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Monthly Archives: September 2014

Architectural gems—654-672 Queen West Toronto

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Construction on the commercial block on Queen Street, which contains ten shops, began in 1875. The shops are located on the north side of the street, west of Palmerston Avenue. In the 19th century, the postal numbers of the buildings were different to today, but I will use only the modern numbers. The street to the east of the bloc was Muter Street, later renamed Palmerston Avenue.

It was quite common during the final decades of the 19th century to build rows of shops within a single structure, on streets with streetcar lines and much pedestrian traffic. Stores occupied the ground-floor levels, with residential apartments on the floors above. Usually, they were three storeys in total, although sometimes there were four. The facades of the blocks were usually symmetrical, their designs possessing an overall sense of unity.

The commercial block at 654-672 Queen West was similar to the many other commercial blocks in 19th-century Toronto, although its facade is not completely symmetrical, since there are four shops on the eastern portion and five on the western part. However, the building appears symmetrical, unless a person examines it in detail. The focus of the design is vertical, even though the structure is basically horizontal as its extends for a considerable distance along the street. The strong vertical lines create the illusion of height, the parapet (false wall) at the top of the building adding to this effect. However, the commercial block does not overly dominate the street like the modern towers of the 20th and 21st centuries. The scale of the buildings is pleasing as it adds texture to the streetscape. Many modern buildings fail in this aspect as they are simply smooth unadorned facades of glass and concrete.    

In 1884, the land where the commercial block at 654-672 Queen was constructed was the southern part of the estate of James Crocker, who was a city alderman and a member of the Elk Lodge. This was a fraternal order that men joined in the 19th century and early decades of the 20th century. In an age without electronic communication, men joined clubs and fraternities as the lodge meetings allowed them to make business contacts and establish friendships with those who lived beyond their immediate neighbourhoods.

In 1874, James Crocker had two adult sons—William and Henry—living with him in the house on his estate. They were also members of the Elk Lodge. His son William worked in the P.O. Inspector’s Office. To the west of the estate were six shops, which are still in existence today, although the facade of one of them has been altered drastically.

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The above map is from the 1884 Goad’s Atlas in the Toronto Reference Library. It shows the estate of James Crocker, his house set well back from Queen Street. The front of the house likely faced Muter Street. In the years ahead, Muter Street’s name was changed to Palmerston Avenue. The six shops, with residential apartments above them, can be seen to the west (left) of Crocker’s estate. The map shows 5 shops, but the postal number indicate that there were actually six, as number 4 was a double-size shop. 

Crocker sold the land he owned that fronted on Queen Street for the construction of the commercial block, in which there were 10 shops. However, he retained ownership of the building lot on the corner of Queen and Muter (Palmerston Avenues). It was later sold and a three-storey building erected on the site, with the postal address 652 Queen West.

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The three-storey building (652 Queen St.) is on the left-hand side of the photo. It is on the corner of Palmerston (originally Muter Street) and Queen Street West. The view gazes north on Palmerston Avenue from  Queen Street. Photo taken in August 2014.

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View of the commercial block at 654-672 Queen West, with its semi-symmetrical red-brick facade that includes strong vertical lines and intricate detailing.

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Gazing east along Queen Street, the commercial block visible on the north side of the street. To the west of the block is the only building in the entire block that has been architecturally ruined, its modern front unattractive and sadly out of place.

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View of the facade of the western portion of the commercial block, which contains five shops.

 

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The top portion of the centre part of the block, the tall parapet visible at the top of the building. The parapet on the western section has been replaced with a plain brick wall. The windows on the upper floors have rounded arches at the top, whereas on the lower floors they are rectangular.

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Left-hand photo shows the parapet on the west side, with its original cornice intact. Right-hand photo shows the parapet on the east side where the cornice has been removed. 

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The northwest corner of Palmerston Avenue and Queen West in 2014. 

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        The commercial block at 654-672 Queen in August, 2014.

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

To view links to posts about other old movie theatres of Toronto.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

To view other posts about the history of Toronto and its heritage buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

Book published in 2014 about Toronto’s old movie theatres, which 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”

                           cid_6E1BDA0D-74B3-4810-AB4C-AC5CC5C0[2]

To place and order for this book, either in electronic or hard copy format, follow the link below.

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

        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), the Photodrome, 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)

 

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Author of Tayloronhistory.com at “Word on the Street,” Sept. 21,2014

The recently published book (2014) about Toronto’s old movie theatres, 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. The author will be present at the Dundurn Press site at “Word on the Street”, booth #222, at University and College Streets,” at 2:30 pm. 

“Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen”

                           cid_6E1BDA0D-74B3-4810-AB4C-AC5CC5C0[2]

        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), the Photodrome (Ace), 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)

To place and order for this book, either in electronic or hard copy format, follow the link below.

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

 

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Toronto’s Cameo, Playhouse (Melody), Pix and Doric Theatres

There are many photographs and copious information about Toronto’s old movie houses in the Toronto Archives, Toronto Reference Library and the Ontario Archives, but not all the theatres are well documented. This is understandable, since it is estimated that at the height of the popularity of the city’s movie theatres, there were over 150 theatres in Toronto. Some of them were quite small and other were luxurious movie palaces. There is much research material available on the downtown venues and some of the larger neighbourhood movie houses. However, for some of the lesser-known theatres the material is scarce. The  theatres below are some of those in the latter category, but at least I was able to locate photographs of them.

If anyone has any personal knowledge of these theatres or is aware of any sources of information that I could consult, I would greatly appreciate being informed. I can be contacted at tayloronhistory@gmail.com.

                                The Cameo Theatre

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The Cameo Theatre was at 989 Pape Avenue near Cosburn. It is one of the theatres included in John Sebert’s book, “The Nabes,” and is featured on the cover of his book.  He states that the theatre was designed by Kaplan and Sprachman in 1934. It was built for Sam Strashin and remained in the possession of the family for the entire life of the theatre. It was sold in the late 1950s to Loblaws. (Photo, Toronto Archives, Series 1104 File 101).

Since this post was published, I discovered more information about the Cameo. The link to this post is:https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/12/05/torontos-old-cameo-theatre/

                 The Playhouse Theatre (Melody)

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The Playhouse Theatre at 344 College Street, near Brunswick Avenue, was also known as the Melody. The above photo is from the Toronto Archives, taken about 1936 (SC 488-1099).

                              The Pix Theatre (Aster)

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The Pix Theatre was originally named the Aster, and was located at 233 Ossington Avenue. It was on the southeast corner at Dundas, two doors from the corner. City of Toronto Archives, 377898-17.

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The site of the Pix Theatre after it ceased to operate as a theatre.   

                           Doric Theatre

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I was unable to discover any information about this theatre. However, the above photo was taken c. 1940, and the theatre was located at Bloor St. West and Gladstone Avenue. Photo, Globe and Mail 71416.

I discovered further information about the Doric Theatre. For a link to it: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/12/20/torontos-old-doric-theatre/

Book published in 2014 about Toronto’s old movie theatres, which 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”

                           cid_6E1BDA0D-74B3-4810-AB4C-AC5CC5C0[1]

To place and order for this book, either in electronic or hard copy format, follow the link below.

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

        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)

 

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Toronto’s old Avenue Theatre on Eglinton Ave.

Avenue Theatre 1939

The Avenue Theatre in 1937, Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, It, 3848

There are many photographs and much information about Toronto’s old movie houses in the Toronto Archives, Toronto Reference Library and the Ontario Archives, particularly on the downtown venues and some of the larger neighbourhood movie houses. However, not all the theatres are well documented. This is understandable as it is estimated that at the height of the popularity of movie theatres, there were over 150 venues in Toronto. Some of them were quite small and others were great movie palaces. There is copious research material available on these, but for some of the lesser known theatres, the information is scarce. The  Avenue Theatres is one of those in the latter category, but at least I was able to locate photographs of it.

If anyone has any personal knowledge of the Avenue Theatre or is aware of any sources of information that I could consult, I would greatly appreciate being informed. I can be contacted at tayloronhistory@gmail.com.

Map of 331 Eglinton Ave W, Toronto, ON M5N

The Avenue Theatre was located at 331 Eglinton Avenue West, at Braemar, one block west of Avenue Road. Its facade was in the Art Deco style, with rounded corners on the east and west sides of its relatively unadorned facade, which faced Eglinton Avenue West. It contained 555 seats in the auditorium and 126 in the balcony. The architectural plans were submitted to the city in June 1938. The license was granted  to the Waterloo Theatre Company Limited, and in 1938, Julio and Julius Edison were the managers. The theatre was demolished, likely in the 1960s and shops were constructed on the site.

This is the extent of the information that I was able to discover.

f1257_s1057_it3843[1] The Avenue

The Avenue Theatre in 1937, Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, S. 1057, It. 3843

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This photo of the theatre was taken after it ceased to screen films as the marquee is blank. Ontario Archives, RG 32A-391

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The shops on the site of the demolished Avenue Theatre. Photo, Toronto Archives.

To view the Home page for this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its heritage buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

To view previous blogs about old movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

To discover more about  “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” the publication shown below 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.  

                      cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[1]

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)

         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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Theatre book in TIFF book store

                      cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852

The recently published book about Toronto’s old movie theatres is now available in the TIFF book store. TIFF members receive a 15% discount on the $21.99 retail price. 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 learn more about the book, follow the link to a blog by Bernie Fletcher, who expertly explores the movie theatres in the east end of Toronto. The blog mentions some of the material in the book. http://www.beachmetro.com/2014/09/09/golden-age-movie-houses/

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)

                 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 .

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/

 

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The warehouse loft at 80 Spadina Avenue—Toronto

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Immediately south of the Darling Building, on the southwest corner of Spadina and Adelaide Street, is a warehouse loft with the postal address 80 Spadina Avenue. In the early decades of the 20th century, there were houses on the site where 80 Spadina is today located. The postal addresses on Spadina Avenue changed during the years ahead, creating difficulties in discovering the identities of buildings. However, the 1928 Toronto Directories reveal that the property south of the Darling Building contained a laneway and the building to the south side of the laneway possessed the postal address 82-94 Spadina. This is the where the structure that is today 80 Spadina is located.

The building is typical of the warehouse lofts constructed in the 1920s on Spadina. In that decade, the area was the centre of the garment district, and the large warehouses were built to meet the demands of the industry. In their interiors, the floors were open-plan, allowing the spaces to be converted to meet the needs of multiple tenants. Renting these spaces reduced the costs of maintaining the building. The first floor of the building at 80 Spadina is partially below ground, and there are four storeys above it. In 1928, it was occupied by W. J. Gage and Company, Wholesale Books and Stationary and Educational Book Company. 

The red-brick facades of the building possess few architectural details, although there are attractive brick patterns beneath the unadorned cornice. The corners of the building that face Spadina have structures that resemble half of a tower, creating a solid, heavy appearance. The base of the building contains large stones, which add to the solid look of the structure.

Today, the building has multiple tenants, similar to when it was constructed in 1928.

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                          The east facade, facing Spadina Avenue.

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                  The south facade, the view looking west.

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                             Gazing upward at the east facade.

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        The large stones at the base of the structure, at 80 Spadina Avenue.

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                  Brick patterns and windows on the east facade

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                                  An interior beam on the ground floor.

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The building at 80 Spadina and the Darling Building to the north of it (photo 2014). The view gazes north on Spadina toward Adelaide St. West.

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

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

To view previous blogs about old movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

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.

                        cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[1]

                         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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Posted by on September 9, 2014 in Toronto

 

TIFF madness 2014—King St. festival

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King Street on the afternoon of the day TIFF opened, Thursday, September 5, 2014. The crowds had not yet gathered.

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King Street gazing west at John Street, on the evening of September 6, 2014. The crowds had certainly arrived.

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              King Street gazing east on Sunday afternoon, September 7, 2014

The closing of King Street to vehicle traffic for four days during TIFF 2014, allowed Torontonians to discover the possibilities when streets are open to pedestrians only. When we consider how many people are living in the core of the city, the surrounding suburbs, and the number of tourists visiting from around the world, it is a pity that our streets are so rarely open for strolling and relaxation. Because we live at a latitude that possesses short summers, the tragedy of this situation is compounded.

More and more people are now purchasing homes in areas throughout the metro area where they no longer require a car, in districts close to the subways or streetcar lines. Throughout the years, TIFF has constantly strived to showcase Toronto to the world. The closing of the street in front of the Bell Lightbox is a further extension of this concept. During TIFF, to stroll along King Street, especially at night, has always been a unique experience, but this year, it was doubly true. King Street looked great! It is a pity that the street was closed to vehicles for only four days.

I faithfully attend TIFF each year. I usually do not attend the Hollywood premiers, but prefer to view foreign films and relatively unknown movies that I would otherwise not have an opportunity to see, including many Canadian films. I particularly enjoy the discussions with the actors, producers and directors that follow the screenings. I consider TIFF one of the most important events of my year.

When the festival is not in operation, I continue to attend the Bell Lightbox to view some of the classics of yesteryears, particularly those that I remember from the days of my youth when I attended Toronto’s old historic movie venues. It is great to view them on the big screen as they were originally intended to be seen.

The Bell Lightbox has become an integral part of my entertainment world.

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              Cafes in front of the the Bell Lightbox on King Street West.

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A cafe/restaurant awaits the evening’s customer who wish to take in the sights of TIFF 

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The Princess of Wales Theatre prepares for the premier of the film “The Equalizer.”

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The stage on the reflecting pool on the north side of the Roy Thomson Hall, where a sound system and DJ played music for the guests on the terrace of the hall.

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Picnic tables on King Street to the west of Simcoe Street, the 1908 Union Building in the background.

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Restaurant patios directly opposite the entrance to the Bell Lightbox.

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               Giant chess board on King Street during TIFF 2014.

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                 Crowds in front of the Princess of Wales Theatre

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           The Roy Thomson Hall at King and Simcoe during TIFF 2014 

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Concert stage on the north side of King Street, between Peter and John Streets

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            La Fenice Restaurant on the north side of King Street

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                 The red carpet in the Bell Lightbox, TIFF, 2014

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                  Scotiabank Theatres, one of the venues for TIFF

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

To view previous blogs about Toronto’s old movie houses and modern cinemas

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.

                           cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[1]

                 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 .

The closing section of the book is about the Bell Lightbox, one of the best of the city’s modern theatre venues. The book is available at Chapters/Indigo and the book store in the Bell Lightbox. It will also be featured during “Word on the Street” on September 21st.    

 

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Toronto’s La Plaza Theatre (the Opera House) on Queen East

735 Queen East, $165,000  yr unknown

This real estate photo from the Toronto Archives (Series 1278, File 97) was taken in October 1963, when the building where the La Plaza Theatre was located was for sale for $165,000. View looks west along Queen Street.

The plans for the La Plaza Theatre were submitted to the City of Toronto in February 1915, as a venue for live theatre and silent movies. It was located at 735 Queen Street East, on the south side of the street, a short distance east of Broadview Avenue, near Lewis Street. The La Plaza contained a stage and an orchestra circle. Space for musicians was required as the theatre offered vaudeville and background music was necessary for the silent films. Its auditorium contained 560 seats and in the balcony a further 303. On either side of the stage, there were two box seats, each containing six chairs.

The three-storey red-brick building contained residential apartments on the second and third floors, and shops on either side of the entrance that faced Queen Street East. Patrons entered the theatre through a narrow foyer, which led to a small inner lobby.

The La Plaza remained a highly popular theatre on the vaudeville circuit throughout the 1930s, but as films became the rage, it was primarily a movie theatre. In October 1948, the rear row of seats were removed to install a candy bar.

During the years it acquired various names—the Acropolis, the Dundas, and the Cinema Ellis. The source for this information was www.theoperahousehistory.com/history.php. It was for sale in 1963, and perhaps this was when it was purchased and became the Opera House. I have been unable to confirm this fact, but it was during the 1960s that its name was changed. Today, it still operates as a theatre for live concerts, with a capacity of over 800 seats.

