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Category Archives: King Street West Toronto

Ed’s Warehouse Restaurant—closed in 1999

                   King St W, looking west to Duncan - "Ed's Warehouse" – October 9, 1981

Ed’s Warehouse Restaurant on King Street West on October 9, 1981. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, file 0067, Item 0014.

In decades past, one of the most famous restaurants in Toronto was Ed’s Warehouse. Located at 266 King Street West, it was not only a place to enjoy a meal, but also a tourist attraction. For almost four decades, people visited it and invariably, it lived up to its reputation.

In the early 1960s, King Street West between Peter Street and University Avenue was sadly neglected. Adding to the difficulties was the CP Rail Yards, located on the south side of the street, where the Roy Thomson Hall is located today. Transients riding the rails were often seen on this section of King Street. Despite these considerations, Ed Mirvish purchased the Royal Alexandra Theatre in 1962 for $200,000. He was quoted as saying that the value of the land alone was worth more than the purchase price, which included the theatre.

After restoring the Royal Alexandra, Ed Mirvish faced the problem that there were no quality restaurants in the area. In 1963, he solved the difficulty by opening his own — Ed’s Warehouse. Its name was chosen as it was actually located in a former warehouse, immediately to the west side of the theatre. Ed believed that dining and theatre went together like the proverbial “horse and carriage,” so the enterprise seemed appropriate.

Crowds attending the restaurant and the theatre brought life to the street. This was not true of other projects that opened in the area in the years ahead, such as the Roy Thomson Hall (1982), and the Canadian Broadcasting Centre (1992). These buildings basically ignored the street life. Ed eventually opened more restaurants on King Street and also built the Princess of Wales Theatre. Finally, the Bell Lightbox was opened (2010), the jewel in the crown that made King Street the most important entertainment district in the city, and perhaps in all of Canada. However, it all started with The Royal Alexandra Theatre and Ed’s Warehouse Restaurant.

In its day, dining at Ed’s restaurant was an experience unequalled in Toronto. Rita Zakes of the Toronto Star wrote in July 2007 that its ambiance was like that of a Barnum and Bailey circus. Personally, I considered it “antiques, junk and Victoriana gone wild!” Along with the red-flocked wallpaper, there were huge Oriental vases, Tiffany lamps, bronze and marble statuary, an automobile, antique photographs, photos of numerous theatre stars, stained glass windows, and lamps with naked ladies on their bases. From the moment the restaurant opened, the decor became part of the attraction. Best of all, after dining in this delightfully garish atmosphere, the Royal Alexandra Theatre was only a few steps away. 

The menu was pre-set, to reduce costs. Thick, juicy, prime rib was accompanied by mashed potatoes, green peas, Yorkshire pudding, and gravy. Garlic bread and dill pickles were also included. The dessert was spumoni ice cream. Critics jokingly stated that the menu was so easy to prepare that Ed had fired his chef and gave the job to the parking attendant. The critics had obviously never attempted to cook prime rib.

The restaurant was so successful that Ed Mirvish expanded and opened Ed’s Seafood, Ed’s Chinese, Ed’s Italian and Ed’s Folly (a lounge). In Ed’s Warehouse, men were required to wear a jacket and tie, this requirement maintained long after other dining establishments eliminated the tradition. However, Old Ed’s restaurant offered lower prices and was more casual.

In 1971, I subscribed to the Mirvish theatre series. When my first tickets arrived in the mail, I received two complimentary coupons for Ed’s Warehouse. If I remember correctly, each coupon had a value of $20, which covered the entire cost of the meal. These were indeed the “good old days.”

In the 1970s, when the Mirvish restaurants were at their height of popularity, they had a combined capacity of 2300 seats and often served 6000 meals a day. In this same decade, Toronto Calendar Magazine, which later merged with Toronto Life, sponsored a contest to determine the best restaurant in the financial district. Over 10,000 people voted, and out of the 21 restaurants listed, Ed’s Warehouse was #1. Despite this accolade, I read online some very critical reviews of the food at Ed’s Warehouse. However, I considered the beef, which was imported from Chicago, among the finest I have ever experienced.  

One year on my birthday, my family told me that they were taking me out to dinner, but they kept their choice of restaurant a surprise. I inquired if I should wear a tie and jacket and was told that they were unnecessary. When we arrived, we discovered that a tie and jacket were indeed mandatory, as it was Ed’s Warehouse. The waiter offered to provide jackets and ties from among those that they kept for such situations. He explained that the dress code was necessary to prevent vagrants from across the street at the railroad yards from entering the establishment. We were offended, as the clothes they offered were grubby looking, and we were certainly not hobos. We were wearing freshly-ironed sport shirts and neat trousers.

Then, Ed Mirvish appeared and inquired, “What’s the problem?”

We explained.

He smiled, apologized, and told the waiter, “Escort them to the table that has been reserved.”

We enjoyed the meal and when the cheque arrived, it had been reduced by 50 per cent. Ed was a very smart businessman as well as a big-hearted individual. My family never forgot his generosity.

Similar to all good times, the Mirvish restaurants finally disappeared. Ed cancelled his dining license in December 1999. When reporters asked him about the closings, he quipped that he was tired of doing dishes. The city was never the same. This will also be said when his discount store, “Honest Ed’s,” closes in December 2016.

To paraphrase Ed Mirvish, “Ed’s Warehouse was one of a kind. Often imitated, but never duplicated.”  

Sources: kingbluecondos.com, www.robertfulford.com, and www.liquisearch.com 

Corner of Duncan St. and King St., looking north-east

Ed’s Warehouse Restaurant in 1972, Toronto Archives, S 0841, fl. 0052, It. 0024. 

1978, Tor. P.L.  rj250-1[1]

Gazing east on King Street in 1978, Ed’s many restaurants visible on the north side of the street. Toronto Public Library, rj-250.

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

Sign outside Ed’s Warehouse on August 9, 1981, displaying the menu and notifying men of the dress code. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, Fl. 0067, Item 0018.

 

                               King St W, east across Duncan - "Ed's Warehouse" – October 9, 1981

Looking east on King Street on October 9, 1981, Ed’s various restaurants visible. Ed’s Warehouse is in the distance, on the west side of the Royal Alexandra Theatre. Duncan Street separates Ed’s Warehouse from the other restaurants. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1525, Fl. 0067, It. 0015. 

King St W at Duncan - "Ed's Warehouse" restaurant – August 6, 1983  King St W - "Ed's Warehouse" restaurant - outside, detail – August 6, 1983

Photos and newspaper clippings outside Ed’s Warehouse on King Street on August 6, 1983. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 0067, Item 0022 (left photo) and Item 0021 (right photo).

ebay   [1]  Chuckman's  postcard-toronto-eds-warehouse-restaurant-270-king-w-dining-room-late-1960s[1]

(Left) Menu from Ed’s Warehouse that is for sale on ebay, and (right) the interior of Ed’s Warehouse from Chuckman’s Postcard Collection.

                        eds-warehouse-b

I am grateful to a reader who emailed me a copy of the menu at Ed’s Warehouse. Perusing it brought back many fond memories of evenings spent looking over this menu to decide which “cut” to order.  The prices on the menu give true meaning to the phrase, “The good old days.” 

DSCN0406  DSCN0405 

Items that were previously in Ed’s Warehouse Restaurant. In this photo, they were on display in Honest Ed’s Discount store at Bathurst and Bloor Streets, in July 2013.

  King and Duncan

The building on King Street where Ed’s Warehouse was located. Photo taken in 2014. 

For a link to memories of other Toronto Restaurants of the past:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/memories-of-torontos-restaurants-of-the-past/

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

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

Books by the Blog’s Author

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

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

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

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

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

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[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 Toronto Life article: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

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

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

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

 

 

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Demolition of historic Westinghouse building

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The Westinghouse building on the southeast corner of Peter and King Street West is being demolished (April 2016), only the north and west facades being preserved and included in the new King Blue Condominium. The historic Westinghouse structure is one of the finest examples of the industrial buildings erected in Toronto’s downtown during the 1920s, a decade in which the city’s economy was booming. The Westinghouse building was constructed of steel and concrete, its symmetrical facades faced with red/brown bricks.

In the early-decades of the 19th century, King Street was Toronto’s fashionable shopping district, and as the city expanded westward, fine houses appeared. Among them was the lieutenant governor’s official residence (Government House) at King and John Streets. However, after the railway lines were built south of King Street, families began relocating northward, and sections of King Street slowly became industrial. The area was seen as advantageous for industry as it was close to the harbour and the railway lines for exporting and importing goods. By the 1870s and 1880s, many large factories and warehouses appeared on King Street. The Gurney Iron Foundry, west of Spadina, is one of the best examples. A few of the multi-colour brick buildings remain in existence today, recycled to contain a chic restaurant and several shops. Factories were also erected on King Street between Peter and John Street in the 1920s.

The Westinghouse building today has the postal address 355 King Street. However, even as late as the mid-1920s, the site contained four working-class homes, their postal numbers 349 to 355 King Street. It is likely those who lived in the houses were renting, as the occupants changed frequently. In 1920, at 349 King Street lived Lawrence Guay , at 351 King St. lived George Porter, at 353 King Street there was Peter Brady, a fireman working at the City Abattoir, and 355 King Street was the home of Frank Hopper, a labourer.

During the years ahead, the occupants of the houses continually changed. In 1927, at 349 King St. was Thomas MacWilliams. At 351 King St. was William Bannerman, a stationary engraver, while the houses at 353 King St. and 355 King St. were vacant. By the end of 1927, all the houses were vacant and soon demolished. In 1928, the City Directories reveal that where the fours houses had been located was the six-storey Canadian Westinghouse Company building, manufacturer of electrical equipment. The founder of the company was George Westinghouse.

King Street West, between University Avenue and Bathurst Street is now the main artery of the city’s Entertainment District. Many up-scale restaurants and clubs are located on this narrow street, which hums day and night. The TIFF Bell Lightbox has greatly enhanced the number of visitors to the area, and King Street is the centre of the annual Toronto Film Festival. Many people are desirous of living close to these exciting venues, causing condos to proliferate on King Street and the surrounding avenues.

When I read the reports in the press that the Westinghouse Building was to be incorporated into the high rise condo named “King Blue,” I incorrectly assumed that the structure would be preserved. I was deeply disappointed when I discovered that the building was to be demolished, only the west and north facades being retained. 

Series 1465, File 456, Item 1

View gazing east on King Street West between the years 1975-1992. The Westinghouse building is prominent of the right-hand (south) side of the street. Toronto Archives, S 1465, Fl 0456, Item 0001.

Series 1465, File 530, Item 20

The north and west facades of the Westinghouse building in 1982. Toronto Archives, S 1465, Fl 0530, Item 0002. 

Series 1465, File 51, Item 91

Gazing east on King Street West from west of Peter Street at the Westinghouse building in 1995. Toronto Archives, S1465, Fl 0051, Item 0091.

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                Gazing south on Peter Street toward King Street in 2015.

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    The north facade on King Street of the Westinghouse building in 2015. 

March, 2016

The building in March 2016, as it is prepared for demolition. View gazes east on King Street.

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Gazing west at the east facade of the Westinghouse building on April 26, 2016, as the demolition work proceeds. The steel supports on the north facade on King Street are visible.

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                         Demolition on the east facade of the building.

                     DSCN8472

Artist’s sketch of the King Blue Condominium, showing the old Westinghouse building as part of the complex. 

                       DSCN8547

                      The Westinghouse building during the summer of 2015.

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_thumb[1]    

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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The old Toronto Star Building (demolished)

Fonds 1244, Item 10094

The old Toronto Star newspaper building is the large structure on the left-hand side of the photo.The view is from the southwest, looking at the south facade of the building c. 1968. The towering Bank of Commerce Building (now CIBC, on the right-hand side of the photo) is visible further east, on the south side of King Street. The large structure with the two flags atop it is the Bank of Nova Scotia at King and Bay. Toronto Archives, F1244, Item 10094

When I was a boy in the 1940s, my parents purchased a Toronto Daily Star newspaper route. Six days a week, I delivered papers to about 65 customers. The newspapers were 3 cents a copy, but 10 cents extra on Saturday, if the customer bought the Star Weekly magazine section. For each newspaper I received a half cent for delivery. I considered the roughly $2 a week I earned to be a princely income. I retained my route until I was in grade nine, when I sold the route to become a delivery boy for Crosstown Pharmacy, at Eglinton and Bathurst. I was paid about 30 cents hour, and the customers’ tips were more lucrative than on the paper route.

I had been an avid comic-book reader when I was in public school, one of my favourite being Superman, featuring the fictional characters — Lois Lane and Clark Kent. I did not realize that in the 1930s, the creator of the comic, Joe Shuster, had also been a paperboy for the Star. The head office of the Toronto newspaper was the inspiration for the Daily Planet, where Clark Kent was employed. I do not personally remember ever seeing the Star building, but after researching it and examining photos of it, I can understand why it gripped the imagination of Joe Shuster. 

