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Monthly Archives: January 2015

Toronto’s old Parkdale Theatre—Part 11

Series 1278, Fl. 10130

The Parkdale Theatre in 1937. Photo City of Toronto Archives Series 1278, File 10130

The Parkdale Theatre at 1605 Queen Street West, on the northwest corner of Queen and Triller Avenue is another of Toronto’s theatres that I can readily recall, though I never was inside its doors. As a child, in the 1940s, I often gazed at its showy marquee from the windows of the Queen streetcars. On these occasions, we were on our way to Sunnyside Beach for a day beside the lake. The theatre was only one city block away from the “three-way corner” of Queen, Roncesvalles and King Street. We alighted from the streetcar at this intersection, crossed a narrow bridge spanning the railway tracks and descended the stairs to the amusement park and beach, located on Lakeshore Boulevard.

I also remember that at the three-way corner, on the northwest corner there was a Gray Coach Bus Terminal and next to it was the Edgewater Hotel. The Parkdale Theatre was only a short walk from these well-known city landmarks. All these building remain in existence today (2015), but have been converted for other commercial purposes.

Map of 1605 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6R 1A9

The three-way corner (Queen, King and Roncesvalles) is to the left of the green arrow that indicates the location of the Parkdale Theatre.

In the late 19th century, Parkdale remained a relatively remote community to the west of the city, despite having been amalgamated with Toronto in 1889. On hot summer days, it was a favourite destination for Torontonians who wanted to swim in the cool waters of the lake. They visited the south end of Parkdale, where the beach area was known as Sunnyside.

However, in the first decade of the 20th century, as Toronto’s population crept westward, Parkdale’s population expanded. Prior to the First World War, construction commenced at Sunnyside to extend the beach and create an amusement park. The work ceased during the war and continued after it ended. As it neared completion, it was obvious that the area would be ideal for movie theatres. The opportunity was seized by the Allen brothers, Jule and Jay, who already owned the Allen Theatre (Tivoli) at Adelaide and Victoria Streets and the Allen’s Danforth.

The Parkdale opened on April 5, 1920, in time for the summer season. It was designed by Howard Crane of Detroit. The theatre was a large rectangular yellow-brick building, its auditorium built parallel to Queen Street. Its façade was relatively plain, except for stone detailing below the cornice. However, the interior of the Parkdale was luxurious, typical of most Allen theatres. Patrons were astonished at the gilded patterns and fancy plaster trim throughout the theatre. The ceiling was the equivalent of three storeys in height, containing well-crafted designs with enormous concentric rings with a large medallion in the centre. Striking decorative lines radiated from the central medallion. Chandeliers were suspended from this ornate ceiling, below it over 1500 seats with leather seats and backs. Four wide aisles allowed easy access and departures from the rows. The entrance lobby was equally as impressive, with Wedgewood-style designs above the entrance doors and those leading into the auditorium.

In January 1938, water-washed air conditioning was installed. It was not until 1950 that a candy bar was added. Today, this seems quite strange, as modern theatres derive a high percentage of their revenues from popcorn, drinks and other treats. Even stranger, after the candy bar was installed, the sale of popcorn was not allowed as it was considered too messy.

Despite its opulence, the Parkdale slowly lost in its competition with television. The theatre closed on July 6, 1970. The building on Queen Street in Parkdale remains today, but it has been converted into shops that specialize in second-hand and antique furniture.

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                                          Lobby of the Parkdale Theatre.

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                                      Auditorium of the Parkdale.

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     Parkdale Theatre after the building was converted to furniture shops.

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              The site of the Parkdale Theatre during the summer of 2014.

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

To view previous blogs about 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 relates anecdotes and stories of the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                      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 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Store and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791

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 Photodome, 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 Playhouse (Melody) Theatre Part II

Playhouse 1099-N-96

The Playhouse Theatre c. 1938. Movies showing are Mae West in “Klondike Annie” and Margaret Lindsey in “The Law in Her Hands,”both films released in 1936. Photo is from the Toronto Archives SC 488-1099.

When I was a teenager, I was familiar with the College Street area north of the Kensington Market, but I do not remember the Playhouse Theatre. Located at 344 College Street, it was on the north side of the street, a few doors east of Brunswick Avenue. The theatre was on the ground-floor level of a three-storey building block, erected in the 1880s or 1890s. During the latter decades of the 19th century, grouping two or more structures into a single building was an excellent business enterprise in, since it was more economical to construct and maintain than detached structures. It also reduced the amount of land required to erect the structure. Landlords rented the first-floor levels for shops and the floors above them for offices or residential apartments. The Playhouse rented space within such a building, occupying the equivalent of two stores. The theatre likely opened in the late 1920s or early 1930s.

The theatre’s marquee stretched across the entire front of it, the large sign above the marquee attached to the façade between the second and third floors. At night, anyone living in the apartments on these floors was exposed to the bright lights of the sign. The box office was at the edge of the sidewalk, the entrance doors positioned on either side.

I was unable to discover any information about the theatre in the archives. However, because of it was on the ground-floor level, I am certain there would have been no balcony as the ceiling was not of sufficient height. The building extended back from College Street, so the theatre’s auditorium would have been long and narrow, likely with a single aisle. In the decade when it opened, it would have most certainly possessed a small stage for vaudeville acts. In the years ahead, the Playhouse was renamed the Melody Theatre.

There is a poster in the collection of the Toronto Public Library, dated 1950, which advertises a live musical program at the Portuguese Melody Theatre at 344 College Street. The theatre was responding to the demographic changes in the neighbourhood and was screening Portuguese films as well. I was unable to discover the year that the theatre closed.

Map of 344 College St, Toronto, ON M5T

                 Site of the Playhouse (Melody Theatre)

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

To view previous blogs about 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 relates anecdotes and stories of the author and others 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 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Store and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791

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 Photodome, 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 University Theatre Part II

                1969, Photo by J. Goode, Tor. Ref. Lib.

