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Monthly Archives: November 2016

History of Fran’s Restaurant on College Street

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Fran’s restaurant on College Street is the type of eatery that is found in many cities throughout the world. They are not necessarily known as famous gourmet destinations, but rather as places where people seek good food at modest prices. For several decades, Fran’s on College Street is where people grabbed a burger or sandwich with fries prior to a Leaf’s game at the Gardens, or enjoyed a coffee and slice of pie after a hockey game. Late-night inhabitants of the city visited the restaurant after imbibing generously in the bars and pubs on the Yonge-Street strip, in the days when it was Toronto’s entertainment centre. Women often met at Fran’s after shopping at Eaton’s College Street, across the road from the restaurant.

The Eaton’s College Street store is gone, the entertainment district has relocated, and the Leaf’s have departed from the Gardens. However, Fran’s still serves food to the breakfast, lunch and dinner crowds, and remains a destination for those who inhabit Yonge Street during the late-evening and early-morning hours.  

My earliest recollections of Fran’s are from the year 1957, when I worked at the British American Oil Company on the northwest corner of Bay and College. Each workday morning, I journeyed south on the Yonge Subway to the College Station. At that time, the subway had been in service for only three years. Walking west on College Street, I visited Fran’s to purchase two take-out coffees, one for a fellow worker and the other for myself. Visiting Fran’s was a pleasurable morning ritual.

In October of 2016, I revisited the restaurant to relive a few fond memories. On this occasion, the coffee and the clubhouse sandwich with fries, were just as good as ever. Although the dining room had retained its family-style atmosphere, major changes were visible. A street patio and open rooftop deck had been added. Thus, although the eatery had changed, it had also remained the same. Fran’s is still a vital part of the city’s restaurant scene for comfort food.

Fran’s Restaurants were opened by Francis (Fran) Deck, who relocated from Buffalo to Toronto in 1940. His brother Greg remained in Buffalo and managed his own chain of eateries. Fran brought  his experience from Buffalo to Toronto, and opened a restaurant that offered good food and low prices, available 24 hours a day. Along with his wife, Ellen Jane, Fran’s first restaurant was at 21 St. Clair Avenue West, a short distance west of Yonge Street. Containing only 10 seats, it was a small diner that specialized in hamburgers, steaks and wheat cakes. However, it soon became well known for its chili, rice pudding and apple pie. Late-night bottomless cups of coffee and over-sized breakfasts also became highly popular. The famous pianist, Glenn Gould was a regular customer at Fran’s on St. Clair, as he lived nearby.

Fran was reputed to have been the first to use the term “banquet burger,” which was a burger served with bacon and cheese. The term is now employed widely in restaurants throughout North America. He also created his own brand of coffee, which was sold in his establishments.

In 1945, Fran opened another site at 2275 Yonge Street, near Eglinton, another at 1386 Bathurst Street south of Vaughan Road, and the location on College Street near Yonge in 1950. Others were opened in the years ahead, including one in Hamilton and another in Barrie. The head office of the company was on Mt. Pleasant Road, north of Merton Street.

Fran Deck died in an automobile accident in Arizona in 1976. The business was sold to investors, but Joon Kim purchased the College Street site in 1997. The St. Clair and Yonge Street sites have now closed, but the business on College Street remains. In 2004, a Fran’s was opened on the northwest corner of Shuter and Victoria Streets. Fran’s had a booth in the Food Building at the CNE in 2014, when it offered deep-fried rice pudding.

On May 14, 2012, Leonard Cohen was awarded the Glenn Gould Prize in a gala concert in Massey Hall. Afterward, Cohen topped off the evening with a visit to Fran’s.

The source for much of the information for this post was derived from a display in a glass showcase in the entranceway of the College Street restaurant. Other sources were www.timeoout.com, and torontothenandnow.blogspot.com

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                               A Fran’s menu from earlier years.

View of College Street looking west at Yonge Street – June 7, 1981

The camera is pointed west on College Street in 1981, from near the intersection at Yonge Street. The canopy of Fran’s Restaurant is visible in the distance, on the north side of College Street. Toronto Archives, F1526, File 0071, item 0065.

                      View of College Street near Yonge Street – May 31, 1981

View looking east along College Street toward Yonge Street on May 31, 1981, Fran’s Restaurant is on the left-hand (north) side of the street. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 0071, Item 0073.

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View of Fran’s in October 2016, with rooftop area and a cafe on the sidewalk level.

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               The neon sign on Fran’s, photo taken in October, 2016.

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               Fran’s dining room on College Street in 2016.

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                   Sketch of Fran’s on its 50th anniversary in 1990.

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/

Books by the Blog’s Author

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” 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, published by History Press:

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

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered 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 on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by |Toronto Life Magazine: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

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

  

 

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Memories of Toronto’s mellow autumn of 2016

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Autumn hues on the Norway Maples at the corner of Camden and Brant Streets, November 17, 2016.

Many years ago, I watched a performance on stage at the Village Playhouse, at 2190 Bloor Street West. The play’s story centred on a man who had recently retired, and his wife was pestering him to move to Florida. Finally, exasperated with her demands, he shouted, “Good God woman! There’s no way I am moving to any place that has only one season, when here in Toronto we have four.” My quote is not exact, but you get the idea.

I must admit that I agree with the man. Living in a city with four seasons is glorious, particularly this year (2016). The past winter was less severe than most, the spring was brief as it was late arriving, and the summer was spectacularly hot. The warm fall days lingered for weeks, autumn’s canvases beyond the abilities of the most accomplished artists.

I admit that it’s difficult to recall summer’s heat and autumn’s golden glories when confronted by the darkness of a cold February morning. This is why on November 17 and 18, I decided to preserve the memories of 2016 by photographing the streets and buildings within walking distance of my home.

Some people express the opinion that living in a large urban centre is too stressful, and prefer the less hectic pace of the suburbs and small towns. Fortunately, I discovered early in life that most of my stress was self created and had little to do with where I lived. I admit that there was one major exception. For several years I had a maniacal boss who created great stress for everyone, including me. We collectively expressed the opinion that he would never have a heart attack, but would undoubtedly cause many in others. Bosses of this type are not exclusive to large cities, as they are also found in farm communities and small villages.

I digress.

In retirement, I continue to set my own pace and feel that most of my stress is self-created. The major exception, of course, is health issues, my own and those suffered by others. The pressures they create are real and difficult to manage. When they appear, I walk the neighbourhood and invariably feel better. If you are person of faith, prayer is very healing when strolling in God’s great open-air cathedral.

Whether Toronto is world class and has the attributes of greatness may be arguable, but for me, it is a fantastic city. I have no desire to live anywhere else. Forgive me my prejudices and pre-conceived notions. Toronto is my home! I find the buzz of activity and hum of daily life comfortingly exhilarating. A week in the quietness of the countryside or beside a beach on a secluded lake is okay for a week. But after that, I long to sit in a sidewalk cafe sipping a coffee, observing the passing scene. The diversity of people in Toronto is amazing — their ages, nationalities, attire, and life styles. A conversation with a stranger in a cafe has the possibility of opening me to new ideas and of broadening my understanding of human thought. I don’t have to agree with the ideas, but I want to hear them. For me, the wind in the trees, the lap of the waves on the shoreline, and the rain on the roof, though immensely pleasurable, do not add to my understanding of others. 

Anyone who has read my blog is well aware that I love Toronto. I have now written over 800 posts about the city’s heritage buildings and sites. The depth of history that surrounds me, although shallow by European or Asian standards, never ceases to overwhelm me. I can’t imagine how citizens researching local history cope in ancient cities such as London, Istanbul, Karachi, or Tokyo.

Each day as I explore the streets and avenues of my neighbourhood, I uncover interesting buildings and hidden places that I never knew existed. Researching and photographing them is a monumental task, but necessary if I am to create a record of how they appeared within my lifetime. The autumn scenes that follow are snapshots of late-November of 2016. Now that the bitter winds of the month have arrived, the photos may rekindle a few fond memories of the unusually warm season that has recently ended.  

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Enjoying the warm autumn sunshine in St. Andrew’s playground on November 17, 2016.

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St. Andrew’s Playground, increasingly surrounded by modern condominiums. Located on a portion of an open space designated as a market square in 1837, it became St. Andrew’s Playground in 1909, the city’s first designated children’s playground.

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The golden canopy overhead in St. Andrew’s Playground, between Brant and Maude Streets, Adelaide Street West on its south side.

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This photo was taken early in the morning in Rush Lane (Graffiti Alley), before daily visitors had arrived to view the art, graffiti and murals in the laneway. Adding colour to Rush Lane is like taking the proverbial “coals to Newcastle,”as this alley requires no further adornment. However, in the background, the ivy growing high on the brick wall displays its subtle autumn colours, ignoring the vibrant colours in the laneway below. The view gazes west toward Portland Street in the far distance. 

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Autumn has also created changes to the Alex Wilson Community Garden, located on the north side of Richmond Street West, between Portland and Augusta Avenues. A new pathway of white oak is being installed, along with a handrail. This small gem of a garden, sandwiched between two buildings, connects Richmond Street with Rush Lane. Next spring, when the greenery is planted, it will become an even greater asset to the neighbourhood. The garden was the idea of Richard Brault, who presently is labouring and supervising the revitalization project, in recognition of the 20th anniversary of the space.  Well done Richard! 

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The warmth of the autumn sun is never more enjoyable than when relaxing with a friend on a bench on Queen Street West, a short distance east of Spadina. 

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The colourful shops on Kensington Avenue are enhanced by the autumn season.

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Leaves swept by the wind into the curb and beside the sidewalk on Phoebe Street. View gazes west toward Spadina Avenue.

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         Gazing north on Soho Street, north of Queen Street West.