The Toronto Star, established in 1892, relocated in 1905 from Adelaide Street to a four-storey building at 18-20 King Street West. In the decades ahead, it constantly increased its circulation. Writers like the Nobel-prize winning Ernest Hemingway added to the newspaper’s reputation. Hemingway worked at the Star from 1920 to 1924 and credited the freedom to travel and write for the Star a major reason for his future success as an author.

In the late-1920s, with a circulation of 175,00 and 650 employees, the newspaper relocated to a larger building at 80 King Street West. It was one of the finest Art Deco office towers ever built in North America. Symmetrical in design, its construction commenced in November 1927, and completed in January 1929. At a cost of $1.5 million, it was designed by Chapman and Oxley.  A classical example of the style, it possessed strong vertical lines that ascended from its six-storey podium to the pinnacle of the tower. Containing 22 storeys, there were no setbacks on the front facade, facing King Street, but there were setbacks on the east and west sides, allowing the tower to rise from the centre section above the sixth floor.

The tower (floors 7-22) was erected with structural steel and faced with limestone. It was mostly rented to other companies for offices, helping to offset the expense of maintaining the building, as well as providing investment income for the newspaper. The Star’s radio station was on the 21st. floor of the tower, station CFCA, which ceased broadcasting in 1933. 

The six-storey podium was constructed of reinforced concrete, its ground floor occupying two-storeys. The lower three floors were faced with granite. The podium was where the daily operations of the newspaper were located, including the printing presses and delivery facilities. It also contained the offices for the reporters, proof readers, editors, photographers, and the newspaper archives. Above the entrance doors, there was a decorative bronze screen, typical of many Art Deco structures. Atop the screen was an arch, and above it was stonework with carved floral motifs. It was a grand entrance, important in an era when celebrities and politicians were often interviewed at newspaper offices, rather than having reporters seek them out.

The ground floor contained rental stores that included a barber shop. On its east side there was a restaurant, which for many years was operated by Stoodleigh’s. This restaurant chain also had an outlet on the north side of the CNE Grandstand, which was only in operation when the Ex was open. The lobby on the first floor of the Star building was elegant, with marble columns and trim. Elevators with bronze doors, etched with Art Deco designs, swept visitors and employees to the upper floors. Each elevator was staffed by an intendant with white gloves, who opened and closed the doors and provided assistance. Anyone who remembers Eaton’s and Simpsons during the 1940s and 1950s, would be familiar with this type of service.

The trucks that delivered the newspapers across the city departed directly from the Star building on King Street. When I was a paperboy, one of these trucks arrived six days a week, around 4 pm, at a depot at Vaughan Road and Greyton Avenue, in the Township of York. About 20 newspaper boys picked up their bundles of papers from this location. There were no newspaper girls in the 1940s.

In 1967, the TD Centre (Toronto-Dominion bank) opened on the south side of King Street, directly across from the Toronto Star Building. As the area was the heart of the city’s financial district, the newspaper received lucrative offers from those who wished to redevelop the site. Finally, in 1971, the Star finally sold their building and relocated to the foot of Yonge Street (1Yonge), near the harbour. The wonderful Art Deco Star building was demolished in 1972, and in its place appeared the 72-storey First Canadian Place office complex, directly across from the TD Centre.

The Art Deco-inspired bronze doors from the Star Building were relocated to an office structure on Bay Street, south of Queen Street. I was unable to discover exactly where, but a reader suggested that they are likely in the Metro Trust Building at 357 Bay Street, north of Temperance Street. Some of the Star building’s ornate stonework was transported to Scarborough and placed on the grounds of the Guild Inn, alongside similar remnants of carved stone from other demolished Toronto edifices.

I understand that some of Toronto’s architectural past must be replaced to meet the needs of a modern city. However, our city has destroyed so many of its structures of yesteryear that little remains to link us with those who laboured to build Toronto. A truly modern, progressive city retains the best of its former years and incorporates it into the present-day. This concept is gaining ground in Toronto, but it still has a long way to go. Other cities have accomplished this blend, and are the better for it. They attract more tourists and have an improved urban environment, while creating an enriched life for their citizens.

Sources: www.thestar.com (Dave Russill) – www.canadacolll.com— “Lost Toronto” by William Dendy, “Art Deco Architecture in Toronto” by Tim Morawetz. 

