships at the foot of Simcoe Street. They were a part of a mass migration from Ireland that fled their native isle to escape the poverty and disease caused by the failure of the potato crop during the summer of 1845. Many of them became infected with cholera during their long Atlantic voyage. Because the York Hospital was unable to cope with the number of ill patients, the city built “fever sheds,” as they were known, on the land surrounding the hospital. There were about a dozen of these sheds, each one over 70’ long and 25’ wide. The immigrants who were healthy were encouraged to leave the city as soon as possible as people feared they might be carriers of the disease. Those who were sick were treated either in the York Hospital or in the fever sheds. The sick were allowed to stay in the fever sheds for a maximum of 6 days, and fed three-quarters of a pound of meat and bread daily. Those who survived were sent to a convalescent home, located at Bathurst and Front Streets. Most of those who died were buried beside St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church at Queen and Power Streets. Bishop Michael Power died of cholera administering  to the sick, and was buried in St. Michael’s Cathedral. Note: most of this information was obtained from the historic plaques erected by Heritage Toronto on King Street West.

As mentioned, the Eclipse Building of today is located across the street from where the fever sheds had been erected. The four-storey Eclipse building, with a basement level that is partially above ground, was built in 1903 as a warehouse and factory for the manufacture of ladies and children’s underwear, or as they were known at the time—“unmentionables.” The building was designed by Gregg and Gregg, and has two-foot thick support walls with exceptionally thick structural timbers, able to withstand the heavy weight of the machines required to produce the finished products of cloth that the company manufactured and sold. The south facade of the Eclipse building is symmetrical, the windows on the fourth level having Roman arches. There are very few architectural adornments, although there is patterned brickwork below the cornice. However, any attractiveness that the building possesses is obscured by the white paint that covers its exterior walls. The building was renovated in 1970 by the firm of A. J. Diamond and Barton Myers. It remains today as one of the venerable industrial buildings on King West that has survived for over a century.

corner King and John 2

The first-floor level of the Eclipse Building, with its impressive entrance that has supports that are a version of Doric columns.

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                  The south facade of the building, facing King Street West.

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                   Patterned brickwork beneath the plain cornice.

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     The impressive doorway with an elaborate version of Doric columns. 

322-4 King St

The Eclipse Building, with its south facade on King Street and its west facade on John Street. The Princess of Wales Theatre is to the east of the building. Photo taken 2013.

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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 previous blogs about old movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern

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

   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)

 

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 .

 

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