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Gazing east toward Grange Park from Beverley Street. The park is presently being reconstructed. In the distance is the OCAD Building on its enormous stilts.

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Golden rod beside a fence on Kensington Avenue are transformed from summer’s bright yellow to autumn’s fluffy white.

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The harvest colours glow in autumn’s diminishing sunlight. The display is in the Kensington Market, at the corner of St. Andrew’s and Kensington Avenue.

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       A residence on Kensington Avenue is framed by autumn foliage.

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The site of the old burlesque theatre, the Victory, on the northeast corner of Dundas and Spadina, a single tree offering a hint of the changing season.

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The green space between the busy lanes of traffic on University Avenue, in the foreground a species of pampas grass that grows in northern climates.

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Artwork named “The Pillars of Justice,” on University Avenue, in the McMurtry Garden of Justice on the east side of University Avenue. The missing juror invites viewers to imagine that they are the twelfth juror. 

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Looking east from University Avenue into the gardens on the south side of historic Osgoode Hall, the clock tower of the Old City Hall in the background. 

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A quiet moment in Osgoode Hall’s gardens, the view gazing southwest toward busy Queen Street.

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                          Toronto’s New City Hall on November 17, 2016. 

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Nathan Phillips Square, the Christmas tree already installed for the Yuletide season. The reflecting pool is not yet drained to create the skating rink.

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Metropolitan United Church on McGill Square, on the northwest corner of Queen Street East and Church Street. When this photo was taken, it was late-afternoon and the sky had clouded over. Despite the unusual warmth, it was evident that the hours of daylight were diminishing quickly.

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/

Books by the Blog’s Author

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” 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, published by History Press:

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

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb    

Another book on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by |Toronto Life Magazine: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

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

 

 

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Benvenuto—Toronto’s mansion on the hill—demolished 1932

1890, pictures-r-2084[1]

Benvenuto in 1890 — home of Simeon Henan Janes and later, Sir William Mackenzie, on the hill above Davenport Road, on the west side of Avenue Road.

Fonds 1244, Item 7072

Gazing south on Avenue Road from Edmund Road (south of St. Clair Avenue West) in 1910. The large stone retaining wall, on the west side of the steep hill (right-hand side of photo), is one of the few traces that remain of the great estate named Benvenuto. When paving Avenue Road and constructing the streetcar tracks, the road was cut into the side of the hill to reduce the incline. In the far distance, the clock tower of the Old City Hall is visible.

The steep hill on the north side of Davenport Road played a major role in the development of Toronto. The prominent landform was created after the ancient Lake Iroquois receded. Until that time, the land south of the Davenport Road was under water, including all of downtown Toronto. As the lake level dropped, its former shoreline loomed high over the old lake bed below.

When the early settlers arrived in York (Toronto), the enormous hill created a barrier to northern expansion. Before roads were cut into the hill to reduce its steep incline, climbing it on foot or horseback was exceedingly difficult. In the 1790s, it was daunting task for Lieutenant Governor Simcoe’s troops to built Yonge Street up over the hill to create a military supply route. During the years ahead, other roadways ascended the hill, Avenue Road being one of them.

Simeon Henan Janes was among the first men to build a home on the heights, with their commanding view of the city below. Janes was a prosperous real estate developer, who purchased land and built many magnificent brick homes that still exist today in the Annex District of the city. Living in a mansion on Jarvis Street, which in the 1880s was a wealthy residential area, he was desirous of building an even grander home. To fulfill his dream, he purchased a large piece of land on the hill overlooking Davenport Road, on the west side of Avenue Road. Today, the site would be at the southwest corner of Avenue Road and Edmund Road. The property overlooked the city below, and possessed a commanding view of the lakefront and the waters of Lake Ontario.

Janes intended that his a home would reflect his great wealth. Construction commenced in 1888, its architect being an American — A. Page Brown. He named it “Benvenuto,” the Italian word meaning “welcome.” However, because Brown relocated his firm from New York to San Francisco, the designs were actually assigned to Frank L. Ellingwood. The walls of Benvenuto and the two towers on its south side, were built of huge blocks of rough limestone, quarried at Kingston. The roof consisted of red terracotta tiles.

Because of the difficulty of heating the house during Canada’s severe winters, the windows were small within the massive walls. Most of them were rectangular, although those in the west tower and the two windows on the ground floor, to the left of the east tower, were topped by round Roman arches in the Romanesque Revival style of architecture. Indeed, in many ways, the heavy fortress-like appearance of the structure reflected the Romanesque Revival style. The same type of stone employed for constructing the house was used for the retaining wall that faced Avenue Road, on the east side of the estate.    

In most grand houses in the 1880s and 1890s, the entrance hall was where people were greeted, and thus, it was an important space, since it was where guests received their first impressions of their hosts. In Benvenuto, the hall featured a fireplace, as it was built in the days prior to central heating. It was also a place to allow visitors to warm themselves on cold winter days and evenings. The hall displayed several large pieces of art, and the grand staircase was accessed from the hall. The staircase possessed a landing that showcased more of the family’s art. The dining room and parlour were entered from the hall; their doorways had sliding doors and heavy draperies, such features necessary to control chilly draughts.

In 1897, Benvenuto was sold to Sir William Mackenzie, a railway contractor, who was knighted on January 1, 1911 for his contribution in developing western Canada. In 1914, Mackenzie commissioned the architects Darling and Pearson to design a service wing on the east side of the mansion. The Mackenzie family was prominent in Toronto’s social scene and entertained lavishly at their new home. Invitations to their garden parties, music evenings, and costume parties were highly prized. When Mackenzie died in 1924, rising property taxes and inflationary real estate prices meant that the house became too costly to maintain as a private residence.

As the number of homes built above the Davenport Road hill increased, more streets were constructed. Edmund Avenue was cut through the Benvenuto estate, separating the estate’s out-buildings from the main house. In 1926, land from the Mackenzie property was sold and became the site of an apartment building, its address 400 Avenue Road. The following year, another apartment building was constructed on the southwest corner of Edmund and Avenue Roads, its postal address 398 Avenue Road. Both these buildings remain today and are considered prestigious addresses. Eventually, Benvenuto was vacant and lacking the size and charm of residences such as Casa Loma and Oaklands (on the east side of Avenue Road), it was demolished in 1932. 

I do not remember Benvenuto as it disappeared before I was born. However, when travelling on the Bay streetcars on Avenue Road in the 1940s, I saw the stone retaining wall on the west side of the hill that descended towards Davenport Road. I never realized that they had been a part of a grand estate. Fortunately, these wall remain today.

Main reference source: “Lost Toronto,” by William Dendy

view from Ben. 1890.  pictures-r-2040[1]

Gazing south across the city from Benvenuto in 1890. Toronto had not yet extended up the hill at Avenue Road, which can be seen in the photo. The street is not paved and there is no streetcar line. Toronto Public Library, r- 2040.

hallway, 1890, pictures-r-4749[1]

The grand entrance hall of Benvenuto in 1890, with its rich panelling, impressive fireplace, and the some of the family’s art collection. Toronto Public Library, r- 4749. 

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        Dining room in 1890, Toronto Public Library, r- 2079.

drawing room, 1890,  pictures-r-4753[1]

The drawing room (parlour) of the home in 1890. Perhaps this photo best illustrates the extreme wealth of the Janes’ family. Toronto Public Library, r- 4753. 

Fonds 1244, Item 328A  

Benvenuto in 1910, taken the same year as the photo of the streetcar ascending the hill on Avenue Road. The above picture depicts the south and west facades of the mansion. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 0328. 

Fonds 1244, Item 1046A

Noel Marshall and women in the gardens of Benvenuto c. 1910. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 1046.

on hill, 1910.  f1231_it1294[1]

Horse and buggy on the hill on Avenue Road in 1910, the streetcar tracks evident. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 1294. 

               Fonds 1244, Item 319  

Gates at entrance to Benvenuto in 1910. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1234, Item 0319.

Fonds 1244, Item 10006

View from Benvenuto, looking south over the city c. 1930. In the far distance can be seen the Royal York Hotel on Front Street and the Bank of Commerce (CIBC) on King Street West. The east side of Benvenuto is in the foreground. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 10006.

Series 65 -Metropolitan Toronto Planning Department Library collection of Alexandra Studio photographs

Gazing south on Avenue Road in 1960. The land required for the widening the roadway was taken from the east side, from the grounds of Del La Salle College. Toronto Archives, S 0065, file 10034, id 0001. 

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Gazing south on Avenue Road at the retaining wall on the west side of the avenue. The wall is south of St. Clair Avenue, the photo taken in October, 2016. The wall was constructed by Simeon Janes, and similar stone blocks, quarried in Kingston, Ontario, were employed to build Benvenuto.

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Gazing north on Avenue Road toward St. Clair Avenue. This section of the wall is north of Edmund Avenue. In Simeon Janes’ day, the wall extended continuously, but a portion of it was demolished when Edmund Road was cut through the estate. Photo taken October 14, 2016. 

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The apartment building at 400 Avenue Road that was constructed in 1926 on the Benvenuto Estate. Photo depicts the south facade of the apartment, on Edmund Road in October 2016. 

Oaklands, Oct. 14, 2016.

Oaklands mansion, built in 1860 for John Macdonald, a wholesale goods merchant. This estate was a neighbour of Benvenuto, on the crest of the hill on the east side of Avenue Road. It is today a part of De La Salle College. Photo taken October 2016.

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/

Books by the Blog’s Author

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” 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, published by History Press:

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

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb    

Another book on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by |Toronto Life Magazine: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

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

 

 

       

 

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Ed’s Warehouse Restaurant—closed in 1999

                   King St W, looking west to Duncan - "Ed's Warehouse" – October 9, 1981

Ed’s Warehouse Restaurant on King Street West on October 9, 1981. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, file 0067, Item 0014.

In decades past, one of the most famous restaurants in Toronto was Ed’s Warehouse. Located at 266 King Street West, it was not only a place to enjoy a meal, but also a tourist attraction. For almost four decades, people visited it and invariably, it lived up to its reputation.

In the early 1960s, King Street West between Peter Street and University Avenue was sadly neglected. Adding to the difficulties was the CP Rail Yards, located on the south side of the street, where the Roy Thomson Hall is located today. Transients riding the rails were often seen on this section of King Street. Despite these considerations, Ed Mirvish purchased the Royal Alexandra Theatre in 1962 for $200,000. He was quoted as saying that the value of the land alone was worth more than the purchase price, which included the theatre.

After restoring the Royal Alexandra, Ed Mirvish faced the problem that there were no quality restaurants in the area. In 1963, he solved the difficulty by opening his own — Ed’s Warehouse. Its name was chosen as it was actually located in a former warehouse, immediately to the west side of the theatre. Ed believed that dining and theatre went together like the proverbial “horse and carriage,” so the enterprise seemed appropriate.

Crowds attending the restaurant and the theatre brought life to the street. This was not true of other projects that opened in the area in the years ahead, such as the Roy Thomson Hall (1982), and the Canadian Broadcasting Centre (1992). These buildings basically ignored the street life. Ed eventually opened more restaurants on King Street and also built the Princess of Wales Theatre. Finally, the Bell Lightbox was opened (2010), the jewel in the crown that made King Street the most important entertainment district in the city, and perhaps in all of Canada. However, it all started with The Royal Alexandra Theatre and Ed’s Warehouse Restaurant.

In its day, dining at Ed’s restaurant was an experience unequalled in Toronto. Rita Zakes of the Toronto Star wrote in July 2007 that its ambiance was like that of a Barnum and Bailey circus. Personally, I considered it “antiques, junk and Victoriana gone wild!” Along with the red-flocked wallpaper, there were huge Oriental vases, Tiffany lamps, bronze and marble statuary, an automobile, antique photographs, photos of numerous theatre stars, stained glass windows, and lamps with naked ladies on their bases. From the moment the restaurant opened, the decor became part of the attraction. Best of all, after dining in this delightfully garish atmosphere, the Royal Alexandra Theatre was only a few steps away. 

The menu was pre-set, to reduce costs. Thick, juicy, prime rib was accompanied by mashed potatoes, green peas, Yorkshire pudding, and gravy. Garlic bread and dill pickles were also included. The dessert was spumoni ice cream. Critics jokingly stated that the menu was so easy to prepare that Ed had fired his chef and gave the job to the parking attendant. The critics had obviously never attempted to cook prime rib.

The restaurant was so successful that Ed Mirvish expanded and opened Ed’s Seafood, Ed’s Chinese, Ed’s Italian and Ed’s Folly (a lounge). In Ed’s Warehouse, men were required to wear a jacket and tie, this requirement maintained long after other dining establishments eliminated the tradition. However, Old Ed’s restaurant offered lower prices and was more casual.

In 1971, I subscribed to the Mirvish theatre series. When my first tickets arrived in the mail, I received two complimentary coupons for Ed’s Warehouse. If I remember correctly, each coupon had a value of $20, which covered the entire cost of the meal. These were indeed the “good old days.”

In the 1970s, when the Mirvish restaurants were at their height of popularity, they had a combined capacity of 2300 seats and often served 6000 meals a day. In this same decade, Toronto Calendar Magazine, which later merged with Toronto Life, sponsored a contest to determine the best restaurant in the financial district. Over 10,000 people voted, and out of the 21 restaurants listed, Ed’s Warehouse was #1. Despite this accolade, I read online some very critical reviews of the food at Ed’s Warehouse. However, I considered the beef, which was imported from Chicago, among the finest I have ever experienced.  

One year on my birthday, my family told me that they were taking me out to dinner, but they kept their choice of restaurant a surprise. I inquired if I should wear a tie and jacket and was told that they were unnecessary. When we arrived, we discovered that a tie and jacket were indeed mandatory, as it was Ed’s Warehouse. The waiter offered to provide jackets and ties from among those that they kept for such situations. He explained that the dress code was necessary to prevent vagrants from across the street at the railroad yards from entering the establishment. We were offended, as the clothes they offered were grubby looking, and we were certainly not hobos. We were wearing freshly-ironed sport shirts and neat trousers.

Then, Ed Mirvish appeared and inquired, “What’s the problem?”

We explained.

He smiled, apologized, and told the waiter, “Escort them to the table that has been reserved.”

We enjoyed the meal and when the cheque arrived, it had been reduced by 50 per cent. Ed was a very smart businessman as well as a big-hearted individual. My family never forgot his generosity.

Similar to all good times, the Mirvish restaurants finally disappeared. Ed cancelled his dining license in December 1999. When reporters asked him about the closings, he quipped that he was tired of doing dishes. The city was never the same. This will also be said when his discount store, “Honest Ed’s,” closes in December 2016.

To paraphrase Ed Mirvish, “Ed’s Warehouse was one of a kind. Often imitated, but never duplicated.”  

Sources: kingbluecondos.com, www.robertfulford.com, and www.liquisearch.com 

Corner of Duncan St. and King St., looking north-east

Ed’s Warehouse Restaurant in 1972, Toronto Archives, S 0841, fl. 0052, It. 0024. 

1978, Tor. P.L.  rj250-1[1]

Gazing east on King Street in 1978, Ed’s many restaurants visible on the north side of the street. Toronto Public Library, rj-250.

                                  King St W - "Ed's Warehouse" restaurant - signage – October 9, 1981

Sign outside Ed’s Warehouse on August 9, 1981, displaying the menu and notifying men of the dress code. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, Fl. 0067, Item 0018.

 

                               King St W, east across Duncan - "Ed's Warehouse" – October 9, 1981

Looking east on King Street on October 9, 1981, Ed’s various restaurants visible. Ed’s Warehouse is in the distance, on the west side of the Royal Alexandra Theatre. Duncan Street separates Ed’s Warehouse from the other restaurants. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1525, Fl. 0067, It. 0015. 

King St W at Duncan - "Ed's Warehouse" restaurant – August 6, 1983  King St W - "Ed's Warehouse" restaurant - outside, detail – August 6, 1983

Photos and newspaper clippings outside Ed’s Warehouse on King Street on August 6, 1983. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 0067, Item 0022 (left photo) and Item 0021 (right photo).

ebay   [1]  Chuckman's  postcard-toronto-eds-warehouse-restaurant-270-king-w-dining-room-late-1960s[1]

(Left) Menu from Ed’s Warehouse that is for sale on ebay, and (right) the interior of Ed’s Warehouse from Chuckman’s Postcard Collection.

                        eds-warehouse-b

I am grateful to a reader who emailed me a copy of the menu at Ed’s Warehouse. Perusing it brought back many fond memories of evenings spent looking over this menu to decide which “cut” to order.  The prices on the menu give true meaning to the phrase, “The good old days.” 

DSCN0406  DSCN0405 

Items that were previously in Ed’s Warehouse Restaurant. In this photo, they were on display in Honest Ed’s Discount store at Bathurst and Bloor Streets, in July 2013.

  King and Duncan

The building on King Street where Ed’s Warehouse was located. Photo taken in 2014. 

For a link to memories of other Toronto Restaurants of the past:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/memories-of-torontos-restaurants-of-the-past/

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/

Books by the Blog’s Author

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” 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, published by History Press:

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

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered 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 on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the Toronto Life article: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. Note: a review of this book was published by Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

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

 

 

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Photos of Toronto’s Remembrance Day—2016

DSCN1247

Crowds gather for the Remembrance Day Service on November 11, 2016, at the Cenotaph at Toronto’s Old City Hall. The sunlight from Bay Street floodlights the cenotaph. 

image

                                Entry of the Colour Parties

                            DSCN1230

The Last Post, sounded by Corporal Daniel Howells, 7th Toronto Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery, as onlookers gaze upward at the flypast of World War I aircraft from Harvard Aircraft Association and the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.

DSCN1221  DSCN1219

         Those who remember reflect, each in their own way.

DSCN1237

Mayor Tory shares personal thoughts and expresses gratitude on behalf of the city to those who served in Canada’s armed forces

DSCN1249.

Soldiers attired in uniforms from the Boer War, World War I and World War II stand silently beside the wreaths at the base of the cenotaph.

DSCN1242

                                Soldier in uniform from the Boer War

image

    Soldier in camouflage stands guard at the base of the cenotaph.

                            DSCN1234                    

                               Soldier in camouflage gear.

  image

The 7th Toronto Regiment Band, RCA, solemnly plays as the wreaths are laid at the base of the cenotaph at Old City Hall.

                   DSCN1220

                             Veterans chat and quietly remember.

image

                                          Lest We Forget.

                         image

For a link to thoughts on Remembrance Day 2016.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/11/07/remembrances-in-2016-of-remembrance-day-in-1945/

For a link to thoughts on Remembrance Day in 2011.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/memories-of-remembrance-day-in-1946/

A link to an obscure war memorial inside Toronto’s downtown Bay Store.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/11/06/a-tucked-away-remembrance-day-memorial-at-yonge-near-queen/

A link to the history of the cenotaph at the Old City Hall.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/11/06/a-tucked-away-remembrance-day-memorial-at-yonge-near-queen/

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/

Books by the Blog’s Author

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” 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, published by History Press:

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

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered 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 on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the Toronto Life article: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. Note: a review of this book was published by Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

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

 

 

 

 

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Moss Park—home of William Allan

1897, pictures-r-3661[1]

Moss Park, the palatial residence of William Allan. Photo taken in 1897, collection of the Toronto Public Library, r- 3661.

