Teck Theatre in 1932. The film on the marquee is “Delicious,” a George Gershwin romantic musical comedy. The photo gazes east along Queen Street East toward Broadview Avenue. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Fl. 1231, It. 0641
The Teck Theatre is a rarity in the history of Toronto movie houses, as it’s life as a theatre was one of the shortest on record. It opened in 1931, during the Great Depression. Perhaps the harsh economic times of the 1930s led to its early demise. However, most theatres survived the Depression, as despite people having very little money, attending movies was relatively cheap. The Teck Theatre was owned by Jerry and Michael Shea, two Ontario-born brothers who moved to Buffalo N.Y. They had built Sheas Hippodrome on Bay Street in 1914, one of Toronto’s great movie palaces of the early 20th century. Thus, the Teck had investors of substance behind it. This makes its all the more surprising that it closed after such a short time.
The building that contained the Teck was unpretentious, its facade symmetrical, with few architectural details. The box office was in a central position, outside the small lobby. However, the canopy over the entrance was quite ornate, the only impressive feature of the theatre when it was viewed from the street. Its auditorium had faux windows on the east and west walls, as well as a fake wall at the base of the stage, which created the impression that a person viewing the screen was peering over a low wall.
The theatre was located at 700 Queen Street East, a few doors west of Broadview Avenue, in the Riverdale District. It was on the north side of the street. The Jewellery shop to the west of the theatre paid rent to the owners of the theatre. The shop was run by Karl Minoff until 1958. To the east of the theatre was the old Broadview Hotel, where the popular bar Jilly’s was located in the decades ahead. Jilly’s is to be closed (2014) and the hotel redeveloped for other purposes. The shop to the east of the Teck was located inside the Broadview Hotel, allowing the hotel to receive rental income, taking advantage of its frontage on Queen East.
The Teck was open during the years that theatres were transitioning from silent movies to sound films (“talkies”). The web site @tosilentfilm provides information about one of the piano players who performed the background music for silent films at the Teck. He was the father of Jack Turner, and children delighted in gathering around the piano when he played. They enjoyed listening and watching his hands fly over the keys.
The theatre closed in 1933, after having been opened for only two years. The site was renovated and employed for other commercial purposes.
The Teck Theatre in 1932, gazing west along Queen Street East. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, File 1231, Item 0623
Auditorium of the Teck. Photo is from the Toronto Reference Library.
Real Estate photo of the site of the Teck Theatre, in February 1969, when it was for sale for $75,900.
The Broadview Hotel at Queen East and Broadview, the site of the Teck Theatre the small white building to the left of the hotel. (Photo taken 2014)
Similar view as the above photo, of the northwest corner of Broadview and Queen, c. 1945. The site of the Teck is devoid of the theatre, as it closed in 1933. (Photo, City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, S.1057, It.0518)
The site of the Teck Theatre in September, 2014. The top of the building again resembles the old Teck Theatre.
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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: