The Ace Theatre c. 1948. City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 89

The Ace Theatre opened in April 1913 as the New Onoka Theatre, but its name was soon changed to the Iola.  It was located at 605 Danforth Avenue, on the southeast corner at Gough Avenue. When it opened, it contained approximately 600 leatherette seats, but no balcony. The auditorium had two aisles; the seating arrangement was 5 seats on the sides and six seats in the middle section. As was usual in this decade, the women’s washroom was on the ground floor, its entrance off the foyer, and the men’s room was in the basement. The theatre’s facade was unadorned, with a plain symmetrical cornice.

In 1939, the theatre was renovated and the number of seats in the centre section of the auditorium was increased to seven seats. In 1945, the theatre was again renovated, and its name was changed to the Regal. At this time, its owner was Nat Taylor of 20th Century Theatres, who in the years ahead partnered with Garth Dravinsky to form Odeon Cineplex Corporation. Nat Taylor gave one of the apartments on the second floor of the building to his mother.

In 1947, the theatres’ name was changed again and it became the Ace. The alterations were done by the architects Kaplan and Sprachman. A candy bar was included in the plans. The sign that had adorned the Ace Theatre at 39 Queen Street West (the old Photodrome Theatre), was purchased and relocated to 605 Danforth Avenue and installed on the facade of the theatre. 

I was unable to discover when the Ace on Danforth Avenue ceased screening films, but it was likely in the mid-1950s. After it closed, it was converted for other commercial enterprises. The building was placed on the real estate market in December 1969, at the listed price of $197,000. At this time, the site was occupied by a financial institution. In the 1980s, it was the Greenview Fruit Market, and later it became a Shoppers Drug Mart. 

The building remains today (2014) but is unrecognizable as a former theatre.


          Undated photo of the Ace, from the City of Toronto Archives


Poster for the Ace theatre, from the late 1940s. The advertised films were quite old, even for the 1940s. Hell’s Angels was released in 1930.


      Newspaper ad for the Ace theatre for a Saturday afternoon matinee.


                A customer survey distributed by the Ace Theatre


A promotional poster for the theatre, likely from 1947, when the theatre’s name was changed to the Ace.


        An advertisement for a New Year’s Eve midnight show at the Ace


The Ace Theatre when the film “Apache Rose” was playing. It was released in 1947, and was Roy Rogers’ first film shot in Technicolor.


Newspaper ad for the film Apache Rose at the Ace Theatre. Photo is of Roy Roger and Dale Evans.


                                      Newspaper ad for the Ace Theatre

Dec. 1969

     The former site of the Ace, when the building was for sale for $197,000.


         The site of the Ace Theatre when it was the Greenview Fruit Market


The Bay Theatre on Queen Street West, at Bay Street, when it was named the Ace. The sign from this theatre was relocated to the Ace on Danforth Avenue in the late-1940s

Note: all photos and ads were obtained form the City of Toronto Archives. The web site silenttoronto.com, by Eric Veillette, was one of the sources of information, along with the City of Toronto Archives.

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

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:

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


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2 thoughts on “The Iola (Ace, Regal) Theatre—Toronto

  1. Treasure trove of information. Thanks for compiling it all. There are two theaters that I have never found in any work, The Center on Dundas West (just west of Bathurst on the north side) and a small theatre which was on the east side of Parliament just south of Dundas.

  2. I attended the Saturday Matinees at the Iola and then the Ace for a few years in the early to mid-forties. I remember seeing 2 serials, 6 cartoons and two movies, usually westerns with Johnny Mack Brown and Lash LaRue or the Durango Kid, all for 6 cents. During the war we would also get two flimsy Canadian comic books. There was a candy store next door that sold us sponge toffee, peanut brittle and BB bats to take into the show.
    After the war the Iola gave away dinnerware for night show customers.
    As a child, I hated going to the washroom, down the long stairs and across the length of that dark and dingy basement. Once I was so scared that I peed on the landing at the top of the stairs and got caught and put out of the theatre. They gave me 5 cents of my money back. I think I was about 8 years old then.
    I couldn’t access the photo of the Ace, although I’d love to see it.

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