William Allan was one of the most influential men in the town of York (Toronto). His mansion, Moss Park, was perhaps the grandest residence ever built in the town. If it were in existence today, it would be considered an architectural treasure. However, there are very few photographs of this magnificent structure that have survived. I found this deficiency to be very surprising, especially considering the number of photos that exist of homes of much lesser importance. Gathering visuals to support this post involved considerable searching.

William Allan was born in 1772 on Moss Farm, in Huntly, near the city of Aberdeen, Scotland. Immigrating to North America, he eventually settled in Niagara, where he gained wealth and influence by selling supplies to the British garrisons at Niagara and York, for a Montreal company. In 1795, he relocated to the colonial capitol of York (Toronto), where he was granted a town lot and 200 acres of land. Due to the experience he acquired while working for his previous employer, he had an advantage over the other businessmen in the town, and his wealth increased substantially.

In 1797, William Allan and Alexander Wood formed a partnership and opened a general store that sold supplies to the garrison at Fort York. The same year, Allan sought to exchange his town lot for property closer to the lake. In 1798, he was granted title to land directly beside the shoreline. On the north end of the property, on King Street, he built a home. On the south end, beside the water, he constructed a wharf — Merchant’s Wharf. It was at the foot of Frederick Street, and was one of the earliest docking facilities for large sailing vessels. The partnership with Alexander Wood ended in 1801, and Allan continued his business enterprises on his own.

He was appointed collector of customs in 1800 and the postmaster general in 1801. His first home, on southeast corner of King and Frederick Streets, was a short distance north of the shoreline. Today, due to landfill, the site is quite a distance from the lake (see map below). His residence served as the post office and custom house.

Allan became an officer in the York Militia during the first decade of the 19th century. During the War of 1812, after the American invaders occupied the town in 1813, he performed a major role in negotiating the terms of surrender. Although his store was looted, he received compensation following the war, which provided funds for further financial ventures.

In 1819, Allan purchased the 100-acre park lot #5 from Surveyor General David William Smith, who had returned to Britain not long after Lieu. Governor Simcoe granted him the property. Allan now owned the land from Queen Street north to Bloor Street, between Sherbourne and Jarvis Streets. Other than Queen Street, which was then named Lot Street, the other streets did not exist, as the land was forested rural property to the east of the town. On the southwest side of the estate, there was a ravine containing a gurgling brook, which added to the rural quality of the site.

In 1827, he commenced building a grand mansion on the south end of the park lot, which contained thick stands of pine. It was west of Sherbourne, east of Jarvis Street, and between Queen Street and today’s Shuter Street. The home’s main entrance faced east toward to where Sherbourne Street now exists. Allan named his residence Moss Park, after his birth place.

The large south portico on the south side, facing Queen Street, was very grand, but it was mainly ornamental. It had no steps leading to it or a carriageway. It was meant to impress those who passed in the distance, on Queen Street. The east facade, which faced Sherbourne Street, was the main entrance to the residence.

In 1833-1844, Allan hired John. G. Howard to design additions to the mansion, which included a Grecian-style porch over the front door. It possessed four Ionic columns, two-storeys in height, with a pediment above them. In 1841, a bath was installed with hot and cold water. Allan passed away in 1853, and his son, George Allan then resided in the house, until his death in 1901. The City of Toronto eventually purchased the property, but unfortunately, the grand mansion was demolished shortly thereafter (c. 1905). 

  Frederick St, page 252, John Ross Rob. DSCN0941

The home of William Allan on the southeast corner of Frederick and King Street East. Sketch from John Ross Robertson’s book, “Landmarks of Toronto,” page 252. 

data=RfCSdfNZ0LFPrHSm0ublXdzhdrDFhtmHhN1u-gM,ot-xB63fC-m1wy31W4Mf3poplyqlxnZxm4jql4ORidYMBwMZB9j8JzgXB45Gbs6l1ZXTb5BdvADyRciJd0kQsSBay3oFDVfEJzki9U9[1].png

The corner of King Street East and Frederick Streets, where Allan’s first home was constructed. The map illustrates how far from the lake the site is today. The land south of Front Street is landfill.

           image 

Map depicting the mansion, Moss Park. The map is after the late-1830s, as the name “Queen Street” appears.  Moss Park is north of Queen Street, with Sherbourne Street on the east (far right-hand side) and Jarvis Street on its western side (far left-hand side). The north service wing on Moss Park is visible, as well as the east and south porticos. The map also shows Hazelburn, the residence of the Jarvis Family. The brook cutting diagonally across the property is shown in blue.

The water colour by John G. Howard illustrates the rural qualities of Moss Park when it was built to the east of the town of York, between the years 1827 and 1829. The two people in the foreground, walking past the estate, are on Lot Street (Queen Street). One of them is pointing to the mansion, Moss Park.

  Canada archives e010965833-v8[1]  300px-Leah_Allan_wife_of_William_Allan[1]

(Left) undated portrait-photo of William Allan and his signature, Canada Archives, e 10965833-v8 and the right-hand photo, his wife Leah Allan.

1854 map, lots for sale  -r-144[1]  1854 map, lots for sale,  maps-r-2[1]

Maps authorized by George Allan in 1854 to sell small plots of land on the estate he inherited in 1852. Toronto Public Library, r- 144 (left-hand map) and r-2 (right-hand map).

1880-- pictures-r-3657[1]        

This photograph of Moss Park in 1880, from the collection of the Toronto Public Library (r-3657). It illustrates the forested appearance of the estate.

Aug. 3, 1889, in Evening Telegram, pen and ink,  -r-3658[1] 

The sketch of Moss Park from John Ross Robertson’s book, “Landmarks of Toronto,” page 560. It was reproduced in the Evening Telegram newspaper on August 3, 1889. It depicts the east and south facades of the mansion. The above copy of the sketch is from the Toronto Public Library, r- 365.

pictures-r-3663[1]

Ornithological Museum (nature museum) in the former dining room of Moss Park. This is the only photo that I was able to find that hints at the grandeur of the interior of Moss Park. Toronto Public Library, r- 3663.

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/

Books by the Blog’s Author

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” 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, published by History Press:

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

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[1]    

Another book on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by |Toronto Life Magazine: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

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

 

 

 

 

Tags: , ,

Remembrances in 2016 of Remembrance Day in 1945

                    DSCN5416

Today, those who fought in the Second World War are diminishing in number. However, my generation, who were children during the war years, are also decreasing in number. I remember World War II vividly as it was important part of my childhood. Today, on Remembrance Day, I cast my mind back to 1945, when the first service was held in my school after the war ended. It was very different to the services of today.

One of the reasons was the school system in the 1940s. In that decade, children were expected to pass all subjects in order to be promoted to the next grade. The most commonly asked question in the schoolyard on the last day of June was, “Did you flunk?” (fail). Flunking meant that you repeated the entire year, in a classroom with those who were at least a year younger than yourself.

If a child flunked several times, the accumulative effect was even more humiliating. In a grade-eight classroom, it was not uncommon for a fifteen-year-old to be in a class with those who were twelve or thirteen. When these student turned sixteen, they were able to quit school without their parents’ consent. During the 1940s, many of them enlisted in the armed forces. The legal age to enlist was seventeen, but it was was a decade when record-keeping was poor, and if a teenager declared that he was seventeen, and looked to be that age, he was generally accepted.

This situation greatly affected the first Remembrance Day services held at my school after the war ended in 1945. Many of the names of those had perished had attended the school only a year or two before. We had seen them in them schoolyard and knew them personally. Some of the other names were of teachers who had enlisted. Many of us remembered them too. In my school in York Township (now part of the City of Toronto), there was no auditorium where a Remembrance Day service might be held, so we all gathered in the basement. We sat on rows of benches that were used each day for those who brought their lunch to school.

I still remember the tears on the cheeks of my teachers as the names were read aloud of those who had been killed in action. I can still picture the handkerchief my teacher kept tucked in her sleeve as she retrieved it to wipe away her tears. There were students sitting on the benches who had lost a father or older brother. There were few families in our neighbourhood that had not suffered the loss of a loved one. Husbands, brothers, cousins, friends and neighbours had paid the supreme sacrifice. Some families had lost women who had served as nurses or support staff. Clergy had been killed while ministering to the needs of dying men, or praying with others, young and old, who were severely traumatized, shell-shocked or dying. Doctors and nurses had died on the battle lines. Remembrance Day in 1945 was one that I will never forget. 

In 1945, many of those who survived World War II were in their early twenties. I can still picture them marching in the CNE’s Warriors’ Day Parade that year. Their youthful faces did not reveal the horrors they had suffered. Those who had lost an arm marched proudly, while others pushed the wheelchairs of those who had lost a leg. Many of them looked like teenagers.

Today, the veterans of the Second World War are elderly. Their sacrifices are viewed by some as belonging to another era, part of a history of a bygone age. For those of us who remember the war years, it is very different. Today, each November 11th, I try to attend the services at Toronto’s Old City Hall. On this occasion, I remember my first service in 1945, and recall the harshness and community camaraderie of the war years — rationing of food, the war’s uplifting songs, neighbours consoling neighbours, the morale-raising war-movies at our local theatre, fund raising to send gloves and cigarettes to the troops, and the neighbour’s house where the blinds were lowered after they received a telegram.

Least we forget!

For a link to thoughts on Remembrance Day in 2011.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/memories-of-remembrance-day-in-1946/

A link to an obscure war memorial inside Toronto’s downtown Bay Store.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/11/06/a-tucked-away-remembrance-day-memorial-at-yonge-near-queen/

A link to the history of the cenotaph at the Old City Hall.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/11/06/a-tucked-away-remembrance-day-memorial-at-yonge-near-queen/

 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/

Books by the Blog’s Author

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” 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, published by History Press:

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

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb    

Another book on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by |Toronto Life Magazine: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

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

 

Tags: ,