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Monthly Archives: March 2016

The old Toronto Star Building (demolished)

Fonds 1244, Item 10094

The old Toronto Star newspaper building is the large structure on the left-hand side of the photo.The view is from the southwest, looking at the south facade of the building c. 1968. The towering Bank of Commerce Building (now CIBC, on the right-hand side of the photo) is visible further east, on the south side of King Street. The large structure with the two flags atop it is the Bank of Nova Scotia at King and Bay. Toronto Archives, F1244, Item 10094

When I was a boy in the 1940s, my parents purchased a Toronto Daily Star newspaper route. Six days a week, I delivered papers to about 65 customers. The newspapers were 3 cents a copy, but 10 cents extra on Saturday, if the customer bought the Star Weekly magazine section. For each newspaper I received a half cent for delivery. I considered the roughly $2 a week I earned to be a princely income. I retained my route until I was in grade nine, when I sold the route to become a delivery boy for Crosstown Pharmacy, at Eglinton and Bathurst. I was paid about 30 cents hour, and the customers’ tips were more lucrative than on the paper route.

I had been an avid comic-book reader when I was in public school, one of my favourite being Superman, featuring the fictional characters — Lois Lane and Clark Kent. I did not realize that in the 1930s, the creator of the comic, Joe Shuster, had also been a paperboy for the Star. The head office of the Toronto newspaper was the inspiration for the Daily Planet, where Clark Kent was employed. I do not personally remember ever seeing the Star building, but after researching it and examining photos of it, I can understand why it gripped the imagination of Joe Shuster. 

The Toronto Star, established in 1892, relocated in 1905 from Adelaide Street to a four-storey building at 18-20 King Street West. In the decades ahead, it constantly increased its circulation. Writers like the Nobel-prize winning Ernest Hemingway added to the newspaper’s reputation. Hemingway worked at the Star from 1920 to 1924 and credited the freedom to travel and write for the Star a major reason for his future success as an author.

In the late-1920s, with a circulation of 175,00 and 650 employees, the newspaper relocated to a larger building at 80 King Street West. It was one of the finest Art Deco office towers ever built in North America. Symmetrical in design, its construction commenced in November 1927, and completed in January 1929. At a cost of $1.5 million, it was designed by Chapman and Oxley.  A classical example of the style, it possessed strong vertical lines that ascended from its six-storey podium to the pinnacle of the tower. Containing 22 storeys, there were no setbacks on the front facade, facing King Street, but there were setbacks on the east and west sides, allowing the tower to rise from the centre section above the sixth floor.

The tower (floors 7-22) was erected with structural steel and faced with limestone. It was mostly rented to other companies for offices, helping to offset the expense of maintaining the building, as well as providing investment income for the newspaper. The Star’s radio station was on the 21st. floor of the tower, station CFCA, which ceased broadcasting in 1933. 

The six-storey podium was constructed of reinforced concrete, its ground floor occupying two-storeys. The lower three floors were faced with granite. The podium was where the daily operations of the newspaper were located, including the printing presses and delivery facilities. It also contained the offices for the reporters, proof readers, editors, photographers, and the newspaper archives. Above the entrance doors, there was a decorative bronze screen, typical of many Art Deco structures. Atop the screen was an arch, and above it was stonework with carved floral motifs. It was a grand entrance, important in an era when celebrities and politicians were often interviewed at newspaper offices, rather than having reporters seek them out.

The ground floor contained rental stores that included a barber shop. On its east side there was a restaurant, which for many years was operated by Stoodleigh’s. This restaurant chain also had an outlet on the north side of the CNE Grandstand, which was only in operation when the Ex was open. The lobby on the first floor of the Star building was elegant, with marble columns and trim. Elevators with bronze doors, etched with Art Deco designs, swept visitors and employees to the upper floors. Each elevator was staffed by an intendant with white gloves, who opened and closed the doors and provided assistance. Anyone who remembers Eaton’s and Simpsons during the 1940s and 1950s, would be familiar with this type of service.

The trucks that delivered the newspapers across the city departed directly from the Star building on King Street. When I was a paperboy, one of these trucks arrived six days a week, around 4 pm, at a depot at Vaughan Road and Greyton Avenue, in the Township of York. About 20 newspaper boys picked up their bundles of papers from this location. There were no newspaper girls in the 1940s.

In 1967, the TD Centre (Toronto-Dominion bank) opened on the south side of King Street, directly across from the Toronto Star Building. As the area was the heart of the city’s financial district, the newspaper received lucrative offers from those who wished to redevelop the site. Finally, in 1971, the Star finally sold their building and relocated to the foot of Yonge Street (1Yonge), near the harbour. The wonderful Art Deco Star building was demolished in 1972, and in its place appeared the 72-storey First Canadian Place office complex, directly across from the TD Centre.

The Art Deco-inspired bronze doors from the Star Building were relocated to an office structure on Bay Street, south of Queen Street. I was unable to discover exactly where, but a reader suggested that they are likely in the Metro Trust Building at 357 Bay Street, north of Temperance Street. Some of the Star building’s ornate stonework was transported to Scarborough and placed on the grounds of the Guild Inn, alongside similar remnants of carved stone from other demolished Toronto edifices.

I understand that some of Toronto’s architectural past must be replaced to meet the needs of a modern city. However, our city has destroyed so many of its structures of yesteryear that little remains to link us with those who laboured to build Toronto. A truly modern, progressive city retains the best of its former years and incorporates it into the present-day. This concept is gaining ground in Toronto, but it still has a long way to go. Other cities have accomplished this blend, and are the better for it. They attract more tourists and have an improved urban environment, while creating an enriched life for their citizens.

Sources: www.thestar.com (Dave Russill) – www.canadacolll.com— “Lost Toronto” by William Dendy, “Art Deco Architecture in Toronto” by Tim Morawetz. 

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        Location of the old Star building on King Street West.

Fonds 1244, Item 342

The front of the Star building at 18-20 King Street, prior to the newspaper relocating to 80 King Street. The photo was taken during the federal election of 1911, when the main political issue was reciprocity (free trade) with the United States, Toronto Archives. F1244, Item 0342.

Fonds 1244, Item 881

A crowd outside the Star building at 18-20 King St. in 1914, which contained the newspaper’s offices from 1905 to 1929. It was common in that decade for people to gather outside newspaper offices to receive a glimpse of the day’s headlines. It was a way to encourage readers to purchase a copy.Toronto Archives, F1244, Item 0881

Fonds 1244, Item 3012

All of the above buildings on King Street (except the three on the far left) were demolished in 1927 to construct the Star building. Toronto Archives, F1244, Item 3012.

                  Ont. Archives, 1920  I0022003[1]

The Star building shortly after it opened in 1929. View gazes east on King Street toward Yonge. Ontario Archives, 10022003.

                        F 1231, S 1131, Item 0069 -king-toward-bay-1930[1]

Gazing east along King Street toward Yonge c. 1930. The Star building is on the left, and the Bank of Commerce tower (CIBC) is in the distance on the right. Toronto Archives, F1231, Fl 131, Item 0069

Fonds 1244, Item 2054

Office space for reporters in the building on December 17, 1930. Toronto Archives, F1244, Item 2054.

Fonds 1244, Item 2057

     Lobby of the building c. 1930, Toronto Archives, F 1244, Item 2057.

Fonds 1244, Item 2186

King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth in Toronto in 1939, in front of the Star building, which was decorated for the Royal Tour. Toronto Archives, F1244, Item 2186.

Fonds 1244, Item 2058

          The press room c. 1945, Toronto Archives, F1244, Item 2058

                    Fonds 1244, Item 10093

The south facade of the Star building at 80 King Street between 1967 and 1970. Toronto Archives, F 1244, Item 10093

20121112-Star-Facade[1]

Sketch of the podium of the Star building from the files of the Toronto Star, 20121112

                        c. 1945 f1257_s1057_it2037[1]

The newspaper’s offices c. 1945, Toronto Archives, F 1257, S 1057, Item 2037.

                     DSCN0381

First Canadian Place in March 2016, on the former site of the Toronto Star Building. The TD Centre is on the south side of the street, opposite it.

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It 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 by 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 Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[2]    

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s former movie theatres will be released in June, 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs and relates interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating history.

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will be released on June 1, 2016. For further information follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or to contact the publisher directly:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , ,

Toronto’s old Cumberland Four Theatre

Cumberland 4   Series 881,File 353 DSCN1337

The Cumberland Four Theatre in Toronto’s trendy Yorkville, Toronto Archives, Series 881, File 353 

The multiplex theatre, the Cumberland Four, was located at 159 Cumberland Street, a short distance east of Avenue Road. Opening on December 11, 1980, it was operated by Famous Players Corporation. Its concrete facade was modern, the geometric shapes providing a degree of elegance. It contained four auditoriums, which were long and narrow. The floors in them sloped gently toward the screen, but unlike theatres today, none of them had stadium-style seating. Patrons descended a long escalator to enter the lobby, which contained the ticket booth and candy bar. Two of the auditoriums were on this level, and another steep escalator led to the lower level, where the other two were located. The confection counter was small, by modern standards, but as the theatre was located in one of the best dining areas in Toronto in that decade, which included Hazelton Lanes, many people attended a chic restaurant either before or after the theatre.

I remember attending the Cumberland Four many times in the 1980s and considered it an intimate venue with comfortable seats that had cup holders. The screens were not as large as in other Toronto theatres, but were quite adequate. The rumble of the Bloor/Danforth Subway was audible before a film commenced, but I never noticed it after the soundtrack of the movie began. I always enjoyed attending the Cumberland Four, finding it convenient to visit as it was near the Bay Subway station.

In 1976, the Festival of Festivals was founded by Bill Marshall. In 1994, it changed its name to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). For many years, it centred primarily on the Bloor/Yonge (Yorkville) area. Loew’s Uptown and the Town Cinema were two of the festival’s venues. After the Cumberland Four opened, it became another theatre used by the festival. During the remainder of the year, it mostly screened foreign, indie, and limited-release films, but also some Hollywood hits.  

After famous Players relinquished control of the theatre, it was operated by Atlantis Alliance, and then by Cineplex Corporation. Two of the films screened at the Cumberland that were frequently mentions in people’s online comments were: “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”

 As the years progressed, the Cumberland Four competed with the Bloor Hot Docs, Carlton Cinemas, and eventually the Bell Lightbox. These venues often screened the same type of films as the Cumberland Four. Attendance at the Cumberland Four gradually dwindled as more patrons attended the other venues.

Reading comments posted online about the Cumberland Four, I learned that many people felt that during the theatre’s latter years, it attracted too many “off beat” and weird characters. I did not attend the theatre much during this period, so I cannot comment on this phenomenon.

When Cineplex announced that the theatre was to close after over 30 years, feelings about its demise were mixed. Some were glad to see it go, while others lamented its passing. The final film screened at the Cumberland Four was at 7:30 pm on Sunday, May 6, 2012. The site became another outlet of Nespresso, a Nestle-owned luxury coffee shop.

