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”


        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.



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