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Toronto’s old St. Clair Theatre—Part II

Series 2182, A-35099-1   DSCN0127

          The St. Clair Theatre c. 1950. City of Toronto Archives, Series 2182 

The St. Clair Theatre, at 1154-1156 St. Clair Avenue West, was a few doors east of the intersection of Dufferin Street and St. Clair Avenue West. I first caught a glimpse of this movie house in the early-1940s, when I was a child and accompanied my mother when she went shopping on St. Clair. The shops along the avenue were a great attraction for her as the alternative was to travel downtown on a Bay streetcar. For me, the big attraction was the huge German Shepherd in the Bell’s Shoe Store. The dog was featured on the cover of the scribblers given to children who visited the store. On the back cover were copies of the multiplication tables. It was a promotional technique that was highly effective. Today, such advertising gimmicks appear as if they belong in the Mediaeval ages.

Map of 1154 St Clair Ave W, Toronto, ON M6E 1B3

                               Location of the St. Clair Theatre

I also remember my father talking about the St. Clair Theatre. After he immigrated to Toronto in 1921, it was a favourite hangout for him and his six brothers since they were living nearby, on Earlscourt Avenue. On hot summer evenings, they often cruised along St. Clair Avenue, trying to catch the eye of a pretty young woman. If my dad were successful, he invited the gal to attend the St. Clair Theatre. During the show, somehow his arm found its way around her shoulder. Perhaps my grandmother overheard my father’s stories about the theatre and this was one of the reasons she objected to movie theatres, fearing that they promoted promiscuous behaviour.

In 1948, my family began attending a church located near Dufferin and St. Clair and I strolled past the theatre on my way to Sunday school. On these occasions, I remembered my dad’s stories about his youthful indiscretions and longed to be of sufficient age to perform a few of my own. Alas, I was forced to be content with the Sunday school teacher’s version of Sampson and Delilah. I was certain that a film version of this tale would be much more risqué. Unfortunately, when “Sampson and Delilah”was released in January 1950, it was an “adult” film and I was too young to purchase a ticket. In 1953, I saw the film “Salome,” starring Rita Hayworth, and my suspicions about bible stories were confirmed.

The St. Clair Theatre was built by the Allen brothers in 1921. They already owned Allen’s Danforth, Allen’s (Tivoli) at Adelaide and Victoria, Allen’s Bloor (Lee’s Palace) and Allen’s Parkdale (The Parkdale). The architect of the St. Clair was C. Howard Crane, at the time employed by the firm of Hynes, Feldman and Watson. The St. Clair’s yellow-brick facades on the south and east were unadorned, except for decorative stone detailing below the cornices. However, similar to other Allen theatres, the interior was tastefully extravagant, especially the high ceiling with its ornamental plaster trim and classical detailing. The theatre successfully displayed the luxury that Allen patrons expected.

However, in the 1920s the theatre possessed no air conditioning, which was uncomfortable during Toronto’s hot summer days and evenings. When my father said that he had “hot times” in the back rows of the St. Clair Theatre, perhaps I misunderstood what he meant. The St. Clair has the distinction of being the only theatre in the world visited by my grandmother. She saw the movie “Captains Courageous” in it in 1937. She lived to be 96 years old and never again darkened the doors of a theatre. Perhaps my grandfather should have sat with her in the back row and cuddled her during the suspenseful parts of the film. On the other hand, she might have considered this to be “Promiscuous behaviour.”

The theatre was extensively renovated in 1950, when new seats were installed. The popularity of the St. Clair Theatre remained throughout the 1950s, but when television caused attendance to dwindle in the 1960s, the theatre was no longer profitable. The wonderful auditorium the Allen brothers had created was divided into two screening spaces. For a few year, Italian films were shown, but this venture also eventually came to an end. The property along St. Clair had greatly increased in value and developers were anxious to purchase the building. It was sold and the space divided into shops. Fortunately, the building survives to this day, though few would ever guess that it was once a highly popular movie house.

St. Clair-Dufferin, March 1920  f1231_it0226[1]

March 15, 1920, streetcar on St. Clair, with Allen’s St. Clair Theatre visible in the background. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1251, file 231, It. 0226

AO 2178 DSCN0126

         Auditorium of the St. Clair, Ontario Archives AO 2178

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Canopy and marquee of the St. Clair, with the entrance and box office visible. Ontario Archives AO 2181

AO 2179 DSCN0125

View of the auditorium from the stage area, revealing the magnificent ceiling and the large balcony. Ontario Archives, AO 2179

DSCN1475

      The site of the former St. Clair Theatre during the summer of 2014.

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

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

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

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

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

   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 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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Toronto’s old movie houses—the Paramount Theatre at 1069 St. Clair Ave.

Paramount 1100-N-97

The Paramount Theatre was on the south side of St. Clair Avenue West, between Lauder and Glenholme avenues. (Photo City of Toronto Archives, Series 488, It.1100). I remember the Paramount Theatre quite clearly, although the above photo does not quite match with my memories, which are from the late-1940s and early-1950s, when its attractive facade was decidedly shabby. In the above picture, the two films listed on the marquee were both released in 1935, so the photo likely dates from 1936, the year the Paramount opened. It was named after the famous Paramount Studios in Hollywood, but had no connection to it. However, in the 1930s, its name created a glamorous image of the glories of the silver screen. The year the Paramount opened, it was licensed to J. B. Goldher and Garson Solway. The auditorium had a concrete floor and its ticket booth was in the lobby. It possessed two aisles, with the following seating pattern of — five seats on the left, an aisle, nine seats in the centre section, another aisle, and five more seats on the right-hand side. The air-conditioning was “water-washed cooled.”

During the 1950s and 1960s, with the advent of television, the Paramount operated on an increasingly tight budget. It attempted to lure customers by offering three feature films for a single admission price. It mainly screened B-movies, cowboy and crime films, and adventure films, accompanied by cartoons, newsreels, and serials. The latter were short films that ran consecutively for several weeks and were also referred to as “cliff-hangers.”

In 1951, the front of the theatre was remodelled by Herbert Duerr. Perhaps this was when the tower was added above the marquee.

When the theatre ceased to operate as a theatre, it became an appliance store. I remember this well, as my friends and I often stopped to watch the television sets in the window. The medium was in its infancy, and stores placed sets in their windows for people to view. As well, they mounted speakers outside the stores to provide the sound. It was an excellent form of advertising. The black and white pictures were grainy and of poor quality, but we thought they were marvellous.  We dreamed of having such a marvel in our living rooms. When the appliance store was sold, the building was listed by the Toronto Real Estate Board at a price of $100,000. 

           Paramout   4

Architect’s drawing for the Paramount Theatre, dated 1936. Drawing from the Toronto Archives.

Paramount 488-11-01-98

The Paramount Theatre in 1936, looking east along St. Clair Avenue toward Oakwood. Photo, City of Toronto Archives, Series 488-11-01-98.

Paramount (2)

The site of the old Paramount when it became a furniture and appliance store. The tower that was above the marquee of the theatre was recycled by the store. Photo from the City of Toronto Archives, from the Toronto Real Estate Board.     

DSCN1472

     The site of the old Paramount Theatre at 1069 St. Clair Avenue in 2013.

DSCN1474   DSCN1473

                     The site of the Paramount Theatre in 2013.

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 .

      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), thePhotodome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

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

 

 

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Toronto’s old movie houses—the Paramount Theatre at 1069 St. Clair Ave.

Paramount 1100-N-97

The Paramount Theatre was on the south side of St. Clair Avenue West, between Lauder and Glenholme avenues. (Photo City of Toronto Archives, Series 488, It.1100). I remember the Paramount Theatre quite clearly, although the above photo does not quite match with my memories, which are from the late-1940s and early-1950s, when its attractive facade was decidedly shabby. In the above picture, the two films listed on the marquee were both released in 1935, so the photo likely dates from 1936, the year the Paramount opened. It was named after the famous Paramount Studios in Hollywood, but had no connection to it. However, in the 1930s, its name created a glamorous image of the glories of the silver screen. The year the Paramount opened, it was licensed to J. B. Goldher and Garson Solway. The auditorium had a concrete floor and its ticket booth was in the lobby. It possessed two aisles, with the following seating pattern of — five seats on the left, an aisle, nine seats in the centre section, another aisle, and five more seats on the right-hand side. The air-conditioning was “water-washed cooled.”

During the 1950s and 1960s, with the advent of television, the Paramount operated on an increasingly tight budget. It attempted to lure customers by offering three feature films for a single admission price. It mainly screened B-movies, cowboy and crime films, and adventure films, accompanied by cartoons, newsreels, and serials. The latter were short films that ran consecutively for several weeks and were also referred to as “cliff-hangers.”

In 1951, the front of the theatre was remodelled by Herbert Duerr. Perhaps this was when the tower was added above the marquee.

When the theatre ceased to operate as a theatre, it became an appliance store. I remember this well, as my friends and I often stopped to watch the television sets in the window. The medium was in its infancy, and stores placed sets in their windows for people to view and mounted speakers outside the stores to provide the sound. It was an excellent form of advertising. The black and white pictures were grainy and of poor quality, but we thought they were marvellous.  We dreamed of having such a marvel in our living rooms. When the appliance store was sold, the building was listed by the Toronto Real Estate Board at a price of $100,000. 

           Paramout   4

Architect’s drawing for the Paramount Theatre, dated 1936. Drawing from the Toronto Archives.

Paramount 488-11-01-98

The Paramount Theatre in 1936, looking east along St. Clair Avenue toward Oakwood. Photo, City of Toronto Archives, Series 488-11-01-98.

Paramount (2)

The site of the old Paramount when it became a furniture and appliance store. The tower that was above the marquee of the theatre was recycled by the store. Photo from the City of Toronto Archives, from the Toronto Real Estate Board.      

DSCN1472

     The site of the old Paramount Theatre at 1069 St. Clair Avenue in 2013.

DSCN1474   DSCN1473

                     The site of the Paramount Theatre in 2013.

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

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

The Uptown 5 Multiplex Theatre on Yonge south of Bloor

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

The Odeon Carlton Theatre

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

The infamous Casino Burlesque Theatre on Queen Street

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

The Garden Theatre at 290 College Street.

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

The Grant Theatre on Oakwood Avenue near Vaughan Road

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

The Odeon Hyland Theatre at Yonge and St. Clair

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

Loew’s Uptown Theatre (the Uptown)

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

The Elgin Theatre (Loew’s Downtown)

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

The 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/

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

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

The St. Clair Theatre, west of Dufferin Street

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

The Odeon Humber theatre at Bloor and Jane Streets (now Humber Cinemas)

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

The 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/

The Biltmore Theatre on Yonge, north of Dundas St.

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

The Coronet Theatre on Yonge St. at Gerrard

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

The Nortown Theatre on Eglinton, west of Bathurst St.

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

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

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

The 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/

The 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/

The Colony Theatre at Vaughan Rd. and Eglinton Ave. West

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

The Radio City Theatre on Bathurst Street, a short distance south of St. Clair

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

The Runnymede Theatre in the Bloor West Village (now a Chapters/Indigo Book Store)

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

The Eglinton Theatre

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

The magnificent Odeon Carlton at Yonge and Carlton Streets

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

The Revue Theatre at 400 Roncesvalles Avenue

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

The Cineplex Odeon Varsity Theatre at Bloor and Bay

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

The “Bloor Hot Docs Cinema” on Bloor Street West

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

The Vaughan Theatre on St. Clair Avenue

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

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/

The ultra-modern Scotiabank Theatre at Richmond and John Streets

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

Cineplex Theatre at Yonge and Dundas Streets

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

The Ed Mirvish Theatre (the Pantages, Imperial and Cannon)

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

The 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/

The 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/

The 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/

Old movie houses of Toronto

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/06/27/old-movie-houses-of-toronto/

The 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/

The 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/

Attending a matinee in the old movie houses of Toronto during the “golden age of cinema”

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/attending-a-movie-matinee-in-toronto-during-the-golden-age-of-cinema/

The 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/

Archival photos of the Imperial and Downtown Theatres on Yonge Street

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

The Elgin/Winter/Garden Theatres on Yonge Street

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

The now vanished Avon Theatre at 1092 Queen Street West

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

To view other posts about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

The Ellis Building on Adelaide Street near Spadina Ave. 

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-ellis-building-on-adelaide-near-spadina/

The Heintzman Building on Yonge Street, next to the Elgin Theatre

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-heintzman-building-on-yonge-street/

The tall narrow building at 242 Yonge Street, south of Dundas

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/torontos-architectural-gems242-yonge-st-south-of-dundas/

Toronto’s first Reference Library at College and St. George Streets.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-original-toronto-public-reference-library/

The Commodore Building at 315-317 Adelaide St. West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-commodore-building-315-317-adelaide-st/

The Graphic Arts Building (condo) on Richmond Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-graphic-arts-building-on-richmond-st/

The Art Deco Victory Building on Richmond Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-victory-building-at-80-adelaide-street-west/

The Concourse Building on Adelaide Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-concourse-building-on-adelaide-st/

The old Bank of Commerce at 197 Yonge Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-old-bank-of-commerce-at-197-yonge-street/

The Traders Bank on Yonge Street—the city’s second skyscraper

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/torontos-architectural-gemstraders-bank-on-yonge-st/

Toronto’s old Union Station on Front Street, built in 1884

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/torontos-lost-architectural-gemsthe-old-union-station/

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church at King and Simcoe Streets.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/torontos-architectural-gemshistoric-st-andrews-on-king-st/

The row houses on Glasgow Street, near Spadina and College Streets

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

The bank at Queen and Simcoe that resembles a Greek temple

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-bank-at-queen-west-and-simcoe-streets/

The cenotaph at Toronto’s Old City Hall

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/torontos-architectural-gemscenotaph-at-old-city-hall/

The magnificent Metropolitan Cathedral at King East and Church Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/torontos-architectural-gemsmetropolitan-cathedral/

St. Stanislaus Koska RC Church on Denison Avenue, north of Queen West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/torontos-architectural-gemsst-stanislaus-koska-rc-church-at-12-denison-avenue/

The historical St. Mary’s Church at Adelaide and Bathurst Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/torontos-architectural-gemsst-marys-alterations-nearly-completed/

The Bishop’s (St, Michael’s) Palace on Church Street, Toronto

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/torontos-architectural-gemsbishops-palace-on-church-street/

The Union Building at Simcoe and King Street West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-union-building-on-king-st/

The Ed Mirvish (Pantages, Imperial, Canon) Theatre, a true architectural gem on Toronto’s Yonge Street

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

The Waverly Hotel on Spadina near College Street.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/16/toronto-architectural-gemsthe-waverly-hotel-484-spadina/

The Art Deco Bank of Commerce building on King Street West.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-bank-of-commerce-cibc-on-king-street/

The Postal Delivery Building, now the Air Canada Centre (ACC)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-postal-delivery-building-now-the-acc/

The Bellevue Fire Station on College Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/14/torontos-architectural-gems-bellevue-fire-station/

The Bank of Nova Scotia at King and Bay Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/torontos-architectural-gems-the-bank-of-nova-scotia-at-king-and-bay/

Toronto’s old Sunnyside Beach

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

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/01/a-pictorial-journey-to-sunnyside-beach-of-old-part-one/

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

Toronto’s architectural gems—the Runnymede Library

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/torontos-architectural-gems-runnymede-library/

Spadina Avenue – sinful, spicy and diverse

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/sinfully-saucy-and-diversetorontos-spadina-avenue/

The Reading Building, a warehouse loft on Spadina Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-reading-building-on-spadina/

The Darling Building on Spadina Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-darling-building-on-spadina/

The amazing Fashion Building on Spadina Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/12/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-amazing-fashion-building-on-spadina/

Toronto’s architectural gems – the Tower Building at Spadina and Adelaide Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/torontos-architectural-gemstower-building-at-spadina-and-adelaide/

The Balfour Building at 119 Spadina Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/07/20/enjoying-torontos-architectural-gemsthe-balfour-building-at-spadina-and-adelaide

The Robertson Building at 215 Spadina that houses the Dark Horse Espresso Bar

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/torontos-architectural-gemsrobertson-building-dark-horse-espresso-bar/

An architectural gem – Grossman’s Tavern at Spadina and Cecil Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/architectural-gem-grossmans-tavern-at-377-9-spadina/Historic

History of the house that contains the Paul Magder Fur Shop at 202 Spadina

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/exploring-torontos-architectural-gemsthe-paul-magder-fur-shop-at-202-spadina-avenue/

An important historic building that disappeared from the northeast corner of Spadina and College

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/a-historic-building-that-disappeared-from-the-northeast-corner-spadina-and-college/

Historic bank building on northeast corner of Spadina and Queen West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/torontos-architectural-gemsbank-at-spadina-and-queen-west/

History of the Backpackers’ Hotel at King and Spadina

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

Hamburger corner – Spadina and Queen Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/torontos-hamburger-cornerwhere-is-it-and-why/

Lord Lansdowne Public School on Spadina Crescent

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/22/torontos-architectural-gems-lord-lansdowne-school-on-spadina-cres/

The Victory Burlesque Theatre at Dundas and Spadina

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

The Dragon City Mall on the southwest corner of Dundas and Spadina

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/08/25/torontos-heritage-the-southwest-corner-of-queen-and-spadina/

Buildings on the west side of Spadina a short distance north of Queen Street.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/torontos-architectural-historyspadina-north-of-queen-kings-court/

History of the site of the Mcdonalds on northwest corner of Queen and Spadina

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/08/27/mcdonalds-at-queen-and-spadina-on-an-historic-site/

A former mansion at 235 Spadina that is now almost hidden from view.

ttps://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/07/04/torontos-architectural-gems-is-this-one-a-joke/

Military hero of the War of 1812 lived near corner of Spadina and Queen West.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/01/military-hero-of-war-of-1812-lived-near-mcdonalds-at-queen-and-spadina/

The Art Deco bus terminal at Bay and Dundas Streets.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/torontos-architectural-gems-art-deco-bus-terminal-on-bay-street/

Photos of the surroundings of the CN Tower and and the St. Lawrence Market in 1977

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/photos-of-the-surroundings-of-the-st-lawrence-market-and-cn-tower-in-1977/

The old Dominion Bank Building at King and Yonge Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/the-old-dominion-bank-buildingnow-a-condo-hotel-at-one-king-st-west/

The Canada Life Building on University and Queen Street West.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/exploring-torontos-architectural-gemsthe-canada-life-building/

Campbell House at the corner of Queen Street West and University Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/18/a-glimpse-at-the-interior-of-campbell-house-at-university-avenue-and-queen-street/

A study of Osgoode Hall

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/enjoying-torontos-architectural-gems-osgoode-hall/

Toronto’s first City Hall, now a part of the St. Lawrence Market

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/torontos-first-city-hall-now-a-part-of-the-st-lawrence-market/

Toronto’s Draper Street, a time-tunnel into the 19th century

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

The Black Bull Tavern at Queen and Soho Streets, established in 1822

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/enjoying-torontos-historic-architectural-gems-queen-streets-black-bull-tavern/

History of the 1867 fence around Osgoode Hall on Queen Street West at York Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/enjoying-torontos-architectural-gems-the-cast-iron-fence-around-osgoode-hall/

Gathering around the radio as a child in the 1940s

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/listening-to-the-radio-as-a-child-in-the-1940s-the-lone-ranger-the-shadow-etc/

The opening of the University Theatre on Bloor Street, west of Bay St.

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

122 persons perish in the Noronic Disaster on Toronto’s waterfront in 1949

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/122-perish-in-torontos-noronic-disaster-horticultural-building-at-cne-used-as-morgue/

Historic Victoria Memorial Square where Toronto’s first cemetery was located, now hidden amid the Entertainment District

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/victoria-square-in-torontos-entertainment-district-is-a-gem/

Visiting one of Toronto’s best preserved 19th-century streets-Willcocks Avenue

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

The 1930s Water Maintenance Building on Brant Street, north of St. Andrew’s Park

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-water-maintenance-building-on-richmond-street-west/

Toronto’s architectural gems-photos of the Old City from a book published by the city in 1912

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-old-city-hall-photographed-in-1912/

Toronto’s architectural gems in 1912

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/torontos-architectural-gems-in-1912/

Toronto’s architectural gems – the bank on the northeast corner of Queen West and Spadina

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/torontos-architectural-gemsbank-at-spadina-and-queen-west/

Photos of the surroundings of the CN Tower and and the St. Lawrence Market in 1977

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/photos-of-the-surroundings-of-the-st-lawrence-market-and-cn-tower-in-1977/

The St. Lawrence Hall on King Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/enjoying-torontos-architectural-gems-the-st-lawrence-hall/

Toronto’s streetcars through the past decades

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

History of Trinity Bellwoods Park

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/the-history-and-beauty-of-trinity-bellwood-park/

A history of Toronto’s famous ferry boats to the Toronto Islands

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

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2013 in Toronto

 

Toronto’s old movie theatres—the St. Clair Major

Major St. Clair, AO 2269

The St. Clair Major was located at 1780 St. Clair Avenue West, which at the time was mainly a working-class district, remote from the downtown. Located a short distance east of Old Weston Road, the theatre originally opened as part of the Allen chain. Because it was easily accessible on the St. Clair and Weston Road streetcar lines, it remained a popular local theatre for several decades.

When the theatre opened in 1924, it contained 599 leatherette seats, separated by two aisles and no balcony. A document in the files at the City of Toronto Archives, dated September 1940, told of a complaint by a woman who stated that she witnessed children and young teenagers in attendance when the film “You Can’t Fool Your Wife” was showing. The woman claimed the movie “exalted the importance of a woman to make herself beautiful at all times, which was less pernicious than the positive teaching that a man cannot get advancement in the business world unless he is loose morally.”

I believe that I understand the gist of the woman’s complaint, but find her choice of words confusing. However, because she contacted the censors, they reviewed the film again and removed more of the dialogue. They also told the woman, “How this picture slipped past the censors is a mystery.” The film was a light comedy, but in the 1940s, what was considered acceptable differed greatly to that of today.

When attendance at the theatre dwindled, the St. Clair Major was renamed “Cinema Italia” and screened Italian movies. Eventually, the building was sold to a church community and remains today as a place of worship.

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Interior of the St. Clair Major in November of 1970. Photo from the City of Toronto Archives, AO 2272.

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View of the rear of the auditorium, City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, file 105, AO 2271

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               Lobby of the theatre, City of Toronto Archives, AO 2270.

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The south facade of the old theatre in September of 2013, the building housing a place of worship.

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        Views of the old St. Clair Major Theatre in August of 2013.

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                                  Lobby area of the old theatre in 2013.

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View gazing east along St. Clair Avenue, from near Old Weston Road in August of 2013. The former St. Clair Major Theatre is on the north side of the streetcar tracks, which are on their own right-of-way.

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

To view previous blogs 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.  

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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 .

 

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Toronto’s old movie houses—the St. Clair Theatre (near Dufferin St.)

March 1920, Toronto Archives, Salmon Coll. 222   DSCN0129

The above photo was taken in March of 1921, gazing east along St. Clair Avenue, from a short distance to the west of Dufferin Street. In this decade, the streetcars travelled on their own right-of-way, similar to today. On the northeast corner of St. Clair and Dufferin is the Imperial Bank (it later became the CIBC). To the east of the bank there is a row of shops, and to the east of them is the St. Clair Theatre. To the east of the theatre, partially blocked from view, is St. Clare Roman Catholic Church. This photo is from the City of Toronto Archives, from the Salmon Collection (It. 222).

The St. Clair Theatre was at 1154-56 St. Clair Avenue, near the northeast corner of St. Clair and Dufferin streets. When it opened in 1921, it was in the heart of the shopping district of the suburban community of Earlscourt, an area where many British immigrants resided. As it was an era without TV, and even radio being rare, St. Clair Avenue was “the place” to stroll whenever the weather permitted. Young men cruised the streets for gals, and couples wandered along the avenue, many of them attending the new theatre for an evening’s entertainment. The original plans for the theatre were drawn up in February of 1919 for the Allen Chain, and it opened its doors in 1921. The architect were Hynes, Feldman and Watson. The firm employed a similar design for the Parkdale Theatre on Queen Street.

The yellow-brick St. Clair Theatre was a large structure that dominated the streetscape. It contained 1137 leatherette seats and a balcony that accommodated a further 419 patrons. When it opened, there was no air-conditioning. The license was eventually transferred to Famous Players Corporation. A candy bar was installed in 1947. In 1950 the theatre was extensively renovated and new seats installed. The number of seats on the main floor was reduced to 1030 and the balcony to 400.

On August 14, 1956 a fire broke out at 10:15 pm in the backstage area. There was no panic and the theatre was quickly evacuated. It was discovered that a cigarette in the ushers’ dressing room was the cause of the fire. The damage was slight and the theatre reopened the following day. In the 1960s, because of the demographic changes in the district, the theatre was converted to screening Italian films and the theatre was altered to contain two auditoriums. In 1967, a three-year-old child was discovered inside the auditorium. No one ever determined how the youngster entered the theatre. People were scandalized by the incident as two restricted films were being shown. 

Because the theatre auditorium was parallel to the street, after the theatre closed, it was easy to convert the structure to shops that faced the avenue for easy pedestrian access. 

Information for this post form the files of the City of Toronto Archives. 

Series 2182, A-35099-1   DSCN0127

The south facade of the St. Clair Theatre. This photo from the City of Toronto Archives (Series 2182-A-35099-1) was likely taken in 1950, since a 1949 Torpedo-back Pontiac is parked outside the theatre.

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The orchestra and balcony of the St. Clair Theatre. Photo from the City of Toronto Archives, AO 2179.

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View of the interior from the rear of the theatre, looking toward the screen. Photo from the City of Toronto Archives, A0 2178.

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Entrance of the St. Clair Theatre. Photo from the City of Toronto Archives, from the collection of the Ontario Archives, AO 2181.

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This photo was likely taken about the year 1951, as the film shown on the marque, “No Way Out,” was released in 1950. Photo from the City of Toronto Archives, A0 2183.

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View looking west along St. Clair Avenue toward Dufferin Street in September of 2013. The Church of St. Clare is in the foreground, on the northeast corner of St. Clair and Westmount Avenue. The St. Clair Theatre building is to the west (left side)of the church

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              The old St. Clair Theatre building in September of 2013.

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The east facade of the old theatre site on Westmount Avenue. Notice the designs in the stonework near the top of the building.

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Views of the detailed stonework on the south facade of the building.

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Large brackets that remain on the south facade, which held the chains that supported marquee. 

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An emergency exit on the east facade that is now cemented over, and the charming  detailing above the exit.

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The north facade of the theatre in the laneway behind the building, the emergency exits and windows now bricked over (2013).

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The old St. Clair Theatre, viewed from the south side of the street in August of 2013.

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

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

The Odeon Humber theatre at Bloor and Jane Streets (now Humber Cinemas)

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

The 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/

The Biltmore Theatre on Yonge, north of Dundas St.

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

The Coronet Theatre on Yonge St. at Gerrard

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

The Nortown Theatre on Eglinton, west of Bathurst St.

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

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

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

The 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/

The 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/

The Colony Theatre at Vaughan Road and Eglinton Avenue

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

The Runnymede Theatre in the Bloor West Village (now a Chapters/Indigo Book Store)

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

The Eglinton Theatre

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

The magnificent Odeon Carlton at Yonge and Carlton Streets

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

The Revue Theatre at 400 Roncesvalles Avenue

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

The Cineplex Odeon Varsity Theatre at Bloor and Bay

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

The “Bloor Hot Docs Cinema” on Bloor Street West

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

The Vaughan Theatre on St. Clair Avenue

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

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/

The ultra-modern Scotiabank Theatre at Richmond and John Streets

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

Cineplex Theatre at Yonge and Dundas Streets

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

The Ed Mirvish Theatre (the Pantages, Imperial and Cannon)

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

The 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/

The 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/

The 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/

Old movie houses of Toronto

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/06/27/old-movie-houses-of-toronto/

The 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/

The 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/

Attending a matinee in the old movie houses of Toronto during the “golden age of cinema”

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/attending-a-movie-matinee-in-toronto-during-the-golden-age-of-cinema/

The 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/

Archival photos of the Imperial and Downtown Theatres on Yonge Street

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

The Elgin/Winter/Garden Theatres on Yonge Street

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

The now vanished Avon Theatre at 1092 Queen Street West

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

To view other posts about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

The Ellis Building on Adelaide Street near Spadina Ave. 

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-ellis-building-on-adelaide-near-spadina/

The Heintzman Building on Yonge Street, next to the Elgin Theatre

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-heintzman-building-on-yonge-street/

The tall narrow building at 242 Yonge Street, south of Dundas

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/torontos-architectural-gems242-yonge-st-south-of-dundas/

Toronto’s first Reference Library at College and St. George Streets.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-original-toronto-public-reference-library/

The Commodore Building at 315-317 Adelaide St. West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-commodore-building-315-317-adelaide-st/

The Graphic Arts Building (condo) on Richmond Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-graphic-arts-building-on-richmond-st/

The Art Deco Victory Building on Richmond Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-victory-building-at-80-adelaide-street-west/

The Concourse Building on Adelaide Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-concourse-building-on-adelaide-st/

The old Bank of Commerce at 197 Yonge Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-old-bank-of-commerce-at-197-yonge-street/

The Traders Bank on Yonge Street—the city’s second skyscraper

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/torontos-architectural-gemstraders-bank-on-yonge-st/

Toronto’s old Union Station on Front Street, built in 1884

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/torontos-lost-architectural-gemsthe-old-union-station/

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church at King and Simcoe Streets.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/torontos-architectural-gemshistoric-st-andrews-on-king-st/

The row houses on Glasgow Street, near Spadina and College Streets

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

The bank at Queen and Simcoe that resembles a Greek temple

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-bank-at-queen-west-and-simcoe-streets/

The cenotaph at Toronto’s Old City Hall

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/torontos-architectural-gemscenotaph-at-old-city-hall/

The magnificent Metropolitan Cathedral at King East and Church Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/torontos-architectural-gemsmetropolitan-cathedral/

St. Stanislaus Koska RC Church on Denison Avenue, north of Queen West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/torontos-architectural-gemsst-stanislaus-koska-rc-church-at-12-denison-avenue/

The historical St. Mary’s Church at Adelaide and Bathurst Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/torontos-architectural-gemsst-marys-alterations-nearly-completed/

The Bishop’s (St, Michael’s) Palace on Church Street, Toronto

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/torontos-architectural-gemsbishops-palace-on-church-street/

The Union Building at Simcoe and King Street West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-union-building-on-king-st/

The Ed Mirvish (Pantages, Imperial, Canon) Theatre, a true architectural gem on Toronto’s Yonge Street

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

The Waverly Hotel on Spadina near College Street.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/16/toronto-architectural-gemsthe-waverly-hotel-484-spadina/

The Art Deco Bank of Commerce building on King Street West.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-bank-of-commerce-cibc-on-king-street/

The Postal Delivery Building, now the Air Canada Centre (ACC)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-postal-delivery-building-now-the-acc/

The Bellevue Fire Station on College Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/14/torontos-architectural-gems-bellevue-fire-station/

The Bank of Nova Scotia at King and Bay Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/torontos-architectural-gems-the-bank-of-nova-scotia-at-king-and-bay/

Toronto’s old Sunnyside Beach

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

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/01/a-pictorial-journey-to-sunnyside-beach-of-old-part-one/

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

Toronto’s architectural gems—the Runnymede Library

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/torontos-architectural-gems-runnymede-library/

Spadina Avenue – sinful, spicy and diverse

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/sinfully-saucy-and-diversetorontos-spadina-avenue/

The Reading Building, a warehouse loft on Spadina Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-reading-building-on-spadina/

The Darling Building on Spadina Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-darling-building-on-spadina/

The amazing Fashion Building on Spadina Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/12/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-amazing-fashion-building-on-spadina/

Toronto’s architectural gems – the Tower Building at Spadina and Adelaide Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/torontos-architectural-gemstower-building-at-spadina-and-adelaide/

The Balfour Building at 119 Spadina Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/07/20/enjoying-torontos-architectural-gemsthe-balfour-building-at-spadina-and-adelaide

The Robertson Building at 215 Spadina that houses the Dark Horse Espresso Bar

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/torontos-architectural-gemsrobertson-building-dark-horse-espresso-bar/

An architectural gem – Grossman’s Tavern at Spadina and Cecil Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/architectural-gem-grossmans-tavern-at-377-9-spadina/Historic

History of the house that contains the Paul Magder Fur Shop at 202 Spadina

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/exploring-torontos-architectural-gemsthe-paul-magder-fur-shop-at-202-spadina-avenue/

An important historic building that disappeared from the northeast corner of Spadina and College

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/a-historic-building-that-disappeared-from-the-northeast-corner-spadina-and-college/

Historic bank building on northeast corner of Spadina and Queen West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/torontos-architectural-gemsbank-at-spadina-and-queen-west/

History of the Backpackers’ Hotel at King and Spadina

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

Hamburger corner – Spadina and Queen Streets

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/torontos-hamburger-cornerwhere-is-it-and-why/

Lord Lansdowne Public School on Spadina Crescent

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/22/torontos-architectural-gems-lord-lansdowne-school-on-spadina-cres/

The Victory Burlesque Theatre at Dundas and Spadina

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

The Dragon City Mall on the southwest corner of Dundas and Spadina

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/08/25/torontos-heritage-the-southwest-corner-of-queen-and-spadina/

Buildings on the west side of Spadina a short distance north of Queen Street.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/torontos-architectural-historyspadina-north-of-queen-kings-court/

History of the site of the Mcdonalds on northwest corner of Queen and Spadina

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/08/27/mcdonalds-at-queen-and-spadina-on-an-historic-site/

A former mansion at 235 Spadina that is now almost hidden from view.

ttps://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/07/04/torontos-architectural-gems-is-this-one-a-joke/

Military hero of the War of 1812 lived near corner of Spadina and Queen West.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/01/military-hero-of-war-of-1812-lived-near-mcdonalds-at-queen-and-spadina/

The Art Deco bus terminal at Bay and Dundas Streets.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/torontos-architectural-gems-art-deco-bus-terminal-on-bay-street/

Photos of the surroundings of the CN Tower and and the St. Lawrence Market in 1977

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/photos-of-the-surroundings-of-the-st-lawrence-market-and-cn-tower-in-1977/

The old Dominion Bank Building at King and Yonge Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/the-old-dominion-bank-buildingnow-a-condo-hotel-at-one-king-st-west/

The Canada Life Building on University and Queen Street West.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/exploring-torontos-architectural-gemsthe-canada-life-building/

Campbell House at the corner of Queen Street West and University Avenue

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/18/a-glimpse-at-the-interior-of-campbell-house-at-university-avenue-and-queen-street/

A study of Osgoode Hall

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/enjoying-torontos-architectural-gems-osgoode-hall/

Toronto’s first City Hall, now a part of the St. Lawrence Market

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/torontos-first-city-hall-now-a-part-of-the-st-lawrence-market/

Toronto’s Draper Street, a time-tunnel into the 19th century

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

The Black Bull Tavern at Queen and Soho Streets, established in 1822

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/enjoying-torontos-historic-architectural-gems-queen-streets-black-bull-tavern/

History of the 1867 fence around Osgoode Hall on Queen Street West at York Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/enjoying-torontos-architectural-gems-the-cast-iron-fence-around-osgoode-hall/

Gathering around the radio as a child in the 1940s

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/listening-to-the-radio-as-a-child-in-the-1940s-the-lone-ranger-the-shadow-etc/

The opening of the University Theatre on Bloor Street, west of Bay St.

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

122 persons perish in the Noronic Disaster on Toronto’s waterfront in 1949

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/122-perish-in-torontos-noronic-disaster-horticultural-building-at-cne-used-as-morgue/

Historic Victoria Memorial Square where Toronto’s first cemetery was located, now hidden amid the Entertainment District

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/victoria-square-in-torontos-entertainment-district-is-a-gem/

Visiting one of Toronto’s best preserved 19th-century streets-Willcocks Avenue

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

The 1930s Water Maintenance Building on Brant Street, north of St. Andrew’s Park

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-water-maintenance-building-on-richmond-street-west/

Toronto’s architectural gems-photos of the Old City from a book published by the city in 1912

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-old-city-hall-photographed-in-1912/

Toronto’s architectural gems in 1912

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/torontos-architectural-gems-in-1912/

Toronto’s architectural gems – the bank on the northeast corner of Queen West and Spadina

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/torontos-architectural-gemsbank-at-spadina-and-queen-west/

Photos of the surroundings of the CN Tower and and the St. Lawrence Market in 1977

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/photos-of-the-surroundings-of-the-st-lawrence-market-and-cn-tower-in-1977/

The St. Lawrence Hall on King Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/enjoying-torontos-architectural-gems-the-st-lawrence-hall/

Toronto’s streetcars through the past decades

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

History of Trinity Bellwoods Park

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/the-history-and-beauty-of-trinity-bellwood-park/

A history of Toronto’s famous ferry boats to the Toronto Islands

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

 

 

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Posted by on October 2, 2013 in Toronto

 

Toronto’s old movie houses—the Oakwood Theatre at St. Clair and Oakwood

Oakwood, phot Mandel Sprach.

The Oakwood Theatre c. 1940.  Photo from City of Toronto Archives, Mandel Sprachman Collection. The film “Dark Victory” starring Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart was released in 1939.

series 881 , File 350

This photo was also likely taken about 1940, as the film “Four Daughters Courageous” was released in 1939. Photo from City of Toronto Archives, Series 881, File 350.

Series 881, File 350

Another photo from c. 1940, as the classic film “Wizard of Oz” is playing. It was released in 1939. Photo from City of Toronto Archives, Series 881, File 350.

Oakwood Tor. R. Lib. 

The above photo shows the interior of the Oakwood. It had approximately 1200 seats, with two centre aisles and two side aisles. This undated photo is from the Toronto Reference Library Collection.

The Oakwood Theatre opened in 1917 in the suburban community of Earlscourt,  to the northwest of the downtown area. When it opened, the much smaller Royal George Theatre, west of Dufferin Street, was the only other theatre in the district. Recently, the area where the Oakwood Theatre once stood was renamed “Regal Village.”

The Oakwood Theatre was a project of the developer James Crang Jr. The street one block west of Oakwood Avenue is named Crang Avenue, after him. When the theatre opened, it claimed to be the largest theatre auditorium in the city, which was not true as Shea’s Hippodrome seated 3000. In 1924, after the Rogers Road streetcar line was inaugurated, its southern loop at St. Clair was constructed around the theatre. Eventually, the Oakwood streetcar used the same loop. Thus. the Oakwood’s location an ideal as it was situated at a transportation hub, with thousands of people able to travel to the theatre either of the two streetcar lines.

Descriptions of the theatre in the files of the Toronto Reference Library state that the theatre had large crystal chandeliers. They are the over-exposed bright spots in the above photo. There was no balcony. The facade facing Oakwood Avenue was plain but attractive, with terracotta tiles on the slanted roof. These tiles (Mediterranean/California-style) were quite popular throughout the 1920s. The apartment buildings on the south side of St. Clair, immediately east of Oakwood Avenue, possess the same type of tiles and they still can be seen today.  

The Oakwood eventually became part of the Famous Players Chain. While downtown theatres screened the latest Hollywood films, the Oakwood showed movies that appealed to the British immigrants who lived in the surrounding area. The theatre was demolished in 1962, and there is now an apartment building on the site, with the postal address of 161 Oakwood Avenue.

I remember the the Oakwood Theatre well, since I attended it many times as a teenager. During the evenings, between film features, there was an intermission. Many patrons came outside to enjoy a cigarette. A friend and I sometimes mingled with the crowd and entered the theatre for free to view the second film of the evening. Somehow, we managed to live with our guilt and enjoy the films.

Sources, files of the City of Toronto Archives and Toronto Reference Library, as well as John Sebert’s book, “The Nabes.”

#9825, Tor.A. TTC Oakwood Avenue

Oakwood Avenue, looking north from St. Clair Avenue in the 1920s. The Oakwood Theatre is on the right-hand side of the picture. In the background can be seen the Rogers Road or Oakwood streetcars. Photo City of Toronto Archives, 9825.

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Same scene as above, in 2013. The northbound set of streetcar tracks is now paved over. The tall apartment building on the right is where the Oakwood Theatre was located. 

Oakwood Theatre, Tor. A. 9825

                  The entrance of the Oakwood in the 1920s.

 

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Apartment building on the site of the Oakwood Theatre (2013)

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Streetcar loop that at one time went around the Oakwood Theatre (August, 2013). The houses on the north side of the loop have survived since the days when the theatre was located to the south of it.

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.

                           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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Posted by on September 28, 2013 in Toronto

 

Toronto’s old movie theatres—the Royal George on St. Clair near Dufferin

Royal George Sept. 54

This photo of the Royal George is from the City of Toronto Archives. When it was taken, there was a billiard parlour on the third floor, the door going up to it on the west (right-hand) side of the theatre entrance. A shop is on the left-hand side of the entrance. The front of the building is symmetrical, with a parapet above a cornice that consists of decorative rows of bricks that simulate dentils. To the east of the theatre is laneway, which has since disappeared. This photo dates from September of 1954. The film on the marquee, “Sophia,” starring Gene Raymond, was released in 1948. It is strange that a 1920s car is parked in front of the theatre.

The Royal George Theatre at 1217 St. Clair Avenue West, a short distance west of Dufferin Street, was originally was located farther east along the street, on the southwest corner of Dufferin and St. Clair. It opened as “The Picture Palace” sometime during the early years of the 20th century. The building that housed the theatre remains in existence today, and now houses shops, and offices. The Picture Palace was the first theatre to open in the rural Earlscourt District, in the days when it was a remote community above the Davenport Road Hill. The area did not have a streetcar line that connected it to the downtown until 1913, but despite its isolation, it attracted numerous immigrants, mostly from Britain. They constructed houses in Earlscourt as land prices were cheap and there were almost no building codes. It was known at the time as “muddy Earlscourt” as the rains of spring and autumn turned the streets into a sea of mud. It was into this environment that the “Picture Palace” opened its doors.

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This photo from the City of Toronto Archives (SC 231, Item 221) gazes west along St. Clair at Dufferin Street. “The Picture Palace” can be seen on the southwest corner of Dufferin and St. Clair Avenue West. The picture was likely taken about the year 1920, as the streetcar tracks are already in place and movie playing at the theatre was “The Fatal Fortune,” starring Helen Holmes, released in 1919. Because the auditorium of the theatre was aligned east-west, parallel to the street, after the theatre relocated it was easy to convert the building to small shops that faced busy St. Clair Avenue. Apartments were located above the theatre to offset operating costs of the theatre.

When the theatre opened, attending movie houses was frowned upon by the churches and “respectable society.” Several years ago I interviewed a lady who was over 90 years of age at the time. She had lived on Rosemount Avenue, located two blocks south of St. Clair, west off Dufferin. As a child, her family attended the small Salvation Army congregation who worshipped in a small hall beside the theatre, on its west side. The church was named the Earlscourt Citadel Corps. As a child she often passed the theatre and gazed at the advertisements for the films. Her parents had warned her never to enter the theatre, as to do so was very sinful. However, because movies were not allowed on Sundays by law, her church often rented the theatre for special musical programs and religious campaigns.  She was inside the theatre many times on these occasions. She said that she often wondered what sins occurred within the building during the weekdays. One of the farewell services for the Canadian Staff Band of the Salvation Army was held within the theatre. On May 29, 1914, most of the members of this band perished when the HMS Empress of Ireland sank in the St. Lawrence River, claiming the lives of over 800 victims.

During the First World War, the theatre continued to operate on its corner location. Sometime during the war years, its owners decided to relocate farther along the street, to the west, at 1217 St. Clair. Due to the patriotic fervour created by the war, and because the area was inhabited mostly by British immigrants, the name of the theatre was changed to the “Royal George.”  Its owner was Mr. A. McCullock, and his new theatre contained 456 seats, which was less than in its former location. 

Several years ago, a woman was interviewed whose mother was employed as a cleaner at the Royal George Theatre in 1919. She said that in that year it was Mrs. MCullock who operated the theatre. It is assumed that her husband had passed away. The cleaning woman said that Mrs. McCullock was very kind, on one occasion purchasing a winter coat for her. Mrs. McCullock ran the theatre and sold tickets in the ticket booth, where she always placed a bouquet of flowers. The interviewed woman’s mother, when cleaning the auditorium, lifted the seats to clean and was delighted if she discovered a nickel or penny that had dropped to the floor.

An ex-colleague of mine told me that he remembers attending the Royal George in 1944, when the film “The White Cliffs of Dover” was playing. A woman became hysterical during the screening and an ambulance was summonsed. This was during the war, and he thought that perhaps the emotional impact of the war movie was “too real” for her. 

The Royal George remained as a thriving theatre for many decades, even after the St. Clair Theatre opened in 1921, a block to the east. However, similar to most of the city’s old theatres, the age of television diminished the crowds. In September of 1954, the theatre was for sale for the price of $147,000, but it remained a functioning theatre for another decade. It eventually closed and was converted for commercial purposes.

I have only one connection to the theatre that stands out in my memory. In the early 1950s, when Sunday movies remained illegal, the theatre was rented to the Christian Science Church. I had an uncle who had converted to the religion, and he took my brother and me to a service in the theatre. The guest soloist for the occasion warbled so badly off key that my brother and I had great difficulty restraining our laughter. I find it strange that this memory remains with me after all these years.

Today, the building remains on St. Clair Avenue, but all traces of the theatre have disappeared. The facade has a new layer of bricks. Most who pass by on the street have no idea that it was once the sight of a highly popular neighbourhood theatre.

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The box office and billboards for “Picture Palace Theatre” on the corner of Dufferin and St. Clair (left-hand photo). The right-hand picture shows porch of the small Salvation Army Hall to the west of the theatre, and a shop with a Coca Cola sign on it.

Series 1278, File 146  DSCN1695

This view is gazing east along St. Clair Avenue, the Royal George Theatre on the south side of St. Clair.  In the foreground is a Peter Witt streetcar on the Bay Street route. These cars began service in Toronto in 1921, and were employed on Yonge Street until the Yonge Subway opened in 1954. The Bay streetcars ran along St. Clair as far west as Lansdowne Avenue, and on the return trip went eastbound on St. Clair, down Avenue Road, east on Davenport, and then south on Bay St. to the ferry docks. This photo was likely taken in the 1940s. Notice that the theatre marquee is different to the one shown in the 1954 photo.

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The southwest corner of Dufferin and St. Clair in 2013. The yellow building was the site of “The Picture Palace.” Shops have been constructed into the east and north facades of the old theatre. Apartments and offices remain above the former auditorium, but the upper windows have been enlarged. 

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The east facade of the old theatre, on Dufferin Street. The box office of the theatre was located on the corner where the man can be seen standing with his hands in his pockets.

DSCN1493  Royal George Sept. 54

(Left) The site of the Royal George in 2013, and (right) the theatre in 1954. Notice that the shop to the right of the theatre remains recognizable today.

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The refaced south facade of the former “Royal George Theatre” on St. Clair West in September of 2013.

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

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

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

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog.

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

                 To place an order for this book:

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

 

 

 

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Toronto’s lost treasures—the Vaughan Theatre on St. Clair Ave.

                         photo-toronto-vaughn-road-looking-towards-st-clair-ave-note-vaughn-theatre-reitmans-esso[1]

The Vaughan Theatre on St. Clair Avenue, near Vaughan Road. The picture was taken in 1950 when the film “Francis the Talking Mule” with Tony Curtis, Piper Laurie and Donald O’Connor was playing. The automobile in the foreground is a 1949-torpedo-back Chevrolet. The photo is from the collection of John Chuckman.

The Vaughan Theatre disappeared from the Toronto scene many decades ago, but it remains vivid in my memory as it was one of the first theatres that my parents allowed me to attend that was not within walking distance of our house. I especially recall that on hot summer days, when the streets of Toronto sizzled with heat, my friends and I boarded a Vaughan Bus at Oakwood Avenue and Vaughan Road to travel to the theatre. Because the Vaughan Theatre was only three years old in 1950, the air-conditioning system was new. It was “goose-bump” cold. I also remember seeing the film “Francis the Talking Mule” at the Vaughan. As we were pre-teens at that time, my friends and I thought it immensely funny. I remember the line in the movie when Francis the Mule said that he received his information from the FBI—”Feed Bag Information.” 

The doors of the Vaughan Theatre facing St. Clair Avenue were large sheets of glass, with no metal frames around them. We considered this to be ultra-modern. The appeal of the theatre continued in the lobby area, where a sleek candy bar of metal and glass wrapped round the north side of the lobby. On either side of the candy bar were sloped ramps that led up to the auditorium. The seats were extra plush and the stage curtains were rich in appearance and velvety. I believe that they were royal red. When they majestically parted to allow the featured films to begin, it was as if a window on the world had opened. I remember viewing the film, “Son of Ali Baba,” starring a very young Tony Cutis and the beautiful Piper Laurie at the Vaughan in  1952. In the movie, when the magic carpet flew over the city of Bagdad, I felt as if I were floating away to realms beyond my wildest dreams. The magic of the movies never departed from my heart.

The Vaughan was built in 1947, two years after the Second World War. During the war years, because the news from the battlefront in Europe had been depressing, with casualties reported daily, the movies allowed an avenue of escape for Torontonians. Following the war, movies remained highly popular and new theatres continued to be opened throughout the city. The Vaughan was one of these, and for “B and F” Theatres, it was considered one of their finest venues. It seated 1000 move-goers, which was more than the companies’ other two large theatres—the Donlands in East York and the Century on the Danforth. Because theatres competed for audiences, they offered special promotions to attract people on Monday and Tuesday evenings, when audiences were more sparse. Free chinaware and autographed pictures of movie stars were among the items offered.

The architectural firm that designed the Vaughan was  Kaplan and Sprachman. Harold Solomon Kaplan (1895-1973) and Mandel Sprachman created the designs for many of the city’s finest theatres—the Casino, Eglinton, Downtown, Bellevue, Colony, and the Town Cinema. Those who remember Toronto’s golden age of movie houses, will recognize these names.

The Earlscourt History Club, on a post published in November of 2009, stated that there is a story about a man who hanged himself in the Vaughan Theatre, on its opening night. Lore has it that the building became haunted. As a pre-teen, I never heard this rumour, but if I had, it would have added to the appeal of this grand theatre. Unfortunately, the only goose-bumps I experienced in the theatre were from the air-conditioning, rather than from a ghost. 

The Vaughan Theatre was demolished in the 1980s, and several commercial buildings now occupy the site.

photo-toronto-vaughn-road-looking-towards-st-clair-ave-note-vaughn-theatre-reitmans-esso[1]

The 1950s photo looks east along St. Clair Avenue towards Vaughan Road. The Vaughan Theatre is on the north side of the street. In the photo, on the right-hand side, there is a partial view of the east corner of a F. W. Woolworth Store. The chain of department stores became Woolco in 1962. Photo is from the collection of John Chuckman.

Vaughan Mandel S.

            Interior of the Vaughan (Photo, City of Toronto Archives)

OA 2195

                Interior of the Vaughan (City of Toronto Archives)

                         OA 2194

The magnificent marquee of the Vaughan in 1948 (Photo City of Toronto Archives)

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This photo is also about 1948, as the film “Framed” with Glenn Ford was released in 1947. Photo from City of Toronto Archives

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

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

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/

The ultra-modern Scotiabank Theatre at Richmond and John Streets

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

Cineplex Theatre at Yonge and Dundas Streets

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

The Ed Mirvish Theatre (the Pantages, Imperial and Cannon)

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

The 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/

The 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/

The 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/

Old movie houses of Toronto

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/06/27/old-movie-houses-of-toronto/

The Odeon Carlton theatre on Carlton St., east of Yonge St.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/07/02/colour-photo-of-the-odeon-carlton-in-1956-a-marilyn-monroe-film-playing/

2011/07/02/colour-photo-of-the-odeon-carlton-in-1956-a-marilyn-monroe-film-playing/https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

The 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/

The 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/

Attending a matinee in the old movie houses of Toronto during the “golden age of cinema”

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/attending-a-movie-matinee-in-toronto-during-the-golden-age-of-cinema/

The 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/

Archival photos of the Imperial and Downtown Theatres on Yonge Street

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

The Elgin/Winter/Garden Theatres on Yonge Street

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

The now vanished Avon Theatre at 1092 Queen Street West

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

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2013 in Toronto

 

Exploring Historic Spadina House and Museum, Toronto

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Spadina House at 285 Spadina Road in August 2014. The view gazes northeast toward the west (left-hand) and the south facades. On the south (right-hand) side is a large second-storey veranda that has a commanding view of the city below the hill. On the first floor, below the veranda, is the glassed-in “palm room,” containing a winter garden.

Spadina House (and museum), on the brow of the hill that overlooks Davenport Road, is one of the most historic properties in Toronto. Exploring the house on a guided tour provides an intimate look into the life of the Austin family. The Austins moved into the home in 1866 and a member of the family remained in residence until 1982. Today, it mainly features the life of the Austins during the 1920s. In the warm months, visiting it also provides an opportunity to explore one of Toronto’s finest, restored Victorian gardens.

The story of the property where Spadina House is situated begins in the final years of the 18th century, when Toronto was the small colonial town of York. In 1798, the land where the house is now located was part of a 200-acre lot acquired by William Willcocks. In 1803, Willcock’s daughter, Phoebe, married William W. Baldwin, an Irish immigrant. Phoebe inherited the Baldwin property from her father’s first cousin, Elizabeth Russell, the sister of Peter Russell. Elizabeth suffered from mental illness during her later years, but did not pass away until 1822. Thus, William and Phoebe Baldwin must have gained control of the property prior to her death.

Because William Baldwin intended to erect a grand home on the land, in 1813, he commenced building an impressive roadway, 132 feet wide and a mile and a half in length, as a grand carriageway to the dwelling. The roadway led from the bottom of the hill (Davenport Road), south to Queen Street. South of Queen was Brock Street, which was connected directly to the lake.

ist Balwin by Owen Staples, done 1912.

In 1818, Baldwin finally constructed his dream home. He named it Spadina, an Anglicised version of the Ojibwa word “ishpadinaa,” meaning a “hill or a sudden rise of land.” Henry Scadding wrote rather condescendingly in “Toronto of Old,” published in 1873, that the word “ishpadinaa” had been “tastefully modified.”  On the left is a watercolour of it, painted in 1912 by Owen Staples, based on a sketch of 1888. The watercolour is in the collection of the Toronto Public Library. A description of the house is contained in a letter written by William Baldwin in 1819. “I have a very commodious house in the Country . . . The house consists of two large parlours, hall and staircase on the first floor—four bedrooms and a small library on the 2nd — three Excellent bed rooms in the attic storey or garret — with several closets on every storey, a kitchen, dairy and root cellar, wine cellar, and man’s bedroom underground.” It was indeed a luxurious residence for a “country home,” as  Baldwin owned another house in the town.

To improve the view from his residence,” Baldwin cleared 300 feet of wild growth to the south of it, between the house and the edge of the escarpment. When completed, it provided a panoramic view of the land below the heights, which included the wide carriageway that became Spadina Avenue. In the distance, the town was visible, nestled beside the waters of Lake Ontario.

2nd Baldwin House, by F W Poole, done 1912   TPL

Unfortunately, Spadina House burnt in 1835. Baldwin was now 60 years old, and rather than live on the remote property atop the hill, he moved into his mansion on the northeast corner of Bay and Front Streets. However, he erected another country home above the hill in 1836, but the one-story dwelling was more modest in size compared to the original Spadina House. The watercolour on the left depicts the second Spadina House, painted by F. W. Poole in 1912, from a sketch drawn in 1888.

William Baldwin died in 1844 and the property passed to his son Robert Baldwin. He began sub-dividing the estate, selling parcels of land to prospective buyers. By 1866, only 80 acres remained and at an auction, they were purchased by the founder of The Dominion Bank and president of the Consumers’ Gas Company—James Austin. 

James Austin was born March 6, 1813. His family immigrated to Upper Canada (Ontario), arriving in York (Toronto) in October 1829. For two months, the Austins sought to establish themselves on a farm close to York (Toronto). Unsuccessful, they settled in Trafalgar Township in the Oakville area. When James was sixteen, he was apprenticed to William Lyon Mackenzie in his printing shop. Austin spent four and a half years with Mackenzie before establishing his own printing business. After the rebellion of 1837, he relocated to the United States, since it was too risky to remain in Toronto for anyone with connections to Mackenzie, “the rebel.” In 1843, Austin determined that it was safe to return to Canada West (Ontario).

Austin had earned sufficient funds while in the United States to open in Toronto a wholesale and retail grocery business in partnership with another Irishman, Patrick Foy. Austin eventually amassed further funds by investing in banking and natural gas. In 1866, in an auction, with a successful bid of £3,550, he purchased Spadina House, built by William Warren Baldwin. He demolished the house and erected a grand residence on the site, which he named Spadina. No architect was listed. It was the third house constructed on the site that possessed the name “Spadina.”

Austin’s home had two-storeys, although a third floor was added sometime between 1905 and 1915. In 1866, the entrance hall, with its intricately carved woodwork and elaborate crown mouldings, was built to impress visitors. Austin was an avid hunter and placed two stuffed wolves on either side of the interior of the doorway. Stuffed animals of various species were very popular among the wealthy at this time. Upon entering the entrance hall, guests had an unobstructed view of the magnificent grand staircase. This added to the sense of awe that Austin was desirous of creating.

The drawing room (parlour), the most impressive room in the house, was on the right-hand (south) side of the entrance hall. For the comfort of guests, due the room’s size, it possessed two white marble fireplaces, one at each end of the room. On the south side of the drawing room was the palm room, a sunny greenhouse-like area containing many potted flowering plants, as well as palms. Large doors on the south side of the palm room opened onto the outdoor terrace that overlooked the lawns and the city in the distance, to the south.

The dining room was also on the first floor, the room’s windows facing east to catch the morning light. It was relocated in the years ahead, and the former dining room became the library. The spacious kitchen was close to the dining room. It was bright and cheerful, unlike most kitchens in wealthy homes of the period, which were in the basement. To supplement the kitchen there was a pantry, scullery, storage space, and a large built-in icebox.   

The grand curved staircase in the entrance hall led to the second floor. There was an intimate sitting room at the top of the stairs (the Blue Room). The bedrooms on the second storey were spacious and well furnished.

The home greatly impressed the citizens of Toronto. Henry Scadding in his book “Toronto of Old,” published in 1873, wrote: “. . . before us to the north, on the ridge which bounds the view in the distance, we discern a large white object. This is Spadina House, from which the avenue into which Brocks Street passes takes its name.” 

In the years after Spadina was built, other wealthy families purchased property from James Austin to erect their own mansions. By 1889, only 40 acres remained of the land that had comprised the original Austin estate. In 1892, James Austin passed the title of Spadina and the land surrounding it to his son, Albert William Austin. James Austin passed away in 1897.

Albert and Mary continued to expand Spadina. An extension was added on the north side that contained a new dining room, its windows facing west. As mentioned, the former dining room became a library, but in reality it was employed as an extension of the drawing room. During this period, Albert and Mary added two more bedrooms, improved servants’ quarters, and constructed a circular driveway and new kitchen. One of the most impressive additions was a magnificent billiard room, designed by the popular 19th-century architect W.C. Vaux Chadwick. The room also possessed colourful murals by interior decorator Gustav Hahn, who pioneered Art Nouveau in Canada.

A beautiful and visually prominent canopy of handcrafted wrought iron and glass was erected over the main door. Referred to as a “porte-cochère,” it was designed by Carrere and Hastings. It protected guests and family members that arrived by vehicle from the weather. It is likely that at the same time the enclosed porch was added, and the main doorway relocated so that it faced west, rather than south.

Albert constructed a two-storey stucco garage in 1909, which contained a chauffeur’s residence on the second floor. In 1913 a greenhouse was added to the property, its entrance possessing a Gothic-style doorway. There were now 13 bedrooms, most of them for guests. The servants at Spadina were housed on the third floor, each having their own room, though they shared a toilet, bath and sitting room. By 1913, the house was complete and appeared much the same as it appears today.

Because the family was among the most prominent in the city, an invitation to dine at Spadina was highly coveted. During formal dinners in the 1920s, Mrs. Mary Austin (wife of Albert) always sat at the head of the table, nearest to the kitchen, permitting her to inspect the food when it appeared. A small foot-pedal under the table allowed her to summons the staff surreptitiously to remove empty dishes and to signal when the next course was to be served. Thus, she controlled the pacing of the meal.

After the dining ended, guests retired to the drawing room (parlour) on the opposite side of the entrance hall. The drawing room was where they discussed the news of the day, gossiped, or were entertained. When the family was alone, in the evenings, the smaller parlour (sitting room) on the second floor was likely employed for intimate family moments.

Eventually, Albert sold all of the land of the estate except for about 10 acres. A large portion was purchased by the City of Toronto for the construction of the St. Clair Reservoir. However, Spadina House remained in the possession of the Austin family until 1982. In this year, the house, most of its contents, and the remaining land were acquired through donation and purchase by the Ontario Heritage Foundation and the City of Toronto. This was arranged by Spadina’s last resident, Anna Kathleen Thompson, the daughter of Albert and Mary Austin. At the time, she was over 90 years of age. 

The home and grounds were restored by the City of Toronto and were opened to the public as a museum in 1984.

Sources for this article :http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/austin_james_12E.html, 

https://theculturetrip.com › North America › Canada,

https://www.thestar.com › Life › Fashion & Style

DSCN2370

Sketch of Baldwin’s Spadina House, built in 1818. The drawing first appeared in the Evening Telegram series, “Landmarks of Toronto” in December 1888.

2nd Spadina

Sketch of the second Spadina House built in 1836. The drawing first appeared in the Evening Telegram series, “Landmarks of Toronto” in December 1888. 

1885, Spadina Collection

Spadina House in 1885, a view of the north and west facades. The porch on the west facade no longer exists and the third storey had not yet been built. Photo from the Spadina Collection.

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North and west facades of Spadina House in 1898. Photo from the Spadina Collection.

1905, Spadina Collection

View of the south facade in 1905, before the third storey was added. Photo from the Spadina Collection.

Fonds 1244, Item 4135

View of Spadina House in 1915 from a tower of Casa Loma. By this year, the third storey of the house has been added. The camera is pointed to the northeast. Toronto Archives, F 1244, item 4135.

1985 tspa_0113049f[2]

View gazing to the northeast at the three-storey Spadina House in 1985. The palm room and veranda above it on the second storey face south. Toronto Public Library, tspa 0113049f

1988. drawing room  tspa_0113051f[1]

The drawing room (living room or parlour) of Spadina House in 1988, one of the white marble fireplaces visible at the far end of the room. The chandeliers of cut-glass, referred to as gasoliers (gas-run chandeliers), are still in working order. They hang from the 14-foot ceiling. The doorway on the far-left leads to the library, which was originally (in 1866) the dining room. Public Library tspa 0113051f. 

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View of the drawing room in 2018, the large window facing south. The doorway on the extreme right-hand side leads to the palm room.

dining room ceiling      dining room ceiling  2

(Left photo) Ornate crown moulding above the green wallpaper in the drawing room, and in the right-hand photo, one of the gasoliers (chandeliers) with a fancy plaster medallion above it.

palm room 2    palm room 3

The palm room on the south side of the house. It is accessed from the drawing room and on its south side are doors leading to the outdoor terrace.

grand staircase

Grand staircase in the entrance hall that gives access to the second floor. The doorway at the foot of the stairs leads to an enclosed sunlit porch that was added to the house c. 1905.

stuufed wolf, outside porch

One of the stuffed wolves in the enclosed porch. Behind it is where the south-facing doorway was located in 1866, prior to the porch being built.

 

                          DSCN2316

                   View of the grand staircase from the entrance hall.

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The dining room in Spadina House, in an addition built by Albert and Mary. A large gas fireplace is at the far (north) end of the room. A thick red curtain covers the doorway where the servants entered to serve meals.

DSCN2352

                View of the grand staircase from the second floor.

upstairs blie room

   Second-storey sitting room (blue room) at the top of the grand staircase.

Mrs. Austin's bedroom  2

The bedroom of Mrs. Austin on the second floor level. Originally, Albert and Mary shared the same bedroom, but later, Albert slept in a separate bedroom.

kitchen 8

The kitchen on the ground floor, located beside the family’s formal dining room.

cupboard in kitchen

The kitchen cupboard containing products employed in preparing the meals for the family. 

wood stove kitchen   stoves, kitchen

(left) The wood stove in the kitchen that has gas burners atop it, and (right) a gas stove.

servant bedroom , 3rd floor

A servants bedroom on the third floor of Spadina House. The Austins had a household staff of five: a gardener, a chauffeur, two maids and a cook.

                     telephone cupboard

The small telephone room was in a former cupboard in the first-floor hallway. It was insulated with felt to muffle the voices of people who felt that they must shout into the device to make themselves heard. Many people today do the same thing when talking in public on their IPhones. On the table is a Toronto phone book from the 1920s.

Mrs. Austin's bathroom   

The Austin’s bathroom, which has a small gas burner to warm the shaving cream of the Austin men.

shaving cream warmer

     Small gas burner in the bathroom to warm men’s shaving cream.

bill. room 4

The billiard room on the ground floor, with a cork floor surrounding it to give the players better traction when playing.

1988.  billiard room  tspa_0113050f[1]

The billiard room in 1988, the cork floor around the table evident. Photo Toronto Public Library, tspa 0113050.

billard room 3

The billiard room, designed by the popular 19th-century architect W.C. Vaux Chadwick, the influence of the Art Nouveau movement evident. The murals on the upper portion of the walls depict birds, trees and a colourful sky. They were painted by interior decorator Gustav Hahn, who pioneered Art Nouveau in Canada. 

billard room

             The murals and stuffed animals in the billiard room.

built 1913

   Greenhouse with its Gothic-style entranceway, built in 1913.

garage     barn, then coach house, gardiner's cottage 1909

(Left photo) The garage with chauffer’s quarters on the second floor, built in 1909.  (right-hand photo) An outbuilding that was first a barn, then a coach house and finally, in 1909, renovated to create a cottage for the gardener.

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View looking west from under the wrought iron and glass “porte-cochère” (canopy) designed by Carrere and Hastings. It protected guests and family members that arrived by vehicles from the weather.

DSCN1039

               The east facade (rear) of Spadina House in 2014.

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

               DSCN2207_thumb9_thumb2_thumb4_thumb_[2]  

“ Lost Toronto”—employing detailed archival photographs, this recaptures the city’s lost theatres, sporting venues, bars, restaurants and shops. 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.

 

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

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. 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

“Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again” explores 81 theatres. It 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®

“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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Lost Toronto, the Central Building—45 Richmond St. West

                        Fonds 444, Item 21

The Central Building on the south side of Richmond Street West, between Yonge and Bay Streets, c. 1928. Toronto archives, F 044, Item 0021.

The Central Building at 45 Richmond Street West was not among the structures that architectural preservationists would likely have fought to save from the wrecker’s ball. Built between 1927 and 1928, it was rather plain, its facade containing few architectural ornamentations. It was an oddity for the decade in which it was constructed, as most 1920s commercial buildings tend toward a little more exuberance. Its architects were Baldwin and Greene, who also designed the Concourse Building at 100 Adelaide Street West. In contrast to the Central, it contained one of the finest Art Deco facades in the city. Today, its south facade remains much admired. If the Central Building had survived, I doubt that it would elicit the same respect and admiration that the Concourse building has generated.

The Central’s architects also created the Claridge Apartments, on the southwest corner of Avenue Road and Clarendon, three blocks south of St. Clair Avenue. Its ornate Romanesque architecture, with a lobby decorations by The Group of Seven’s J. E. H. MacDonald, is a testament to the skills and artistry of Baldwin and Greene.

The 12-storey Central Building was constructed of beige bricks, its north facade possessing only a few elements of Art Deco design. On the side of this facade, near the corners of the building, there were faux ancient hieroglyphs, which began on the 3rd floor and ascended to the 11th. The cornice at the top was exceedingly unornamented, but the sub-cornice below it, possessed a few interesting designs in the brickwork. However, these details were lost to those who strolled by on the sidewalks as they were too high to be seen on the narrow street where it was located. In contrast, the two-storey entrance on the ground floor was well ornamented and contained an impressive Roman arch. On the fifth floor, in a central position, was a rather odd looking bay window. There is no record of why this was included, but I assume that the room behind it had special significance, such as a board room or a chief executive’s office.    

The building was demolished to create a parking lot to accommodate the many cars that daily enter the city’s downtown core. I was unable to discover the date of the building’s demise, but it was likely in the 1940s or 1950s.

                           Fonds 444, Item 20

Entrance to the Central Building at 45 Richmond Street. The doors were recessed into the archway. Toronto Archives, S 044, Item 0020.

Fonds 444, Item 22

The generous use of marble, the decorative ceiling, and light fixtures reflect the best of the Art Deco period. Toronto Archives, F 044, Item 0022.

Map of 45 Richmond St W, Toronto, ON M5H

      Location of the Central Building at 45 Richmond Street West.

Source: “Toronto Architecture, a City Guide,” by Patricia McHugh.

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

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

Books by the Blog’s Author

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

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

   To place an order for this book, published by History Press:

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

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

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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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