Sources: torontoist.com – cinematreasures.org –www.thestar.com (Cathal Kelly) – www.blogto.com (Chris Bateman) – www.yolk.ca    

Cumberland 4  Series 881, File 353 DSCN1338  

One of the auditoriums in the Cumberland Four. To me, its looks like Laurel and Hardy on the screen. Toronto Archives, Series 881, File 353

from a post by Chris Bateman cumberland[1]

Facade of the Cumberland 4, when it was operated by Alliance Atlantis Cinemas. Photo from www.blogto.com in an article by Chris Bateman

lobby.jpeg.size.xxlTara Walton, Toronto Star  arge.letterbox[1]

Lobby area of the Cumberland Four, photo by Tara Walton, the Toronto Star (www.thestar.com).

Tara Walton, Toronto Star cumberland_tonespresso.jpeg.size.xxlarge.letterbox[1]

Escalator leading up from the lobby. Photo by Tara Walton, Toronto Star (www.thestar.com).

                   www.yelp.ca  [1]

                 Ticket office and the lobby. Photo from www.yelk.ca

                       DSCN2659

                    The Cumberland Four Theatre. Toronto Archives, Series 881, File 38

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

To view links to posts on 130 other Toronto movie theatres of the past:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/06/23/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It 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 by 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 Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[2]    

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s former movie theatres will be released in June, 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs and relates interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating history.

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will be released on June 1, 2016. For further information follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or to contact the publisher directly:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: , ,

The Gordon House, Toronto’s lost mansion

c. 1900  pictures-r-5407[1]

The Gordon Mansion on Clarence Square (Toronto) in 1900. Toronto Public Library, r-5407

On the east side of Spadina Avenue, between Front and King Streets, there is a small green space named Clarence Square. During the early 19th century, it was part of the military reserve attached to Fort York. The square was laid out in the 1830s by British engineers to complement the lakeside promenade, a green area near the lake where citizens were able to enjoy strolling and picnicking during good weather. In those years, Lake Ontario was directly to the south of it. The shoreline was eventually pushed further south by dumping landfill into the harbour, so today, Clarence Square is isolated from the water. However, it remains a quiet retreat in the heart of the city, where mature trees provide shelter from the heat of the summer sun.

DSCN7044   s0372_ss0052_it0198[1]

Clarence Square in the spring of 2014 (left) and in 1913 (right). The right-hand photo is from Toronto Archives, S 0372, SS 0052, Item 0198.

Clarence Square is reminiscent of squares created in London, England during the 1820s. Referred to as Regency-style squares, they were generally enclosed on three sides by stylish homes, with one side facing a wide avenue. The green space within them was usually open to the public, although sometimes, particularly in Britain, it was private. Regent Square Gardens in central London is perhaps one of the best-known examples.

The design was promoted in Canada by amateur architects such as William Warren Baldwin. When Clarence Square was built, its counterpart in Toronto was Victoria Square (old Garrison Cemetery), on the west side of Spadina Avenue, at Portland Street. The squares were like bookends, with Wellington Place (now Wellington Street) in between. Wellington Place was viewed as an ideal site for grand mansions and stately homes as it was a wide tree-lined avenue. Clarence Square was nearby, so it too was deemed to be a prestigious location.

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            Clarence Square, in today’s Fashion District, Toronto

Clarence Square received its name from the third son of King George III, Prince William Henry, born in 1765. In 1789, he was granted the title Duke of Clarence and St. Andrew’s. The Duke served in the Royal Navy and became Admiral of the Fleet in 1811. The Duke of Clarence ascended the throne as King William IV, and died on June 20, 1837. This was the decade when Clarence Square was created by the British troops from Fort York. William IV was succeeded on the throne by his niece, Elizabeth Victoria, and the Victorian era began.

Because of the location of Clarence Square, for a few years it was viewed as a possible site for a new Government House, the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor, Queen Victoria’s representative in the province. However, about the year 1853, the square was no longer considered suitable for this purpose, so the land surrounding it was opened for development. John Gordon purchased property near the southeast corner of the square, and about the year 1874 built a palatial mansion. Its postal address was 303 Clarence Square. Gordon was businessman, born in Scotland in 1828, who arrived in Canada with his family in 1841. He became a partner in a wholesale importing company, and later, the president of the Toronto, Bruce and Grey Railway.

Gordon chose the architect John Browne to design his 2 1/2-storey residence. Browne decided on the Italianate style, with ornate trim and intricate classical detailing. The pediment on the north facade contained two gables. The heavy cornice below the roof was supported by large scrolled brackets (modillions). In the centre of the roof, at the summit, was  a structure referred to as a monitor, with its own roof that was parallel to the roof line of the house. The monitor contained windows that illuminated the central staircase located directly beneath it. The porch had two sets of narrow double columns, with arches above them, the columns supporting an impressive roof. The east and west facades of the house possessed rounded extensions with windows that allowed extra light into the interior, similar to the bay windows in Toronto’s Bay and Gable homes.

The mansion, near the southeast corner of the square, was an impressive sight. Its location added to its appeal since the mature trees and gardens in the square, as well as the ornate fountain in the square’s centre, created a setting that was almost rural, yet near the heart of the city.

Gordon lived in his mansion until 1879, when he departed Toronto to take up residency in Paris, France, where he died in 1882. He had retained ownership of the house while abroad, but after his death it was offered for sale. It remained empty for two years before it was purchased by his brother-in-law William Mortimer Clark. Clark maintained it as his residence until 1903. In that year he was appointed lieutenant governor of Ontario and moved to Government House at Simcoe Street and King Street West. When his term as lieutenant governor ended in 1908, he returned to his home on Clarence Square and lived there until 1912.

By this year, the area was no longer deemed prestigious due to the construction of CPR railway sidings on the land to the south of Front Street. In 1913, the Steele Briggs Seed Company purchased the property, demolished the house and erected a large warehouse on the site. 

TRL,   c. 1900  pictures-r-6486[1]

The Gordon House on Clarence Square c. 1900 (Toronto Public Library r-6486)

drawing room  pictures-r-6491[1] 

The drawing room in the Gordon House in 1912 (Toronto Public Library r-6489). The rounded shape from the exterior extensions provides extra depth and added light during daylight hours. The ornate plaster designs on the ceiling add dignity to a room that was already impressive. The large mirror above the marble mantel of the fireplace reflects the intricacy of the patterns on the ceiling

drawing room, 1912,  pictures-r-6490[1]

Drawing room in 1912, the year William Mortimer Clark departed the property. Toronto Public Library r- 6490

dining rom, 1912  pictures-r-6489[1]

Dining room of the Gordon home in 1912, Toronto Public Library, r-6489

drawing room, 1912  pictures-r-6488[1]

      Dining room in 1912, Toronto Public Library, r-6488

library. 1912  pictures-r-6493[1]

The library in the Gordon mansion in 1912, Toronto Public Library r- 6493

The north facade of the Steele Briggs Warehouse at 49 Spadina Avenue, which is today on the south side of Clarence Square, where the Gordon mansion once stood.

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It 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 by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                          cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852_thumb

   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)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[1]_thumb[1]    

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s former movie theatres will be released in June, 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs and relates interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating history.

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will be released on June 1, 2016. For further information follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or to contact the publisher directly:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21.

 

 

 

Tags: , ,

Grand Opera House on Adelaide Street, Toronto

                    1921-- f1231_it0843a[1]

The Grand Opera House on Adelaide Street in 1921, view looking west on Adelaide Street. Toronto Archives, F 1231, Item 0843.

Toronto’s first building purposefully constructed to house a theatre was the Royal Lyceum), opened by John Richie on September 25, 1849. It was located behind a row of buildings on the south side of Adelaide Street West, between Bay and York Streets. Patrons entered the theatre from King Street, through Theatre Lane, where there was an archway between 99 and 101 King Street. It was the city’s first opera house, though it offered more than opera, as it featured plays, groups of actors, strolling musicians, soloists, and elocutionists. Prior to the theatre being built, such entertainment was generally held in taverns, small converted temporary premises, or hotel dining rooms. The Royal Lyceum possessed a proper stage with stage lights, an orchestra pit, dressing rooms, and a balcony

Royal Lyceum. Ade,aide St. pictures-r-6837[1]

Watercolour of the south facade of the Royal Lyceum, from the collection of the Toronto Public Library, r-6837

Unfortunately, the Royal Lyceum burnt in 1874, but the year before, a new company had been created to construct another theatre—The Grand Opera House. It was to be erected at 9-15 Adelaide Street West, a short distance west of Yonge Street. The new venue was to be managed by Mrs. Charlotte Morrison, a retired actress. Its architect was Thomas R. Jackson of New York, who designed the Toronto theatre in the Second Empire style, with Mansard roofs atop its east and west wings, connecting sections, and the tower.

The four-story theatre was constructed of brick and stone, with wooden joists to support the interior walls and floors. Its interior was elaborately trimmed, its ornate gas lamps ignited by batteries. On the first floor, facing Adelaide Street, on either side of the theatre’s arched entranceway, were shops that were rented. The floors above the shops contained offices that were also rented. The funds derived from the shops and offices helped defray the expenses of operating the opera house. The theatre’s arched entranceway led patrons into to a plush reception foyer, 50 feet in depth. Beyond it was the main foyer, where the ticket booth and refreshment bars were located. Stairs on the east and west sides of the foyer allowed patrons to ascend to the dress circle and the two balconies, similar to the Royal Alexandra Theatre of today.  

The theatre’s domed auditorium accommodated 1323 patrons. On the main floor (orchestra section) and in the balconies, people sat on chairs that folded to allow access to the other seats in the row. This was a new feature not yet common in Toronto. The stage was of sufficient size to allow large-scale productions, as it was 53 feet wide and 65 feet deep. In front of the stage was a sunken orchestra pit. The building was steam heated.

The Grand Opera House opened on September 21, 1874 with a gala that attracted the elite of the city. The evening’s feature performance was Richard Sheridan’s 18th-century comedy, “School for Scandal,” with the theatre’s manager, Mrs. Charlotte Morrison in the role of Lady Teazle. When the opera house held grand balls, the seats in the orchestra section were covered with a wooden temporary floor to allow people to dance the night away within the magnificent theatre.

However, despite it being well attended, critically acclaimed, and highly popular, the theatre was not a financial success. In 1876, it was sold in an auction to Alexander Manning. Three years later, the building was badly damaged by fire. The exterior walls had not been damaged, but the interior was gutted. Manning hired the architectural firm of Lalor and Martin, and it was rebuilt in a mere 51 days. The new architects’ designs were faithful to the original plans, except that the seating was increased to 1750. The grand reopening occurred on February 9, 1880 with a production of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”During the years, famous actors who were on its stage included Maurice Barrymore (father of Lionel and Ethel) and Sarah Bernhardt. For the next two decades, Toronto’s theatre scene focused on the Grand Opera House.

In 1919, Ambrose Small, the theatre’s manager, disappeared along with a considerable amount of cash. His body was never found and the case remained unsolved.

During the early years of the 20th century, its importance diminished due to competition from the Royal Alexandra and the Princess Theatres on King Street. Finally. the Grand Opera House was closed and it was demolished in 1927. 

Sources: urbantoronto.ca—torontohistory.net—”Lost Toronto” by William Dendy. 

