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Monthly Archives: November 2017

Remembering the Steak n’ Burger Restaurants—Toronto

1970s  now le chateau  F 1244, id. 0111   a[1]

Steak N’ Burger Restaurant at 772 Yonge Street in the 1970s. Toronto Archives, F 0124, f 0002, id 0111

In the decade following World War II, dining in restaurants started to become more common among ordinary families in Toronto. Responding to the need for inexpensive but decent quality food, several family-style chains of restaurants began opening in the mid-1950s and 1960s. Among them were Swiss Chalet, Church’s Fried Chicken, Harvey’s Hamburgers, St. Hubert, Steak N’ Burger, KFC, and a few years later, Ponderosa.

The restaurants appealed mostly to budget conscience customers, so to trim costs these chains offered a limited menu, the style of the food similar to what might be referred to today as “comfort food.”  I remember these restaurants well as their openings coincided with in the decade when I first started to explore Toronto’s restaurant scene. I had landed my first fulltime job, and though earning a modest salary, was anxious to “dine out” with friends.

The Winco Steak N’ Burger restaurants was one of the chains that I visited. Two of my favourites were located at 240 Bloor Street West, across from Varsity Stadium, and at 772 Yonge Street, south of Bloor Street. My visits to the Steak N’ Burger on Yonge Street usually occurred when I attended Loew’s Uptown Theatre, which was only two doors north of the theatre. The building still exists today, but is a “Le Chateau” clothing store. Visiting the Steak N’ Burger at 240 Bloor West was when I attended the University Theatre on Bloor, between Bay and Avenue Road.

Similar to all the Steak N’ Burgers, the decor of these two restaurants looked like the wild-west during the days of the cowboys. Memorabilia from the old west were displayed on the walls, and in one or two sites, the chandeliers were wagon wheels. To augment this theme, the waitresses wore Stetson hats. The tables and chairs were not particularly comfortable, so did not encourage clientele to linger and chat. As a result, there was a relatively quick turnover of customers, as in fast food chains of the present decade.

Although the Steak N’ Burgers were certainly not steak houses like those of today, the food was reasonably good and the price was right. When the chain began, the main menu items were roast beef, hamburgers, and a small steak, the latter a cheap cut of meat, tenderized and served well-done. I don’t ever remember a waiter at a Steak N’ Burger asking how I wanted the steak cooked. Well-done, medium, medium-rare and rare were reserved for proper steak houses, such as Barbarians on Elm Street or Carman’s Club on Alexander Street, which both opened in 1959.

During the years, the menu at the Steak N’ Burger was expanded. However, when I visited a Steak N’ Burger in the late-1950s, I usually ordered the special steak dinner. It consisted of a small glass of tomato juice and a salad, which was mainly iceberg lettuce with a slice of tomato and a few pieces of red cabbage. Coffee was also included. The steak was accompanied by a baked potato with generous amounts of butter, and a bread roll sliced in half and toasted.  Dessert was strawberry shortcake.

Steak N’ Burger was managed by Cara Operations Limited, a Toronto-based food company that owned a 50 percent share in the Keg N’ Cleaver, now renamed “The Keg.” In 1977, Harvey’s Hamburger and Swiss Chalet were merged into a single company named Foodcorp, which was sold to Cara Operations Ltd.

Popular Steak N’ Burger restaurants were located at 173 Bay Street, 77 King St E., 323 Yonge Street, 1427 Yonge Street, and 2287 Yonge Street. However, public tastes changed, the Steak N’ Burger sites became less popular. For inexpensive dining, people preferred a pub-style restaurant. As a result, during the years ahead, the Steak N’ Burgers slowly disappeared.

The author is grateful to these sources for information:  

https://torontoist.com/2007/04/vintage_toronto_9

www.blogto.com/eat_drink/2015/01/the_lost_restaurants_of_toronto/

Chuckman  postcard-toronto-winco-steaknburger-restaurant-interior-they-were-dreary-places-c1970[1]

The interior of a Steak N’ Burger restaurant. Photo from Chuckman postcards. 

Fonds 1465, s 0299, item 0004 undated, King Street East    201516-cyranos[1]

Undated photo of the Steak N’ Burger on King Street East. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1465, s 0299, item 0004.

                     Torontotoist  2007_04_01winco[1]

The special steak dinner at the Steak N’ Burger. Photo from the Torontoist.

Source. Lost Ottawa Dec. 1980   1237609_365906143543094_916181863_n[1]

Menu at a Steak N’ Burger in Ottawa. Photo source Lost Ottawa 1980.

To view a post about more Toronto restaurants in the 1960s and 1970s :

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[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

 

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Factory Theatre—John Mulvey House

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          John Mulvey House, now the Factory Theatre

The John Mulvey House, now part of the Factory Theatre, is located at 125 Bathurst Street, on the northeast corner of Bathurst and Adelaide Streets. I have attended the Factory Theatre many times, but due to the changes to the house over the years, it is difficult to envision how its interior appeared in the 19th century.

The house was built in 1869 by John Mulvey, a prominent Toronto businessman. He had arrived in Canada as a boy, when his family emigrated from Ireland to escape the severe conditions imposed by the potato famine. The Mulveys settled in Toronto near Bathurst and Queen Streets. In that day, the area was known as Claretown, a district popular with Irish immigrants.

As an adult, having an aptitude for business, John Mulvey opened a grocery store on Queen St. West. His wife Catherine and their children lived above the store. His reputation was such that he was elected a city alderman. However, he became the cause of much gossip when it was suspected he was sympathetic to the Fenians. The Fenians were Irish Catholics who raided Canada from the United States in the 1860s. In 1863, Mulvey was one of the founding directors of a periodical named “The Irish Canadian.”

By the late 1860s, he had prospered sufficiently to purchase property and build a three-storey home. Its architects were Gundry and Langley, who also designed some of the structures at the Gooderham and Worts Distillery. The Mulvey house was constructed of pale yellow bricks, its design in the Queen Ann Gothic style. Its gabled peaks were trimmed with intricate bargeboard, commonly referred to as gingerbread. They were hand-carved with a coping saw. The west facade, facing Bathurst Street, was asymmetrical in design, with a large bay window on the ground floor, on the north side of the doorway. On the second floor, above the bay window was a balcony with an ornate roof, and there was another balcony over the porch around the main doorway. Both balconies overlooked Bathurst Street. Stone trim around the windows added to the home’s impressive appearance. The heavy wooden doors contained Gothic-style windows, and were protected from the winter winds by a brick porch.

It was a typical of grand homes in the 19th century, containing a spacious entry hall, where there was usually a fireplace. The dining room was likely on the south side of the hallway and the parlour on the north. The entrance hall gave access to a wooden staircase that led to the second-floor level, where the bedrooms were located. Large rectangular windows on the first and second storeys provided generous light to enter the interior in an era without electricity. The windows on the third floor were Romanesque, topped with arches.

As John Mulvey prospered, he bought several stores on Queen Street West. To extend his investments, he entered into a partnership with John McCracken, a fellow grocer. They purchased James Morin’s bankrupt brickyard factory and clayfield in Leslieville. However, in the 1870s, a worldwide depression hit, causing the construction business to slow considerably. This caused the demand for bricks to severely decline. It was not long before the business partners were bankrupt. Mulvey lost everything except his grand mansion on Bathurst Street. John McCracken returned to working as a grocer, his shop located on Kingston Road.

During the years ahead, Mulvey’s son, Thomas, regained the family fortune. In 1909, the family moved to Ottawa, where Thomas became a high ranking civil servant. When the Mulveys departed Toronto, the mansion on Bathurst Street was sold to St. Mary’s Catholic Church. In 1910, the church added an extension on its south side for a parish hall. It was used for the parish’s Arts and Literary Centre and for large gatherings such as concerts, church suppers, and Christmas pageants. A stage was added in 1910, designed by J.M. Cowan. It remains in existence today, along with its proscenium arch above the stage. The original balcony also survives.

The Factory Lab Theatre (founded in 1970) began renting the building in November 1984, and at this time, changed its name to the Factory Theatre. In 1987, the buildings (the original 1869-house and the 1910-extension that faces Adelaide Street) were designated as heritage sites. Factory Theatre purchased the properties in 1999 for $1.15 million.

The author is grateful for the following sources of information: https://www.factorytheatre.ca/about-us/our-building/ and an article in The Star on December 31, 2016. Another source was:  http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/factory-theatre

        1863-irish-canadian-vs[1] 

Advertisement for the “Irish Canadian” in 1863. John Mulvey’s name appears as one of the Provisional Directors. The postal address is Box 479, Toronto CW (Canada West). Canada West became Ontario in 1867.

        1956,  pictures-r-5634[1]

Gazing west along Adelaide Street from east of Bathurst Street in 1956. The building added to the Mulvey house by St. Mary’s Parish in 1910, appears on the right-hand (north) side. St. Mary’s Church on Bathurst Street is at the head of the street. Toronto Public Library, r- 5634.

Series 1465, File 51, Item 62

View of the northeast corner of Adelaide and Bathurst Streets between the years 1980 and 1998.

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The west facade of the Mulvey house in 2016. On the left side of the doorway is a large bay window, with a balcony above it.

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View of the west and south facades. The modern glass entrance hall is in the foreground.

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Doorway facing Bathurst Street, on the west side of the house. The doors contain Gothic-style windows.

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                      The brick porch with a balcony above it.

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Bargeboard (gingerbread) trim above the north wing of the Mulvey house. 

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Modern glass entrance hall on the north side of the 1910-building, which was a parish hall.

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The parish hall that was built in 1910 on the south side of the Mulvey house.

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                                  The Mulvey house in 2016.

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                         Factory Theatre in November, 2017

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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Lillian Massey Building for Household Sciences

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Lillian Massey Building, Department of Household Sciences. View is from the west side of Queens Park, south of Bloor Street West.

The solidly impressive building that occupies the southeast corner of Bloor Street West and Queens Park (157 Bloor Street) is a reminder of the great public buildings erected across Canada in the 19th and early-20th centuries. The Department of Household Sciences building in Toronto is one of the finest example of these structures. The funds for its construction were provided by Lillian Massey, whose father was Hart Massey. He was the founder of the Massey-Harris Company, at one time the biggest manufacturer of agricultural machinery in the British Empire. Hart Massey donated Massey Hall to the city; other structures associated with the Massey family are Hart House on the University of Toronto’s downtown campus, and Massey College, a graduate residential college.

Lillian Massey was born in 1854 in Newcastle (Durham Region), in Canada West (Ontario). In 1897, in Toronto, she married John Mill Treble. Throughout her life, she remained keenly engaged in social reform, philanthropy and education. A wealthy heiress, she was also a patron of the University of Toronto.

Lillian was a believer in “scientific household management” and was one of the first in the country to promote this concept. She was instrumental in having the University of Toronto offer a four-year degree programme in household science to educate women to manage their homes scientifically. Lillian believed that these courses would better women’s lives.

In 1905, she went a step further and donated funds to erect a building to house the new department. It was to include facilities to support the teaching staff, as well as classrooms, laboratories, and recreational facilities. It was to possess a gymnasium and a swimming pool, the latter located in the basement. At the time, these athletic facilities were to be the only ones on campus open to female students.

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Construction on the Household Sciences building began in 1908, and it required five years to complete. When it opened in 1913, it was a spectacular structure, its interior trimmed with marble and oak. There was also a series of stained-glass windows, by artist Henry Holiday (1839-1927), the windows dedicated to Lillian’s mother, Eliza Phelps. They were in the Pre-Raphaelite style, featuring simple lines and large areas of brilliant colours, such as found in the early Italian painters before the famous Italian painter—Raphael. The windows were placed in the stairwell surrounding the staircase in the entrance hall. Images in the stained glass depicted Egyptian women performing household tasks, the male figures engaged in hunting and harvesting.

The architect Lillian selected for the building was George M. Miller, who had supervised the designs for Massey Hall on behalf of an American architectural firm. Miller chose the Neo-Classical style for the structure, which was very popular for large public and commercial buildings in that decade. The portico was supported by four Ionic pillar of Indiana limestone, the pediment above it containing the coat of arms of the University of Toronto. The porch and west facade faced Queens Park, directly across from the Royal Ontario Museum. At the time, the building was considered the finest facility of its kind in North America.

The domestic courses offer in the building were reviewed in the 1960s, resulting in the university deciding to phase out the program. Some courses were transferred to the Faculty of Medicine and others to the Faculty of Arts and Science. However, by this time the building was showing its age and was in need of renovation. Despite this, the Lillian Massey Building continued to house some courses of the Department of Household Science until the 1970s. Then, it was occupied by the Department of Nutritional Sciences, a part of the Faculty of Medicine. In 1975, it was designated a heritage structure by the City of Toronto.

In 2007, the building was finally renovated by the University of Toronto. It presently houses the Department of Classics and the Centre for Medieval Studies, as well as a Club Monaco store. Thankfully, it is one of our historical buildings that remains purposefully occupied. 

The author is grateful for the information contained in: medieval.utoronto.ca/about/history/lillian-massey-building/ and

www.blogto.com/…/nostalgia_tripping_the_lillian_massey_department_of_household

Note: Photo of stained glass window is from the Toronto Public Library, photo by John Elmsley.

Series 372, Subseries 58 - Road and street condition photographs

Gazing east on Bloor Street toward Avenue Road (Queens Park) in 1912, prior to the widening of the street. In this year, the ROM building on the southwest corner of Queens Park and Bloor had not been built. The Lillian Massey Household Sciences building is in the distance, on the right-hand side. Toronto Archives, Series 0372, SS 0058, item 0131.

Fonds 1244, Item 1382

Photo of a horse-drawn fire reel on Bloor Street c. 1914, the Household Science Building in the background. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, item 1382. 

Series 372, Subseries 58 - Road and street condition photographs

The Household Sciences building in 1918. Toronto Archives, Series 0372, SS 0058, item 0781. 

Fonds 1244, Item 7163

View of the west facade of the Household Sciences building in 1920. One of the pillars of the Alexandra Gates can be seen. It is topped with a street lamp. The gates were relocated in 1962 to the north end of Philosopher’s Walk, when Queens Park was widened. View is from the west side of Queens Park. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, item 7163.

Ontario Safety League – July 28, 1923

View of the southeast corner of Queens Park and Bloor Street in 1923. In the foreground is a Peter Witt Streetcar. Toronto Archives, S0071, item 2429.

c. 1933, F. 1244, item 7362,   [1]

View of the building c. 1933, from the west side of Queens Park; the view looks southeast, the legislative buildings in the far distance. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, item 7362.

1960s  f1257_s1057_it5534[1]

View in the 1960s, looking south on Avenue Road toward the legislative buildings at Queens Park. The Household Sciences building is on the left-hand side of the photo, across from the ROM. On the right-hand side of the photo is the Park Plaza (Park Hyatt) Hotel. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, SS 1057, item 5334.

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Gazing north toward the intersection of Bloor Street and Avenue Road (Queens Park).

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     West facade with the portico supported by four Ionic-style columns.

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The doorway to the building on Queens Park (left), and architectural detailing around the doorway (right).

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Upper portion of the portico on the building, with the four Ionic-style pillars and above them, the coat of  arms of the University of Toronto.

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      View of the building from the west side of Queens Park.

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    

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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