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Monthly Archives: August 2015

Art Gallery of Ontario—Fantastic

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The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is for me a home away from home. I purchased a membership to enable me to frequently visit paintings that I consider old friends. Each time I see them, I discover another facet of their life as they reveal details that I have not seen before, even though I have spent time with them on many occasions. With every visit, my life is enriched, as these friends allow me to access their stories and explore the skills of those who created them. It is a quietly fantastic experience.

The beginnings of the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) commenced in the auspicious year 1900, when a new century was born. In that year, Toronto painter George Reid, president of the Ontario Society of Artists, joined forces with a prominent banker, Edmund Reid, to raise funds for a permanent gallery for art exhibitions. The gallery was to be named the Art Museum of Toronto. In 1903, the Ontario Legislature passed an act to officially recognize this new institution, even though it did not possess a permanent site for its exhibitions. In the meantime, the society displayed works of art in various locations, the old Toronto Reference Library at College and St. George Streets being one of them.

In 1909, the Grange, the Georgian mansion of Goldwin and Harriet Smith, was bequeathed to the society for the explicit purpose of creating an art gallery for Toronto. The home was located south of Dundas Street, between McCaul and Beverley Streets. The society took possession of the property, established their offices in the building, and renovated it for exhibitions. The first showing was held in the Grange on June 5, 1913, consisting mainly of the art collection of their benefactor, Goldwin Smith. However, the prospects of the gallery’s growth were limited unless more space became available. In response to this need, the Ontario Government began purchasing and expropriating land on Dundas Street, to the north of the Grange.

In 1916, construction commenced on the new gallery. Designed in the Beaux-Arts style, its architects were Darling and Pearson. The square-shaped  structure opened on April 4, 1918, built to the north of the Grange, its south wall attached to it. Patrons temporarily accessed the new building through the Grange until the following year, when the door facing Dundas Street was opened. In 1919, the gallery’s name was changed to the Art Gallery of Toronto. By 1922, on the land on Dundas Street, purchased by the Ontario Government, the few remaining houses had been demolished, and space was now available for further expansion. 

Another wing was added to the Art Gallery of Toronto in 1926. Two new galleries were built in 1935, their architect Darling, Pearson and Cleveland. In 1966, the name of the gallery was changed to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) to reflect its enhanced role in the artistic life of the province. During the 1970s, construction commenced to create space for the collection of the Henry Moore sculptures and to create a new Canadian wing. Because of the many wings added to the gallery, in 1989, the architects Barton, Myers and Associates were commissioned to redesign the interior to create a more cohesive interior appearance. Then, in 1993, the Tanenbaum Sculpture Atrium was built on the south side of the gallery, facing Grange Park.

In 2002 the largest expansion in the gallery’s history began. Toronto-born Frank Gehry redesigned and transformed the gallery. Its exhibit space was increased by 50%, to a total of 583,000 square feet. An enormous structure of glass and natural wood was built extending the full length of the building on the side facing Dundas Street. Named the Galleria Italia, it has been referred to as a “crystal ship” with a great sail at its eastern end. On the south side of the gallery, facing Grange Park, a four-story wing was added, covered with blue titanium. It contained a sculpted staircase on its exterior that appeared as if it were suspended in space. The building’s interior was redesigned to improve the hallways, staircases and ramps, employing generous amount of natural wood. The total cost was $500 million, of which Ken Thomson donated $50 million, along with 2000 works of art. In November 2008 the transformed gallery was officially opened.   

The first group exhibition of the Group of Seven was held in the gallery in 1920. Over the many decades, the AGO has presented many other special exhibitions — King Tutankhamen (1979), Barnes Collection (1994), Courtauld Collection (1998), Treasures of the Hermitage (2001), Turner-Whistler-Monet (2004), Catherine the Great (2005), and Picasso (2012). The Art Gallery of Ontario’s collection contains 2000 years of art history and over 80,000 works of art from Canada, North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Oceania and Asia. The AGO also has the largest collection of Henry Moore sculptures in the world.

Fonds 1244, Item 304

The Grange in 1907, when it was the home of Goldwin and Harriet Smith. Toronto Archives, Fl 1244, it 0304(1)

Fonds 1244, Item 315

Plank boardwalk allowing visitors to reach the Grange from Dundas Street in 1913. Houses in the distance are on the north side of Dundas Street. In this year, houses remained on the south side of Dundas Street. They are on the right-hand side of the photo. Toronto Archives, F1244, it.0315(1).

Series 372, Subseries 53, Item 70

The Grange in February 1913, when the Art Museum of Toronto owned the property. This was year of its first exhibition in the building. Toronto Archives, Series 372, SS53 it70

Fonds 200, Series 372, Subseries 41 - Miscellaneous photographs

View of the square-shaped building constructed in 1918, designed by Darling and Pearson. The north facade (left-hand side), facing Dundas Street is in the Beaux-Arts style. Houses on McCaul Street can be seen in the distance, to the east of the gallery. The west facade of the Grange and its large chimney are visible on the south side of the new gallery. Photo from Toronto Archives, S0372, SS0041, it0314(1). Photo is dated 1922.

Fonds 200, Series 372, Subseries 41 - Miscellaneous photographs

Sculpture Court (Walker Court) on August 3, 1929. The fountain in the centre of the court is today outside the gallery on its west side. Toronto Archives, S0372, SS0372, It.0199

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A 1950s postcard depicting the Beaux-Arts style entrance on the north facade of the Art Gallery of Ontario. Collection of the Toronto Archives, Series 330, SS567, Sheet I.

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A 1950s postcard showing the north facade of the gallery. Collection of the Toronto Archives, Series 330, SS576, Sheet I.

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Art Gallery of Ontario in August 2015, the enormous glass and natural wood of the Galleria Italia overlooking Dundas Street.

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The Walker Court in 2015, the Frank Gehry transformational alterations evident.

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View of the interior of the Galleria Italia, the 19th-century houses on the north side of Dundas Street visible through the enormous glass panels. 

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View of the north facade of the Grange through the glass windows of the Tanenbaum Sculpture Gallery in August 2015.

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Marble bust of Pope Gregory XV carved in 1621 by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, on display in the European Galleries.

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             Gallery containing paintings of Lauren Harris

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Painting by Clarence Gagnon in the Canadian collection at the AGO.

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                                   The Barns by A. Y. Jackson

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                          Winter scene in Toronto by Lauren Harris

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                      British Columbia totems by Emily Carr

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            Painting in the special Emily Carr Exhibition of 2015. 

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 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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Ontario’s fourth legislative assembly

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                 Legislative buildings at Queen’s Park in 2014.

In 1827, a royal charter was granted by King George IV for the establishment of an Anglican university—the University of King’s College. Bishop Strachan arranged for property to be purchased for the university in 1828; the site chosen was to the northwest of the town. It included the land that today encompasses Queen’s Park and the Provincial Legislature.

In 1847, a bill was signed in the legislature declaring that King’s College was to be secular. Bishop Strachan relocated his faculty to a site inside today’s Trinity Bellwoods Park, and named the institution Trinity College. In 1849, King’s College changed its name to the University of Toronto. In 1853, the provincial government took possession of a portion of the university’s property as a site to erect new legislative buildings. In 1859, the university leased a section of its grounds to the City of Toronto for a period of 999 years. A public park, Queen’s Park, was created and officially opened by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) on September 11, 1860. The legislative buildings were eventually referred to by their location within this park — “Queen’s Park.”

Between 1879-1880, the legislature, then located on Front Street, authorized a design contest for new legislative buildings and 13 architects competed for the contract. However, the lowest bid was $613,000, which the legislature deemed too expensive. As a result, they postponed the project.

In 1885, Richard Waite, an Englishman by birth who was living in Buffalo N.Y. was given the contract. His price was $750,000, which was considered acceptable considering the previous bids. It is interesting to note that the eventual price was $1,227,963. Construction commenced in 1886. Waite chose the Richardsonian Romanesque style for the building, similar to Toronto’s old City Hall.

