The Adelphi (Cum Bac) movie theatre—Toronto

Adelphi 1108-N-105

The Adelphi (Cum Bac) Theatre in 1936. City of Toronto Archives, 1105-N-105

I was unable to discover the year that the Adelphi Theatre opened, but it was likely in the 1920s. Its original name was the Cum-Bac, likely a play on words as the owners hoped that patrons would Come Back to the theatre as often as possible. It was located at 1008 Dovercourt Road, on the west side of the street, a short distance north of Bloor Street West. It was a two-storey structure, with residential apartments on the second floor. It was an intimate theatre, with 460 plush seats, covered with leatherette. It possessed no balcony. There was only one aisle, which was in the centre of the auditorium, with six seats on either side of the aisle.

In December 1933, a stink bomb exploded in the Cum-Bac. The odour was so intense that one woman fainted, and the building was evacuated. It was discovered that a vagrant had committed the deed. He was arrested and when the case went to court, he was found guilty.

When it was renovated in 1936, by the architectural firm of Kaplan and Sprachman, the theatre’s name was changed to the Adelphi. In 1943, the theatre was again up-dated, the alterations designed by Jay English. I was unable to discover the year that the theatre closed, but it was likely about 1956. The asking price in that year was $60,000, for the entire building.

Adelphi - real estate pic.

The Adelphi Theatre from a real estate photo in the City of Toronto Archives. The film on the marquee was released in 1953, so the photo is likely from about the year 1956.


The building that was once the site of the Adelphi Theatre became a church.

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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)

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