The University Theatre in 1969. Photo by J. Goode, Toronto Reference Library

Located at 100 Bloor Street West, the University Theatre was a short distance west of Bay Street. One of Toronto’s most popular theatres for almost four decades, it attracted patrons from across the entire city. Similar to the Odeon Carlton, it was a modern “movie palace,” even though the experts declared it too intimate to be classified as such. I do not understand this reasoning. Between the auditorium and the balcony, it contained 1350 seats, manufactured by Cana Theatre Chair Company. Its luxurious lobby was the equivalent of two storeys in height, with a grand staircase connecting the lower and mezzanine levels. Its wide screen was one of the largest ever installed in the city, ideal for wide-screen mega-hits.

Map of 100 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 3L7 

Admittedly, Loew’s Downtown (the Elgin) was larger with 1900 seats, but I believe that the University was truly a movie palace in both size and design. Its sleek modern façade had a dazzling art moderne-style marquee and towering signage, at its pinnacle the words “Famous Players.” The auditorium possessed modernistic vertical lines, emphasizing its vast height. It was one of the greatest postwar theatres ever built in Canada and was Famous Player’s attempt to compete with the Odeon Carlton. The University opened on March 25, 1949 with the film “Joan of Arc,” starring Ingrid Bergman.

My memories of the University Theatre are associated with some of the greatest mega-hits of the latter half of the 20th century. These films usually required that a ticket be purchased in advance. Tickets displayed the seat and row number, similar to live performances at the Royal Alexandra Theatre. There were intermissions halfway through the films. This feature, along with the ticketing system, added to the sense of occasion when attending screenings.

One of the first films that I recall seeing at the University was “The Ten Commandments,” in 1956. Then, in 1957, the theatre screened its first film in Cinerama. This wide-screen format was an instant hit. Other ticketed films that I remember are “Ben Hur” (1959), “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962), “Cleopatra (1962), “My Fair Lady (1964), “Doctor Zhivago (1965) and “The Agony and the Esctasy” (1965).

The last mega-hit that I associate with the University is “Apocalyse Now” (1979). This Vietnam was film was not reserved-ticket seating. However, I can still recall how the entire theatre vibrated in the scene where the military helicopters roared across the beach, guns blazing, while majestic music thundered from the theatre’s Dolby sound system. Small wonder that the film played for 52 weeks at the theatre.

Due its enormous size, the theatre eventually developed financial problems when attendance declined. In the mid-1980s, the theatre’s manager was quoted as saying that even if the theatre were able to screen another hit with the same potential ticket sales as “Apocalypse Now,” the venue would not be profitable.

The University shut its doors in 1986. The building was demolished, except for its façade, which today is part of a high-rise condominium. However, the theatre’s box office remains, facing Bloor Street. Every time I pass it, I remember the great films that I saw at this venerable theatre.

881-336

A section of the lobby and the stairs leading to the balcony. City of Toronto Archives, Series 881- File 336

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The University in 1980, after the enormous sign above the marquee had been removed. Photo, City of Toronto Archives, Series 881, File 337

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The University Theatre in 1983, Photo City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, Fl 0124, Id. 0101

Series 881, Fl.336 It. !9A

The auditorium of the University, view from the stage area. City of Toronto Archives, Series 881, File 336

881-336

View from the rear of the theatre. City of Toronto Archives, Series 881, Fl. 336

5 Oct. 2013

View of the former University Theatre. When this photo was taken on October 5, 2013, the theatre has been demolished and converted for other commercial purposes. Its facade is attached to a modern condo, which can be seen behind it.

                       DSCN8230

The former box office of the theatre, now employed as a display area for a shop that sells dinnerware etc. Photo taken in 2013.

                       DSCN8235

The two-storey window of the lobby that faced Bloor Street. Photo, 2013.

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

To view previous blogs about 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 relates anecdotes and stories of the author and others 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 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Store and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791

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 Photodome, 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)

 

Tags: ,

Toronto’s old Allen’s Bloor Theatre (the Bloor, Lee’s Palace)

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Site of the Allen Bloor Theatre, with its colourful graffiti art, at 529 Bloor Street West. Photo taken in 2014.

On a hot summer afternoon in 2014, I journeyed to the intersection of Bloor and Bathurst Streets in search of one of Toronto’s old movie houses. I had never attended the theatre and did not remember it from when I worked in the area in the 1950s. However, I had read about the Allen brothers, Jule and Jay, who had built the theatre.

The Allens opened their first “moving picture theatre” in their home town of Brantford in 1907. They arrived in Toronto in 1915 and in the years ahead, built a chain of theatres that were among the finest in Toronto. They eventually included  the Allen Theatre (later renamed the Tivoli), Allen’s Danforth, Allen’s Parkdale, the Beaver, St. Clair, College and the Beach. The exterior of their theatres were often relatively plain, but the interiors were richly ornamented, the exuberant plaster ornamentations and gold-painted trim portraying hints of the cathedrals and palaces of Europe. 

In the first decade of the 20th century, the Bloor/Bathurst district was under intense development, a much sought-after residential area. It was not far from downtown Toronto and was serviced by the Bloor and Bathurst streetcar lines. Because it was densely populated, with much pedestrian traffic, it was an ideal location for a movie theatre. The first theatre opened in the area in 1913.

Map of 529 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1Y4

                     The site of Allen’s Bloor Theatre

In July 2014, I finally arrived at location of the former Allen’s Bloor Theatre. It was at 529 Bloor Street West, on the south side of the street, not far to the east of the intersection of Bloor and Bathurst. However, few traces remained of the luxurious theatre that had been on the site. Now named Lee’s Palace, it was a nightclub and dance hall, offering live performances. Its facade was covered with colourful graffiti art. 

The Allen’s Bloor Theatre opened on March 10, 1919 with the silent film “Don’t Change Your Wife,” starring Gloria Swanson. It was one of a series of three films with a similar theme, all starring Gloria Swanson. The theatre was in direct competition with the Madison that had opened in 1913, further west along the street. Allen’s Bloor was the smallest of the Allen theatres, with about 700 seats, as opposed to other Allen venues that were 1200-1500 seats.

Its marquee was small, with three windows above it, topped with Roman arches. Windows of similar design were on opposite sides of them. These small touches, along with the dentils in the cornice, provided classical touches to the facade. The architect of Allen’s Bloor was C. Howard Crane of Detroit, who designed all the Allen venues. Its auditorium contained a stage for vaudeville and an orchestra pit for the musicians. Over the stage area was an enormous archway, with decorative plaster ornamentations surrounding it. The vaulted ceiling resembled a great cathedral.

The theatre was highly successful, but unfortunately the Allen brothers over-extended their finances. In 1923, the chain was purchased by Famous Players, who renamed it the Bloor Theatre.

The Bloor  remained an active theatre until the 1950s. After it closed, the premises were renovated for other purposes. It was the Blue Orchid Restaurant for a few years and also a bank. In 1985 it became Lee’s Palace and today is one of the city’s popular live theatre and dance venues.   

Note: I am indebted to cinematreasures.org and torontodreamsproject.blogspot.com for the historic photos in this post and to silenttoronto.org by Eric Viellete for some of the information. The colour photographs are my own. 

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                                      Allen’s Bloor Theatre c. 1920.

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                         Stage and screen of Allen’s Bloor in 1920.

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                  Upper portion of the facade of the old theatre in 2014.

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                                                  Lee’s Palace in 2014.

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                       Site of Allen’s Bloor Theatre in the summer of 2014.

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

To view previous blogs about 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 relates anecdotes and stories of the author and others 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 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Store and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791

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 Photodome, 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)

 

Tags: , ,

Toronto’s old (Odeon) Carlton—Part 11

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Cover of the pamphlet designed for the opening of the Toronto Odeon Theatre, later renamed the Odeon Carlton. Graphic courtesy of Walter Godfrey of Toronto.

Even though I lived in the west end of Toronto, I considered the Odeon Theatre on Carlton Street one of my local theatres. This was because when I was a teenager in the 1950s, I frequently travelled downtown to attend it. Whenever I entered its enormous lobby, I was in awe of its elegant grandeur and viewed it as a true movie palace. However, unlike the movie palaces of yesteryear, such as the Imperial and Shea’s Hippodrome, the Odeon was sleek and modern. Its architecture and interior trim reflected the finest trends of the second half of the 20th century. As a young adult, I saw several of the James Bond films at the Odeon Carlton—Goldfinger in 1964 and Thunderball in 1966.

When the theatre opened on September 9, 1948, the posters and newspaper ads boasting that it was, “The Showplace of the Dominion.” It contained a restaurant on the mezzanine level, the first theatre-restaurant in Canada. On frigid winter evenings, friends and I enjoyed fish and chips or a Ritz Carltons (hot dogs) in this eatery, managed by the Honey Dew Restaurant chain, famous for its orange drink that included real pulp. It was one of the most popular beverages at the CNE during this decade. The theatre had originally intended to operate a first-class restaurant on the premises, but was unable to obtain a liquor license.

As a teenager, I remember seeing the film star Dorothy Lamour on its stage in a live show that also featured the famous quartet, The Four Lads. They were graduates of the St. Michael’s Choir School on Bond Street in Toronto. The magnificent sound of the theatre’s enormous organ, situated on the right-hand side of the stage is another memory that remains with me. The instrument was capable of surrounding the audience in full lush sounds, despite the cavernous size of the venue. Today, the organ resides at Queen’s University in Kingston.

The theatre required two years and 2 1/2 million dollars to build. It opened as the Odeon Toronto, the premier movie house in Toronto of the British Odeon chain. The theatre contained 2300 plush seats of green and gold, the drapery and curtains surrounding the stage weighing 2 ½ tons, contoured to wrap around the front of the auditorium. Long horizontal decorative lines swept the full length of the north and south walls, the lines becoming curved near the stage area. All floors were covered with thick broadloom that possessed brightly coloured floral designs. The carpeting and colour scheme had been chosen by Eaton’s College Street store, on the southwest corner of Yonge and College Streets. The trim throughout the theatre was blond-stained wood and stainless steel. The curved balcony swept across the width of the auditorium. At the rear of the theatre, there was free parking for patrons from 6 pm onward. This information was obtained from the brochure provided to patrons on opening night.

For its inauguration, the theatre featured the North American premier of the J. Arthur Rank production of Dickens’ classic tale of Oliver Twist, with Alec Guinness as Fagan. Trevor Howard and Patricia Roc, who starred in the film, were present for the opening. The seating was all reserved ticketing.

Later in the month, the naughty stars of the CNE Grandstand—Olsen and Johnson—attended the theatre. These stars had been warned by the Toronto morality squad to censor the jokes they told in their grandstand performances. This rebuke created great publicity for the comedians and ticket sales soared. A luncheon was held in their honour at the Carlton, but I doubt if they were served either fish and chips or hotdogs in the restaurant.

In January 1949, the film Scott of the Antarctica was screened, starring John Mills showed at the Carlton. No luncheon was held for this show, although frozen fish sticks would have been appropriate.

By the early 1970s, it became obvious that the Carlton was too large to screen movies profitably, and operating it at reduced capacity was not economical. For a brief period, the city considered purchasing it as a home for the Canadian Opera Company. However, this was deemed financially ruinous for the city, since it was already subsidizing the O’Keefe Centre, now named the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.

The theatre shut its doors in September 1975 and was later demolished. A modern office building is on the site today, and on its ground floor is a multiplex theatre named the Carlton Cinemas.

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Construction of the Odeon Toronto (Carlton in 1947-1948). Photo courtesy of Walter Godfrey, Toronto.

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Invitation to the opening of the Odeon Toronto (Carlton) Theatre. Photo courtesy of Walter Godfrey, Toronto.

               Odeon Carlton

View of the facade of the Odeon Carlton Theatre in 1972. Photo, City of Toronto Archives.

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Opening night program, courtesy of Walter Godfrey, Toronto.

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Auditorium of the Odeon Carlton, photo courtesy of Walter Godfrey, Toronto

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The lobby and candy bar of the theatre in the 1950s, photo courtesy of Walter Godfrey, Toronto.

from Tor. Ref. Lib. DSCN3033

Gazing north on Yonge Street in 1956 toward College/Carlton Street, the Westbury Hotel under construction. This intersection was one block west of the Odeon Carlton. Photo, Toronto Reference Library.

                      Odeon Carlton 1958

Photo of the Odeon Carlton in 1956, from the author’s 35mm slide collection.

                          site of Odeon Carlton

                         Site of the Odeon Carlton in 2014.

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

To view previous blogs about 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 relates anecdotes and stories of the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                      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 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Store and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791

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 Photodome, 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 Madison Theatre Part II

                  MIdtown, 1278-File 103, SC488-6047

The Midtown Theatre c. 1940, photo City of Toronto archives, Series 1278, File 103

When I was a teenager in the 1950s, for two summers I was employed was at the Dominion Bank (now the TD), on the southeast corner of Bloor West and Bathurst Streets. The bank’s largest customer was a relatively unknown merchant named Ed Mirvish, who had converted two old houses on the southeast corner of Bloor and Markham Streets into shops. Mirvish eventually took over the entire block, creating the famous Honest Ed’s bargain store. One of his slogans was, “Often imitated but never duplicated.” I find it sad that this Toronto landmark will disappear on December 31, 2016.

Part of my job at the bank during the 1950s was to deliver bank drafts to the shops between Bathurst Street and Ossington Avenue. I often strolled past the Midtown Theatre at 506 Bloor West. During these years it was screening mostly horror flicks. I was fascinated by the colourful posters outside the theatre and often gazed up longingly at the movies listed on the marquee. However, because the theatre’s location was distant from my home, I was never inside it.

The bank where I worked has long since been closed and the building where it was located renovated for other commercial purposes. Alas, the Midtown Theatre has also departed the scene and has been demolished.

Map of 506 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1Y3

In the early twentieth century, the Bathurst/Bloor district was serviced by two major streetcar lines. The homes in the surrounding streets were constructed close together, increasing the population density. It was a decade when builders were not required to provide laneways between houses to accommodate automobiles. In later decades, when automobile ownership became more common, space was taken from the rear gardens of the houses. It was employed to construct laneways behind the houses, parallel to the streets. The lanes, flanked by garages, remain today.

During the 1940s and 1950s, the city’s children employed these laneways as playgrounds, which were superior to anything that modern designers could ever create. They were private world’s, away from the prying eyes of adults, where kids explored and learned about life, sometimes even about sex. The veracity of the sex lessons was often doubtful, but the laneways did teach kids how to “exaggerate.” Another source of exaggerated  sexual activity was the back rows of theatres, although by today’s standards, they were relatively innocent. No one “made out” on the back of a #504 King streetcar, as happened in 2014.

Returning to the Bathurst-Bloor area, because it possessed much pedestrian traffic, it was ideal for a theatre. The site chosen for the Madison was on the north side of Bloor, between Bathurst and Albany Avenue (Lippincott on the south side of Bloor). When it opened on December 23, 1913, it was one of the earliest Toronto “picture palace” theatres in Toronto. It possessed slightly over 700 plush leather seats, including the balcony and ground-floor level.

In 1913, silent films were the latest entertainment craze. Lacking soundtracks, instrumentalists were hired to provide suitable music for the scenes shown on the screen. In smaller local theatres, a single piano player was the norm. A stage was included in the construction of the Madison to accommodate vaudeville acts. It was necessary to supplement the films in that decade as movies were often less than an hour in length. Until Allen’s Bloor (Lee’s Palace) Theatre opened in 1919 and the Alhambra in 1920, the Madison was the main theatre on Bloor Street, near Bathurst. 

It remained a popular local theatre for several decades. In 1940, Twentieth Century Theatres took over the property. They demolished the building, except for the two side walls. The architectural firm of Kaplan and Sprachman designed the new theatre, which opened in May 1941—renamed the Midtown.

During the 1950s, attendance at the Midtown slowly dwindled. To attract patrons, it screened mostly horror films. The theatre remained under the management of Famous Players until 1967, but at some time during this period its name was changed to the Capri.

In 1973 its name was again renamed and it became the Eden, screening censored adult films, containing scenes that today are often shown on regular TV programs during primetime hours. Times have indeed changed. The adult flicks at the Eden ended in 1979. Its name was changed to the Bloor Theatre and it reverted to showing family-type films.

From 1980 to 1999 the theatre was managed by Carm Bordonaro and his partners, as part of the Fesitval Cinema Chain. Finally the Bordonaro family purchased the theatre to ensure that it would remain an active movie house.

In 2011 the Blue Ice group invested in the property. The theatre was renovated and reopened on November 14th of the same year, renamed the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. Its interior was almost as luxurious as the movie palaces of the early decades of the twentieth century, although its design was more modern.

It remains as one of the most comfortable and attractive theatres in Toronto, specializing in documentary films that audiences might not have a change to view in other theatres. It is sincerely hoped that Toronto never loses this exceptional theatre venue.

Series 1278, File 103 AO 2031

            Interior of the Midtown Theatre—date unknown

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Entrance to the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on Bloor Street, summer of 2014

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          Interior of the Bloor Hot Docs Theatre (the old Midtown) in 2014

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                     View from the rear of the auditorium in 2014.

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Stairs in the lobby to the balcony on the second-floor level (2014).

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     The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on a hot summer evening in 2014.

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

To view previous blogs about 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 relates anecdotes and stories of the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                      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 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s old movie theatres will be released in the spring of 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs.

A second publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will also be released in the spring of 2016.

 

 

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Toronto’s Music Hall (Allen’s Danforth)—Part 11

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             Allen’s Danforth Theatre, now the Music Hall in 2014.

When I was a teenager, I lived in the west end of the city and did not often travel east of Yonge Street to attend movie theatres, especially those on Danforth Avenue. Because the Danforth was east of the Don Valley, I viewed it as too close to Halifax. However, I remember the old Allen’s Danforth Theatre. In the 1970s, I worked for two years near Danforth and Pape Avenues and passed the theatre many times while travelling on the old PCC streetcars on the Bloor line. Prior to the construction of the Bloor-Danforth subway in 1966, the Bloor streetcars travelled from Jane Street in the west to Luttrell Avenue in the east.

Today, the TTC only has a few remaining PCC streetcars, which are only placed in service during the summer months as tourist attractions or as rentals for special occasion. On the occasions that I saw the Allen’s Danforth Theatre in the 1970s, it was named the Titania and was screening Greek films. As I remember, the theatre had become somewhat shabby.

Until the Prince Edward Viaduct (Bloor Viaduct) was opened in 1918, the land to the east of the Don Valley, near Danforth Avenue, was mostly farmland and dusty roads. After the opening of the bridge, a streetcar line was built across it. The area ceased to be a remote suburb of the city, since it was connected to downtown Toronto. This opened the district for commercial and residential development. It was not long before the opportunities for theatres became evident.

Two entrepreneurial brothers, Jule and Jay Allen, decided to open a theatre at 147 Danforth Avenue, not far from the eastern side of the viaduct. The theatre was on the south side of the street, near the corner of Danforth and Broadview. Though the Allen brothers were young, they were not new to the theatre business. They had opened their first theatre in Brantford, Ontario in 1907. After relocating to Toronto in 1915, they opened one of the city’s great movie palaces in November 1917—the Allen Theatre at Victoria and Adelaide Streets. The theatre was later renamed the Tivoli.

For the inauguration of Allen’s Danforth, it screened the silent film, “Through the Wrong Door,” starring Madge Kennedy and John Bowers. This 50-minute silent film was accompanied by vaudeville acts featuring comedians and musicians. On the opening night, patrons were amazed by the luxurious interior of the theatre, the finest east of the Don Valley. Allen’s Danforth possessed 1600 seats and when the opening ceremonies commenced, all of them were occupied. During the next few years, the theatre flourished as the Allen brothers had negotiated exclusive rights to screen Paramount films in their movie houses. For a few years, this monopoly kept the Allen theatres profitable. 

However, the Allen brothers over-extended themselves financially and in 1923, Famous Players bought the theatre chain, including the Allen’s Danforth. In 1929 it was renovated and converted to accommodate sound films. It was then renamed the Century, which mostly screened B-Grade movies and older films.

In 1934, the theatre became a part of the B&F chain, which managed theatres such as the Radio City and the Vaughan Theatres, both located near Bathurst and St. Clair Avenue West. These were two of my favourite theatres when I was a teenager. I still remember the towering sign on the Vaughan Theatre, at its pinnacle the words B&F flashing in the night sky.

In the 1970s, the old Allen’s Danforth again changed hands and commenced screening Greek films, reflecting the changing demographics of the neighbourhood. During these years, the theatre was named the Titania. I still remember the days before Greek cuisine became a familiar part of the Toronto restaurant scene. My earliest recollections of this was in the early 1970s, when I visited  the Acropole Restaurant, which was on the second-floor level of 18 Dundas Street West. Because authentic Greek foods were unfamiliar to Torontonians, instead of diners being given a menu, they were instructed to enter the kitchen and point to the dishes that attracted them. How times have changed. Today, the Danforth offers some of the best Greek cuisine in the world. For a few years, the Titania Theatre was a part of this Canadian-Greek world.

In 1978, it was renamed the Music Hall and featured second-run films and live shows. However, the theatre continued to deteriorate, its doors closing in 2004.

Eventually the Century (Allen’s Danforth) was taken over by Ellipsis Leisure Retail. Renovations to the theatre required one and a half years. However, after a few years they were evicted for non-payment of rent. The Music Hall reopened it December 2011, with improved seating and sound system. It is today one of the best venues for live entertainment in the city.

Map of 147 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K 1N2

           The site of Allen’s Danforth Theatre, now The Music Hall

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                               The Music Hall c. 2007

AO 1998

      Interior of Allen’s Danforth (The Music Hall). Photo Ontario Archives.

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                                              The Music Hall in 2014

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

To view previous blogs about 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 relates anecdotes and stories of the author and others 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 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Store and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791

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 Photodome, 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 Savoy (Coronet) Theatre Part II

!948  AO 2273

Savoy Theatre c. 1963, the film “The Three Godfathers” having been released in 1948. Photo, Ontario Archives, AO 2273

As a teenager in the 1950s, I sometimes journeyed downtown to attend the Savoy Theatre at 399 Yonge Street. On one occasion, on a hot summer’s day, I went by myself to a matinee in the theatre. Some of the patrons appeared unusually rough, causing me to wonder if there had been a prison break at the Don Jail, and following the escape they had all gathered at the Savoy. Being about sixteen years old at the time, I had a wild imagination. When one of the jailbird types sat next to me, I departed the theatre. Until I was older, I did not attend the theatre again on my own.

            Map of 399 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M5G 2K2

Many teenagers were attracted to the Savoy Theatre in the 1950s as it was ideally located, since it was on a particularly active and quirky section of the Yonge Street strip. It screened horror flicks and restricted films, and did not vigorously enforce the age-restriction laws. The Savoy was on the northeast corner of Gerrard and Yonge Streets. On the southeast corner was Bassel’s Restaurant, an enormous eatery that occupied the equivalent of four average-size shops. After viewing a film, my friends and I thought that the restaurant was a great spot for a coffee and a western sandwich. Besides, Bassel’s large windows overlooking Yonge were wonderful for overlooking the antics on the street. Another favourite eating place in that decade was on the opposite (west) side of Yonge, a little further north of the Savoy—the “Pickin’ Chicken.” In this restaurant they served deep-fried chicken, coleslaw and french fries in a wicker basket. It was a forerunner of KFC. In my late-teen years, when attending the Savoy, one of these restaurants was often included in the visit. 

Bassil's Lunch, Yonge at Gerrard

Bassel’s Restaurant in the 1950s, on the southeast corner of Gerrard and Yonge Streets. Photo,  City of Toronto Archives

The Savoy Theatre opened in 1951, a part of the Biltmore Chain, which also had theatres in the town of Weston (Weston Road and Lawrence Avenue West) and also in New Toronto (Lakeshore Road and 3rd Street). The Savoy on Yonge Street possessed around 1000 seats, including the balcony. Its yellow-brick façade was unadorned, its height the equivalent of three storeys. On the top floor there were small windows facing Yonge Street, the space behind them likely occupied by offices and perhaps storage rooms. The theatre’s expansive marquee spanned the entire front of the building. Large glass doors gave access to the theatre, the box office situated at the edge of the sidewalk, to the left of the doors. On either side of the front of the building, billboard space advertised current films as well as future attractions.

By the late-1950s and early-1960s, the theatre began to deteriorate. British Odeon Theatres leased the theatre from the smaller Biltmore chain in 1963, extensively renovated it and reopened it as the Coronet Theatre. However, despite the upgrades, the theatre continued to lose business. The Odeon chain relinquished control of the theatre in 1978. It then became a true “grindhouse cinema,” offering as many as five films for the single admission price of $3.50. For a few years, it screened soft-core porn. During this period, because attendance had diminished, the balcony was closed. 

The Coronet was equipped to screen 3-D films, one of the most memorable being “Frankenstein,” a French-Italian horror film produced by Andy Warhol in 1973. Around the year 1980, it featured a 3-D festival. However, competition was fierce on the Yonge Street strip and as the theatre deteriorated, attendance continued to dwindle. This was similar to other smaller theatres on Yonge Street—the Rio and the Biltmore.

The building was sold in 1983 for over one million dollars and converted into Jewellery Exchange. Its yellow-brick façade was covered over with cement that was divided into sections to give the appearance of large stone blocks. The building survives today, a reminder of one of the well-known theatres that once lined Yonge Street.

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View of the Savoy’s auditorium from the balcony. Photo, Ontario Archives

 Coronet site, April 2013

The northeast corner of Gerrard and Yonge Streets in 2014, where the Savoy/Coronet was located.

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

To view previous blogs about 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 relates anecdotes and stories of the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                      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 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Store and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791

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 Photodome, 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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Posted by on January 11, 2015 in Toronto

 

A wartime Christmas in Toronto—1944

Photo_15

Gazing north on Bay Street from Adelaide Street toward Queen Street and the Old City Hall, in December 1944. 

In December 1944, the Second World War was raging across Europe and the Pacific, the casualty reports in the newspapers a dreaded part of daily life. However, in Toronto the economy was booming as many factories in Toronto had been converted to manufacture munitions, military uniforms and necessities for the soldiers overseas. The Ford plant in Oakville was turning out tanks, jeeps and trucks instead of automobiles.

Christmas was approaching and many foods were in short supply. In the days leading up to the yuletide event, my parents struggled to obtain treats for our festive dinner and for gifts to place under the tree. However, for my brother and me, anticipation of Santa’s all-important delivery conjured dreams of delight. We were young and not aware of the privations imposed by the war.

In 1944, anything that contained metal was scarce, since it was required for the war effort. Most toys were manufactured of wood—wooden cars, boats, building blocks, game boards and even the runners on sleds. Because food products became scarce, in 1942 the government rationed food and issued coupons to purchase many items. Even Jell-O was included as gelatine was used in manufacturing explosives. Other rationed foods were tinned products, as the metal to make tins was needed for other war purposes. My family longed for a few tins of salmon, but was rarely able to obtain them. Meat, butter, sugar, dairy products and flour also required coupons. The shortages were heightened because Canada was shipping vast supplies of food overseas to Britain to sustain the people on the home front, and to feed and clothe the soldiers across the English Channel. Silk was reserved for making parachutes, so women’s silk stockings were rare. Gasoline and rubber tires were also restricted, so people drove their cars less or not at all. However, the Christmas of 1944 was one of the most memorable of my life. It was not only because of family happiness, toys and food.

It was the year the greatest snowstorm on record ever to hit Toronto occurred. The snow began on a Monday evening, December 11th, when light flurries silently swirled across the streets and laneways.. Their intensity increased as midnight approached and in the early hours of the morning of December 12, Torontonians awoke to a wintry world beyond imagination. By 8:00 a.m. 19 inches (nearly 50 centimetres) had fallen. The storm continued and by 10:00 a.m. there were 20 inches and 21 by noontime. Before the storm abated in the afternoon 22.5 inches of snow had accumulated.

When people gazed out their frost-covered windows, it was as if an enormous snow-filled dumpster had dropped its contents, burying the city. Streets were impassable, sidewalks impossibly blocked with drifts. Mail boxes and fences were buried, garden sheds having vanished beneath a deep layer of white. Other than the wind, the only sounds were the muffled clip-clops of a few horse-carts whose owners had foolishly braved the drifts.

Because of the gale-force winds, snow was piled six to ten feet high. The previous record snowfall was in 1876, with 16.2 inches (41.1 cm). During the snow crisis of 1999, when Mayor Mel Lastman called in the army, 15.5 inches (39.3 cm) fell. The 1944 storm still holds the record in Toronto as the greatest amount of snow from a single storm—22.5 inches.

Schools were closed and the city came to a standstill. It remained cold in the days ahead, despite efforts to clear away the accumulation, it became obvious that the snow would remain for Christmas Day, creating anticipation for yuletide magic.

                                                                                                                                                                   * * *

On Christmas morn, the dim light of the day had not yet crept under the window blind in the bedroom I shared with my brother. The vast piles of snow surrounding our home were far from my mind. Despite the darkness, I was aware that my brother, two years older, had already retrieved his stocking from the foot of the bed and was struggling to untie the knots in the string that secured it. Next, I detected the sweet scent of oranges, which I knew from previous Christmas’, were in the toes of our stockings.

The previous evening, my brother had expressed doubts about Santa’s ability to cruise the night skies delivering gifts to an awaiting world, but there was no evidence of this as he pulled the goodies from his stocking. I smiled smugly, the darkness hiding my feeling of superiority. Eagerly, I crawled toward the treasures in my own stocking while thinking, “I was right. Santa is real. The citrus bouquet of the oranges was proof.”

By the time the first rays of morning filtered into the room, I had strewn the contents of my stocking across the blue and yellow rectangular patterns of the bed quilt. I surveyed my treasures with great delight. The enormous navel orange, Red Delicious apple and the array of other treats were indeed worthy of old St. Nick. They included a bag of jaw-breaker Christmas candies, suspiciously similar to those I had seen in Woolworths when I had been shopping with my mom. I admit that I found it surprising that Santa shopped at Woolworths, as the Kresge’s store was closer and offered a larger assortment.

The jaw-breaker candies were contained inside a red-netting bag with a draw-string. Images danced in my head of sucking on them while I read Batman and Superman comic books in the days ahead. The rolls of candy Lifesavers were in different flavours, my teeth not included among their abilities to save. The Brazil nuts were a treat as only recently had the North Atlantic been cleared of Nazi submarines and the shipping lanes to South America reopened. The fat walnuts and almonds were unshelled and would require metal crackers to unlock their crunchy goodness. Beside them were two five-cent packages of Planter’s Peanuts. The most unusual treat was a package of pink bubble gum, which my mother frowned upon. I wondered if Santa had received permission from her. 

I continued examining more of Santa’s gifts. There was a pair of small plastic scotty dogs, one black and one white, with magnets glued to them. If the dogs were placed face to face, they were attracted to each other but if placed end to end, they repelled. There was a package of “Jacks,” a game of skill played with a bouncy ball and six pointed metal jacks. The set of magic rings, accompanied with special instructions on how to separate them, would provide fun when I expertly amazed my friends. A bottle of “invisible ink” was another of Santa’s gifts. My brother and I would be able to write messages to each other, the words on the pager disappearing before our parents spied their naughty contents.

My reverie ended when I heard my mother descending the stairs to prepare breakfast. Slipping into our clothes with the speed of Superman in his costume-changing phone booth, my brother and I were only minutes behind her. However, we did not go to the kitchen. We dashed into the living room, where the Christmas tree stood in all its glory. A few days before the all-important day, my dad had departed in the darkness of the evening, an hour later returning with the most revered plant species in the scientific world—a Christmas tree.

Beneath its branches were piles of gifts, colourfully wrapped. For me, the most exciting tags were those with my name on them, accompanied by the words, “From Santa.” One gift was too large for Santa to wrap, so it leaned against the wall beside the tree. It was a five-seater cedar toboggan, complete with a bum-saving pad to cushion us against the bumps as we glided down the slopes of Fairbank Park.

My mother preferred spruce trees to pine, and on Christmas morning its scent engulfed our home. A few days before, my brother and had I helped with the decorations, which at our ages mainly consisted of placing tinsel on the lower branches. Now, securely standing in its designated corner of the room, the strings of coloured lights magically transformed it into one of the eight wonder in the world. The lights were on a single-circuit, so if one bulb burnt out, the entire string was out of operation. It required many minutes to locate the dud bulb and replace it. But on this morning, the bulbs sparkled brilliantly, the small metal reflectors under them intensifying their light. The reflectors had been purchased by my parent before the war. At the pinnacle of the tree was a small angel wearing a white dress with small, gold paper-stars on her crown. Each year my mother starched and ironed the angel’s dress so that she appeared as stylish and pure as those in the ancient angelic band in the cloven skies over Bethlehem.

The only obstacle separating us from our gifts was breakfast, a meal that we normally enjoyed, but on this morning, the oatmeal was viewed as a mushy mess, despite the generous portions of cream and brown sugar. When the seemingly interminable meal ended, we gathered around the tree. The gifts were divided accordingly and we took turns opening them, one gift at a time. This ritual created great suspense, permitting us to observe and appreciate everyone else’s presents, or at least that was what my mother told us.

My brother received a chemistry set and grinned maliciously at the thought of making stink-bombs. I received a Morse Code set, complete with the batteries, a Morse Code converter, and twenty feet of wire. My brother and I would use them under the blankets in bed to send messages to each other after our parents had turned out the lights. Each set possessed a flashlight bulb that would illuminate the caves we created under the quilts. We both received board games, books, jig-saw puzzles and of course the inevitable socks, mitts, underwear and sweaters.

After the ritual of the gift-opening concluded, my mother entered the kitchen to commence preparing the evening feast. Our dad took my brother and me to visit our grandparents, who lived about three-quarters of an hour’s walk from our house, located a few doors from Lauder and Amherst Avenues. We referred to my grandmother as Nan, an abbreviation of the word nana. We affectionately called our grandfather Gramps. They had lived in several different houses since they arrived in Toronto in the spring of 1924 from Newfoundland, with my dad’s younger brothers. For the past few years, they had lived on Eversfield Road, near Rogers Road and Dufferin Street.

We were too young to appreciate my grandfather’s jokes, but my brother and I loved him as he was always jovial and gave warm hugs. Thinking back, I remember that my dad and uncles laughed in a strange manner when they listened to Gramps’s stories, and that he was careful my brother and I, as well as Nan, were not within earshot. On one occasion, I overheard one of the stories, but it didn’t make any sense to me. It contained a hidden meaning that eluded me at my age. However, most of all we appreciated the extra treats Gramps gave us. He stole them from the cookie tins after Nan had hidden them away in the pantry. At our ages, we considered the pantry to be the size of the Mammoth Caves of Kentucky. When my grandmother learned about his pilfering, she scolded him. He ignored her reprimand and replied, “Children and cookies belong together.” We thought he was smarter than the Wise Men in the Christmas story.

Because my aunts, uncles, and cousins also visited my grandparents on Christmas Day, their house was invariably crowded. No one in our home on Lauder Avenue smoked, but at my grandmother’s, several of my uncles puffed on the weed, much to my grandmother’s disapproval. For me, the smell of cigarette smoke became as much a part of the season as did the Christmas-morning scent of oranges.

When we returned to Lauder Avenue in the late afternoon, opening the door, the mouth-watering smell of the turkey and the sweet potato roasting in the gas oven welcomed us. During our absence, close friends of my parents had arrived, bringing us more presents. The turkey dinner was great, as my mother was the world’s best cook. Everything was terrific, except the turnip, which I hated. In fairness, what could anyone do with with such a vile bitter vegetable? After dinner, we sang carols, and my dad whispered funny stories to our guests. I was not allowed to hear them, which confirmed my suspicion that something was odd about the jokes that were told by adults in my family.

Despite employing every delay tactic possible, it was soon time for my brother and me to ascend the stairs to our bedroom on the second floor. I sat for a few moments at the top of the stairs to lament the passing of another Christmas. At this age, it seemed as if it would be at least five years before another Christmas day appeared. Later in life, it appeared as if Christmas arrived several times a year.

Snugly ensconced in the cave under the quilts, my last memory of the day was the sound of the Morse Code clicking a message. Pencil ready, I wrote down the dots and dashes to decipher the message. My brother had wired me—Merry Christmas 1944.

Photo_16

Looking north on Yonge Street from south of Richmond Street, the Bay Store on the northwest corner, December 1944.

Photo_17

Gazing south on Bay Street toward the Eaton’s College Street store (now demolished) on the southeast corner of Bay and College Streets, December 1944.

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

To view previous blogs about 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 relates anecdotes and stories of the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                      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 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Store and by phoning University of Toronto, Press Distribution: 416-667-7791

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 Photodome, 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 Oakwood Theatre—Part II

Series 881, File 350

The Oakwood Theatre in 1939, the film “Wizard of Oz” on the marquee as the featured film. The “coming attraction” is advertised as being “Dark Journey,” released in January 1937. The latter film was a romantic drama starring Vivien Leigh and Conrad Veidt, set amidst the turmoil of the First World War. Photo, City of Toronto Archives, Series 881, File 350.

The Oakwood is one of Toronto’s movie theatres from former years that stands out vividly in my mind. In the 1940s, as a child, I caught a glimpse of it many times from the windows of the Oakwood streetcars. Our family travelled on these streetcars whenever we journeyed downtown. On Sundays, when the law demanded that theatres close, if it were a hot day, we passed the theatre when we went to Centre Island. For these excursions, we journeyed on an Oakwood streetcar as far and St. Clair, where we boarded a Bay streetcar to go to the ferry docks. In the 1940s, the Oakwood streetcars were in Zone Two and the Bay streetcars in Zone One. Although both were operated by the TTC, free transfers between the two zones was not permitted, each requiring a separate fare.

        Map of 161 Oakwood Ave, Toronto, ON M6E 2V2

In later years, when I was a teenager, I boarded the streetcars to go to the Oakwood Theatre to view films. I do not recall any of the films that I saw, but I remember that I was impressed by the size and grandeur of its auditorium. It was huge compared with the two theatres within walking distance of our house—the Grant and the Colony. As well, the Oakwood’s candy bar was larger. The theatre always screened two film, and between films, patrons who wished to enjoy a cigarette came out on the street at intermission. A friend and I sometimes mingled with the smokers and strolled in without purchasing a ticket. We considered this a “real lark,” as we used to say. 

The Oakwood Theatre was located at 165 Oakwood Avenue, in city’s historic District of Earlscourt, which centred on St. Clair Avenue West and Dufferin Street. In the first decade of the twentieth century, the area was not part of the City of Toronto as it was remote from the downtown area. The enormous hill north of Davenport Road created a geographic barrier that separated it from the city below the hill. If residents of Earlscourt wished to travel to downtown Toronto, they walked down the hill and boarded a streetcar at Van Horne (now named Dupont) and Dufferin Streets. The return journey up the hill was considerable more arduous, especially in winter.

The first streetcar line that travelled up over the hill was built on Yonge Street in the 1890s. Within a few years, another streetcar line was constructed on Avenue Road. However, in the Earlscourt area, the isolation did not end until 1913, when a streetcar line was built along St. Clair Avenue West that connected with the Avenue Road streetcar. The St. Clair streetcar extended from Avenue Road, as far west as Lansdowne Avenue.

After the streetcar line opened, commercial development along St. Clair Avenue West rapidly increased. As a result, more houses appeared on the streets to the north and south of the St. Clair Avenue. However, it remained a daunting journey to travel downtown on the streetcar. Most people only journeyed downtown for work, visiting relatives or an occasional shopping excursion at the major department stores at Yonge and Queen Streets. However, because the population of the area had increased, the potential for local movie houses within walking distance of the homes was readily seen. One of the busier north-south streets in the area was Oakwood Avenue. Thus, the intersection at Oakwood and St. Clair became an ideal location for a theatre.

A real estate developer, James Crang Jr., purchased property on the east side of Oakwood, a short distance north of St. Clair. The theatre opened in 1917, its postal address 165 Oakwood Avenue. Its only competition at the time was the Royal George Theatre, which was considerably smaller, was located at St. Clair and Dufferin Streets. The façade of the Oakwood Theatre was relatively unadorned, the slanted roof above the façade possessing terracotta tiles, considered quite fashionable in the early decades of the twentieth century. Below the marquee, at either end, were large rounded glass pillars-like structures. The box office was in a central position between them, the doors to the theatre recessed behind the box office.

The theatre’s auditorium contained almost 1400 wood-back seats. The seating was arranged with a centre section, and aisles on either side of it. There were two side sections, but no balcony. The ceiling contained horizontal decorative lines, similar to the theatre’s façade. The north and south walls possessed a combination of horizontal and vertical lines, the design simple but attractive. On the ceiling were large crystal chandeliers. When I attended the theatre in the 1950s, I do not recall ever having seen them. They might have been removed due to maintenance costs, or perhaps, the reason I do not remember them is because I usually entered the theatre after the house-lights had been dimmed, as the movie was already in progress.

In the 1950s, people departed their homes to attend a movie at whatever time suited them. They were not concerned about the starting times of the films. After viewing part of a movie, they remained seated to view the part that they had missed. This meant that people were entering and departing the theatre throughout the screenings. Ushers and usherettes were required, using flashlights to assist people to find their seats. This is not as prevalent today, as patrons tend to arrive at the beginning of a film and when they enter the auditorium, the theatre’s auditorium lights are on.

One of my cousins worked at the Oakwood Theatre in the 1950s as an usherette. We all envied her as we knew that while showing people to their seats, she was able to catch a glimpse of the movies. On evenings when there were few patrons, she could stand at the back of the theatre and watch the movie. When I attended the Oakwood Theatre, it always screened two films. Due to a tight budget, it was unable to afford to rent recently released films.

Theatres across the city suffered during the late-1950s as the popularity of television increased. The Oakwood was one of the first to succumb to the onslaught of the new entertainment medium. The theatre shut its doors in 1962 and was demolished. On the site today is an apartment building with the address 161 Oakwood Avenue.

image

This crowded scene gazes south on Oakwood Avenue toward St. Clair, on November 19, 1924, when the Oakwood streetcar line was officially inaugurated. The Oakwood Theatre can be seen in the upper left-hand side of the photos, an Oakwood car on the north side of the theatre, coming out of the streetcar loop that circled around the theatre. City of Toronto Archives, Series 71, S0071, It. 3528.    

Oakwood Tor. R. Lib.

     Auditorium of the Oakwood Theatre, photo from Toronto Reference Library

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

To view previous blogs about 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 relates anecdotes and stories of the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                      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 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Store and by phoning University of Toronto, Press Distribution: 416-667-7791

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 Photodome, 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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Posted by on January 2, 2015 in Toronto