The buildings at Queen’s Park contained massive stone blocks, creating the appearance of an heavy fortress, with Roman arches and domed towers that were ornamented with carvings and intricate trim. The pink sandstone for the walls was quarried in the Credit River Valley, the larger blocks carried by horse and cart to the grounds and carved to fit on-site. The roof was covered with slate from Vermont and the domed roofs on the towers were sheathed with copper. In the interior, the panelling and floors were oak, the columns of cast iron. The building possessed a centre block, with wings on the east and west sides. It was completed in 1892, and the first session of the legislature was held on April 4, 1893, with Premier Oliver Mowat officiating.

In 1909, a fire severely damaged the buildings. E. J. Lennox, who designed the Old City Hall, was hired to design the restoration. He added two extra floors to the west wing to create more office space, and changed its hipped roof to a gabled roof. He also added a north wing to the building.

The author is grateful to discoveryport.ontla.on.ca for details about the materials employed in creating the legislative buildings. 

between 1891-3, nearing completion f1478_it0004[1] 

      Legislature 1891-1893 (Toronto Archives, F1478, id.0004(1)

LOC  1909-- 18546v[1]

View of the buildings in 1913, after it was restored following the fire of 1909, the west wing (to the left of the centre block) then containing a roof with gabled windows. Photo from Library of Congress, 18546(1)

view from TGH, 1913--f1231_it0208[1]

View of the legislative buildings, gazing northwest from the Toronto General Hospital on College Street in 1913. The north wing on the back of the buildings is evident. Toronto Archives. F1231, it 0208

               1929--s0071_it6939[1]

View of the legislative chamber in 1929. Toronto Archives, S0071, it.6939

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View c. 1900 gazing south on University Avenue from the doorway of the legislative buildings. At the turn of the 20th century, University Avenue had not been widened and was flanked by mature chestnut trees. Photo from Ontario Archives, 10014189

University Avenue 1959

View gazing north on University Avenue from near College Street in 1959. Photo from the author’s collection, from an Ektachrome 35mm. slide.

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Picnic on the lawns in front of the Ontario Legislature on July 1, 1974. Photo from author’s collection, from a Kodachrome 35mm. slide.

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Romanesque tower on the west side (left photo) of the centre block, and on the east side (right photo).

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View from the second floor of the open three-storey covered courtyard in the interior that resembles a Roman peristyle. It creates the appearance of a reflecting pool. 

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View of a hallway on the ground-floor level, the oak floors and panelling evident.

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The legislative chamber, with a view of the spectators’ gallery on the upper left. (Photo May, 2015)

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Desks of the members of the provincial parliament (MPPs) in the chamber.

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    Room within the lieutenant governor’s suite that is employed for hospitality.

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         Fireplace in the room used for hospitality at Queen’s Park

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                                 View of Queen’s Park in November 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 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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Ontario’s third legislative assembly building

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Parliament Buildings on Front Street in 1854 (Toronto Archives, F1498, id.0010(1) 

After the second parliamentary buildings at Front and Berkley Street burnt, until new buildings were erected, the members of the assembly met at the vacant hospital on the northeast corner of John and King Street West. The hospital was empty as although its construction had been completed, there were no funds to furnish, equip and staff the facility. However, in 1829, the hospital regained possession of the premises, as funding had been secured. Members of the legislature relocated to the York Courthouse on the northwest corner of King Street East and Church Street. This building, designed by John G. Howard, was built in 1827 and demolished in 1853.

courthouse-1827-1853 pictures-r-3942[1]

Watercolour of the York Courthouse where the assembly met. It was designed by John G. Howard. Toronto Reference Library r. 3942(1)

There was considerable disagreement over where to build new parliament buildings, many members of the assembly favouring reconstruction on the site of the ruins of the previous structures. Others argued that the site was unhealthy due to the malarial swamps near the mouth of the Don River. Finally, they decided to build on Front Street, to the west of the town, between John and Simcoe Streets. Today, the CBC occupies the site.

Construction commenced in 1830, and the first session of the legislative assembly opened on October 12, 1832. The ruins of the previous building (second parliament buildings) near the Don River still existed and were inhabited by a destitute family that had simply moved in without any legal permission. The new (third) Parliament Buildings in York (Toronto), were designed by Thomas Rogers of Kingston and were considerably more ambitious, reflecting the growth of the province. Facing south toward the lake, the buildings were aligned east-west. There was a centre section, on either side of it wings containing offices and records. Large chimneys reached skyward, in an era that lacked central heating and fireplaces were required. The area soon became known as the “Government quarter,” as the residence of the lieutenant governor of the province was nearby, at King and Simcoe.

The assembly met in the building from its opening in 1832 until 1841, when the capitol was relocated to Kingston following the union of Upper and Lower Canada. The structures on Front Street were empty at times, and for a few years were employed as an asylum. Between 1856 and 1859 the seat of government returned to Toronto, but during the years 1861 to 1867 they became barracks. In 1867, after confederation, Toronto was declared the permanent site of the government of the province. 

The buildings now remained in continuous use for the legislative assembly, but by the late 1870s, they desperately needed updating and repairing. In the late-1880s, they finally decided to erect new and larger buildings on a different site. In 1892, the seat of government relocated to Queen’s Park, overlooking University Avenue.

Series 1465, File 121, Item 5

Sketch of the the third parliament buildings, c. 1832. View gazes east along Front toward the town of York. Between the buildings and the town there was an occasional house but it was mostly open fields. The pillars on the portico in this sketch do not appear in any of the photographs. Toronto Archives S1465, fl 0121, id ooo5(1)

Fonds 1244, Item 3177

The Parliament Buildings on Front Street in 1910, after they had been abandoned. Toronto Archives, F1244, It.3177.

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 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)

 

Tags: ,

Ontario’s first and second legislative assembly buildings

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The first legislative assembly of Upper Canada (Ontario) was held in Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake) on September 17, 1792. The colourful painting by Rex Wood depicts Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe arriving to officially open the session (collection of the Toronto Reference Library).   

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The painting shows the meeting of the first legislative assembly in Newark (the painting is part of the collection at Queen’s Park). It was reported that the 16 elected representatives met in a humble structure that resembled a shed. It was likely Navy Hall, which though not an impressive building, was hardly a shed. Tradition states that before the session ended on October 15th, some of the meetings were held outdoors under the shade of an enormous oak tree. Today, there is a plaque in Niagara-on-the-Lake that denotes the place where the “Parliamentary Oak” once stood. The “mace,” the symbol of governmental authority, was carried into the meetings by John McDonell. It was carved in fir or pine and the wood was gilded, with a crown on its tip.                        

Lieutenant Governor Simcoe relocated the seat of government from Newark to Toronto in July 1793 and in August of that year, renamed the town York. In February of 1796, Simcoe ordered the construction of Parliament Buildings to house the legislature on the east side of the town, south of Front Street, between today’s Parliament and Berkley Streets. The two structures were one-and half-storeys in height, with a passageway connecting them. They were officially opened in June 1797, after Simcoe had departed the colony.

f1231_it2076[1]

This sketch from the Toronto Archives (F1257, id.2076(1)) shows the first parliament buildings. It is not a truly accurate depiction of the structures, as they were constructed of bricks, not wood. David Thomson, the builder of the structures, recorded that he purchased 55,000 bricks at a cost of 17/6 per 1000. In a letter that Governor Simcoe sent to the Duke of Portland on February 27, 1796, the buildings were described as consisting of two separate buildings, aligned north-south, an hundred feet apart. They were to contain offices and space for the legislature and courts of justice. Simcoe viewed them as temporary as he still preferred London (Ontario) as the site for the capitol of the province. However, a letter from Whitehall (London) in March of that year, overruled Simcoe and declared York (Toronto) the seat of government.

The wings of the legislative buildings were 40’ by 24’, with a colonnade built between them. A covered walkway was to suffice until the colonnade was constructed, but it did not materialize until 1805. Porticos across the west facades were supported by 8’ wooden posts. The buildings cost the government 10,000 pounds, an astronomical sum in those years. Henry Scadding in his book “Toronto of Old,” published in 1873, described the buildings as “humble but commodious structures of wood.” He was incorrect about the building material, and perhaps explains the sketches that appeared in later years.

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This sketch is from John Ross Robertson “Landmarks of Toronto,” published in 1894 (page 353). It is more accurate as it depicts buildings of brick.

The first Parliament Buildings were set ablaze during the War of 1812, when the American forces invaded in April 1813. The library and the government records within the structures were also destroyed. The Americans carried away the parliamentary mace as a trophy of war. When the war ended in 1815, sessions of the legislature were held in the York Hotel, also known as Jordon’s Hotel, on King Street East, while new building were constructed on the same site. The second Parliamentary Buildings opened in 1820 and were also built of brick. They too consisted of two buildings, with a centre block connecting them. However, they were destroyed by fire in 1824, caused by an over-heated stove.

Tor. Landmarks Vol 1, page 352, second_parliament_building[1]

Sketch of the parliament buildings constructed in 1820, after the original buildings were destroyed by the Americans in 1813. The colonnade connecting the two buildings was replaced by a two-storey centre block. Sketch is from John Ross Robertson’s, “Toronto Landmarks,” Volume 1, page 352.  

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Sketch of York (Jordan’s) Hotel on King Street East where the legislative assembly met during the reconstruction of the buildings torched by the American. Sketch is from John Ross Robertson’s “Landmarks of Toronto,” Volume 1, page 14.

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The parliamentary mace employed at Newark, brought to York, and carried away by the invading American forces in 1813. It was returned to Toronto by President Roosevelt in 1934, on the occasion of the city’s centennial. Photo taken in May 2015, when it was on display in the Ontario Legislative Buildings at Queen’s Park. 

Sources: ontarioplaques.com – educationalportal.on.ca — “Toronto Landmarks,” John Ross Robertson, published 1894 — “Toronto of Old,” Henry Scadding, published 1873 — “No Mean City,” Eric Arthur, published 1964. 

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 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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Toronto’s old hotel at Spadina and King renovated

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The former Backpacker’s Hotel on the northwest corner of King Street West and Spadina Avenue was unveiled the 4th week of July 2015, after almost two years of restoration. Though originally a home that was converted into a hotel, for many years it was the Backpackers’ Hotel, providing reasonably-priced accommodations for students and youths visiting the city. Prior to its restoration, the two buildings were a colourful part of the King-West scene, its 19th-century red bricks covered with many layers of paint. It will now be employed for offices and retail space.

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This photo was taken in 2012, when the buildings were painted various colours. 

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The original building as it appeared in 2012, and the same building following its restoration in 2015 (right).

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The buildings as they appeared c. 1910. View gazes west along King Street from Spadina. Toronto Archives, F. 1568, id.0282

For a link to photographs and a history of the buildings at King and Spadina:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/history-of-the-backpackers-hotel-at-king-and-spadina/ 

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 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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Toronto’s Old Mill in the Humber Valley

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The Old Mill Restaurant, spa and boutique hotel is one of Toronto’s best-known dining and  entertainment venues. Situated at 21 Old Mill Road, north of Bloor Street and west of Jane Street, it is located in the Humber River Valley. When the town of York (Toronto) was established, the Humber River was an important trade route. At its north end, it connected to a system of waterways that gave access to Georgian Bay, which led to the British territories to the west. Governor Simcoe ordered that a mill be constructed on the river to cut logs into timber for the town of York (Toronto). By 1834, along the banks of the Humber River, many mills were located to take advantage of the water power. They became hives of commercial activity and social events were often held within their walls. When steam power was introduced, the water mills became obsolete and during the year ahead they disappeared, most of them destroyed by fire. However, the valley remained popular as a recreational destination. 

Shortly after the turn of the 20th century, Robert H. Smith purchased 3000 acres of land near the valley to create residential developments. On August 4, 1914 he opened an English-style tea garden adjacent to the ruins of one of the old mills and appropriately named it The Old Mill. Canada entered the First World War the same day the tea room was inaugurated, but events did not dampen its popularity. During the war years, it became a popular gathering place for military officers stationed in Toronto waiting to be shipped overseas to Europe. Prior to their departure, many of them danced at the Old Mill to the swinging sounds of the famous big bands of the day.

The old wooden bridge that spanned the river a short distance from the Old Mill was washed out in a storm in March 1916. Despite the shortage of labour and materials, Robert Smith employed his considerable influence to have the bridge rebuilt before the end of the year. It still exists today and in 2016 will be a century old.

As the Old Mill prospered, additions were constructed. The print room was added in 1919, a year after the war ended. During the 1920s, people travelled from the city by boat to dine at the restaurant. In 1928, Robert Smith used the Old Mill for his offices and administration centre. In 1929, the Dance hall and Garret Room were built, which facilitated dining accompanied by dancing. Additions were constructed in the English Tudor Style, with heavy dark beams and contrasting areas of white. The Old Mill survived the Depression years due to the popularity of the traditional English teas that it offered.

Thankfully, the Old Mill survived the devastating floods of Hurricane Hazel on October 5, 1954. In 1956, the Humber banquet room was added to facilitate private parties. In 1973, the inn was rescued from demolition for residential development by William Hodgson, who renovated and expanded the facilities. In this period the ruins of the seven-storey 19th-century stone mill were restored, and a wedding chapel constructed inside it. In 1983, the Old Mill was officially declared a Heritage Property. In 1986, another wing and banquet room were built. In 1991, George and Michael Kalmar took over the operation of the Old Mill. In July 2015, the inn was purchased by Adam de Luca of OTM Hospitality Inc.

The Old Mill remains as active and popular as it was in decades past. Its buffet brunches are particularly well attended, especially on Sundays.

The author is grateful for the information provided in oldmilltoronto.com.

c. 1899--f1568_it0511-n[1]

The empty ruins of the old mill beside the Humber Ricer c. 1899. Toronto Archives, F1568, it.0511-n(1)

Meadowvale Mill, 1923,  f1548_s0393_it18361a[1]

This photo of the Meadowvale Mill on the Credit River in 1923, illustrates how large many of the mills were. Their upper floors were used for storage. Toronto Archives, F1548, S0393, it.18361A.

October 12, 1912 --f1548_s0393_it2913[1] 

This charming photo was taken on October 12, 1912, before the Old Mill Tea Garden was built. It gazes west, down into the valley, the wooden bridge spanning the river below located in the same site as the stone bridge that was built in 1916. Toronto Archives, F1548, S0393, it.2913 (1) 

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The ruins of the former grist mill on July 31, 1913. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, it 0305

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The Old Mill Tea Garden on July 22, 1914, the year it opened. Toronto Archives, F1231, it.0768 (1)

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                    The Old Mill Tea Garden in 1914. Toronto Archives.

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                    Dining area in the Old Mill in 1914. Toronto Archives.

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     Boating on the Humber River near the Old Mill in 1914. Toronto Archives.

Fonds 1244, Item 968

The valley c. 1915, showing the ruins if the old water mill and the wooden bridge across the river. Toronto Archives, F1244, it.0968 (1)

March 29, 1916.  f1231_it0326a[1]

Ruins of the old water mill on March 29, 1916, after an ice flow destroyed the wooden bridge and floated it downstream. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Fl231, it 0326a

May 21, 1937,  f1548_s0393_it24817c[1]

The Old Mill bridge on May 21, 1937. Toronto Archives, F1548, S0393, it. 24817c(1)

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                 The front entrance to the Old Mill in 2014.

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                             Hallway in the interior of the old Mill in 2014.

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                                  Sunken garden at the Old Mill in 2014.

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Room in the Old Mill with the high-vaulted ceiling where buffet brunches are held.

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                    The Old Mill in 2014, with its many additions and extensions.

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 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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