Category Archives: history of Toronto streetcars

Toronto’s Silver Rail Tavern—closed 1998

1950s  f1257_s1057_it0738[1] - Copy

The Silver Rail Tavern in the 1950s, located at 225-227 Yonge Street. Toronto Archives, F1257, S1057, item 073.

The last time that I visited the Silver Rail Tavern was in 1995, when an elderly aunt and I visited it for lunch. I chose “the Rail” as I knew that when she had been younger, it was one of her favourite places to dine and enjoy a drink. She was thrilled with my choice, as she had not been inside it for many years. When she stepped in the door, she gushed, “It’s exactly as I remember it. Oh! how I enjoyed sipping the Manhattans here.” The Silver Rail did indeed change very little since it first opened, and this was one of it’s charms.

The Silver Rail was the first bar in Toronto that received a liquor license from the LLBO when Premier George Drew, on April 2, 1947, relaxed the laws governing alcohol. Prohibition had ended in 1927, but there remained many restrictions, such as alcohol only being served in public places if it were purchased with food. It was common to see a person having a beer in a licensed establishment, a small sandwich or other low-cost item from the menu on the table, but untouched. The new law made it possible to order a beer or a glass of wine without ordering food. However, when the Silver Rail opened, no women were allowed to sit at the bar, and only one drink per person was permitted on the tables at a given time.

Previous to the Silver Rail, on the site had been Muirhead’s Bar and Cafeteria. Its ground-floor space was designed by N. A. Armstrong in 1934, and it included a long bar that extended the entire length of the room. It was aligned with the north wall. Patrons were able to sit at the bar to eat or have a drink. Along the south wall, there were rows of tables. A silver-coloured rail, located beside the stairs that led to the lower level, provided the inspiration for the name of the new bar that opened on the same site— the Silver Rail.

It was In 1947 that Louis David Arnold and Michael P. Georges opened the Silver Rail, each investing $50,000 in the enterprise. It was located in the southwest corner of the ground floor of the Ryrie Building, which was on the northeast corner of Yonge and Shuter Streets. The owners of the Silver Rail maintained the basic layout that Armstrong had created for Muirhead’s Bar, but on the south wall, instead of tables, they installed curved booths. In the lower level (basement) of the Rail, there was a classy restaurant, its decor elegant, with immaculate white table clothes. The waiters carried silver water jugs, and were attired in formal white jackets, and black trousers. The restaurant featured live music on weekends, and it was said that on one occasion, Oscar Peterson gave an impromptu performance on its baby grand piano. It was in this restaurant that my aunt and I enjoyed lunch in 1995. 

The Silver Rail was renown for its excellent cuisine, specializing in steaks, roast beef, and seafood. In the 1940s and 1950s, these were the usual items on restaurant menus in Toronto, as they were based on traditional British fare. The dishes were popular, even though they were rather basic if compared with the city’s multi-ethnic and gourmet menus of today. The bar more than compensated for the lack of variety in food, as it stocked a large assortment of whiskies, brandies, champagnes and a wide range of cocktails. The year it opened, highballs were 45 cents. Its location was close to Massey Hall, around the corner on Shuter Street. This made it a favourite for a drink, either before, or after a concert or event. The first month The Rail was open, it earned $90,000 in profits.

In 1948, the artist Eric Aldwinckle was commissioned to paint a large mural for the bar. During the 1950s, the Rail was a favourite of the employees of Eaton’s and Simpsons stores. A friend of mine who worked at Simpson’s in the 1950s, was paid 60 cents an hour. Sometimes he splurged and had lunch at the Rail, paying $1.50 for spaghetti. He considered this to be “high living.” The tavern closed in 1998, and when the space was renovated for a new tenant, Aldwinckle’s mural was lost.

My aunt was saddened by the closing of the Silver Rail. Then, only two restaurants remained that she had visited in her younger days — Fran’s (famous for its rice pudding) and the Old Mill in Etobicoke (well known for dining and dancing).

Sources: www.blogto    lost-toronto.blogspot (Mike Filey)    “Toronto Architecture—A City Guide,” by Patricia McHugh

 June 1934, Constuc. Magazine, Tor Pub. Lib.

Muirhead’s classic Art Deco facade in June 1934. Photo from Construction Magazine, Vol. 27, in the collection of the Toronto Public Library.


The Silver Rail Tavern, which maintained many features of the facade of its predecessor, Muirhead’s. Photo from the Ontario Archives.