Map of 15 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5H 1L6 

Site of the Grand Opera House on Adelaide Street, between Yonge and Bay Streets.

Canadian Illustrated News  62576-v6[1] - Copy

Interior of the Grand Opera House, Canadian Illustrated News, Canada Archives, 62576-v6 

                    ONt. Archives, 1920  I0021963[1]

The Grand Opera House in 1920, view gazing east on Adelaide Street. Ontario Archives, 10021963

 

                              Fonds 1244, Item 7069

Looking east toward Yonge Street in 1924, Toronto Archives, F 1244, Item 7069

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It 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 by 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 Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[2]    

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s former movie theatres will be released in June, 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs and relates interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating history.

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will be released on June 1, 2016. For further information follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or to contact the publisher directly:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21.

 

 

 

 

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Toronto’s old Registry Office Building

photo 1955, blg. 1917-64  pictures-r-5673[1]

The south facade of the Old Registry Building in 1955, photo from the Toronto Public Library, r- 5673

The beginning of the 20th century delivered a spirit of optimism to Toronto, along with a desire for new civic development. Among the districts being considered for transformation was the district to the northwest of the City Hall (today’s Old City Hall). New buildings had already been erected in the area—an extension to the north side of Osgoode Hall, the Armouries on east side of University Avenue, T. Eaton Company’s expansion, and the Toronto General Hospital’s new buildings on its north side. Adding to the impetus for new development was the deterioration of the houses in the area, many of which required demolition. However, there was no overall plan to accomplish the city’s aims.

In 1911, a design was finally proposed by John M. Lyle, who had already designed the Royal Alexandra Theatre and later would be the architect for Union Station. The plan Lyle put forward in 1911 suggested that a grand avenue be built, named Federal Avenue, which would extend northward from the new Union Station (under construction) to Queen Street. The avenue’s northern terminus would be a short distance to the east of Osgoode Hall. It would create a grand vista for both Osgoode Hall and Union Station. Federal Avenue would be located between Bay Street and University Avenue, a short distance to the east of today’s York Street.

Federal Avenue would lead to a new civic square that would occupy two city blocks, bounded by University Avenue and Queen, Bay, and Agnes Streets. The latter street is today Dundas Street. The square would contain impressive civic buildings and a large public garden. It was envisioned that the civic offices would accommodate the needs of the rapidly expanding city.

                          fedave[1]

Map of John Lyle’s plan of 1911 for downtown Toronto between Front and Agnes Street (Dundas Street), showing the proposed Federal Avenue that would begin at Union Station and extend northward to Queen Street. Osgoode Hall, the proposed public gardens, and University Avenue are shown on the map. On the right-hand side of the map is Bay Street, and University Avenue is on the left-hand side. In this decade, University Avenue ended at Queen Street. It was not extended southward to Front until the 1930s.

The first civic structure planned for the square was the Registry Office, resulting in City Council authorizing an architectural competition. The guidelines stated that any designs submitted were to be restricted to the Beaux-Arts and Classical styles. The practical needs of the Registry Office were also listed. The structure must contain two wings, one for the east end of the city and another for the west. The two wings were to be connected by a grand entrance hall and a stairwell. Each wing must have its own research areas, library, and public space. Despite these pre-determined features, all the designs submitted between the year 1909-1910 were large rectangular structures with exceedingly large porticos (porches) across the south facade. 

After considerable consideration, the designs of Charles S. Cobb were voted as being the most acceptable. Cobb’s architectural plans reflected the Roman Classical style. The eight massive stone columns supporting the portico were Ionic (scrolled capitals), the roof above them plain with unornamented, parallel lines. The walls were of smooth masonry, creating the appearance of an impressive Roman temple. In the interior, the wide entrance hall separating the east and west sections was lit by a skylight on the roof. The walls inside the rooms were faced with Champville marble from France, the floors of Tennessee marble, baseboards of Botticino marble  from Italy, and the windowsills and countertops of marble shipped from near Regina.

Construction on the Registry Office commenced in 1914 and despite the interruptions caused by World War 1, was completed in 1917. However, funds to build the other structures and the garden planned for Lyle’s square never materialized. The Registry Office appeared rather lonesome, with no other buildings to provide it with context. When the Great Depression began in 1929, any hope of redeveloping the land surrounding the Registry Office disappeared.

In 1946, after the World War 11 ended, the city entered into another period of prosperity, which spurred redevelopment. Once more, City Council began considering plans to create a grand square near the Registry Office. The square was to include a new city hall to replace the building that had opened in 1899 (now the Old City Hall). A competition for designs for the new civic building was inaugurated in 1958. Unfortunately, none of the proffered plans included the Registry Office. The design by Viljo Revell was eventually selected for the New City Hall, its modern lines and shapes completely out of sync with the Registry Office’s classical style.

After construction commenced on Toronto’s New City Hall, many other buildings near the Registry Office were demolished, allowing it to be visible from Queen Street for the first time in several decades. However, in 1964, the Registry Office was also demolished to allow the New City Hall to be completed. It opened in 1965 with much fanfare and celebration, a unique structure that attracted world attention. Today, the site of the Registry Office of 1914 is to the west and south the New City Hall, a short distance north of Queen Street.

It could be argued that it was impossible to prevent the demolition of the Registry Office, since it was too costly to maintain and very difficult to recycle for other purposes. I do not accept this view. If the city council had instructed Viljo Revell to include the building in the plans for the new City Hall, Nathan Phillips Square would today still have a new modern City Hall, but also a contrasting structure from the past, on its west side, to balance the square. It would have been possible reposition the New City Hall to face west. Because the old City Hall was to the east of the square, it too should also have been included in the overall plan. It is a pity that this was never considered. The 1960s was an era dedicated to “progress,” which to most civic officials meant demolishing the accomplishments of former generations.

Other city’s have blended the old and the new to achieve astounding results. The Registry Office could have been renovated to house a Toronto Museum (we still do not have one), Toronto Archives, Public Library, or a multi-purpose cultural centre that included a theatre. However, instead, Toronto’s past was deemed irrelevant and relegated to the trash heap. Unfortunately, the type of narrow-minded thinking has doomed many historically important heritage buildings. This type of thinking still remains today among some city councillors.

Sources: William Dendy’s “Lost Toronto”— www.examiner.com

Fonds 1244, Item 1222

View of crowds in front of the Registry Office in 1913. The people are all facing east, as if they are observing something. Photo from the Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 122

Fonds 200, Series 372, Subseries 41 - Miscellaneous photographs

A storeroom in the Registry Office on July 31, 1925. Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 372, SS 41.

From City_Hall_clock_tower[, Fonds 1548, S393, It.19979, Aug. 27, 1925.    1]

View from the Old City Hall clock tower on August 27, 1925. Behind the Registry Office (in the foreground) is the old Armouries on University Avenue (now demolished).

                           pre-1940-- f1548_s0393_it0023[1]

South facade of the Registry Office, facing Albert Street. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1548, S 0393, Item 0023.

TRL, 1958  cityhall-a-r1-13[1]

View of the Registry Office in 1958. The east side of Osgoode Hall is to the left of it, and between the two structures the old Armouries on University Avenue are visible. The empty space in the foreground is where the land has been cleared to build Nathan Phillips Square. Photo from the Toronto Public Library, r-1-13.

Tor. Archives, Fonds 124, f.124, F001, id.0047 resistry[1]

Undated photo of the Registry Office. It appears as if the building is empty, awaiting demolition. Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, Item 0047. 

The Metropolitan Library in New York City. Would anyone consider demolishing a building such as this? The Registry Office compares favourably in size and design with the New York structure.

June 22, 1964.  f1268_it0462[1]

The New City Hall under construction on June 22, 1964, the old Registry Office to the left (west) of it. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1268, Item 0462.

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It 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 by 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)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb    

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s former movie theatres will be released in June, 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs and relates interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating history.

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will be released on June 1, 2016. For further information follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or to contact the publisher directly:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21.

 

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Toronto’s historic old Customs Houses

                    1870-1876  pictures-r-2272[1]

Toronto’s Customs House (1870-1876) at Front Street East and Scott Street. Three Customs Houses preceded this one in the town of York (Toronto). Watercolour from the collection of the Toronto Public Library r-2272.

York’s well-protected harbour, a safe distance from the guns of the American border, was the main reason it was chosen as the provincial capital in the 1790s. Thus, the harbour was militarily important, but it was also the economic lifeline of the town. This was true for the government as well, since the taxes collected on the goods shipped into York were its main source of revenue. A Customs House was one of the first structures built in the town, as it was where goods were stored, inspected, and the duties assessed. The importance of the port continued until roads were built that facilitated convenient travel by land.

In anticipation of York’s need for a larger Customs House in the future, in 1818, George Phillpott of the Royal Engineers drew a map of the town that reserved land for this purpose on the southwest corner of Yonge and Front Streets. He considered the site ideal, as it was close to the shipping wharfs along the shoreline. However, since the town of York still centred around the eastern end of the harbour, Phillpott’s site remained too far to the west to be practical.

During the next two decades, the town of York increased in size and extended further west. In 1834, York was incorporated as a city and renamed Toronto. In 1840, because the land on Front Street west of Yonge was steadily being developed, the city subdivided it into lots. The property that George Phillpott had set aside became lot #38 and was officially designated as the site for the new Custom’s House. However, it was not until 1845 that it was built. Its architect was Kivas Tully, who eventually became the architect for the provincial government.

In the 1850s, the era of railway building commenced in Toronto and the railway companies began dumping landfill into the lake, south of the Esplanade. The Customs House lost its position beside the water, as the newly created land to the south of it was swallowed up by railway tracks. In 1873, due to the city’s growth, the Customs House of 1845 was demolished and a new one constructed, on the same site.

The four-storey structure was designed by R. C. Windeyer in the Second Empire style, with a Mansard roof. This style was in its heyday during the 1870s, especially for public buildings, theatres, and banks.  R. C. Windeyer also designed St. Stephen-In-The-Fields Anglican Church at College and Bellevue, which still stands today. The Customs House possessed a classical facade with pillars, pilasters, and ornate cement and stone work. Above the impressive entrance there was a balcony, with an excellent view gazing north up Yonge Street. To the south of the Customs House, the Customs Examining Warehouse was built to store imported goods while they were being inspected and the duties on them assessed. 

The Customs House on Front Street was one of the most impressive public buildings ever erected in Toronto. It is a pity that is was demolished in 1919. Some of the architectural detailing from its facade was attached to the second storey of the Colonial Theatre at Yonge and Bay Streets. However, it too is now long gone, and the Simpson’s Tower is on the site.

Sources: www1.toronto.ca—forum.skyscraperpage.com

                   Canada, May 5, 1875  a046269-v8[1]

North facade on Front Street of the Customs House on May 5, 1875, when it was under construction. Canada Archives, a 046269-v8

                    1875- Canada a046566-v8[1]

The north and west facades of the Customs House in 1875, while it remained under construction. Canada Archives, a 046566-v 8. 

1876-1919  pictures-r-3949[1]

The Customs House in 1876, in the background, to the south of it, is the Custom’s Examining Warehouse, Toronto Public Library, r-3949.

1884, TRL.  pictures-r-4369[1]

The Customs House in 1884, view showing the north facade on Front Street (on the right) and the east facade on Yonge Street (on the left). A portion of the Customs Examining Warehouse is visible in the background. Toronto Public Library, r- 4369.

1890  pictures-r-4363[1]

View looks south on Yonge Street toward the harbour, from Front Street in 1890. To the west (right-hand side) of the Customs House is one of the buildings that was destroyed by fire in 1904. Toronto Public Library. r-4363.

Fonds 1244, Item 1173D

The Customs House in 1908, after the great fire of 1904 destroyed the buildings to the west of it. Toronto Archives, F1244, Item 1173.

Canada, 1916  a046570-v8[1]

Looking south on Yonge Street from Front Street in 1916, the ships at the Yonge Street Pier vaguely visible at the foot of Yonge. Canada Archives, 046570-v8.

Ont. Archives, 1918  I0021844[1]

Looking west along Front Street from Yonge Street in 1918. Ontario Archives, 10021844.

Fonds 1244, Item 1173G

Decorative stonework on the Customs Building, Toronto Archives, F1244, Item 1173.

                            Colonial_Theatre,_south_side_of_Queen_Street,_east_from_Bay_Street,_constructed_from_fragments_of_old_Customs_House[1]

When another storey was added in 1919 to the Colonial Theatre (later renamed the Bay), decorative stonework and columns from the old Custom’s House were attached to its facade. The theatre was located on the south side of Queen Street, a short distance east of Bay Street. The Simpson’s Tower is located on the site today. Photo was taken in 1922, City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 85. 

The New Customs House

In 1904, the fire that swept along Front Street destroyed many buildings, but the Customs House (built in 1873) escaped destruction. However, the properties to the west of it were damaged beyond repair, creating available space if the city wished to build a larger Customs House. However, it was not until 1911 that the Toronto Civic Improvement Committee proposed such a plan. By this time, the increasing volume of goods arriving through the port of Toronto justified a larger facility to collect the duties owed to the federal government. It would be the third Customs House on the site at Front and Yonge.

In 1913 it was finally announced that the new Customs House would be erected, its total cost being $2 million. However, it was not until 1919 that the old Customs House of 1873 was finally demolished. Again, there was a long delay, and it was not until 1929 that tenders were requested for the construction of the new building. In style, it was intended to complement the magnificent design of Union Station.

The Great Depression caused the plans to be modified; it was decided that only the west and central portions would be erected. Construction began in late-1929 and it was completed in 1931. Despite the harsh economic times of the 1930s, work on the eastern section begun in 1934 and it was completed in 1935. Designed in the Beaux-Arts style, it was the first architectural plan created by T. W. Fuller, although the building was completed by J. H. Craig. It created a classical streetscape on the south side of Front Street, extending from Yonge to Bay Streets. Named the Dominion Building, it was built of reinforced concrete, with stone cladding and impressive Ionic columns on the north facade of the centre section. There were three arches over the main entrance, which were decorated with lions’ heads. It was Toronto’s greatest Custom House and one of the most important Beaux-Arts buildings ever erected in the city.

In 1973, the Dominion Building was listed as a Heritage property under the Ontario Heritage Act, and in 1993, a “Classified Federal Heritage Building.” In 2006, it was declared part of the Union Station Heritage Preservation District. However, in 2015, Dominion Building was declared “surplus to the federal inventory.”

 

Canada- 1935  a068224-v8[1]

The Dominion Building in 1935, shortly after it was completed. View gazes west along Front Street from Yonge. Canada Archives, a068224-v8.

1955-  pictures-r-3688[1]

View of the Dominion Building in 1955, gazing east on Front Street from Bay Street. Toronto Public Library, r-3688.

DSCN8021 

Same view as previous picture, but in 2015, after many condo towers had been erected to the east of the Dominion Building.

DSCN8204

View gazing west on Front Street from Yonge Street in 2015, the Dominion Building on the left-hand side of the photo.

DSCN8207

View in 2015 of the north facade of the Dominion Building, with its Ionic columns in the centre section.

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

A link about the purpose of this blog and detailing its content on Toronto and its history

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It 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 by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

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

To place an order for this book: tps://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)

                                     image    

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s former movie theatres will be released in June, 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs and relates interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating history.

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will be released on June 1, 2016. For further information follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or to contact the publisher directly:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21.

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , , ,

tayloronhistory.com—check it out!

DSCN0299

The blog tayloronhistory.com first appeared on the internet in 2011. Since its inception, over 800 posts have been published that explore the Toronto’s history and its heritage structures, including those that have been demolished and lost forever. The blog’s purpose is to generate an interest in our city’s past and its historic buildings, to prevent remaining heritage sites from being destroyed by developers or indifference on the part of the civic government. During the past few years, Torontonians have become more aware of the importance of preserving the past, but the laws remain weak and ineffective, so our architectural heritage continues to disappear.

As a result of the blog, three books have been published about the topics that have appeared on it: Toronto Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen (published by History Press), Toronto’s Local Movie Theatres of Yesteryear (Dundurn Press), and Toronto Then and Now (Pavilion Press). The latter two books will be available in the spring of 2016. 

Toronto’s Old Movie Theatres

Over 130 posts posts relate stories about the city’s old movie theatres. They include archival and modern photos that depict the theatres’ grand facades, marquees, auditoriums, and  lobbies. There are also present-day images of the locations where the theatres once existed. The great movie palaces of the early decades of the 20th century (e.g. Shea’s Hippodrome, Pantages, Victoria, Tivoli etc.) are explored, as well as the more modern film palaces such as the University and the Odeon Carlton. The following is a link to the posts about the old movie theatres of Toronto.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/02/26/torontos-old-movie-theatres-on-tayloronhistory-com/

Heritage Buildings and Sites

Famous heritage building such as Toronto’s First City Hall, the Old City Hall, St. Lawrence Hall, Osgoode Hall, Campbell House, Mackenzie House, St. James Cathedral, Union Station, St. Michael’s Cathedral, and the St. Lawrence Market have been researched and documented. Other sites, some of them less known, are also explored: Farr House, Oddfellow’s Temple, Grossman’s Tavern, Waverly Hotel, Gooderham Building, and the Bellevue Fire Station. Structures that no longer exist are included — a part of lost Toronto. The following is a link to a list of the sites included on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/02/26/torontos-heritage-buildings-and-sites-on-tayloronhistory-com/

Toronto’s 19th-Century Streetscapes

Several streets that possess timeless qualities have been researched. They harken back to the more tranquil days of the 19th century. Below are the links to access the posts about these unique avenues of downtown Toronto.

Draper Street: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/05/23/torontos-draper-street-is-akin-to-a-time-tunnel-into-the-past/

Wilcocks Street: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/visiting-torontos-best-preserved-nineteenth-century-street-willcocks-street/

Bulwer Street: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/a-toronto-street-that-disappeared-but-yet-remains-in-view-bulwer-street/

Glasgow Street: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/torontos-architectural-gemsrow-houses-on-glasgow-st/ 

Huron Street: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/a-toronto-street-that-disappeared-but-yet-remains-in-view-bulwer-street/

Toronto Disasters

Three of the greatest disasters that Toronto suffered are chronicled on the blog. In 1914, the “RMS Empress of Ireland” sank in fourteen minutes in the icy waters of the St. Lawrence River. More passengers lost their lives than on the Titanic, yet few Canadian know about this maritime tragedy. Many of those who perished were from Toronto.

In 1949, a lake steamer named the “S S Noronic” caught fire in Toronto Harbour and 122 people lost their lives.

In 1954, Hurricane Hazel flooded the Humber and Don Valley, and over 100 drowned in the flood waters.

Below are the links to read about these events.

Empress of Ireland: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/the-empress-of-ireland-tragedymay-29-1914/

Noronic: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/01/01/the-noronic-disaster-in-1949-122-people-burn-to-death-on-torontos-waterfront/

Hurricane Hazel: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/03/28/torontos-1950s-newspapers-hurricane-hazelpart-3/ 

History of Toronto Streetcars and Toronto Island Ferries

Posts on Streetcars:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/travel-on-torontos-great-streetcars/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/memories-of-torontos-streetcars-of-yesteryear/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/05/amazing-streetcar-trips-on-torontos-red-rockets-during-yesteryears/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/07/17/toronto-streetcarsfrom-omnibus-to-red-rocket/

A post about the Toronto Island Ferries

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/remember-the-toronto-island-ferries-the-bluebell-primroseand-trillium/

Posts on the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/02/16/the-old-dufferin-gates-at-torontos-cne/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/11/26/muzik-nightclubsite-of-cnes-crystal-palace/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/thoughts-about-torontos-2014-cne/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/ten-suggestion-to-make-the-cne-great/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/09/03/the-magnificent-grandstand-shows-of-the-1950s/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/31/the-magificent-1921-grandstand-show-at-the-cne/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/postcard-views-of-the-1947-cne-part-one/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/30/postcard-views-of-the-1947-cne-part-two/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/28/golden-memories-of-the-cne-from-yesteryear/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/whats-it-like-to-attend-the-cne-in-2011-in-comparison-with-yesteryear/https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/22/memories-of-the-cnetoday-and-yesterday/

Memories of War-Time Toronto During the 1940s

Sunnyside Beach and Amusement Park

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/a-pictorial-journey-to-torontos-old-sunnyside-beach-part-two/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/in-mid-winter-recalling-the-sunshine-of-torontos-sunnyside-beach/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/a-private-memory-of-a-95-year-old-about-the-sunnyside-of-her-youth/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/walking-along-lakeshore-boulevard-near-sunnyside-in-1922/

Snow storm of December 1944, the largest amount of snow to ever descend on Toronto.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/the-worst-snowstorm-to-ever-hit-toronto-post-1/ 

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/downtown-torontos-five-best-xmas-displays2015/

Toyland at Eaton’s (Queen and and Yonge Street Store) and Eaton’s Santa Claus Parade 

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/memories-of-eatons-toyland-in-the-1940s/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/are-you-ever-too-old-to-enjoy-torontos-santa-claus-parade/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/12/03/torontos-santa-claus-parade-through-the-decades/

The village on Manitou Road on Centre Island

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/01/centre-islands-lost-villagetoronto/

The Author of this Blog

Doug Taylor was a member of the faculty of the Lakeshore Teachers’ College (York University) and the Ontario Teacher Education College, where he shared his love of history with promising young teachers-to-be. During the 1970s, he conducted walking tours of Toronto’s historic districts for university students, during the days when such tours were rare. He also led tours of Chinatown, the Kensington Market, and the Necropolis Cemetery.

Now retired, he lives in downtown Toronto, within walking distance of Toronto’s historic neighbourhoods. Since retiring, he has written ten books, all of them employing the history of his native city as either the subject or the background for the story.  He continues to promote the history of the city he loves through his books and his blog. He can be contacted at tayloronhistory@gmail.com.

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

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” is one of the books that was written incorporating the research material from this blog. It 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 by 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 Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

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Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s former movie theatres will be released in June, 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs and relates interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating history.

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will be released on June 1, 2016. For further information follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or to contact the publisher directly:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21.

 

 

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