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A sketch of the interior of the La Plaza, showing the orchestra circle, stage, and box seats.

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The entrance to the La Plaza Theatre in 1946. Photo, Ontario Archives, AO 2042

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View from the balcony of the La Plaza. This photo was likely taken in the 1950s, when the theatre was strictly a movie house. The box seats have been removed. Photo Ontario Archives, AO 2041.

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View of the auditorium from the stage, Ontario Archives AO 2040, c. 1950

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Lobby of the La Plaza, with a large popcorn machine. Photo, Ontario Archives, AO 2043

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                                     The foyer of the la Plaza c. 1956.

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   The La Plaza after it became The opera House. (Photo taken September 2014.)

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View of the east facade of the La Plaza on Lewis Avenue (left photo), and the same view in 2014 (right-hand photo).

                 

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View of the entrance to the Opera House in 2014, with its own distinctive marquee.

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The box office, which is original though it has been renovated, and the doors of the theatre, which date at least to the 1930s.

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The old doors on the left-hand side of the entrance of the La Plaza, which is today the Opera House, and the mosaic tiles at the base of the doors that are perhaps from when the theatre was built in 1915.

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The well-worn mosaic tiles at the base of the doors, a touch of decorative elegance from the former days of the La Plaza Theatre.

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View of the outer foyer of the theatre in 2014. The mosaic tiles are visible from the old days of the La Plaza Theatre. 

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The outer foyer and the mosaic tiles on the floor. (Photo taken 2014).

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          The south facade of the Opera House in September of 2014.

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

To view previous blogs about other old movie houses of Toronto

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.

                           cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852

                 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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Posted by on September 3, 2014 in Toronto

 

Remembering Toronto’s Hillcrest Theatre on Christie St.

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The Hillcrest Theatre in March 1949, the view looking north on Christie Street from south of Dupont Street. The theatre is on the right-hand side of the photo.

The Hillcrest was a small neighbourhood theatre that I never knew existed until I commenced researching the old movie houses of Toronto. The above photo was the only photograph that I was able to locate. It depicts the theatre at 285 Christie Street, on the east side of the street, a short distance south of Dupont Street. It was situated in an area that was residential as well as industrial. The railway tracks that cross over Christie Street are visible in the photo. Theatre appears to have an attractive canopy and marquee, with a sign that undoubtedly was well lit at night.

The original plans for the theatre were submitted to the city in 1922. It was a rectangular, two-storey brick building, with a concrete floor, 440 wooden seats and two aisles. A notation in the Toronto Archives states that it is thought to have been designed by W. C. Hunt and J. L. Pennock.  I have been unable to confirm this information or discover anything about these architects. When it opened, it possessed no marquee and its box box office was at the street line.

The Hillcrest was renovated in November 1930 and again in January 1931. The latter renovations were by Jay English, who relocated the box office to inside the lobby, on the right-hand side. The manger’s office and washrooms were also updated at this time. Perhaps this was when the marquee and signage were added to the facade. The year 1931 was also the year when the theatre was robbed for the first time. The theatre was air-conditioned in 1937, and new seats were installed. The number of seats was reduced to 425, arranged in a pattern of six seats in the centre section and four on either side. On the second floor, above the projection booth, space was rented for a dentist’s office.

On November 26, 1947 the theatre was robbed at gun point when Gilbert Roland (the Cisco Kid) was playing in the film, “Beauty and the Bandit.” The thief escaped with $27. It is hoped that the Cisco Kid was more successful in his role in the movie than the bandit was in his robbery of the Hillcrest. The cashier at the theatre said that the thief who stole the $27 was very polite. It is a wonder that he did not cuss loudly when he discovered the amount in the cashier’s drawer in the box office.

The theatre was refurbished in 1952, but like many neighbourhood theatres, it had difficulty competing with television. After the theatre closed, the building was converted to accommodate other purposes.

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               Christie Street in 1949, gazing north to Dupont Street.

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           The Hillcrest after it ceased operating as a theatre.

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

To view previous blogs about other old movie houses of Toronto

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.

                           cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

                 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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Posted by on September 1, 2014 in Toronto