View looking north on Yonge Street from St. Clair Avenue in the 1940s. Photo, City of Toronto Archives,
The Kent Theatre was on the west side of Yonge Street , a short distance north of St. Clair. It was a theatre that I passed by many times when I attended either the Odeon Hyland or the Hollywood Theatres. Located at 1488A Yonge Street, it was one of the earliest theatres that opened in the Deer Park District of Toronto. Plans for its construction were submitted to the city in November of 1914, and it was to be named the Queen’s Royal Theatre. Its name was most appropriate for the decade, as loyalty toward the royal family and Great Britain were strong. Also, in August of the year that the theatre was being planned, the First World War commenced.
When the theatre finally opened, it contained 536 leatherette seats, two aisles and no balcony. It had water-cooled air for comfort during Toronto’s humid summers. The floor was of wood and tiles. The box office was located in the centre of the lobby. In 1934 the theatre was renovated by Kaplan and Sprachman, and perhaps this was when its name was changed to the Beverley. The name Beverley was retained as late as the year 1942. There is very little information in the archives about this theatre, and I was unable to discover when its name was changed to the Kent
During the 1950s, the Kent screened B-movies or films that had been released several years earlier. I was able to view these films at theatres closer to home—the Colony and the Grant. As a result, although I remember the Kent clearly, it was a theatre I never attended. I was unable to find the year that the theatre closed.
In this photo, likely taken in the 1920s, the theatre is named the Beverley.
Looking north from Yonge and St. Clair, the old Yonge streetcars visible, as well as the marquee of the Kent.
The intersection of Yonge and St. Clair, gazing north, the Kent Theatre on the left-hand side (west) side of the street.
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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)