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Category Archives: historic Yonge Street

Toronto’s first brick home— built by Quetton St. George

1885, pictures-r-2655[1]

The Quetton St. George House on King Street in 1885, after its brick facades had been covered with stucco. Toronto Public Library, r-2655.

Few personalities from the early days of the town of York (Toronto) possess such an interesting background as that of Laurent Quetton St. George (born, Laurent Quet). He built York’s first brick house on the northeast corner of Frederick and King Streets, between the years 1807 and 1811. Today, the address of the site is 204 King East.

Laurent Quet (Laurent Quetton St. George) was born in France in 1771, his family a part of the minor nobility who were merchants and served in the military. When the French Revolution began in 1789, at age 18, he fought for the King of France. In 1791, he voluntarily went into exile in England, where he joined a guerrilla group of Frenchmen who had fled their native land. Later the same year, he returned to France, serving under the command of Comte de Puisaye. The Comte’s forces were defeated in 1793 and Quetton St. George returned to England. In 1796, he anglicised his name and commenced signing it as Quetton St. George, rather than Laurent Quet.

In 1798, the British Crown gave Comte de Puisaye a land grant in York County in Upper Canada, about 26 miles north of York. The farmland was on either side of Yonge Street, where Elgin Mills Road is located today. Puisaye’s intention was to found a colony loyal to the French king, and gave Quetton St. George a parcel of the land. However, by 1802, the colony collapsed as many of the colonists had returned to Europe. They discovered Canadian winters too harsh.

In partnership with another French officer, Quetton became a general merchant, importing goods and trading them for furs with the Mississauga Indians. In 1802, they relocated their business to Niagara-on-the-Lake, but by the end of the year, they moved their headquarters to York. The town’s location was advantageous for their enterprise as it was situated on the lake, allowing easy access to the shipping routes necessary for importing goods.

Next, St. George ended his business partnership and became the sole proprietor. He commenced selling supplies to the provincial government in York, as well as to the British army. Much of his income was soon derived from these sources, under the business name of “Quetton St. George and Company.” In the years ahead, in partnership with various businessmen, he established branches in Amherstburg, Niagara, Kingston and Dundas. In York, his chief rivals in the retail trade were Alexander Wood and William Allen. However, despite his success, St. George was never fully embraced by the elite of York. It has been suggested that this was because many of them owed him money that they were unable to repay.

In 1807, Quetton began courting Anne Powell, the daughter of William Drummer Powell, a prominent citizen of York. Her mother considered Quetton St. George “an adventurer” and unworthy of her daughter. To improve his standing in York, St. George decided to erect a brick house, the first such building in the town. At the time, all the dwellings were of wood, in a town of only about 700 residents. York did not yet extend west of Yonge Street or north of Lot Street (today’s Queen Street), so a brick house was viewed as a positive sign.

The site of the house was to be on the north side of King Street, where St. George owned three building lots. Thus, it was to be situated on the town’s main commercial street and most prestigious residential area. The digging of the foundations began in 1807, and it is thought that the red bricks for the structure were made from clay dug on the site. This is disputed by some reference sources as there were professional brick-makers in York at the time, as York’s first legislative assembly had been constructed of bricks in 1797. The house was completed in 1810, or early-1811 at the latest. However, he was never allowed to marry Anne.

St. George’s house was designed by Dr. William Warren Baldwin in the Georgian style, its symmetrical facade containing nine rectangular windows facing King Street. The structure was basically a rectangular box with simple unadorned lines, a low hip roof, and a portico (porch) on its south side. The porch was in the Greek style, it roof supported by two pairs of slender columns, topped with Ionic scrolls. The portico was likely added a few years after the house was built.

It is thought that in addition to a mason, a skilled carpenter was employed since the wood trim on the house was of an exceptionally high quality. Unlike the mansion of Bishop Strachan (built in 1818), there was no triangular pediment above the front facade. The brickwork contained no decorative patterns, and later in the century, the exterior walls were covered with stucco.

On the second floor, there was a Palladian window in the centre position, with a fan-shaped window above it. It was a simple but elegant refinement to an otherwise plain facade. In the interior, there was a central hallway, likely with the parlour on one side of it and a dining room on the other. In most Georgian homes. a grand staircase led to the second storey.

The house provided St. George with the necessary requirements to maintain a residence and a place of business. On the second floor, there were living quarters for himself and his clerks. In the basement was a storeroom for his stock of goods, and on the ground floor a shop and office. When the Americans invaded York in April 1813, the house was sacked but not torched. At the time, Quetton St, George was away from York on business.

St. George remained a resident of York until 1815, when Napoleon was defeated and the French monarchy restored. He then returned to England and then France, where he assumed the title of Chevalier de St. Louis. In 1820, he sold the shares of his company in Upper Canada to Dr. W. W. Baldwin, John Baldwin, and Jules Quesnel. Baldwin lived in the house, but rented a section of it to the Canada Company, a semi-government development company that sold off crown land. After Baldwin died, his widow continued in residence. In 1895, the Canada Company vacated the premises and it became a pharmaceutical company. Next, it was converted into a boarding house, then a junk shop, and finally a tenement. By the turn of the 20th century, the property was in poor condition as it had not been maintained. It was demolished in 1904, and Toronto’s first brick residence disappeared forever.

A seven-storey warehouse was erected on the site for the Adams Harness Company. This building has since changed hands several times, but remains in existence. Today, the only reminder of Quetton St. George is St. George Street, which was named by William Baldwin after his friend, Quetton St. George. The St. George subway station on the Spadina/University line is named after the street.

Sources: “Lost Toronto” by William Dendy – www.biographic.ca  www.thestar.com torontohistory.net— 

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Location of the Quetton St. George house on the northeast corner of Frederick and King Street East.

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The Quetton St. George House in 1895. Toronto Public Library, r-2862.

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Watercolour sketch of the Quetton St. George House. Painted in 1912, it was created from the artist’s memory, as it depicts the house prior to its walls being covered with stucco. From the collection of the Toronto Public Library, r-2917.

                    Series 1465, File 182, Item 20

The northeast corner of Frederick and King Street East in 1994, the site of the demolished Quetton St. George house. Toronto Archives, F1465, S.0182, Id. 0020.

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Building on the site of the Quetton St. George House, March 2016.

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This is the only historic plaque on the building. There is nothing to recognize that Toronto’s first brick house once occupied the site.

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

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

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

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

   To place an order for this book:

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

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

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb    

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

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

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

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

 

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Memories of Eaton’s Queen Street Store Toronto

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fonds 1244, Item 1160A 

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

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

Fonds 1244, Item 1160B

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

Wikipedia  Eatonstoronto1920MainStore[1]

                         Post card showing the Eaton’s complex in 1920.

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

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

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

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

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

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

                    

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

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

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

Personal Memories of Eaton’s

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

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

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

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

1962, Tor. Ref. tspa_0001748f[1]    

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

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

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

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

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

1978. I0016047[1]

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

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

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

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                                       View of the Eaton Centre in 2011.

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

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

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

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

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

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

   To place an order for this book:

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Panasonic Theatre—Part II—archival photos

The Panasonic Theatre is located on the east side of Yonge Street, a short distance south of Bloor Street. It has changed named several times in its long history. In April 2015, in the Ontario Archives, I discovered several photos and a sketch of the theatre that I had not seen before.

Victoria

The theatre commenced its life in 1919 as the Victoria, when two Second-Empire houses on Yonge Street were renovated to create a theatre. The above sketch reveals the plans for remodelling the houses to create a theatre. The drawing shows the windows of the two former houses. The plans included shops on either side of the theatre’s entrance to provide rental income to offset the expenses of operating the theatre.

Victoria   3

The theatre’s name was changed to the Embassy in 1932, as shown on the marquee in the above photo. Other names it has possessed include the Astor, Showcase, and Festival. In 1993 it became the New Yorker and was renovated to accommodate live theatre. It is presently named the Panasonic. The view in the photo gazes north on Yonge Street toward Bloor, from the corner of Isabella and Yonge Street. In the foreground, on the northeast corner of Yonge and Isabella is a shop of the Reilly Lock Company, founded in 1932.

Astor, New Yorker,

This photo shows the New Yorker theatre in 1993, when it featured “Forever Plaid,” a spoof of the male harmony groups of the 1950s. The facade of the theatre shown in the 1919-sketch remains intact in this photo. Even the shop on the north side of the entrance can be seen. To create the Panasonic Theatre, the building was demolished, except for the facade, which today is covered with metal meshing. However, it remains visible beneath it.

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                                The Panasonic Theatre in 2015.

For a link to a more in depth post about the Panasonic Theatre:

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

Map of 651 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4Y 1Z9

                        Location of the Panasonic Theatre.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

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

 

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Toronto streetcars—from Omnibus to Red Rocket

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One of Toronto’s newest “red rockets,” northbound on Spadina Avenue on July 10, 2015. 

When the city of Toronto was the small colonial town of York, people travelled by horseback, carriage, wagon, or on foot. Even after the city was incorporated in 1834, these methods of transportation prevailed. However, as the city expanded, these means became inadequate. As a result, in 1849, Burt Williams, a cabinetmaker and undertaker, decided to extend his services and transport the living as well as the dead to their destinations. He built several 6-passenger stagecoaches, which he named the Williams Omnibus Line. It commenced at the St. Lawrence Market, journeyed west on King Street, and then, north on Yonge to the town of Yorkville.

As Toronto’s population grew further, the Omnibus service also became inadequate. In 1861, the Toronto Street Railway Company (TSR), financed by a group of businessmen, commenced operating horse-drawn Hadden streetcars, capable of carrying many more passengers. The first streetcar route was the same as that of the Burt Williams Omnibus Line. The second route established was Queen Street, from the St. Lawrence Market to Ossington Avenue. The 30-year contract of the Toronto Street Railway Company was terminated in 1891.

Next, the Toronto Railway Company (TRC) was granted a 30-year contract to provide transportation services. The same year (1891), the city’s first electric-powered streetcars appeared on Church Street. However, as the city annexed more communities, such as Dovercourt and Earlscourt, the TRC refused to build tracks into the new districts, insisting that servicing these areas was not part of their mandate. Because the TRC’s contract did not terminate until 1921, in 1911 the City of Toronto created the Toronto Civic Railway Company (TCR) and became directly involved in owning and operating streetcars.    

During the years 1912-1917, TCR laid tracks along streets that the TRC were serving but refused to extend. The Danforth line was continued from Broadview to Luttrell, the St. Clair route connected between Avenue Road and Lansdowne Avenue, the Lansdowne line pushed as far south as the CPR tracks, streetcars added on Bloor Street between Dundas and Runnymede, and the Gerrard streetcars extended beyond Greenwood. To meet the needs of the longer routes, the company purchased about 70 new streetcars.

In 1921, the City of Toronto did not renew the TRC’s contract, deciding instead to increase its involvement in the streetcar system by forming the Toronto Transportation Commission (TTC). It inherited the streetcars that the Toronto Civic Railway, which they already owned, and bought the streetcars that the TRC possessed, as their contract had been cancelled. However, the TRC’s cars were in poor condition and needed to be retired. The TTC had foreseen this problems and several years earlier had ordered a fleet of new Peter Witt streetcars, which began arriving in the city in 1921. These were the ponderous square-shaped steel streetcars that became famous on the Yonge Street Line. In 1938, the TTC purchased PCC streetcars (President’s Conference Cars) and they soon became known as the “red rockets.”

In a plebiscite in 1946,  Torontonians voted in favour a subway on Yonge Street  and also on Queen Street. Construction on the Yonge line began in 1949. Unfortunately, the Queen Street line was cancelled as the federal government failed to provide the funding. Does this situation seem familiar? Canada’s first subway opened in 1954, between Union Station and Eglinton Avenue. The same year, the name of the company was changed to the Toronto Transit Commission.

The Peter Witt cars were retired in 1963, but the PCC cars continued until 1995. As these older models were phased out, the CLRV streetcars (Canadian Light Rail Vehicles), as well as an articulated version commenced operating.  In 2014, the first of the new streetcars began service on the Spadina line. These will eventually replace all the CLRV cars that remain in service as of 2015.  

Toronto_Street_Railway_Co__horse-ca[1]

Horse-drawn streetcars operated by the Toronto Street Railway Company in the 1890s. These cars were operated only in the summer as they were not enclosed. View gazes east along Queen Street East from Church Street. The St. Lawrence Hall is visible in the background.

Spad. 1890, Tor Ref.

A winterized streetcar on Spadina Avenue in 1890. Photo, Toronto Reference Library. In that decade, many impressive homes lined Spadina Avenue as it was an affluent residential street.

Yonge, north from King 1911

Electric-powered streetcars first appeared in 1891. This photo shows the cars on Yonge Street, c. 1900. They were essentially larger versions of the horse-drawn streetcar. View gazed north on Yonge from King Street.

looking north up Avenue Rd., Jan 1912

Avenue Road streetcars in 1912. Toronto Archives, F1231, it.1660. These are the same type of streetcars as in the previous photo.

St. Clair Strcar

Streetcars continued to increase in size. This streetcar was operated on St. Clair Avenue by the Toronto Civic Railway Company. Photo was taken in 1913, the year the St. Clair line opened. The streetcar is eastbound and was photographed near Wychwood Avenue.

oct. 30, 1928  s0071_it6396[1]

A Peter Witt streetcar on York Street on October 30, 1928, the Royal York Hotel under construction in the background. These cars commenced service in the city in 1921 and retired in 1963. Toronto Archives, Series 71, S0071, it6396.

20100926-70sCarlton[1] photo-cafletcher

A PCC streetcar heading eastbound on Carlton Street near Church Street. Maple Leaf Garden, the Odeon Carlton Theatre and Eaton’s College Street store are visible in the background. Photo, Ontario Archives. 

PICT0005

A PCC streetcar on Dundas Street West near Huron Street in Chinatown in 1970.

PCC car, Queen and Church St. 1970s

A westbound PCC Streetcar on Queen Street East at Church Street in 1970. 

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A Peter Witt streetcar at the Halton County Radial Railway Museum. Visitors to the museum are able to ride aboard these famous old cars.

1920s Peter Witt streetcar, interior

                     Interior of a Peter Witt streetcar at the museum.

1951 PCC Labour Day 2012

A westbound PCC streetcar in the Labour Day Parade in 2012, view gazing east along Queen West at Spadina Avenue. This streetcar is maintained by the TTC to aid tourism and is available for private hire.

                      April 2013     8

A CLRV streetcar on King Street East at Church Street, St. James Cathedral in the background.

April 2013

Articulated light rail vehicles (ALRV) on Queen Street, westbound near Yonge Street.

Queen line, May 2013

                 Interior of a ALRV on Queen Street.

King and Simcoe, 12 July 2013  DSCN0218

A CLRV westbound on Queen West at John Street in 2013, the Princess of Wales Theatre in the background.

Queen looking west at Bathurst, 2013

An articulated light rail vehicles (ALRV) eastbound on Queen Street West near Bathurst Street in July 2013. The marquee of the old Orpheus Theatre is visible on the right-hand side of the photo.

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

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

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

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

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

   To place an order for this book:

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

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

Theatres Included in the Book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

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

 

 

 

 

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Old Movie Theatres—tayloronhistory.com

/Shea's Hippodrome  DSCN0638

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

Academy Theatre on Bloor West at St. Clarens

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

Ace Theatre on Danforth (see Iola)

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

Ace Theatre on Queen near Bay

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

Adelphi Theatre (Kum Bac) on Dovercourt Road

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

Alhambra Theatre on Bloor Street, west of Bathurst Street

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

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

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

Allenby on the Danforth

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

Allen’s Danforth

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

Apollo (Crystal) Theatre on Dundas West

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

Arcadian (Variety) Theatre

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

Auditorium Theatre

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

Avalon Theatre on Danforth Avenue

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

Avenue Theatre (see Pickford)

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

Avon Theatre at 1092 Queen Street West

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

Bay (Colonial Theatre) at Queen and Bay

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

Bayview Theatre

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

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

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

Bell Lightbox (TIFF)

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

Bellevue Theatre on College Street that became the Lux Burlesque Theatre

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

Belsize Theatre (see Regent)

Biltmore Theatre on Yonge, north of Dundas St.

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

Birchcliff Theatre on Kingston Rd.

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

Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on Bloor Street West

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

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

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

Blue Bell (Gay) Theatre on Parliament Street

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

Bonita (Gerrard) Theatre on Gerrard East

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

Brighton Theatre on Roncesvalles Avenue

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

Brock Theatre (the Gem)

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

Cameo Theatre

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

Cannon Theatre (see Ed Mirvish)

Capitol Theatre on Yonge at Castlefield

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

Carlton Theatre on Parliament Street

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

Casino Burlesque Theatre on Queen Street

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

Cineplex Eaton Centre

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

Cineplex Odeon Varsity Theatre at Bloor and Bay

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

Cineplex Theatre at Yonge and Dundas Streets

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

Circle on Dundas West (see Duchess)

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

Circle Theatre on Yonge Street

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

Clyde Theatre (Avalon)

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

College Theatre at College St. and Dovercourt Rd.

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

Colonial Theatre (see Bay Theatre)

Colony Theatre at Vaughan Road and Eglinton Avenue

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

Community Theatre on Woodbine Avenue

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

Coronet Theatre (Savoy) on Yonge St. at Gerrard

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

Crest Theatre (see Regent)

Crown Theatre on Gerrard St. East

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

Crystal Theatre (see Apollo)

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

Cumberland In Yorkville

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/22/torontos-old-cumberland-four-theatre/ 

Danforth Music Hall (Allen’s Danforth)

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

Donlands Theatre

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

Downtown Theatre (now demolished) at Yonge and Dundas

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

Duchess Theatre (Circle) on Dundas West

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

Eastwood Theatre on Gerrard St. East

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

Ed Mirvish Theatre (the Pantages, Imperial and Cannon)

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

Eglinton Theatre

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

Elgin Theatre (Loew’s Downtown)

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

Elgin/Winter/Garden Theatres on Yonge Street

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

Empire (Rialto, Palton) on Queen East

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

Esquire (Lyndhurst) Theatre on Bloor Street West

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

Eve’s Paradise (see Paradise)

Garden Theatre at 290 College Street.

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

Gay Theatre (see Blue Bell)

Gem Theatre (see Brock)

Gerrard Theatre (see Bonita)

Glendale Theatre on Avenue Rd.

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

Golden Mile Theatre on Eglinton East

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

Grand Opera House on Adelaide Street West

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/14/grand-opera-house-on-adelaide-street-toronto/

Grant Theatre on Oakwood Avenue near Vaughan Road

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

Greenwood Theatre (the Guild)

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

Grover on Danforth Avenue

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

Guild Theatre (see Greenwood)

Hillcrest Theatre on Christie Street, south of Dupont St.

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

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

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

Hudson Theatre (see Mount Pleasant)

Imperial and Downtown Theatres on Yonge Street (archival photos)

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

Imperial Theatre (see Ed Mirvish)

Iola (Ace, Regal) on Danforth Avenue

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

Island Theatre on Centre Island

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

Kent Theatre at Yonge and St. Clair

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

Kenwood Theatre on Bloor St. West 

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

King Theatre at College and Manning Streets

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

Kingsway Theatre in the Kingsway Village on Bloor St. West

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

Kum-Bac Theatre (see Adelphi)

KUM-C Theatre in Parkdale

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

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

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

La Salle Theatre on Dundas, near Spadina

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

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

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

Loew’s Uptown Theatre (the Uptown)

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

Loew’s Downtown Theatre (see Elgin)

Lyndhurst Theatre (see Esquire)

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

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

Mayfair Theatre at Jane and Annette

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

Metro Theatre at 679 Bloor West

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

Mount Dennis Theatre on Weston Rd, north of Eglinton

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

Mount Pleasant (Hudson) Theatre

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

Nortown Theatre on Eglinton, west of Bathurst St.

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

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

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

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

Odeon Carlton at Yonge and Carlton Streets

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

Odeon Carlton Theatre

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

Odeon Danforth Theatre on the Danforth, near Pape Avenue

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

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

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

Odeon Hyland Theatre at Yonge and St. Clair

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

Odeon Theatre On Queen West in Parkdale

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

Opera House (see La Plaza)

Orpheum Theatre on Queen St., west of Bathurst

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

Palace Theatre on the Danforth

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

Palace Theatre on the Danforth near Pape Avenue

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

Palton Theatre (see Empire)

Panasonic Theatre on Yonge Street

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

Pantages Theatre (see Ed Mirvish)

Paradise (Eve’s Paradise)

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

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

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

Parkdale Theatre on Queen Street, near Roncesvalles

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

Photodrome (Ace) Theatre on Queen St. West

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

Pickford (Auditorium, Avenue) Theatre

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

Princess Theatre on King Street

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

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

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

Regal Theatre (see Iola)

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

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

Revue Theatre at 400 Roncesvalles Avenue

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

Rex Theatre (the Joy)

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

Rialto Theatre (see Empire)

Rivoli Theatre on Queen Street West

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

Royal Alexandra Theatre

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

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

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

Royal Theatre on Dundas Street

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

Royal Theatre (the Pylon) on College St.

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

Runnymede Theatre in the Bloor West Village

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

Savoy Theatre (see Coronet)

Scarboro Theatre

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

Scotiabank Theatre at Richmond and John Streets

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

Shea’s Hippodrome Theatre on Bay St. near Queen

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

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

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

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

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

St. Clair Theatre, west of Dufferin Street

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

State Theatre (see Bloordale)

Teck Theatre on Queen St. East

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

The Tivoli Theatre on Richmond Street East

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

Toronto’s first movie screening and its first movie theatre

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

Town Cinema on Bloor East, near Yonge Street

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

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

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

Uptown 5 Multiplex Theatre on Yonge south of Bloor

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

Variety Theatre (see Arcadian)

Vaughan Theatre on St. Clair Avenue

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

Victoria (Shea’s Victoria)

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

Victory burlesque and movie theatre on Spadina at Dundas:

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

Village Theatre on Spadina Road in Forest Hill Village

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

Westwood Theatre on Bloor Street West near Six Points

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

The Willow Theatre on north Yonge St. in Willowdale

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

York Theatre on Yonge near Bloor St.

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

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

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

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

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/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. 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

              To place an order for this book:

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

Book also available at Chapters/Indigo, the book shop at the Bell Lightbox or University of Toronto Press at 416-667-7791

ISBN # 978.1.62619.450.2

 

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The former Bank of Toronto at 205 Yonge Street

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This photo is from the City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, F0124, Fl0003, id0152. It shows the two impressive neo-classical-style structures that were formerly banks, on the east side of Yonge Street, opposite the Eaton Centre. Situated between the two historic structures is the demolition site of the Colonial Tavern. It was a famous venue for jazz and the blues during the 1950s and 1960s. The above picture was taken in 1987, the year the Colonial Tavern was demolished.

The bank to the south of the demolition site in the photo was the Bank of Commerce, later named the CIBC. For a link to the history of this bank: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-old-bank-of-commerce-at-197-yonge-street/. The bank building to the north of the demolition site was formerly the Bank of Toronto at 205 Yonge Street, which became the Toronto Dominion (TD) Bank when it joined with the Dominion Bank.

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This magnificent building, erected in 1905, was designed by E. J. Lennox, the famous Toronto architect who designed Casa Loma and the Old City Hall at Bay and Queen Streets. He chose the neo-classical style, with touches of Beaux-Arts designs. Several year ago, when I was photographing this structure, an inebriated gentleman approached me and informed me that there was a bank in Buffalo that was identical to the Yonge Street Bank of Toronto. To show-off my knowledge of architecture, I told him that the bank had been modelled after a famous building in ancient Rome. He replied, “Yup—the Pantheon.” I smiled as he strolled away and thought, “Just my luck. One of my few chances to demonstrate my knowledge and I was outsmarted by someone who enjoyed his drink a little too much, but knew his architecture.”

The man was correct. The bank built in 1905 has a striking similarity to the Pantheon, Rome’s great temple, built by the Emperor Hadrian as a temple to all the gods. Though on a much smaller scale than the building in Rome, the bank on Yonge Street has a large recessed portico, supported by massive Corinthian columns. The capitals on the columns, as well as the cornice and triangular pediment are richly decorated with handcrafted cement work. The Yonge Street facade is faced with Indiana limestone. Though constructed on a narrow piece of land, the building is crowned with a great dome that deceptively appears to increase the height of the building.  

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Left-hand photo is of the Pantheon in Rome, and the right-hand photo is the old Bank of Toronto on Yonge Street. Though there are similarities, the bank in Toronto is much more elaborate than the Pantheon and certainly much smaller.

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                       The dome atop the Bank of Toronto building.

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Intricate cement work at the top of the capitals and in the triangular pediment.

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The banking hall inside the 1905 bank, containing marble walls and a mosaic tiled floor. Photo from a Federal, Provincial and Territorial Collaboration web site.

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The Bank of Toronto in the 1980s, when the Colonial Tavern was to the south of the structure. Photo from the City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, F0124, id0066.

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               The two former bank buildings on Yonge Street in 2012.

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

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

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

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

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

   To place an order for this book:

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

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

Theatres Included in the Book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue

 

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Toronto’s old Capitol Theatre

f1231_it1485[1] Dr. Bull, 1933

   The Capitol in 1933, City of Toronto Archives, Series 1231, It. 485 (1)

The Capitol Theatre opened in 1918. Located at 2492 Yonge Street, it was in a building block on the northwest corner of Yonge and Castlefield Avenue, six blocks north of Eglinton. It featured vaudeville shows and silent films. Information on cinematreasures.org states that it was built for Mr. McCelland, who arrived in Canada from Kingston Jamaica.

Map of 2492 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4P 2H7

                                    Map from Google, 2014

Mr. McCelland hired the architect J. M. Jeffery to design his theatre. Above the marquee was a two-storey window, topped with a Roman arch, and Corinthian pilasters on either side of it. The cornice was unadorned, the overall facade of the building almost symmetrical. An article in the Toronto Star (February 2000) stated that a source had indicated that the Capitol was originally named the York Eglinton, but its name was changed as there was already a York Theatre at Yonge and Bloor, which had opened in 1914.

Capable of seating 1300 patrons, the Capitol was a considerable size for a venue that catered mainly to local residents, though it did attract customers from other areas as the Yonge Streetcar line rumbled past it. It possessed a stage to accommodate vaudeville and a space near the stage for musicians. It occupied the full three floors of the section of the building where it was located. However, the remainder of the building contained residential apartments on the second and third floors and shops on the ground-floor level.

In 1924, a balcony was added and more shops were included in the space on the first-floor level. In 1933, the theatre was converted for exclusively screening films. Further renovations were done in 1946 and 1947, but no candy bar was added to avoid competition with the Laura Secord shop to the left of the theatre’s entrance. This was possibly in the terms of the candy shop’s lease. However, in 1954  a confection bar was finally added to the Capitol. In 1957, a fire in the stage area broke out at 4:50 pm, but it was not serious and the theatre was back in operation by 7:20 pm.

The theatre was originally independently owned but in the years ahead it was managed by Famous Players, though they did not own the building. In the late-1990s, it was a second-run movie house, featuring films that were not recent releases. Eventually it was taken over by the Festival Theatres, but they were unable to turn it into a profitable enterprise.

The Capitol shut in doors in November 1998, and for a few years it remained empty. It was eventually purchased and after a two-million dollar renovation, opened as an event venue named the Capitol Event Theatre. Though the seating had been removed, the  high ceiling, stage and ornate interior detailing was maintained. A wall was removed to expose the projection room, which became a bar. There was second bar in the balcony.

Those who remember the Capitol Theatre may lament its demise, but it was saved from demolition and it has been restored to reflect some of its former glory. The same may be said of the Eglinton Theatre.

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View of the auditorium of the Capitol from the balcony. Notice the quality arm chairs. City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 38

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View from the rear of the main-floor level of the Capitol, City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 38.

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Outer lobby and entrance door of the Capitol, City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 38.

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Capitol with the film “Wings of the Morning,” released 1937.  City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 38.

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                  Capitol Theatre, with film “Women in the Wind,” released 1939.

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                              The Capitol Theatre c. 1946.

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                                                                           The Capitol c. 1947.

                                    Capitol 1134-131

     Undated photo of the Capitol, City of Toronto Archives, Series 1135, file 131

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

To view previous blogs about old 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 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), 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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2014—The 100th Anniversary of Sinking of Empress of Ireland

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Postcard of the Empress from the collection of the George Scott Railton Heritage Centre of The Salvation Army

Some historians refer to the sinking of the Empress of Ireland in the St. Lawrence River as Canada’s Titanic. The parallels to the Titanic are appropriate, as 1012 people lost their lives on the Empress during the early-morning hours of May 29, 1914. On the Titanic, 807 passengers drowned—the Empress’ death toll was 840 passengers. The final number of those who lost their lives on the Titanic was greater as more of its crew perished.

The question sometimes asked is—why is the sinking of the Empress so relatively unknown? By contrast, almost everyone is familiar with the story of the Titanic. There are several reasons for this, but none provides a satisfactory explanation. The Empress deserves a more prominent place in our history than it has received.

One of the reasons that the Empress fell into obscurity was that two months after it sank in the frigid waters of the St. Lawrence River, Canada entered the First World War. The latter event eclipsed the maritime disaster, pushing all other stories from the pages of the newspapers. When the war ended, four years had passed, and remembering those who had paid the supreme sacrifice in Europe became more prominent.

Some suggest that because the passenger list of the Empress did not contain the rich and famous, the public lost interest in the disaster. Whether this is true or not, it is a fact that the majority of those aboard were middle-class citizens or those who earned their living through manual labour. The first-class cabins of the ship were sparsely occupied.

Perhaps another reason that the Empress has not captured the imagination of the world at large is that it plunged to the bottom in a mere fourteen minutes, after a Norwegian collier, the Storstad, rammed into its starboard side. The event did not readily allow authors or filmmakers much opportunity to create imaginary heroes and romantic scenes compared to the Titanic, which took several hours to sink to its watery grave. There was no time aboard the Empress, as illustrated by the fact that the crew managed to lower only four of the ship’s forty lifeboats into the water. When the Storstad struck the Empress, the collision killed or maimed many passengers, while trapping scores of others below deck. Many perished before the ship sank.

I find it strange that some authors consider a tragedy that begins and ends within fourteen minutes as lacking literary appeal. I believe that the story of the Empress is intensely dramatic. The heartrending catastrophe deserves a more prominent place in our history.

The above quote is from the recently published novel that includes the sinking of the Empress, “When the Trumpet Sounds.”

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Photo of the funeral march on Toronto’s Yonge Street in 1914. Flatbed wagons pulled by horses transported the coffins to Mt. Pleasant Cemetery. Photo from George Scott Railton Heritage Centre of The Salvation Army.

“When the Trumpet Sounds” is the dramatic tale of a British family that immigrated to Canada in the first decade of the 20th century. The story chronicles their joys and sorrows in their adopted land as they mingle with diverse and humorous characters in the Earlscourt District of Toronto. The family’s oldest son is a mischievous lad, often involved in fist-fights. Eventually, he trades his fists for a cornet, joins a Salvation Army Band and as he matures, becomes its star player. When the band travels to England to participate in an international gathering, events sweep the young man and members of his family along a fateful path that leads to the decks of the Empress of Ireland. The story climaxes with the sinking of the magnificent ocean liner in the icy waters of the St. Lawrence River in the early-morning hours of May 29, 1914.

Though this is not a religious book, it explores many spiritual ideas. Why would God allow such a tragedy to occur? Where was God when the trapped passengers on the ship prayed for help? How does a mother explain the tragedy to her young children and answer their questions as to why their loved ones will never return home?

The characters in the story are fictional, but much of the information is based on real people. The author had access to the files, photos and letters of a family that lost a loved one on the ship. The details uncovered during the research add a degree of realism to the story that would have otherwise been impossible. The book includes descriptions of early-day life in Toronto, accompanied by over 70 archival photographs of the city in that era. The band that travels to England is based on the true story of the Canadian Staff Band, which lost most of its members on the Empress in 1914.

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“When the Trumpet Sounds” is available in an electronic edition for e-readers on Amazon.com and the Chapters/Indigo web sites, at a cost of $7.99. It is over 400 pages and can also be ordered in soft and hardcover editions from local book stores.

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

To view previous blogs about the 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 heritage buildings:

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

 

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Toronto’s architectural gems—College Park (the Carlu, Eaton’s College Street)

April 2013

Construction on the seven-storey Eaton’s College Street, on the southwest corner of College and Yonge Streets, commenced in 1928 and was completed in 1930. Covering an entire city block, the retail store was officially opened on October 30th of that year, Lady Eaton and her son John David Eaton officiating at the ceremony. The magnificent structure, the jewel in the crown of the retail empire of the T. Eaton Company, was designed by the firm of Ross and Macdonald, in association with Sproatt and Rolph.

Unfortunately, by the time Eaton’s College was completed, the Great Depression had descended across the nation. The 40-storey skyscraper, planned for the western side of the building, was never completed. However, the interior of the section that was finished was perhaps the most magnificent retail store in Canada at that time. Its interior was trimmed with marble and granite, especially on the first-floor level. Most of the store’s interior was designed by Eaton’s own architect, Rene Cera. The brown granite was from Gananoque and the black granite from Mount Joseph, Quebec. Marble for the exposed pillars and the colonnade in the interior were imported from Europe. In stores across Canada, Eaton’s carried its own brand of products, labelled “Etonia.” However, the higher-class goods at Eaton’s College Street were to possess their own trademark—“Haddon Hall.” The store specialized in high quality furniture.

As a teenager in the 1950s, I remember that each Christmas season, the east hallway on the first floor level contained a vast display of Xmas decorations. It was a sight to behold, as it extended for almost a city block. In those years, I worked for the British American Oil Company (BA Oil), its head office located on the northwest corner of Bay and College Streets. BA Oil was later taken over by Gulf Oil. When I worked at BA Oil, at lunch hour in inclement weather, I often crossed over to the southeast corner of the intersection and walked through Eaton’s College to reach Yonge Street, on the far east side of the store.

Even today, the building that was Eaton’s College Street, is one of the grandest structures in the city. The cladding on the building is ivory-coloured Tyndall limestone from a quarry east of Winnipeg. The north and east facades continue to dominate the intersection of College and Yonge Streets with their displays of elegant Art Deco trim and classical ornamentations, which include Greek and Roman designs as well as floral motifs. However, I believe that the overall effect is pleasing rather than fussy.

The two top floors are recessed back from the street, allowing cornices to be placed above the fifth floor. These cornices have unadorned straight lines, but possess intricate detailing below them, as well as ornate metal railings of nickel and copper. They are similar to the cornices at the roofline of the building, and equally impressive. Tall pilasters of limestone rise vertically from the second floor to the cornices above the fifth floor. The large rectangular windows are situated between these pilasters. The windows allow generous light to enter the interior, which was ideal for the enormous retail areas that at one time occupied the various floors. At the street level, the display windows are enormous. Today, the window on the northeast corner is of sufficient size to contain a Tim Horton’s coffee shop.

On March 26, 1931, on the top floors of Eaton’s College, the 1300-seat concert hall, Eaton’s Auditorium, opened to the public. It was the creation of the French architect Jacque Carlu, famous for having designed the dining rooms of the great ocean liners—the Normandie and the IIe de France. Under his supervision, the concert hall, with its elegant lobby, the auditorium with its superb acoustics and the exclusive restaurant named the Round Room, showcased the latest styles of the decade. Many famous personalities entertained audiences in the great hall, including Frank Sinatra and Duke Ellington. It was also the favourite recording venue for Glenn Gould.

As a young man, I was in this auditorium on several occasions and was always impressed with its luxurious surroundings and the warmth of the sound. I seem to recall that the plush seats were grey in colour.

When the Eaton Centre, further south at Queen and Yonge Streets opened in 1977, the Eaton’s Store on the north end of the Eaton Centre contained sufficient display space to accommodate the downtown requirements of the company. The College Street store closed in 1977. It was sold to developers and renamed College Park. The new owners divided the building into small retail spaces on the ground floor, with offices on the higher floors. Space was also rented for courtrooms.

In 1978, luxury condos were constructed on top of the low-rise (southern) portion of the building. However, the opening of the Art Deco concert hall, originally known as Eaton’s Auditorium was delayed as the new owners disputed the protection it received because of the Heritage designation of the building. The difficulties were eventually resolved. It was restored and renamed the Carlu, in honour of its designer. Unfortunately, the court battles delayed its reopening until 2003. 

The building remains a designated Heritage site under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Note. Some of the information in this post was obtained from, “The Eatons,” by Rod McQueen, Stoddard Publishing Company, 1998.

If you enjoy discovering Toronto’s heritage buildings and neighbourhoods, the following blog is an excellent source of reference about the history of the Parkdale community: pvhs.info

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When the Eaton’s College Street store closed in 1977, I visited the store to purchase a keepsake. The above photo is of a sketch of Eaton’s College that appeared on a shopping bag that Eaton’s provided for the closing sale. I kept it as I considered it as valued a keepsake as the item that I purchased. 

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The reverse side of the same shopping bag, depicting the old Queen Street store that was demolished to built the Eaton Centre.

Carlton St, lloking east to Yonge, 1958

A view gazing east along College Street toward Yonge Street. I took this photo in 1958 from the roof of what was then the British American Oil building, located on the northwest corner of College and Bay Streets.

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An architect’s drawing of the Eaton’s College Street store as it was originally conceived. Because of the Great Depression, the tower was never built.  Source of photo, City of Toronto Archives.

                    f1244_it1637[1]

Lady Eaton and her son John David Eaton at the opening of the Eaton’s College Street Store in 1930. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, It. 1637.

s0071_it7579[1]   1930

The corner of Bay and College Streets on April 24, 1930. The view gazes south on Bay Street, the Eaton’s College Street Store under construction on the southeast corner (upper left-hand corner of the photo). City of Toronto Archives, Series 71, It. 7579.

f1231_it1756[1]   1954

Gazing east on College Street from Bay Street in 1954. The Eaton’s College Street Store is on the southeast corner of Bay and College Streets (right-hand side of the photo).

f0124_fl0003_id0062[1]

This undated photo is from the City of Toronto Archives (Fonds 124, Fl. 003, Id. 0062). The view gazes north on Yonge Street toward College Street. The shadows in the photo indicate that it was taken on an early-morning in winter, as the sun is illuminating the south and east facades of the building. This also explains why there is very little traffic.

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The grand entrance to Eaton’s College on Yonge Street, south of College Street. Today it is one of the entrances to College Park. Photo taken in 2013.

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The east facade of the old Eaton’s Store, now College Park. The view gazes north on Yonge Street toward College Street. Photo taken in 2013.

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A section of the east hallway of the old Eaton’s College store, now College Park. Photo taken in 2013. 

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A view of College Park, gazing east on College Street toward Yonge Street. Photo taken in 2013.

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

To view previous blogs about old 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 also relates anecdotes and stories from those 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 .

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 Lumsden Building at 2-6 Adelaide Street East

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The Lumsden Building at 2-6 Adelaide Street East is on the northeast corner of Yonge and Adelaide Street East. Built between the years 1909 and 1910, its architect was John A. Mackenzie. The Lumsden Building was constructed from funds provided by the Lumsden Estate of Ottawa. In the early decades of the 20th century, it was viewed as an excellent investment, as the city was booming economically and office rental space was in great demand.

When completed, it was said to be the largest concrete-faced structure in the world. This was considered unusual, as in this decade, buildings with a structural steel frame were invariably covered with bricks or terracotta tiles. The architect employed concrete to create texture on the exterior surfaces of the structure, which otherwise would have been plain, and adorned the cornice with many modillions (brackets under the eaves). Decorative detailing around the windows were thick and heavy. Even today, the effect is rather unusual. The basement  of the Lumsden Building contained a swimming pool and a Turkish bath, these features certainly not common in office buildings in this era. Though the fancy cornice and the basement facilities no longer exist, they reflect the prestige this structure garnered in the first decade of the 20th century.

The building has endured well during the many decades since it was built. It is a unique structure that has no equal in the downtown area. Today, it is one of the most historic structures on Toronto’s main street, in the heart of the city’s busy financial district.

f1568_it0339[1]  after 1900

Gazing north on Yonge Street toward Adelaide Street, c. 1910. The Lumsden Building is visible on the northeast side of the intersection (right-hand side of photo). City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1568, Fl. 568, It. 0339.

Fonds 1244, Item 10042

View facing east toward Yonge Street c. 1912, the Lumsden Building prominent on the left side of the photo. In this picture, it retains the ornate cornice around the top of the structure. City of Toronto Archives, Series 1244, It. 10042.

s0071_it7437[1]   Nov. 15, 1929

Gazing north on Yonge Street at Adelaide Street in 1929, the Lumsden Building on the right. City of Toronto Archives, Series 71, S. 0071, It. 7437.

Fonds 1244, Item 1956

Gazing north on Yonge Street in 1930, the Lumsden Building on the right. The photo provides a good view of its ornate cornice, which was removed in later years. City of Toronto Archives, Series 124, It. 1956.

                 Fonds 1526, File 4, Item 26

Looking north on Yonge Street on May 16, 1977. In this photo, the building’s ornate cornice has been removed. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 4, It. 26. 

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The thick concrete ornamentations surrounding the windows of the Lumsden Building.(Photo, 2013)

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The west facade of the Lumsden Building, gazing south on Yonge Street toward Adelaide Street in 2013.

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Gazing east along Adelaide Street at Yonge Street. The west facade (left-hand side) and the south facade (right-hand side) are visible.

                     DSCN9437

         The west facade of the building on Yonge Street 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

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. 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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