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Shea’s Hippodrome opens in Toronto in 1914

                Shea's, 1921

`                        Photo from City of Toronto Archives.

When Shea’s Hippodrome opened in Toronto on April 27, 1914, it was the largest vaudeville theatre in Canada, with a seating capacity of 3000. Within a few years, it was considered among the top four vaudeville houses in all of North America. It was located at “Queen and Teraulay Streets.” Teraulay Street was later renamed Bay Street, connecting it with the section of Bay Street that stretched south from Queen Street to the harbour. Today, Bay Street extends from Davenport Road, south to the harbour. The site of the old theatre is now a part of eastern section of Nathan Phillips Square. The Hydro sub-station on the west side of Bay Street, a short distance south of Dundas Street West is still named the Teraulay Station.

On inauguration day at the Hippodrome, the theatre featured a series of vaudeville acts entitled, “A Night in an English Music Hall,” supplemented with “leading photo plays” (silent films). Music was provided by The Invisible Symphony Orchestra. The theatre’s ad in the Toronto Star proclaimed, “Nothing cheap but the prices.” The matinee tickets were 10 and 15 cents and in the evening they were 10, 15 and 25 cents. There were continuous performances from 12 noon to 11 pm, with three shows daily.

In 1922, a Wurlitzer organ was installed, which had been built in Tonawanda New York at a cost of $55,000. When the Hippodrome was demolished in 1957, the organ was sold to Maple Leaf Gardens for the price of $2000. The first time the organ was played in The Gardens was on December 20, 1958. When I was a teenager, the great organ was considered an integral part of the hockey games televised by the CBC on “Hockey Night in Canada,” the program sponsored by Imperial Oil.

In 1963, the instrument was bought by the Toronto Theatre Organ Society for $3,800 and placed in storage in the Imperial Theatre on Yonge Street. In 1970 it was relocated to Casa Loma. The first concert in the grand hall of the castle was on February 12, 1974.  Visitors today are able to see the organ, located in an alcove in the south wall of the Grand Hall.

Note : information about the Wurlitzer organ was obtained from Mike Filey’s “Toronto Sketches.” 

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View of the Hippodrome’s auditorium from the balcony. This photo was taken shortly after the theatre opened in 1914.

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The auditorium of the Hippodrome, the Wurlitzer organ on the left-hand side of the stage. This photo was likely taken in the 1950s, after the auditorium had been renovated. The box seats on either side of the stage had been removed as the theatre was now exclusively a movie house.

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                   Lobby of the Hippodrome and stairs to the balcony.

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

To view previous blogs about movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories of the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                      cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

   To place an order for this book:

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

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

Theatres Included in the Book:

Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto

Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), the Photodome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)

Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons

Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown

Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s

 Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede

Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression

Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro

Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years

University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)

 

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Memories of Toronto’s Shea’s Hippodrome Theatre

Shea's, 1921

In the 1950s, as a teenager, I remember sitting in the plush seats of the enormous balcony of Shea’s Hippodrome Theatre on Bay Street, a few doors north of Queen. I still remember the thrill of anticipation when the theatre’s lights dimmed and the great red-velvety curtains swept open to herald the beginning of a film. The screen was so wide that I felt as if I were gazing at an 180 degree view of a landscape or street scene. In close-up shots of the movie stars, the size of the picture created an intimacy that was never equalled until Cinerama and I-Max, the latter technology pioneered in Toronto.

When Shea’s opened on April 27, 1914, it was the largest vaudeville house in Canada. The total cost of the theatre was $245,000, an enormous amount of money in that day. Two Ontario-born brothers, Jerry and Michael Shea were the enterprising businessmen who built the theatre. They were later to relocate their residences to Buffalo, New York. Many stars of vaudeville played at Shea’s. Red Skelton credited his appearance at the theatre with giving him the exposure that led to stardom.  

The front (east) facade of the Hippodrome contained white enamelled bricks. On the north and south corners of the facade facing Bay Street were towers topped with glass and copper. The theatre’s interior was lavish and ornate, a true “movie palace” of its day. Its auditorium had intricate plaster mouldings in colours of ivory and gold. On the ceiling there were decorated panels that formed a massive dome. The theatre contained 1500 seats in the orchestra section and another 1500 in the balcony. The rear rows of the balcony were reserved for “smokers,” and were referred to as the “smoking loges.” There were 12 opera boxes with heavy brass railings, as well as a full-size orchestra pit. The 46-foot lobby was the largest in Toronto at that time, with tickets booths on either side of the lobby to reduce ticket lines. The interior of the Pantages Theatre (now the Ed Mirvish Theatre) of today in many ways resembles the splendour of the old Hippodrome.

The word “hippodrome” is a Greek word that referred to the enormous oval stadiums where the ancients held chariot and horse races. Perhaps the most famous hippodrome was the one in Constantinople (Istanbul). Until recently, its outline remained visible in the modern city. It was located near the famous Blue Mosque. The word “hippodrome” was borrowed from the ancients during the 20th century and generally referred to large entertainment venues. Sometimes the word was added to venues that were far from grand, in an attempt to add prestige to their titles. In the case of Shea’s Hippodrome on Bay Street, the name was entirely appropriate.

In 1924 Shea’s Hippodrome presented a new marvel—the “phonofilm”—invented by Dr. Lee De Forest. It combined the media of radio and moving pictures to create a “talkie.” It photographed sound waves simultaneously with the pictures, allowing the people on screen to talk and sing. The sound was contained within a 1/4-inch strip on the side of the film. People heard Eddie Cantor sing, accompanied by a symphony orchestra. Within a week of the opening of the new media at Shea’s, my father and his girlfriend Mary, attended and were thrilled by the talking, singing characters on the silver screen. After they left the theatre, they went for coffee at Bowles Lunch on the southeast corner of Queen and Bay Streets. They chatted enthusiastically about the new form of entertainment.

My father and his girl friend attended the Hippodrome again on New Year’s Eve in 1926 to see Mary Pickford in Rosita. Returning home on the Yonge streetcar, at the stroke of midnight, he leaned over and gave Mary a New Year’s kiss. In later years, my dad told me that she said to him, “My goodness. Kissing on streetcars is becoming a habit with you.” He never confessed what caused her to utter the remark, but he always possessed a naughty grin when he told the story.

One of the reasons that my father attended Shea’s in 1926, was because they had recently renovated the theatre and reopened it to the public. Now, along with the films and vaudeville acts, a Wurlitzer organ had been installed, at a cost of $50,000. They hired the famous organist Roland Todd to perform on the grand instrument.

The theatre advertised itself as the “Home of Vaudeville,” and in December of 1929, it presented “The Ziegfeld Show Girls” and “Nick Lucas the Crooning Troubadour,” along with the film “The Girl from Havana,” starring Lola Lane and Paul Page.

In the 1930s, Shea’s on Bay Street, opposite the Old City Hall, was on the edge of Toronto’s old theatre district. Massey Hall, the Pantages, Lowe’s Yonge Street, The Winter Garden, the Photodrome Theatre, the Colonial (Bay) Theatre, and the notorious “strip joint” the Casino, were within walking distance. As well, other smaller theatres on Yonge, Bay, and Queen Streets were close. Shea’s was one of the best attended of all the theatres.

In 1932, a young girl from Orillia was visiting Toronto with her dad, and they attended Shea’s Hippodrome. They were amazed when the huge Wurlitzer organ rose from the floor to stage level and commenced filling the vast auditorium with its magnificent sound. The movie they saw was “The Bride of Frankenstein,” and the girl said, “It scared the bejabbers out of me.” I am certain that many others can relate similar stories of the times they visited the theatre.

In 1941, the Abbott and Costello movie, “Buck Privates” played for fourteen weeks. This was the longest continuous screening of a single film in Toronto up that time. It was Universal Studio’s biggest hit of the year and firmly established the popularity of the comedy team of Bud Abbot and Lou Costello.

In 1942, a woman asked the manager of Shea’s if they could slow down a section of the film, “49th Parallel,” as her son who had passed away was in that part of the movie. She had seen the film seven times up to that point. The manager explained that her request was impossible to fulfill, but he gave her free passes to see the movie as many times as she wished.

In 1956, Elvis Presley’s first movie, “Love Me Tender,” played at Shea’s. However, on December 27, 1957, because attendance at the theatres had lessened, due to the onset of the medium of television, the great theatre closed. The theatre’s organ was sold for less than $500 and relocated to Maple Leaf Gardens on Carlton Street, east of Yonge Street. Today, (2014) it resides in Casa Loma. After the theatre was demolished, the site where it had been located became a part of the eastern section of Nathan Philips Square, where the New City Hall is located. 

Picture of Shea’s at the top of this post is from the City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231 Item 0842(1). It was taken in taken in 1921.

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The interior of Shea’s Hippodrome in 1914, the year it opened (photo from Construction Magazine, 1914, in the Toronto Reference Library).

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The box seats in the theatre in 1914. Photo from Construction Magazine.

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The lobby and stairs to the balcony. Photo from Construction magazine, 1914.

f1231_it0840a[1] Shea,s  1953 - Ref Lib.

    Shea’s Hippodrome, c, 1918, City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, It. 0840a

                                Shea's 1919

            Postcard printed in 1919. City of Toronto Archives.

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Interior of Shea’s, the organ evident to the left of the stage. City of Toronto Archives.

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Gazing north on Bay Street, with Shea’s theatre on the west side of the street. City of Toronto Archives, Globe and Mail Collection, 111523.

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View looking north on Bay Street, the marquee of Shea’s on the left, c. 1930. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, It. 7300 

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Shea’s  Hippodrome c. 1945, City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 251, Series 1278, File 153.

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         The interior of the theatre, Ontario Archives, RG 56-11-0-325

Shea's Hippodrome 1959

The theatre in 1956, the year before it closed and was demolished. The film “Country Girl,” starring Grace Kelly is advertised on the marquee and a sign on the south wall of the theatre advertises a forthcoming attraction, “Love Me Tender, “ starring Elvis Presley.

                      Shea's Hippodrome

Shea’s in 1956, the photo taken from the rear window of a 1949 torpedo-back Pontiac. The automobile in the foreground is a Buick.

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

To view previous posts about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/torontos-old-movie-theatrestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to Toronto’s Heritage Buildings

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/canadas-cultural-scenetorontos-architectural-heritage/ 

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It also relates anecdotes and stories from those 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 .

 

 

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Lost Toronto — by Doug Taylor

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Lost Toronto by Doug Taylor, Pavilion Press, published January 2018. Photo King and Yonge Streets, Toronto Archives.

When Old City Hall was slated for demolition in the 1960s, protestors united to save this key piece of Toronto’s architectural heritage. Their efforts paid off and eventually led to the passing of the Ontario Heritage Act, which has been preserving buildings of cultural value since the mid-1970s. But what happened to some of the cultural gems that graced the City of Toronto before the heritage movement? Lost Toronto brings together some of the most spectacular buildings that were lost to the wrecking ball or redeveloped beyond recognition.

Using detailed archival photographs, Lost Toronto recaptures the city’s lost theatres, sporting venues, bars, restaurants and shops. Along the way, the reader will visit stately residences (Moss Park, the Gordon Mansion, Benvenuto) movie palaces (Shea’s Hippodrome, Shea’s Victoria, Tivoli Theatre, Odeon Carlton), grand hotels (Hotel Hanlan, Walker House, Queen’s Hotel), department stores ( Eaton’s Queen Street, Eaton’s College Street, Robert Simpson Company, Stollery’s), landmark shops (Sam the Record Man, A & A Book Store, World’s Biggest Book Store, Honest Ed’s), arenas and amusement parks (Sunnyside, Maple Leaf Stadium, CNE Stadium), and restaurants and bars (Captain John’s on the M. V. Normac, Colonial Tavern, Ed’s Warehouse).

This richly illustrated book brings some of Toronto’s most remarkable buildings and much-loved venues back to life. From the loss of John Strachan’s Bishop’s Palace in 1890 to the scrapping of the S. S. Cayuga in 1960 and the closure of the HMV Superstore in 2017, these pages cover more than 150 years of the city’s built heritage to reveal a Toronto that once was.

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              Back cover of Lost Toronto, available in book stores or online, $26.95

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[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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Posted by on December 22, 2017 in A&A Record Store, Arcadian Court in Simpson's, Bank of Toronto King and Bay Streets, baseball history Toronto, Bay and Gable houses Toronto, Benvenuto, Bluebell ferry- Toronto, books about Toronto, Brunswick House Toronto, Captain John's Toronto, Centre Island Toronto, Chorley Park, CNE Stadium Toronto, Colonial Tavern Toronto, Crystal Palace Toronto, Doug Taylor, Toronto history, Dufferin Gates CNE Toronto, Eaton's Queen Street store, Eaton's Santa Claus Parade Toronto, Ford Hotel Toronto, Frank Stollery Toronto, High Park Mineral Baths Toronto, historic Toronto, historic toronto buildings, history of Toronto streetcars, HMV toronto (history), Honest Ed's, local history Toronto, Lost Toronto, Memories of Toronto Islands, Metropolitan United Church Toronto, MV Normac, old Custom House Toronto, Ontario Place, Quetton St. George House Toronto, Riverdale Zoo Toronto, Salvation Army at Albert and James Street, Salvation Army Territorial Headquarters, Sam the Record Man Toronto, Santa Claus Parade Toronto, St. George the Martyr Toronto, Sunnyside Toronto, tayloronhistory.com, Temple Building Toronto, toronto architecture, Toronto baseballl prior to the Blue Jays, Toronto history, Toronto Island ferries, Toronto's Board of Trade Building (demolished), Toronto's disappearing heritage, Toronto's lost atchitectural gems, Toronto's restaurant of the past, Walker House Hotel (demolished), World's Biggest Book Store-Toronto, Yonge Street Arcade Toronto

 

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Fond Memories of A and A Records (demolished|)

Fonds 124, Fl.0003, id.0197  A and A Records - Copy

In the 1950s, “A&A Records” and “Sam the Record Man,” two stores on Yonge Street, were an integral part of my teenage years. They were the largest and most important retail distributors of vinyl recordings in Toronto. They eventually franchised, allowing outlets to be opened across Canada under their corporate names. A&A and Sam’s were multi-million-dollar businesses in the days when 33 1/3 rpm (revolutions per minute) records were the most common recording format.

In my pre-teen years in the 1940s, music was recorded on 78 rpm disks, made of a brittle material of shellac resin. First introduced in 1898, they were played on wind-up gramophones. After electricity was introduced, record players replaced gramophones and though the sound quality improved in the decades ahead, 78s remained the standard format for recording music. A single song was on one side of the disk, and another on the reverse side, the total playing time being about 3-4 minutes.

In 1947, smaller size records (45 rpm) became available, which were sold in paper jackets. Though not as large as the 78s, they extended the playing time due to their smaller grooves. However, record sales exploded in 1948 when the industry introduced long-playing records (33 1/3 rpm), manufactured of vinyl plastic. These were sold in cardboard jackets. Many retail outlets opened to accommodate the demand for these long-playing records.

Before the internet was invented, in the dark distant decades of yesteryear, Toronto’s movies houses were the centres of entertainment. Located in almost every every community throughout the city, they were within walking distance of almost every households. In my pre-teen years, I faithfully attended movie matiness every Saturday afternoon and was thrilled by the heroes of the silver screen. When I entered my teen years, my parents finally allowed me to travel downtown to the great movie palaces of the city — Tivoli, Shea’s Hippodrome, Imperial, Odeon Carlton, and Loew’s Downtown (now the Elgin). When I wanted to see more than one feature film, for the same price as attending the larger theatres, I visited the Biltmore, Rio, Coronet (Savoy) or the Downtown. Most of the downtown theatres, whether a movie palace or a run-down dive, were within walking distance of Yonge and Dundas, so when I attended a theatre on Yonge Street, I always visited Sam the Record Man and A&A Records. They were located near the corner of Yonge and Gould Streets, which was only one block north of Dundas Street.

The endless displays of records at both stores were amazing. It was said that at its height, Sam’s had almost a million records in his store. Although this might have been an exaggeration, I can verify that the selection was enormous. There were multiple aisles, on either side of them, long rows of counters, with large boxes on them. This was where the records (in their jackets) were stored. Cardboard dividers, with labels protruding above the record jackets (covers), labelled the type of records in the section. They were grouped according to the vocalist, groups, type of music, band, classical, orchestra, country of origin, style of music etc. Recordings were available from all over the world.

As a teenager, I spent countless hours browsing through the various sections of these two shops. I was always amazed at the expertise of their staffs, as no matter what type of record you enquired about, they knew where to direct you. After you made your selection, you took your choice to the cashier at the front of the store. We always looked for bargains, since discounts of 10% to 20% were common on some items. The stores stayed open until midnight, and also remained open on Sundays, in violation of the Lord’s Day Act. The Boxing Day sales were famous, with hundreds of people lining up outside the stores before they opened.

I remember that I sometimes saw a musical at either the Imperial or Loew’s Downtown, and then, purchased the sound track recording at Sam’s or A&A’s. Sometimes, I had already bought the Broadway version of the musical, before the movie of the show had been filmed. Perhaps one or two of the cardboard record-jackets below of Broadway productions will create a few fond memories. They were all available at A&A’s and Sam’s.

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A&A Records

In Toronto, Alice Kenner and her husband Mac owned a building at 351 Yonge Street. About the year 1945, with the assistance of Alice’s brother, Aaron, the store opened a book shop. They named it A&A Book Store, using the initial consonant of their first names. It was located on the east side of the street, opposite Elm Street. During the early-1950s, because of the increasing popularity of the new LP records, they added a record section. By the 1960s, record sales became the major portion of their business.

Their main competitor in the city was Sam Sniderman’s store on College Street. To compete with Sam, A&A Records offered special discounts on some recordings, door opening specials, and reduced prices on their Boxing Day sales. A&A carried many types of music, including popular, imported, and classical. The company eventually sold franchises that were located in cities across Canada.

In September 1961, Sam Sniderman (Sam the Record Man) relocated his store to 347 Yonge Street, two doors south of A&A Records. The two competitors were now almost side by side. This was convenient for customers, as they were able to browse the city’s two largest record shops in a single visit. In 1971, Alice and Mac sold their business. The company that bought it expanded the number of franchises and by 1990, there were 260 of them across the country. However, the company went bankrupt in 1993.

Sources: news.library.ryerson.ca/musiconyonge 

For a link to a post about “Sam the Record Man”:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/04/05/fond-memories-of-sam-the-record-man/

looking east on Elm, Dec. 16,  1952  s0372_ss0058_it2379[1]

Gazing east on Elm Street toward Yonge Street on December 16, 1952. A&A Records in visible on the east side of Yonge. Toronto Archives, S 0372, SS 0058, Item 2379.

Tor. Archives, Fonds 200, Series 1465, File 20, Item 15 1]

A similar view looking east on Elm Street. Barbarian’s Steak House is on the right-hand (south) side of Elm Street, where there are Canadian flags. For a link to the history of Barbarian’s, https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/torontos-architectural-gems1860s-houses-on-elm-streetbarbarians-steak-house/ Photo of Elm Street from the Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, S 1465, File 20, Item 15.

         TPL. 1967  ra35-2[1]

A&A Records at 351 Yonge Street in 1967, Toronto Public Library, ra 35-2

           F1526, File 3, It.25  rec[1]

A&A Records when Yonge Street was closed to traffic for a pedestrian Mall (likely the first Yonge Street mall, in 1972). Toronto Archives, F1526, File 3, Item 25.

Tor. Archives, S1465, File 618, It. 33  [1]

Undated photo (likely the 1980s) of A&A Records, photo from the Toronto Archives, S1465, File 618, Item 33

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.

 

 

 

 

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tayloronhistory.com—check it out!

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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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Toronto’s old movie theatres on tayloronhistory.com

/Shea's Hippodrome  DSCN0638

Links to posts that have appeared on tayloronhistory.com about Toronto’s old movie theatres since the blog commenced in 2011.

Academy Theatre on Bloor West at St. Clarens

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/07/07/photographs-from-the-1950s-of-sheas-hippodrome-theatre-located-on-the-site-of-torontos-new-city-hall/

Ace Theatre on Danforth (see Iola)

Ace Theatre on Queen near Bay (see Photodrome)

Adelphi Theatre (Kum Bac) on Dovercourt Road

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/the-adelphi-cum-bac-movie-theatretoronto/

Alhambra Theatre on Bloor Street, west of Bathurst Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/torontos-old-movie-theatres-the-alhambra/

Allen’s Bloor Theatre, (now Lee’s Palace)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/torontos-old-allens-bloor-theatre-the-bloor-lees-palace/

Allenby on the Danforth

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-allenby-roxy-apollo-on-the-danforth/

Allen’s Danforth (see Danforth Music Hall)

Apollo (Crystal) Theatre on Dundas West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/08/20/torontos-apollo-crystal-theatre-on-dundas-street-west/

Arcadian (Variety) Theatre

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/torontos-old-odeon-carlton-theatre-in-1956/

Auditorium Theatre ( see Pickford)

Avalon Theatre on Danforth Avenue (see Clyde Theatre)

Avenue Theatre (see Pickford)

Avon Theatre at 1092 Queen Street West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/torontos-lost-movie-theatresthe-avon-at-1092-queen-west/

Bay (Colonial Theatre) at Queen and Bay

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/11/28/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-bay-originally-the-colonial/

Bayview Theatre

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-bayview/

Beaver Theatre in the Junction area at Keele and Dundas Street West 

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/06/19/torontos-beaver-theatre-on-dundas-st-west/

Bell Lightbox (TIFF)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/19/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-bell-lightbox-tiff/

Bellevue Theatre on College Street that became the Lux Burlesque Theatre

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/the-bellevue-theatre-lux-burlesque-theatre-on-college-street/

Belsize Theatre (see Regent)

Biltmore Theatre on Yonge, north of Dundas St.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/torontos-old-movie-housesthe-biltmore-theatre/

Birchcliff Theatre on Kingston Rd.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/08/11/memories-of-torontos-birchcliff-theatre-on-kingston-rd/

Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on Bloor Street West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-bloor-hot-docs-cinema/

Bloordale Theatre (the State) on Bloor St. West, near Dundas Street. 

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/04/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-bloordale-state/

Blue Bell (Gay) Theatre on Parliament Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/06/28/torontos-blue-bell-theatre-the-gay/

Bonita (Gerrard) Theatre on Gerrard East

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/08/16/torontos-bonita-theatre-on-gerrard-east/

Brighton Theatre on Roncesvalles Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/03/06/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-brighton/

Brock Theatre (the Gem)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-brock-the-gem/

Cameo Theatre

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/12/05/torontos-old-cameo-theatre/

Cannon Theatre (see Ed Mirvish)

Capitol Theatre on Yonge at Castlefield

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/12/11/torontos-old-capitol-theatre/

Carlton Theatre on Parliament Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-carlton-on-parliament-st/

Casino Burlesque Theatre on Queen Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-infamous-casino-on-queen-st/ 

Cineplex Eaton Centre

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-cineplex-eaton-centre/

Cineplex Odeon Varsity Theatre at Bloor and Bay

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-cineplex-odeon-varsity/

Cineplex Theatre at Yonge and Dundas Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/torontos-architectural-gems-cineplex-at-dundas-and-yonge-streets/

Circle on Dundas West (see Duchess)

Circle Theatre on Yonge Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/11/29/torontos-old-circle-theatre/

Clyde Theatre (Avalon)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/07/04/sheas-hippodrome-theatre-where-the-nathan-phillips-square-exists-today/

College Theatre at College St. and Dovercourt Rd.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/06/14/torontos-old-college-theatre/

Colonial Theatre (see Bay Theatre)

Colony Theatre at Vaughan Road and Eglinton Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/torontos-old-movie-housesthe-colony-at-eglinton-and-vaughan/

Community Theatre on Woodbine Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/07/22/old-movie-houses-of-toronto/

Coronet Theatre (Savoy) on Yonge St. at Gerrard

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/torontos-old-movie-housesthe-coronet-savoy-on-yonge-at-gerrard/

Crest Theatre (see Regent)

Crown Theatre on Gerrard St. East

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/07/17/the-crown-theatre-toronto-on-gerrard-st-east/

Crystal Theatre (see Apollo)

Danforth Music Hall (Allen’s Danforth)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/14/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-danforth-music-hall-allans-danforth/

Donlands Theatre

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-donlands/

Downtown Theatre (now demolished) at Yonge and Dundas

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/torontos-lost-movie-theatresthe-downtown-theatre-on-yonge-st-south-of-dundas/

Duchess Theatre (Circle) on Dundas West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/02/07/torontos-old-movie-housesthe-duchess-centre/

Eastwood Theatre on Gerrard St. East

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/torontos-eastwood-theatre-on-gerrard-st-east/

Ed Mirvish Theatre (the Pantages, Imperial and Cannon)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-ed-mirvish-theatre-pantages-imperial-canon/

Eglinton Theatre

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-eglinton-theatre/

Elgin Theatre (Loew’s Downtown)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/torontos-old-movie-housesloews-downtown-the-elgin/

Elgin/Winter/Garden Theatres on Yonge Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/05/31/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-elgin-winter-garden-theatres/

Empire (Rialto, Palton) on Queen East

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/07/22/torontos-empire-rialto-palton-theatrequeen-st-east/

Esquire (Lyndhurst) Theatre on Bloor Street West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/esquire-theatretoronto/

Eve’s Paradise (see Paradise)

Garden Theatre at 290 College Street.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/discovering-two-of-torontos-lost-movie-theatres/

Gay Theatre (see Blue Bell)

Gem Theatre (see Brock)

Gerrard Theatre (see Bonita)

Glendale Theatre on Avenue Rd.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/15/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-glendale-theatre-on-avenue-rd/

Golden Mile Theatre on Eglinton East

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/08/08/torontos-golden-mile-theatre-on-eglinton-ave/

Grant Theatre on Oakwood Avenue near Vaughan Road

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-grant/

Greenwood Theatre (the Guild)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/02/15/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-greenwood-guild/

Grover on Danforth Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/torontos-old-grover-theatre/

Guild Theatre (see Greenwood)

Hillcrest Theatre on Christie Street, south of Dupont St.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/remembering-torontos-hillcrest-theatre-on-christie-st/

Hollywood Theatre on the east side of Yonge Street, north of St. Clair Avenue.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-hollywood-theatre/

Hudson Theatre (see Mount Pleasant)

Imperial and Downtown Theatres on Yonge Street (archival photos)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/02/04/archival-photos-of-torontos-old-theatres-give-reality-to-historical-novel/Imperial

Imperial Theatre (see Ed Mirvish)

Iola (Ace, Regal) on Danforth Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/the-iola-ace-regal-theatretoronto/

Island Theatre on Centre Island

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/07/07/the-1950s-movie-theatre-at-centre-island-toronto/

Kent Theatre at Yonge and St. Clair

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/06/15/the-kent-movie-theatretoronto/

Kenwood Theatre on Bloor St. West 

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/torontos-old-kenwood-theatre-on-bloor-st-west/

King Theatre at College and Manning Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/torontos-king-theatre-on-college-st-at-manning/

Kingsway Theatre in the Kingsway Village on Bloor St. West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/27/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-kingsway-theatre-on-bloor-west/

Kum-Bac Theatre (see Adelphi)

KUM-C Theatre in Parkdale

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/memories-of-torontos-kum-c-theatre-in-parkdale/

La Plaza Theatre (the Opera House) on Queen Street East

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/09/03/torontos-la-plaza-theatre-the-opera-house-on-queen-east/

La Salle Theatre on Dundas, near Spadina

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/torontos-la-salle-theatredundas-and-spadina/

Lansdowne Theatre on Lansdowne Avenue, north of Bloor St. West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/07/04/the-lansdowne-theatretoronto/

Loew’s Uptown Theatre (the Uptown)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/torontos-old-movie-housesloews-uptown/

Loew’s Downtown Theatre (see Elgin)

Lyndhurst Theatre (see Esquire)

Major St. Clair Theatre on St. Clair Avenue, east of Old Weston Road.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/04/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-st-clair-major/

Mayfair Theatre at Jane and Annette

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-mayfair

Metro Theatre at 679 Bloor West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-metro-at-679-bloor-west/

Mount Dennis Theatre on Weston Rd, north of Eglinton

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-mount-dennis-on-weston-rd/

Mount Pleasant (Hudson) Theatre

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/torontos-old-movie-theatrethe-mt-pleasant-hudson/

Nortown Theatre on Eglinton, west of Bathurst St.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/16/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-nortown-at-bathurst-and-eglinton/

Oakwood Theatre on Oakwood Avenue, near St. Clair Avenue West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/28/torontos-old-movie-housesthe-oakwood-theatre-at-st-clair-and-oakwood/ Oakwood Theatre, Part II

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/01/02/torontos-old-oakwood-theatrepart-ii/

Odeon Carlton at Yonge and Carlton Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/torontos-great-old-theatresthe-odeon-carlton/

Odeon Carlton Theatre

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/11/08/torontos-old-movie-housesthe-odeon-fairlawn/

Odeon Danforth Theatre on the Danforth, near Pape Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/torontos-old-movie-theatresodeon-danforth/

Odeon Humber Theatre at Bloor and Jane Streets (now Humber Cinemas)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-odeon-humber-theatre/

Odeon Hyland Theatre at Yonge and St. Clair

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/torontos-old-movie-housesthe-odeon-hyland/

Odeon Theatre On Queen West in Parkdale

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/odeon-theatre-in-parkdaletoronto/

Opera House (see La Plaza)

Orpheum Theatre on Queen St., west of Bathurst

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/torontos-old-movie-theatres-the-orpheum-on-queen-st-w/

Palace Theatre on the Danforth

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/01/torontos-old-movie-housethe-palace-theatre-on-the-danforth/

Palace Theatre on the Danforth near Pape Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/01/torontos-old-movie-housethe-palace-theatre-on-the-danforth/

Palton Theatre (see Empire)

Panasonic Theatre on Yonge Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/13/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-panasonic-theatre-victoria-astor-new-yorker/

Pantages Theatre (see Ed Mirvish)

Paradise (Eve’s Paradise)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-paradise-eves-paradise/

Paramount Theatre on St. Clair West, between Oakwood and Dufferin streets.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/11/26/torontos-old-movie-housesthe-paramount-theatre-at-1069-st-clair-ave-2/

Parkdale Theatre on Queen Street, near Roncesvalles

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/torontos-old-movie-housesthe-parkdale-on-queen-st-near-roncesvalles/

Photodrome (Ace) Theatre on Queen St. West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/08/16/memories-of-torontos-ace-photodrome-theatre-on-queen-west

Pickford (Auditorium, Avenue) Theatre

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/torontos-old-movie-housesthe-pickford-auditorium-theatre-at-queen-and-spadina/

Princess Theatre on King Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/03/22/torontos-old-princess-theatre/

Radio City Theatre on Bathurst, south of St. Clair.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/13/torontos-old-movie-housesthe-radio-city-theatre/

Regal Theatre (see Iola)

Regent Theatre on Mt. Pleasant Rd. (the Belsize, the Crest)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-regent-mt-pleasant/

Revue Theatre at 400 Roncesvalles Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-revue-theatre-at-400-roncesvalles-ave/

Rex Theatre (the Joy)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-rex-joy-on-queen-st-east/

Rialto Theatre (see Empire)

Rivoli Theatre on Queen Street West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/torontos-old-rivoli-theatre-on-queen-west/

Royal Alexandra Theatre

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/torontos-historic-royal-alexandra-theatre/

Royal George Theatre on St. Clair W., west of Dufferin Street.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-royal-george-on-st-clair-near-dufferin/

Royal Theatre on Dundas Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/07/11/torontos-royal-theatre-on-dundas-street/

Royal Theatre (the Pylon) on College St.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-royal-theatre-the-pylon/

Runnymede Theatre in the Bloor West Village

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-runnymede-theatre-on-bloor-street/

Savoy Theatre (see Coronet)

Scarboro Theatre

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-scarboro/

Scotiabank Theatre at Richmond and John Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-modern-scotiabank-theatre/

Shea’s Hippodrome Theatre on Bay St. near Queen

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/07/04/sheas-hippodrome-theatre-where-the-nathan-phillips-square-exists-today/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/photographs-from-the-1950s-of-sheas-hippodrome-theatre-located-on-the-site-of-torontos-new-city-hall/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/old-movie-houses-of-toronto-fond-memories-of-sheas-hippodrome/

Shea’s Victoria (The Victoria) at Victoria and Adelaide Streets 

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/04/17/torontos-old-sheas-victoria-theatre/

St. Clair Theatre, west of Dufferin Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/torontos-old-movie-housesthe-st-clair-theatre-near-dufferin-st/

State Theatre (see Bloordale)

Teck Theatre on Queen St. East

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/07/25/torontos-teck-theatre-on-queen-st-east/

The Tivoli Theatre on Richmond Street East

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/torontos-old-movie-housestivoli-on-richmond-st-e/

Toronto’s first movie screening and its first movie theatre

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/torontos-first-movie-screening-and-first-movie-theatre/

Town Cinema on Bloor East, near Yonge Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-town-cinema/

University Theatre on Bloor St., west of Bay Street.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/the-opening-of-torontos-university-theatre-on-bloor-street/

Uptown 5 Multiplex Theatre on Yonge south of Bloor

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/torontos-old-movie-housesthe-uptown-5-multiplex-theatre/

Variety Theatre (see Arcadian)

Vaughan Theatre on St. Clair Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/torontos-lost-treasuresthe-vaughan-theatre-on-st-clair-ave/

Victoria (Shea’s Victoria)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/04/17/torontos-old-sheas-victoria-theatre/

Victory burlesque and movie theatre on Spadina at Dundas:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/09/08/the-sinful-victory-burlesque-theatre-at-dundas-and-spadina/

Village Theatre on Spadina Road in Forest Hill Village

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/village-theatre-on-spadina-roadtoronto/

Westwood Theatre on Bloor Street West near Six Points

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-westwood-theatre/

The Willow Theatre on north Yonge St. in Willowdale

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/29/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-willow-theatre-at-5269-yonge-st/

York Theatre on Yonge near Bloor St.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/the-york-movie-theatre-in-toronto/

Note: I welcome comments from reader who are willing to share their memories. As well, I always appreciate it when corrections or other opinions are offered. I can be contacted at tayloronhistory@gmail.com

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

To view posts about Toronto’s history and its heritage architecture:

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

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It also relates anecdotes and stories from those 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 at Chapters/Indigo, the book shop at the Bell Lightbox or University of Toronto Press at 416-667-7791

ISBN # 978.1.62619.450.2

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

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

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

 

Tags:

Memories of Eaton’s Queen Street Store Toronto

View of construction site and Eaton's Queen Street store – April 16, 1975

The Eaton’s Queen Street Store on April 16, 1975. The view looks south on Yonge Street toward Queen Street, the east facade of the Simpson’s Store (now The Bay) visible in the distance. Behind  the white hoarding, to the north of the Eaton’s Store (in the foreground), construction is underway for the northern part of the Eaton Centre. Photo from the City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, FL 0084, Item 62.

The Eaton’s Queen Street store occupied an entire city block, which was bounded by Yonge, Queen, Albert and James Streets. It was one of the most magnificent retail stores ever built in Canada. I was a young man when it was demolished to build the Eaton Centre, and I must confess that I did not lament its demise, despite having wonderful childhood memories of visiting it. Similar to most Torontonians in the 1970s, I was looking forward to the modern shopping mall that was to replace it and was too obsessed with the future to consider preserving the past. I now regret that I did not pay more attention and take photographs of it before it disappeared in 1977.

The northern half of the Eaton Centre, containing the new Eaton store, opened the same year that demolition commenced on the Queen Street store. The southern half of the Centre opened two years later. In future years, it became obvious that the Centre’s Yonge-Street facade had caused the street beside it to deteriorate, as it was a barren wall of concrete, devoid of stores with windows. Many millions of dollars were spent to renovate it to duplicate what the former Eaton’s store had always provided. How much better it would have been if the architects had paid more attention to the facade of the old Eaton’s Queen Street store. Attractive shops at street level provide a more inviting streetscape, and streets that are inviting attract shoppers, customers for restaurants, and tourists.

When I was a teenager in the 1950s, I considered the T. Eaton Company so immense that it seemed indestructible. It was a retail and manufacturing empire, spanning the nation from Atlantic to Pacific. When it disappeared, in today’s terms, it was akin to Tim Horton’s, Swiss Chalet, Harvey’s, the NHL, or Canadian Tire disappearing from the scene. Similarly, when I attended Shea’s Hippodrome, the University Theatre, and the Odeon Carlton or the Odeon Hyland, I never dreamt that in the years ahead, they would all disappear. Only the facade of the University remains to remind us of the days when Toronto included many Canadian-owned commercial enterprises, including the largest of them all—Eaton’s.

DSCN0669  series 881, File 337

Shea’s Theatre (left) on Bay Street near Queen, and the University Theatre (right) on Bloor Street West.

Eaton’s was a retail success story that commenced in 19th-century Toronto. It became one of the most trusted and respected firms in Canada. Its founder, Timothy Eaton, was born in Ireland in 1834 and immigrated to Canada West (Ontario) in 1854, settling in the southwest part of the province. He relocated to Toronto in 1869 and opened a wholesale business on Front Street, near Yonge. However, later in the year, he moved into a rental property at 178 Yonge Street, near the corner of Queen Street, and opened a retail dry goods shop.

In the 1860s, King Street was the main shopping avenue of Toronto. The streets north of King possessed mostly pedestrian traffic, although there were horse-drawn streetcars on Yonge Street, between King Street and the village of Yorkville. The wealthy in their fancy carriages did not often venture as far north as Queen. However, Timothy was more interested in the masses than the wealthy. During the next few years, his store lured shoppers north to Queen Street. Due ever-increasing sales, Eaton’s shop was extended 40 feet to the rear and then, it leased the second-storey apartment above the store. It was said that Timothy paid the drivers of the horse-drawn streetcars to announce at the appropriate time in the journey—“Queen Street, all out for Eaton’s.”

Timothy soon outgrew the building at 178 Yonge, and in 1883, he relocated to 190-196 Queen Street, a short distance north. He now had 52 feet of frontage on Yonge Street, which provided 25,000 square-feet of retail space. His new shop possessed exceptionally tall plate-glass windows, vastly improving the displays of merchandise. This was a new concept, as although many shops at the time contained large windows, they had numerous small panes of glass.

Timothy’s merchandising methods, however, were far more revolutionary. He ended the system of bargaining for the price of goods; he sold all items at an advertised fixed price. The store offered no credit, but if customers were not satisfied with their purchases, the items were either exchanged or the money refunded. Customers were also invited to enter the shop to browse, and were not asked to leave if they did not purchase anything within a reasonable period of time, as occurred in other stores. The public quickly warmed to these new ideas and began flocking to the store. 

In 1884, Eaton’s acquired its first telephone. Also, an overhead pneumatic tube system was installed. A bill for a purchase and the customer’s cash were placed in a small container and sent through a pressurized tube to a central service counter. The container was returned with the customer’s change and a receipt for the goods. I remember watching this system in operation in the 1940s in the Eaton’s Annex store on Albert Street.

In 1886, having grown to employ 1500  employees, Timothy acquired space on Queen Street West, with a frontage of 31 feet. This doubled Timothy’s retail space. Eaton’s now possessed an “L-shaped” configuration, with an entrance on Yonge and another on Queen Street. The same year, Eaton’s installed its first elevator. As a boy, I remember the elevators at Eaton’s, operated by women in uniforms, who wore white gloves. They called aloud the floors and stated the goods available on each floor. To allow customers to exit or enter the elevator, the operator opened a heavy cage-like set of iron bars that folded back, accordion-style, and then manipulated the actual elevator doors.

The same year, Eaton’s commenced closing on Saturday afternoons during July and August to allow employees to enjoy the summer weather. To compensate, special sales were held on Fridays. Other stores remained open all day on Saturdays during the summer, but their profits were less. My great Uncle Jim worked at Eaton’s in the 1920s, and was extremely loyal to the company as he had a cottage in Long branch. He was grateful to be able to depart to visit it on Saturday afternoons, during the summer months. Today, it is difficult to imagine Long Branch as cottage country.

In 1889, Eaton’s expanded with another section added to the complex, its west facade on James Street and its north facade on Albert Street. Next, the retail space on Queen Street was doubled in size. In 1891, restaurants were added to the complex, including the Grill Room on the fifth floor and the “Quick Lunch Room” in the basement. Next, a grocery department was opened in the basement. Two years later, a four-storey addition on Albert Street extended the retail space of the store. In 1896, the section on Queen Street was increased to four storeys. In 1903, the mail-order department relocated from the main store to its own building on Albert Street.

The year 1905 was when the first Santa Claus Parade was held. By 1907, Eaton’s owned 22 acres of property in downtown Toronto, its retail space within the city-block bounded by Yonge, Albert, James and Queen Streets. Only the small building on the northwest corner of Yonge and Queen was not part of the complex. A building to showcase furniture was acquired on the northwest corner of James and Albert Streets. In 1924, the Georgian Room opened on the ninth floor of Eaton’s; many considered it Toronto’s first fine restaurant.

                         1906, Easter decoratuon, Queen St.  I0016062[1]

       Easter Display in the Eaton’s Store in 1906. Photo, Ontario Archives.

Fonds 1244, Item 1160A 

Looking north on James Street in 1910, toward Albert Street. Old City Hall is on the left-hand side (west) and Adam’s Furniture Store on the right-hand side (east). Eaton’s eventually acquired the furniture store as well. Toronto Archives, F. 1244, Item 1160a.

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Statue of Timothy Eaton presented by the store’s employees in 1919. It was located near the Queen Street entrance. When the Eaton Centre was built, it was relocated to the Dundas Street entrance of the store. Today it resides in the basement of the Royal Ontario Museum. It was said that rubbing the toe of the shoe of the bronze figure brought a person good luck. Photo from Wikipedia. 

Fonds 1244, Item 1160B

Same view of James Street as the 1910 photo, but taken in 1920. In this picture, in the distance, the Eaton’s Furniture Store is visible on the northwest corner of Albert and James Streets. Toronto Archives, F. 1244, Item 1160b.

Wikipedia  Eatonstoronto1920MainStore[1]

                         Post card showing the Eaton’s complex in 1920.

Queen St, east, from James, traffic, noon - 1 p.m., (Executive Department) – August 31, 1929

The view is looking east along Queen Street West toward Yonge Street in 1929. The Eaton’s store is on the left, and Simpson’s (The Bay) on the right. On the north facade of Simpson’s there is a large Union Jack and a banner fluttering over the street that advertises the CNE. Toronto Archives, S0071, Item 7175.

North, on Yonge, from north of Queen, 1:37 p.m., no rush hour parking on east side frees extra street space for use of rush hour moving traffic, (Traffic Study Department) – January 12, 1929

View looks north on Yonge Street from near Queen Street on January 12, 1929. Loew’s Yonge Street Theatre (now the Elgin) is on the right, and the Eaton’s store is on the left. Toronto Archives, S0071, Item 6569. 

1939, Georgian Room, 9th floor. I0016064[1]

The Georgian Room in 1939. An orchestra played here while customers dined. Photo Ontario Archives.

                    

The Yonge Street facade of the Eaton’s store decorated for the coronation in 1953. Photo, Ontario Archives.

View of sale signs displayed along Queen Street Eaton's store windows – April 5, 1977

The south facade of the Eaton store on Queen Street on April 5, 1977. Signs in the windows advertise the final sales before the store closed for demolition. Toronto Archives, F 1526, fl 0085, item 9.

Personal Memories of Eaton’s

I was a young boy in the 1940s, and my first memory of the T. Eaton Company was the catalogue that my mother carefully examined each November, prior to our trip downtown to shop for Christmas. It was glossy and colourful, and for me, the section advertising toys particularly exciting. On the day we finally journeyed downtown, my brother and I thought that riding the old square-shaped Yonge Streetcars was part of the adventure. I especially enjoyed the trailer-cars as they swayed considerably as they rattled their way south toward Queen. If we were lucky, we found a place to sit near the coal stove, which was situated in the centre of the streetcar.

After arriving at Eaton’s, my mother examined goods on the ground-floor level and then, we went to the basement. This was where there was a tunnel under Albert Street that led to the Eaton’s Annex store. Goods were cheaper in this building, and my mother usually purchased bedding and towels there. In the tunnel, the scent of ice cream waffles filled the air, which seemed strange as the walls of the tunnel contained space for selling house paints. Hot dogs and soft ice cream were two other delights that were sold in the tunnel. I remember that the escalators in the Annex were quite narrow and very rickety. On this visit, it seemed forever before we returned to the main store via the underground tunnel, where the aroma of treats again tortured my brother and me.  

Today, I wonder if my mother visited the other departments of Eaton’s to build suspense before she took us on the elevator to the fifth floor, where Toyland was located. It was a sight beyond the magic of the “Thousand and One Tales of the Arabian nights.” The huge diorama containing model electric trains possessed rivers, bridges, miniature towns, and mountains with tunnels. The model trains disappeared into the tunnels and then, shot out on the other side. Some of the trains even emitted smoke.

The display of board games was endless. Snakes and Ladders, Clue, and Parcheesi were my favourites. The games were manufactured from wood and cardboard, as the use of metal was restricted due to the war effort. There was also an amusement ride, a small train that carried passengers on an imaginary trip across Canada. It was 15 cents for adults and 10 cents for children. To save money, my brother and I rode the train without my mother. The train weaved its way across Northern Ontario, the prairies and into the mountains of B. C. It was great!

1962, Tor. Ref. tspa_0001748f[1]    

Of course, the highlight of the trip was visiting Santa, who sat on an elaborate chair in his North Pole castle. The Eaton’s Santa Claus was the “real” Santa, my mother had explained to my brother and me. The Santa at Simpson’s was merely a helper. Most Torontonians were loyal to one store or the other. My mother preferred Eaton’s as she felt that the prices were cheaper. However, we always took the time to view the Simpson’s Christmas windows that contained fairy-tale scenes with animated figures. The Bay Store continues this tradition today.

A few years ago, I visited San Francisco during November and visited the Macy’s Store on Union Square; it was like being in the Eaton’s store of my boyhood. The decorations were lavish and the toy section amazing. The restaurant on the top floor was crammed with people, similar to the days when Eaton’s operated restaurants. It is not surprising that Macy’s copied the advertising techniques of Eaton’s, as they came to Toronto many years ago seeking advice on how to create a Christmas Parade. They learned fast, and the Macy’s New York parade survives to this day. 

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Eaton’s Annex Store on Albert Street. The view looks west on Albert toward Nathan Philip Square in front of the New City Hall. Toronto Archives. F0124, fl0003, id. 0031.

Close view of construction of Eaton Centre bridge from a streetcar stop on Queen Street West – September 25, 1978

View on September 25, 1978 of the glass-covered bridge over Queen Street that connects the Eaton Centre to Simpson’s (now the Bay). The south facade of the Centre is also under construction, and is visible in the background of the photo. Toronto Archives, F1526, Fl0090, item 0014. 

1978. I0016047[1]

View of the Eaton Centre in 1978 from the corner of Yonge and Dundas Streets. Photo from the Ontario Archives.

                   View of Eaton Centre with holiday decorations towards Queen Street – December 15, 1981

View of the Eaton Centre, gazing northward, on December 15, 1981, when it was decorated for Christmas. Toronto Archives, F1526, Fl 0092, Item 0056.

                    DSCN5669

                                       View of the Eaton Centre in 2011.

The author is grateful for the information provided by the publications: “The Eatons, The Rise and fall of Canada’s Royal Family” by Rod McQueen (Stoddart Press, 1998) and “Eaton’s, The Trans-Canada Store,” by Bruce Allen Kopytek (History Press, 2014) 

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

To view previous posts about the movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern, and Toronto’s Heritage Buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories 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)

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

“Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press, explores 75 of the city’s heritage buildings. This book will also be released in the spring of 2016. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Memories of Toronto’s restaurants of the past

DSCN0135

Dining in Toronto in past decades was far different to the culinary scene that the city now offers. When I was a boy in the 1940s, my family did not visit restaurants as my parents considered them too expensive. The only food that was prepared outside our home was a take-out order of fish and chips from “Oakwood Fish and Chips,” located on Oakwood Avenue, north of Rogers Road. However, memories of food cooked beyond our kitchen, during my boyhood years, include the hot dogs and the aroma of the ice cream waffles in the tunnel under Albert Street. The passageway connected Eaton’s Queen Street Store to Eaton’s Annex. Other “exotic” foods of my childhood were the free samples and greasy treats at the CNE, which we loved.

In the early-1950s, my family moved to the west end of the city, near Jane Street and Lambton Avenue, and our local fish and chips shop became “Golden Crip Fish and Chips,” at 1364 Weston Road. It remains in business today (October 2015) and is now operated by the son of its original owner.

During my high school years in the  1950s, I often visited local restaurants for a coffee and a slice or pie. My favourite was the Paragon Restaurant on St. Clair West, near Oakwood Avenue. However, I never indulged in an evening meal until I was of an age to travel downtown. When my friends and I attended theatres such as Shea’s Hippodrome, The Imperial, Loew’s Downtown, Biltmore, Savoy or the Downtown, we sometimes splurged and went to the Chicken Palace at 404 Yonge Street, where we ordered deep fried chicken and french fries, served in a wicker basket. It was very similar to the KFC of today. We thought it was great.

Another favourite downtown restaurant was Bassel’s, on the southeast corner of Yonge and Gerrard Streets. After attending the theatre, we visited Bassel’s where we usually ordered coffee and pie with whipped cream, or if we went to Bassel’s in the evening, before the theatre, we had a western sandwich and fries. Because it was considered a classy restaurant, we felt very grown-up whenever we went there.

The only other eatery I remember from the 1950s is the Honey Dew restaurant located on the mezzanine level of the Odeon Carlton Theatre, which served fish and chips and Ritz Carlton hotdogs, along with the famous Honey Dew orange drink.

Series 372, Subseries 58 - Road and street condition photographs

Bassel’s on the southeast corner of Gerrard and Yonge Streets in April 1954. In the background is the Coronet (Savoy) Theatre. Toronto Archives, S0372, SS058, item 2482. 

Bassel's

Bassel’s Restaurant, which occupied the equivalent space of three stores on Yonge Street. 

I came of age to attend “real” restaurants in the 1960s, in a decade when more Torontonians were beginning to discover the delights of dining out. It was also the era when post-war immigrants were changing the restaurant scene. The well-seasoned spicier foods that ethnic eateries offered were challenging the more bland style of dishes that Canada inherited from Great Britain. I still remember when my mother discovered the delights of adding garlic to her recipes, much to the chagrin of my father. My mother ignored his comments. For her, there was no turning back.

When I commenced working full time, in the 1960s, I had a few more dollars to spend. One of the first restaurants my friends and I visited was the Swiss Chalet. This chain first appeared at 234 Bloor Street West, in 1954, and in the years ahead opened over 200 eateries throughout Canada and the U.S. However, my first experience with its barbequed chicken was at 362 Yonge Street, which remains in existence today. However, the original location on Bloor Street closed in 2006; a condo is now on the site. It is difficult to realize today how popular the Swiss Chalet was in the early-1960s. I once attended a wedding reception in the banquet room in the basement of the Swiss Chalet at its Yonge Street location.

Another bargain restaurant chain we frequented in the 1960s was the Steak and Burger. It had many outlets throughout the city, but the one we frequented the most was on the west side of Yonge, south of Bloor Street. We also enjoyed Smitty’s Pancake House on Dundas Street West, east of Islington Avenue, and their location in Yorkdale Plaza. Another bargain chain of steak houses was Ponderosa, named after the fictional ranch in the TV program “Bonanza.” These restaurant chains offered affordable steaks that were reasonably tender. Remember, I said “reasonably.”

My first experience with a steak house of quality was Barbarian’s, on Elm Street. This restaurant opened in 1959, and is one of the few from the days of my youth that still exists. I thought I had died and entered heaven when I first tasted their Delmonico steak. I also visited Carmen’s Steak House at 26 Alexander Street (now closed) and Tom Jones Steak House at 17 Leader Lane, located on the east side of the King Edward Hotel. This restaurant still exists today. 

       View of restaurant on Colborne Street – May 31, 1979

Tom Jones Steak House on the corner of Colborne Street and Leader Lane in 1989. Toronto Archives, F1526, fl0008, item 0116.

2012123-uptown-1970s-f0124_fl0002_id0111[1]     

The Steak and Burger on Yonge Street, south of Bloor Street in the 1970s. The Golden Nugget Restaurant was slightly further north. These restaurants were favourites when we visited Loew’s Uptown or the Town Cinema Theatre on Bloor Street East. The Java House was also in this block of buildings, south of Bloor Street, and was great for coffee after the theatre. In the photo, the black building in the distance, on the far left, is a Coles Book Store. It was where we purchased our high school texts each September. In the 1950s, high schools did not provide texts. We bought our own, sometimes saving money by purchasing second-hand books. Photo, Toronto Archives, F0124, Fl 0002, Id. 0111.

DSCN8174

The Swiss Chalet at 362 Yonge Street. Its facade has changed greatly since the 1950s. This is where I attended a wedding reception in its banquet room in the basement. Photo taken in 2014.

After I started working full time, one of the first staff Christmas parties that I attended was at the Ports of Call, at 1145 Yonge Street. It opened in 1963, and for the next decade was one of the city’s most popular dining establishments. It contained three dining rooms—the Bali Hai Room (Polynesian), the Dickens’ English Inn (roast beef) and Caesar’s Room (Italian). The Ports of Call also had two bars — the Singapore Bar (Asian) and the Batton Rouge Bar (French), the latter featuring dancing. I remember that when entering the restaurant, I walked over a wooden foot bridge that spanned a stream of flowing water. We could remain for an evening at the Ports of Call, as after dinner, we could visit one of the bars for music and dancing.

My Favourite seafood restaurant in Toronto was The Mermaid, at 724 Bay Street, which opened in 1964. It was on the west side of Bay Street, a few doors north of Gerrard. A small cozy establishment, owned by John Lundager, it featured Danish/Canadian cuisine. Its . Inside, near the entrance, there was a replica of Copenhagen’s famous statue of The Little Mermaid, from the Hans Christian Anderson tale. We always started the meal at the Mermaid with the Copenhagen Seafood Chowder, which was a Danish version of New England clam chowder—rich and creamy. The complimentary salad had a tangy garlic dressing. The main courses we enjoyed the most were Lobster Newburg, Lobster Cardinale, Lobster Thermidor, and Seafood Newburg. From the late-1960s until the 1980s, the name of the Maitre d’ was Tage Christensen. We visited the restaurant after it relocated to Dundas Street West, opposite the Art Gallery (AGO), but it was not the same. Its new owners began substituting lobster-flavoured pollock for real lobster meat, and the Mermaid closed shortly thereafter.

Perhaps one of the most famous of Toronto dining places was Ed’s Warehouse, at 266 King Street West. It was a bold venture to open a restaurant in that location in 1963, as the railway yards were on the south side of King Street. However, Ed Mirvish had purchased the Royal Alexandria Theatre and wanted to attract people to the area. I first visited Ed’s Warehouse when I received a complimentary coupon for Ed’s Warehouse with my theatre subscription. I believe that the coupon had a value of $20, and it covered the entire cost of the meal. The dining room was Victoriana gone wild; the decor was part of the attraction. The meal consisted of thick juicy slices of tender roast beef, mashed potatoes, green peas, and Yorkshire pudding. Garlic bread and dill pickles were included. The dessert was spumoni ice cream. 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). Ed’s restaurants and the Royal Alex were the impetus that started the gentrification of King Street West.

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 on King Street. The waiter offered to provide the proper attire from among the jackets and ties that they kept for such situations. He explained that they required the dress code 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, the bill had been reduced by 50 per cent. He was a very smart businessman as well as a big-hearted individual. My family never forgot his generosity.

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

Ed’s restaurants on King Street in 1981. Toronto Archives, F1526, fl0067, item 17 .

La Chaumiere Restaurant at 77 Charles Street East, near Church Street, opened in 1950, and was the city’s first truly French dining establishment. Its intimate atmosphere and excellent food were delightful. I was greatly saddened when it closed its doors in 1988; the historic house was demolished, and for a few years the site was likely a parking lot, as it was not until 1995 that a housing co-operative was erected on the property. Today, I possess fond memories of this fine dining establishment. The feature that I remember the most was the hors-d’oeuvres cart, which contained at least twenty appetizers, including escargot (heavy with garlic), trays of stuffed olives, stuffed mushrooms, wine-marinated anchovies, pureed cottage cheese with cognac and scallions, and quenelles of shrimp. La Chaumiere was also well known for its coq au vin and scallops Normandie.

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   La Chaumiere on Charles Street, near Church Street in the 1960s.

Another popular restaurant was the Three Small Rooms in the Windsor Arms Hotel. The hotel was a favourite of Hollywood stars such as Katharine Hepburn. Another restaurant I remember fondly, always appropriate for special occasions, was Winston’s at 120 King Street West. It was expensive, but the food was wonderful. It was reported that John Turner had his own table at Winston’s. La Scala on the southeast corner of Bay and Charles was great Italian food; it was frequented by the Ontario Cabinet of Bill Davis. However, the food portions at La Scala were small. I dined there once with my father and he asked the waiter if anyone ever ordered in a pizza after finishing a meal at La Scala. The waiter smiled; he had likely heard similar comments on previous occasions. Mr. Tony’s Place at 100 Cumberland Avenue in Yorkville was also highly popular, even though it offered no printed menus.  

The Hungarian Village at 900 Bay Street served Hungarian food and featured live Gypsy violinists. I remember being treated to lunch there by a friend, prior to my departure for a holiday.

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L’Hardy’s restaurant at 634 Church Street opened in 1973 and remained until 1987. Its two owners (and chefs) once cooked for the royal court in Madrid. The food was superb, along with the service. It was located in the southern half of a 19th century semi-detached house, which was on the west side of Church Street, a short distance south of Bloor Street East. The northern half of the semi-detached house was occupied by another well-known restaurant—Quenelles. We visited L’Hardy’s frequently, and when I asked a waiter if I could have a menu as a souvenir, he gave me one that had not been used. I still have the menu today. 

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This is a photo of the menu at L’Hardy’s that I have kept all these years. I drool as I peruse the entrees and fondly recall the price of the dishes.

Fenton’s was at 6 Gloucester, a few doors east of Yonge Street. It was one of the most well-known restaurants in Toronto for over a decade, famous for its Leek and Stilton soup. I always requested a table in the glass-covered courtyard as it was akin to dining in a garden. This restaurant suffered the same fate as the Mermaid. When it changed hands it cheapened the quality of the food but increased the prices. It did not last long under the new management.  

Napoleon restaurant was at 79 Grenville Street, a short distance west of Bay Street. It opened in 1976 in an old house, and remained until 1984. I recall how difficult it was to receive a reservation, so always phoned at least a week in advance. Following a disastrous fire, it was not rebuilt. Rumours circulated that members of the mafia had been turned away at the door, and had put out “a hit” on the place.

One of the ethnic restaurants that stands out in my memory is Acropole. I am not certain of its location, but I believe it was on Dundas Street West, near Bay Street. Greek cuisine was not well known in the 1960s. The names of the dishes so were unfamiliar to most Torontonians that menus at the Acropole were useless. Diners were invited to visit the kitchen, examine the dishes, and point to the ones that they wished to be served. Another ethnic restaurant that stands out in my mind was Michi, when it was on Church Street. It was my first experience with Japanese food.  

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Captain John’s Seafood Restaurant was in a ship named the Jadran, which in an earlier life had cruised the Mediterranean Sea. John Letnik purchased it and sailed it from Yugoslavia to Toronto. It arrived in November 1975 and was docked at the foot of Yonge Street, at 1 Queens Quay. The first time I dined on the ship I enjoyed the experience, though looking back, I think it was the idea of eating on a cruise ship that was the highlight, rather than the food.

However, I have very pleasant memories of dining on the smaller ship of Capt. John’s, which was moored on the east side of the Jadran. It was named the Normac. I remember the all-you-can-eat lobster buffet that was served on the top deck during the summer months. Lobster and ice cold beer on a hot July day, overlooking the harbour, was as close to heaven as I’ll likely ever get. Unfortunately, the boat was rammed by the Trillium ferry and sunk. It was eventually re-floated and towed to Cleveland, where it became a seafood restaurant for that city.

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The smaller boat of Captain John’s, the “Normac,” in the 1970s, the larger ship the “Jadran” in the background.

Quo Vadis is another restaurant that must be mentioned when writing about the 1960s, as it was the first dining establishment in Toronto to receive international recognition. It opened at 375 Church Street in 1964. I remember it well, but was never inside it.

Chuckman's POSTCARD - TORONTO - QUO VADIS RESTAURANT - 375 CHURCH STREET - INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR INSET - 1960s[1]

Photo of the front (insert) and the interior of Quo Vadis Restaurant, from Chuckman’s Postcard Collection (chuckmantorontonostalgia.wordpress.com)

There were two famous buffet restaurants in Toronto in the 1960s. One of them was the Town and Country, which had opened in 1949 in the Westminster Hotel at Gould and Mutual Streets. Its well-advertised “all-you-can-eat French buffet” was highly popular, though it was not particularly French. For my family, we “pigged-out” on the lobster, with a few slices of roast beef to break the monotony.

The other favourite buffet in that decade was the Savarin Tavern, located at 336 Bay Street. It was on the west side of Bay Street, a short distance south of Richmond Street West. It was on the second floor, with a steep staircase leading to the dining room. In my eyes, the buffet was “lobster-lobster-lobster.” By now I am certain that you have guessed that I LOVE lobster. Patrons often lined the stairs while waiting for their tables at the Savarin, even though they had reservations. The building where the restaurant was located was designated a Heritage site in 1980. However, it was still demolished, though its facade was re-assembled inside the Northern Ontario Building.

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                             The Savarin Tavern at 336 Bay Street.

The Old Fish Market at 12 Market Street, near the St. Lawrence Market, was another of my favourite places for seafood, though it certainly was not in the class the Mermaid. I remember an evening that we engaged in a “progressive dinner.” We visited the Old Fish Market for our appetizer (seafood chowder), and then Graf Bobby at 36 Wellington East for our main course (wiener schnitzel), and then, drove up to the Cafe de la Paix at 131 Bloor West in the Colonnade for coffee and dessert. 

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                The Old Fish Market Restaurant at 12 Market Street.

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                                  The Graf Bobby Restaurant on Wellington Street

The Sign of the Steer was a large restaurant located at 191 Dupont Street, where it intersects with Davenport Road. I was never inside this restaurant, but I as I recall, it had a great reputation for charcoal-broiled steak. On its the south facade, there was a green neon sign that created the outline of a steer. It was impressive when a person drove past it at night.

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The Sign of the Steer Restaurant at 161 Dupont Street in 1955, the neon sign of a steer visible on the south wall. Toronto Archives, F1257, item 0504.

Harry’s Steak House on the southwest corner of Church and Granby Streets opened in 1961. It was another enterprise of Harry Barbarian, who owned the famous steak house on Elm Street. The prices were more modest and the steaks were almost as good. Because Maple Leaf Gardens was a few blocks south of it, it was very busy on nights when the Leafs played home games.

            View of Harry's Steak House on Church Street at Maitland Street – June 15, 1971

Harry’s Steak House in 1971. Toronto Archives, F1526, Fl0008, item 0030.

Creighton’s restaurant on the ground floor of the Westbury Hotel was another place that garnered attention in the 1970s. On Saturdays, in the TV Guide that was inserted into the Toronto Star, there was a special feature. Readers were encouraged to write the Star and request their favourite recipes from restaurants. A reader wrote in an asked for the recipe of a shrimp dish named Les Scampi’s Amoureux (Shrimp in Love). I had ordered this delicious dish many times, so I kept the recipe. I believe that the secret is the Pernod. When I prepared the recipe, I substituted large shrimp.

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Before closing this post, there are a few more restaurants that I would like to mention. La Provencal at 23 St. Thomas Street (great escargot), Julie’s Mansion at 515 Jarvis Street, Gaston’s at 595 Markham Street (famous for its French onion soup), Sutton Place on the top floor of the Sutton Place Hotel, Valhalla Inn in Etobicoke, and the Black Angus Steak House on Dundas West (Etobicoke). This steak House is still in business. Then, there was the Arcadian Room (Simpson’s), Casa Mendoza (great meat platters, Argentinian style) on the Lakeshore, The Round Room in Eaton’s College, Beverley Hills Hotel on Wilson Avenue (good lunch buffet), the Colonial Tavern and the Silver Rail on Yonge Street, and Diana Sweets on Yonge and also on Bloor, and Fran’s on St. Clair Avenue, Eglinton Avenue, and on College Street. Another favourite of many Torontonians was the Georgian Room on the 9th floor of the old Eaton’s store at Queen and Yonge Street.

There are many more Toronto restaurants of the 1960s and 1970s, as I have only listed the ones that either I visited or remember well. Memory sometimes plays tricks, so if I have committed errors, I hope that readers will be understanding. For some of the exact addresses of the restaurants I relied on information posted on-line. I discovered some errors on these web sites, but still, I am grateful that these sources were available.

In response to this post, Paul Coghill of Toronto emailed me his thoughts about restaurants of Toronto’s past. He stated that in talking about the ice cream waffles, there was also the Honey Dew stand in Simpson’s basement. Scott’s restaurant was on Yonge just north of Dundas, where you sat upstairs looking out onto Yonge St to have bacon burger and fries (that was before we worried or knew about cholesterol). Remembering the early days of the Swiss Chalet, they only served 1/2 or 1/4 chicken with french fries and NO cutlery. I remember the first time I went there with a friend. He knew the chain from Montreal and was watching for my expression when they didn’t bring cutlery. You just picked everything up in your fingers. I also remember the Organ Grinder on the Esplanade. I think it is still there. The Florentine Court was on Church near Dundas. It had old world charm.  The Goulash Pot at Yonge and Bloor was another Hungarian restaurant. Mary John’s, I think was on Elizabeth St. around Gerrard. I recently read an article about it but don’t recall where!  A lot of artists frequented it. It was closed to make room for an apartment building and was relocated in the new building, but it lost its charm.

One of the novels that I wrote — “The Reluctant Virgin”— (a murder mystery) is set in Toronto in the 1950s and the imaginary characters in the story dine in many of the restaurants mentioned in this post.

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

To view previous blogs about movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern, and Toronto’s Heritage Buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories of the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                      cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

   To place an order for this book:

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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Toronto’s first Post Office

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Near the northeast corner of Adelaide and George Streets, at 252 Adelaide Street West, is one of the city’s most historic structures — Toronto’s first post office. Erected in 1833, it was an important commercial and social centre for the town of York, in the days when it was in a remote colonial province of the British Empire. Despite its isolation, York was a bustling settlement as it was the capitol of the colony of Upper Canada. Postal service was vital as it was the town’s only connection to the outside world, especially to relatives overseas.

In the 1830s, Canada did not have its own postal system. The delivery of mail was controlled by the imperial government in London, which appointed a Post Master General for British North America, who was responsible for the various local postmasters. Only a man of considerable financial means was capable of fulfilling the duties of a local postmaster. This was because the position required that the person pay out of his own pocket for the construction and maintenance of the building that housed the post office, the salaries of the employees, and for any equipment and supplies required.  

Despite these drawbacks, James Scott Howard was proud to be appointed the postmaster for York in 1828, as the position was lucrative and it gave him considerable prestige within the town. Born in Ireland in 1798, he had immigrated to Upper Canada in 1820. Working at first from log cabin, he prospered and was eventually appointed the postmaster, even though he was not considered a member of the elite of the town. This was because he was a Methodist, not an Anglican as were the members of the Family Compact. However, his reputation for integrity and hard work earned him the position. 

Howard purchased land from the Bank of Upper Canada and erected a fine Georgian building on Adelaide Street, which was then named Duke Street. At a cost of 2400 pounds, it was a three-storey structure of red bricks, with a plain symmetrical design. In that era, it was common for merchants to live in the same building as their business enterprises. To accommodate this arrangement, the post office contained two entrances, one on the west that allowed access to the postal facilities, and another doorway on the east that led to the family residences on the upper floors.

The Bank of Upper Canada was to the west of the post office, a vacant lot separating the two structures. The stately home of Chief Justice William Campbell was to the east of the post office. The St. Lawrence Market was nearby, allowing families and farmers who attended the market to easily retrieve their mail. The new building was the fourth such facility that had served the postal needs of the town. When York was incorporated as a city and renamed Toronto in 1834, Howard’s building became the city’s first post office.

Following the Rebellion of 1837, Howard was accused of being a rebel sympathizer. Because of these unsubstantiated rumours, he was dismissed from his position in 1838, even though no charges were ever laid and nothing was ever proven. The fact that he was not a member of the elite group of the city, undoubtedly influenced this decision.

During the years ahead, the building had many different occupants. In 1870, the De La Salle Institute, a Roman Catholic boys’ school, purchased the Bank of Upper Canada building and the vacant lot to the east of it. The school erected a three-storey building on the vacant lot, with a Mansard roof, and altered the roof of the former Bank of Canada to match it. In 1874, they bought bought the old post office and added a Mansard roof to it as well. The three structures were joined to create a single building. The school operated on this site until 1913.

The last occupants of the joined buildings departed in 1956. The old post office, which occupied the eastern portion of the structure was empty, along with the two adjoining structures. They soon began to deteriorate and were in danger of being demolished. Fortunately, the structures were eventually purchased by Sheldon Godfrey. The old post office was rediscovered and restored. It was designated a National Historic Site in 1978. Today, it is a museum, but is also a fully functioning post office.

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The above picture depicts a section of a model of the town of York that is on display in Toronto’s first post office on Adelaide Street. The building on the left is the Bank of Upper Canada, and to the right of it is a vacant lot. Toronto’s first post office, with its two entrances, is to the right of the vacant lot. To the right of the post office is a brown structure. To the right of it is the home of Chief Justice William Campbell. The latter building was relocated in 1972 today is situated on the northwest corner of University Avenue and Queen Street.

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A watercolour by Owen Staples that today is in the Baldwin Room of the Toronto Reference Library. It was painted from a photograph of the building taken in 1869.

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The building as it appeared in September 2015. The Mansard roof on the structure was added in 1874, when De La Salle Institute purchased it.

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Toronto’s first post office on the north side of Adelaide Street (on the right), the De La Salle Institute building to the left of it, and the Bank of Upper Canada building to the left of it, hidden behind the trees.

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    Portrait of James Scott Howard, on display today in the post office. 

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The left-hand photo is of the entrance to the post office, on the west side of the building. The right-hand photo is of the east entrance, which gave access to the residence of the family on the floors above. 

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The doorway of the post office in March 1982, the year prior to it opening as a museum. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, It.59

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The restored building opened as a living museum in 1983, and is today a functioning post office. It is the oldest surviving such facility in Canada as it is from the British colonial period.

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The reading room in the post office was where people opened and read their mail, and then, composed a reply and mailed it. This was necessary as many customers travelled considerable distances to retrieve their mail, and a return visit might entail a journey of several hours or sometimes an entire day. If a person were illiterate, a staff member at the post office would read the letter to its recipient and also write a reply for them.  

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      A desk in the reading room with the necessary equipment to write a letter.

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Photo of the building that was the De La Salle Institute, taken in 1978, prior to its restoration. The Bank of Upper Canada is the western (left side) of the structure, the centre section was constructed by the Institute, and the first post office is to the right of it, on the eastern side.  The three buildings appear as if they are a single structure, as the Mansard roofs unify them. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, Item 30.

c. 1900  I0002092[1] 

Gazing east on Adelaide Street from near George Street, prior to 1874, as neither the post office (far right) or the Bank of Upper Canada (foreground) have  Mansard roofs in this photo. Photo from Ontario Archives, 10002092.

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                                 Toronto’s first post office in 2015.

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

To view previous blogs about movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories of the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

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

   To place an order for this book:

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

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

Theatres Included in the Book:

Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto

Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), the Photodrome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)

Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons

Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown

Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s

 Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede

Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression

Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro

Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years

University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)

 

 

 

 

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Art Gallery of Ontario—Fantastic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fonds 1244, Item 304

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

Fonds 1244, Item 315

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

Series 372, Subseries 53, Item 70

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

Fonds 200, Series 372, Subseries 41 - Miscellaneous photographs

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

Fonds 200, Series 372, Subseries 41 - Miscellaneous photographs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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             Gallery containing paintings of Lauren Harris

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

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                                   The Barns by A. Y. Jackson

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                          Winter scene in Toronto by Lauren Harris

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                      British Columbia totems by Emily Carr

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            Painting in the special Emily Carr Exhibition of 2015. 

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

To view previous blogs about movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories of the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

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   To place an order for this book:

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

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

Theatres Included in the Book:

Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto

Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), the Photodrome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)

Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons

Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown

Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s

 Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede

Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression

Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro

Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years

University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)

 

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