The mural painted in 1948 by Eric Aldwinckle. Photo by Michael McClelland.

1949  S 381, Fl0019, id 6288-2  [1]

View looking north on Yonge Street from Shuter Street in 1949. The street is covered with thick timbers to allow the digging of the subway below. The marquees of the Imperial and Downtown Theatres are visible in the distance, to the north of the Ryrie Building where the the Silver Rail was located. Toronto Archives, S 381, fl 0019, id 6288-2.

1950s  f1257_s1057_it0738[1] 

The Ryrie Building in 1950, on the northeast corner of Shuter and Yonge Streets. Toronto Archives, F 1257, S1057, item 0738.

                        View of apartments above the Silver Rail on Yonge Street at Shuter – May 11, 1977

The Ryrie Building and the Silver Rail on May 11, 1977. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, fl 0004, item 001.

c. 1980  Fonds 124, fl 003, id 0127  Silver Rail (2)

The camera is pointed north on Yonge Street in 1980. The Ryrie Building and the Silver Rail can be seen. On the left, a portion of the Eaton Centre is visible. Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, fl 0003, id 0127. 

S 1465, Fl305, It 0002 Rail-South[1] 

Gazing south on Yonge Street from a short distance north of Shuter Streets. Toronto Archives, S1465, f 1305, Item 0002.


The space in 2014 at Yonge and Shuter Streets, in the Ryrie Building, where the Silver Rail was located.

To view the Home Page for this blog:

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

Books by the Blog’s Author

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


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

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


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

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

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book:

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

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

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21


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Toronto’s Yonge Street streetcars—ended in 1954

Peter Witt car at halton Museum

A Peter Witt Streetcar #2894, built by Ottawa Car Company for the Toronto Transportation Commission (later renamed the Toronto Transit Commission)

My earliest memories of the Peter Witt streetcars on Toronto’s Yonge Street date from the 1940s. In that decade, the intersection at Yonge and Queen was the commercial heart of the city, as it was where Eaton’s and Simpsons department stores were located. It was when my mother journeyed downtown to shop at Eaton’s that I first rode on these streetcars.

Later, as a teenager, these cars became an integral part of my life as the major movie theatres were located on Yonge Street or within close proximity to it. Also, Maple Leaf Gardens was only one block east of Yonge. In the 1950s, the theatres on Yonge and “The Gardens” on Carlton Street were among the most important entertainment venues of the city. 

In past decades, people who lived west of Yonge Street rarely journeyed on the streetcars to areas east of Yonge. There was little incentive, since when you arrived at Yonge, the main commercial establishments of the city were readily accessible. People who dwelt east of Yonge, similarly did not ride the streetcars west of it, for the same reason. However, everyone rode on the Yonge Streetcars. They were the best known and most frequently travelled in all of Toronto. This is why it was logical in the late-1940s to begin building the city’s first subway under the street. 

The most famous of all the Yonge streetcars were the Peter Witt cars (1921-1963). They required two men to operate, but I seem to remember that in the 1950s, some of the smaller models, such as those on Bay and Bathurst Streets, required only one person. On these, the motorman collected the fares. On the larger Yonge Street cars, passengers boarded by the front doors, which folded back when opened. The driver (motorman) sat at the front of the car, but people basically ignored him, since he did not collect the fares. Behind the driver was a large box that in winter held sand to provide traction on icy streetcar tracks. 

Passengers who sat or stood at the front of the car did not pay their fare until it was time to depart. Then, they exited through the centre doors, where the conductor sat. People dropped their tickets or cash into the fare box located beside the conductor, and were given a transfer if they required one. They then stepped down to the roadway. The centre doors did not fold back, but slid across to open. The conductor controlled the doors, and also maintained the coal stove that provided heat in winter. It was located opposite the conductor. Passengers seated or standing at the back of the car had already paid their fare, so when it was time for them to depart, they simply exited via the centre doors.

When I was a boy, all the seats were covered with what appeared to be brown leather. I always pleaded with my parent to pass by the conductor and pay the fare. This was because I wanted to sit in the seat at the back of the car. It was huge, with large windows surrounding it on three sides, providing a panoramic view of the street.

When I was a teenager, I preferred the window-seats, which were on the sides of the cars. Their windows provided a better breeze on hot summer days. On the ledge of each window there was a small brass plate, and on it were engraved the words, “Keep Arm In.” Teenagers invariably enjoyed teasing fate by sticking their heads out the window. However, when another streetcar was approaching from the opposite direction on the other track, at the last moment they quickly pulled their heads inside. My parents continually warned me not to imitate the older kids. In winter, my preferred seat or standing space was near the stove.

The Peter Witt streetcars contained engines with sufficient power to pull a trailer up a steep incline. This was necessary, since the hill on Yonge Street, north of Davenport Road, was quite severe. Trailers possessed two large centre doors that opened by sliding back. The door on the right was for boarding, and the one on the left for exiting. Inside the trailer, there was a space between the two doors where the conductor sat to collect the fares. Similar to the cars that pulled the trailers, passengers did not pay their fares until they passed the conductor. 

After arriving at Front Street, the Yonge streetcars looped around Union Station. Thus, many immigrants caught their first sight of the city from their windows. My father arrived as a young man in Toronto in 1921, from a small village on Canada’s east coast. It was the first year that the Peter Witt cars commenced operating in the city. He viewed them as modern and up-to-date. When he departed Union Station and boarded a Yonge streetcar, it was a warm day in May. Despite the brass plaque on the ledge of the window, I am certain that he stuck his head out to gawk at the skyscrapers on Yonge Street, especially those between Front and Queen Streets. The sight of the enormous Loew’s Theatre (the Elgin), north of Queen, and the Pantages (the Ed Mirvish) caught his imagination. Years later, he told me that on that occasion he had vowed to visit them as soon as possible. An older brother, who had been in Toronto for several years, had told him about the “naughty” vaudeville shows. 

For many decades, the Yonge cars were the main means of journeying to the St. Lawrence Market on Front Street. During World War 1 and World War 11, thousands of soldiers departed for overseas and returned home after the wars from Union Station. Many of these men and women travelled to the station or journeyed away from it on the Yonge streetcars. During the 1940s, I rode on them to attend the circus at Maple Leaf Gardens and to visit Santa Claus at Eaton’s Toyland. When I was a teenager, I attended theatres such as the Tivoli, Imperial, Loew’s Downtown, Loew’s Uptown, Downtown, Biltmore, Savoy, Odeon Hyland, and the Hollywood via the Yonge cars. 

History of the Peter Witt Cars in Toronto 

In 1921, Toronto’s contract with the Toronto Railway Company for the transportation needs of the city ended, and it was not renewed. City Council had realized that because the city was expanding rapidly, it was necessary to become more involved, so created the Toronto Transportation Commission. It purchased the streetcars of the former company (the TRC).

Several years before 1921, the city had been aware that many of the streetcars they would inherit were in poor condition. They began making plans and after careful research, they negotiated a license to allow them to place a contract for a fleet of Peter Witt streetcars. They had been designed by a commissioner with Cleveland Street Railway Company, and named after him. There were seven different series, allowing for variations in size, but they all possessed a similar appearance—solid, square-shaped, with straight lines.

The cars were ideal for transporting large numbers of passengers on busy downtown routes. Their heavy steel bodies were well suited to Toronto’s severe winters, and contained large windows for good ventilation on hot summer days. They seated about 60 passengers, with sufficient standing room for many more. Toronto ordered 575 of the streetcars, 350 of them with engines. The other 225 were trailers that were pulled by the streetcars with motors. The Canadian Car and Foundry Company in Montreal was given the contract and most of them were built by this company. However, 50 were sub-contracted to the Ottawa Car Company, and another 50 to the Preston Car Company.

To introduce Torontonians to the new streetcars, one of them was exhibited at the CNE in August of 1921. Their debut on Toronto streets was on October 2nd of that year. The first streets to be converted entirely to Peter Witt cars were the busiest routes—Yonge, College, Dundas and Bloor. However, the Yonge cars became the most famous of them all.

In the 1920s, the cars had wooden seats and coal stoves for heating in winter. The brakes were operated by compressed air. However, in the years ahead the seats were upholstered with brown leatherette material, and the heating system changed to forced-air from electric heaters. For several decades, the streetcars were the work-horses of the system. However, in 1938, the sleek Presidents’ Conference Cars (PCCs’) were introduced, which soon became known as the “red rockets.” They slowly replaced the older Peter Witt cars. The Peter Witt cars stopped serving the Yonge Street line on March 30, 1954, when the Yonge Subway opened. However, the last of these streetcars did not disappear until 1963.

After the Peter Witt car removed from service, they were stripped for useable parts and the remainder sold for junk metal.

Sources: www.blofto – 

New cars, York Station – December 22, 1922

Peter Witt streetcars arriving at the York Street station in December 1922. Toronto Archives, S0071, item 1514.

Sign boards and motor car, (front), Loews sign – May 1, 1924   Witt motor, rear end – April 24, 1924

Left-hand photo shows the front of car number 2558, which was employed on the Yonge Street route. The right-hand photo is of the back of the same streetcar. Toronto Archives, S 0071, Item 3152 (left photo) and the right-hand photo, F0071, item 3133 (right). Both photos were taken in April 1924.

Witt car, (Commercial Department) – October 30, 1928

Passengers boarding Peter Witt car #2520. In the background is the Royal York Hotel. The photo was taken in 1928, when the hotel was under construction. It appears that the streetcar is southbound on York Street. Scott Street is one block east of Yonge. I am uncertain about the routing of the streetcar, but it possibly journeyed east on Front to Scott, then north to Front, west on Front, and then, north on Yonge. Toronto Archives, S 0071, Item 6396. 

Witt car #2536, looking to the head end, (Executive Department) – January 6, 1932

View from the rear, looking toward the front doors of car # 2536. Photo taken on January 6, 1932. In this decade, the seats had wooden slats. Toronto Archives, S 0071, item 9056.

Witt car #2536 , rear end, (Executive Department) – January 6, 1932

View of the rear of same car as in the previous photo, on January 6, 1932. Toronto Archives, S 0071, item 9059.

                              Witt car #2536, vestibule, front entrance, (Executive Department) – January 6, 1932

Entrance of the same car on January 6, 1932. I do remember this type of Peter Witt streetcar, when the driver was enclosed in cabin with a door. Toronto Archives, S 0071, item 9060. 

Witt car, interior, (Commercial Department) – October 30, 1928

Passengers in a Peter Witt car in 1928. The driver is enclosed a cabin and the conductor can be seen in his booth. Toronto Archives, s 0071, item 6398.

Interior, centre double wood frame sign board, (wide) – April 25, 1924

Ceiling of a car in 1924, with the advertisements above the windows and on the ceiling. Toronto Archives, F 0071, Item 3153.

Brill motor, (interior), #2590 – March 2, 1923

View looking toward the front of car #2590 on March 2, 1923. The conductor’s seat between the centre doors can be seen, as well as the coal stove. Toronto Archives, S 0071, item 1914.

Streetcar advertising, (Commercial Department) – April 27, 1928

A trailer car in 1928. Visible are the centre doors and the section in between where the conductor sat. Toronto Archives, S 0071, item 5773. 

Yonge Street, looking north, from north of Queen, noon hour traffic – December 24, 1924

Yonge Street north of Queen on December 24, 1924. The Eaton’s store (demolished) is on the left, its north facade on Albert Street, which no longer extends to Yonge Street. The Eaton Centre is now on Yonge between Queen and Dundas. A Peter Witt car with a trailer attached is travelling northbound. Toronto Archives, s 0071, item 3632. 

Yonge St, looking north, from King, noon hour traffic – December 24, 1924

Yonge Street looking north from King Street on December 24, 1924. The Peter Witt trailer is southbound toward King. On the east side of Yonge is the Strand Theatre, built in 1919. Toronto Archives, s 0071, item 3631.

Traffic on Yonge St, looking north, from south side of Queen St; congestion as far as the eye can see and a solid line of curb parked cars, 3:26 p.m., Friday, December 20, 1935 (Traffic Study Department) – 1936

Gazing north on Yonge Street from Queen Street in 1935. On the east side of the street is Loew’s Downtown, which is now the Elgin Theatre. The buildings on the northwest and northeast corners of the street still exist today but are employed for other commercial purposes. Toronto Archives, s 0071, Item 11703. 

Peter Witt car at halton Museum (2)

A Peter Witt streetcar photographed in the 1980s at the Halton County Radial Railway Museum.

1920s Peter Witt streetcar, interior

The interior of the same streetcar at the museum. This is the type of car that I remember on Yonge Street, with the padded brown leatherette seats.

To view the Home Page for this blog:

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

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


   To place an order for this book: .

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


Another book on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, 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 histories.

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book:

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. For further information follow the link to  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21


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Toronto streetcars—from Omnibus to Red Rocket


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.  


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. 


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. 


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:

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

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.  


   To place an order for this book: .

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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