The Royal Theatre c. 1950, photo from The City of Toronto Archives
The Royal Theatre in downtown Toronto was located at 1481-1483 Dundas Street West, on the northwest corner of Dufferin and Dundas Streets. The plans for the the theatre were submitted to the city in March 1930. The harsh economic times, which became known as the Great Depression, had descended across the city. Unemployment soared and food lines were lengthy. People possessed very few dollars to spend, but movies were relatively cheap and readily available in almost every neighbourhood. As a result, theatres continued to be built.
The Royal Theatre was one of them. It is difficult to determine if it was located in a building that was constructed as a theatre, or was in a space that had formerly been a store. The latter is the most likely since the architectural style of the building resembled the 1920s more than the 1930s. The building contained a symmetrical parapet at the top, with a plain cornice. The structure extended a considerable distance back from Dundas Street, which allowed space for seven residential apartments on the second floor. The apartments had attractive bay windows and a separate entrance on Dufferin Street. The Royal’s auditorium possessed a concrete floor, with 366 leatherette seats with plush backs, but no balcony. Its small size also suggests that it was in a converted space rather than in a location purposely built as a theatre.
About the years 1953, due to demographic changes in the area, the theatre changed its name to the Roma and commenced screening Italian films. In June 1955, the building was placed on the real estate market. However, I was unable to discover the year that the Royal was purchased or when it closed. After its demise, the Pylon Theatre on College Street, that had been renamed the Golden Princess when it screened Asian films, took the name Royal as its own. The Royal at 608-610 College Streets remains today in Little Italy, and is a vibrant part of the community.
The Royal Theatre at Dundas West and Dufferin Streets.
The Royal Theatre in 1955, when it was named the Roma and was on the real estate market.
The building that was the site of the Royal (Roma) when it was renovated for other commercial purposes.
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To view previous posts about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new
To view links to Toronto’s Heritage Buildings
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: