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Toronto’s Apollo (Crystal) Theatre on Dundas Street West

20 Aug

Apollo 1105-N-102

The Apollo Theatre on Dundas Street West. City of Toronto Archives, SC 488 File 1105

The Apollo Theatre was located at 2901 Dundas Street West, in the Junction area in Toronto’s west end. It was on the south side of the street, near the corner of Mavety, which is one block west of Keele Street. It was in a  building with shops on the ground floor and apartments and offices on the second and third floors. Unfortunately, the theatre has long since disappeared from the scene.

The Toronto Directories reveal that in 1921, on the second floor of the apartment building at 2901 Dundas West, there was an apartment rented by Sarah Ford, which also contained Robert J. Bruce Amusements. The files show that the following year, Sarah Ford’s name is still listed but the amusement company has disappeared, and the apartment contains the Crystal Theatre. I thought that perhaps the second-floor location was the offices for the theatre, but on the ground floor, the theatre is not listed. It was not until 1931 that the Directories state that the Crystal Theatre is on the first floor of the building, with the postal address of 2901 Dundas Street West. However, a 1922 photo seems to contradict this information, as it shows a large canopy with the words Crystal Theatre, hanging out over the sidewalk. I suppose it’s possible that the canopy was for the theatre on the second floor, but this seems unlikely. It is also possible that the date on the photo in the archives is incorrect.

The Crystal was a small neighbourhood theatre that competed with the more up-scale Beaver Theatre that opened in 1907, at 2942 Dundas West. If the Crystal Theatre was ever on the second floor of the building, it would have been contained within a small space so would have had very little seating capacity. However, when it was on the ground-floor level, the records indicate that it contained 562 wood seats, in an auditorium that was narrow, extending back a considerable distance from the street. There was no balcony, but the theatre possessed a stage as it offered live theatre performances and vaudeville, as well as the screenings of silent movies. The talkies (sound films) had already arrived in Toronto, but because the Crystal was a small neighbourhood operation, it was unlikely that it had converted to sound. The theatre’s box office was close to the sidewalk, in a central position.

In 1934, its name was changed to the Apollo, and by this year, the theatre was likely screening sound films. The Apollo was just one of several theatres that were located on Dundas Street West in the Junction area of the city.

DSCN3323

Gazing west along Dundas Street West. This is a TTC photo (#2863), taken when the road was undergoing construction, in 1922. The canopy of the Crystal Theatre is visible on the left-hand side of the photo. 

                    DSCN3324

This close up view of the Crystal reveals the canopy of the theatre that extended out over the street. There is a signboard advertising the films being shown and a sign that says “Vaudeville.” According to the Toronto Directories, the Crystal Theatre was on the second floor in 1922, but this photo seems to contradict this information.

                   Apollo now

The building where the Apollo (Crystal) Theatre was located after the theatre was closed.

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

To view previous posts about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/torontos-old-movie-theatrestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to Toronto’s Heritage Buildings

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/canadas-cultural-scenetorontos-architectural-heritage/ 

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.  

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                 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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