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        Location of the old Star building on King Street West.

Fonds 1244, Item 342

The front of the Star building at 18-20 King Street, prior to the newspaper relocating to 80 King Street. The photo was taken during the federal election of 1911, when the main political issue was reciprocity (free trade) with the United States, Toronto Archives. F1244, Item 0342.

Fonds 1244, Item 881

A crowd outside the Star building at 18-20 King St. in 1914, which contained the newspaper’s offices from 1905 to 1929. It was common in that decade for people to gather outside newspaper offices to receive a glimpse of the day’s headlines. It was a way to encourage readers to purchase a copy.Toronto Archives, F1244, Item 0881

Fonds 1244, Item 3012

All of the above buildings on King Street (except the three on the far left) were demolished in 1927 to construct the Star building. Toronto Archives, F1244, Item 3012.

                  Ont. Archives, 1920  I0022003[1]

The Star building shortly after it opened in 1929. View gazes east on King Street toward Yonge. Ontario Archives, 10022003.

                        F 1231, S 1131, Item 0069 -king-toward-bay-1930[1]

Gazing east along King Street toward Yonge c. 1930. The Star building is on the left, and the Bank of Commerce tower (CIBC) is in the distance on the right. Toronto Archives, F1231, Fl 131, Item 0069

Fonds 1244, Item 2054

Office space for reporters in the building on December 17, 1930. Toronto Archives, F1244, Item 2054.

Fonds 1244, Item 2057

     Lobby of the building c. 1930, Toronto Archives, F 1244, Item 2057.

Fonds 1244, Item 2186

King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth in Toronto in 1939, in front of the Star building, which was decorated for the Royal Tour. Toronto Archives, F1244, Item 2186.

Fonds 1244, Item 2058

          The press room c. 1945, Toronto Archives, F1244, Item 2058

                    Fonds 1244, Item 10093

The south facade of the Star building at 80 King Street between 1967 and 1970. Toronto Archives, F 1244, Item 10093

20121112-Star-Facade[1]

Sketch of the podium of the Star building from the files of the Toronto Star, 20121112

                        c. 1945 f1257_s1057_it2037[1]

The newspaper’s offices c. 1945, Toronto Archives, F 1257, S 1057, Item 2037.

                     DSCN0381

First Canadian Place in March 2016, on the former site of the Toronto Star Building. The TD Centre is on the south side of the street, opposite it.

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

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

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

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

   To place an order for this book:

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

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

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[2]    

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

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The lost buildings of Upper Canada College, Toronto

1890 , I0002101[1]

Upper Canada College in 1890, photo from the Ontario Archives, 10002101

Archdeacon John Strachan, who became the first Anglican Bishop of Toronto, petitioned the British Crown in 1827 for a charter to create a university in the town of York (Toronto). However, some resident objected to the new university, since its affiliation with the Church of England would allow the church to essentially control its curriculum.

When Lieutenant Governor Sir John Colborne, who later became Lord Seaton, arrived in York in 1828, he agreed with those who opposed the new university. Instead, he proposed founding a preparatory  school for boys, modelled on the public schools in England. At the time, parents in Upper Canada (Ontario) who wished to educate their sons within a proper school system sent their sons to England or the United States. The latter country was frowned upon, as the parents feared that their sons might return home with anti-British or republican sentiments. The result was that Upper Canada College, a school for boys’, was established in York in 1829 by a royal charter granted by King George IV.

The school opened in temporary quarters on January 4, 1830, with 140 students, taught by 8 master. Henry Scadding, Toronto’s first recognized historian, was among the students enrolled in the school when its first building opened in 1831. Located on King Street, it was on Russell Square, named after Peter Russell, the Auditor General and Receiver General of the province under Governor Simcoe. The square, donated to the school by Sir John Colborne, was bounded by King Street West on the south, Adelaide Street on the north, Simcoe Street on the east, and John Street on the west. The campus buildings were to be recessed over a hundred feet from King Street, their facades facing it. Thus, the square that had appeared on the plan for the town of York in 1799, and reserved as a public square, was now the campus of the boys’ school. When the college opened, it was in a rural setting, to the west of the town.

Upper Canada College was a boarding school, divided into “houses” that provided rooms and meals for the students. Each house was headed by a classroom teacher, referred to as a master, all of whom had been hired in England.  To finance the school, a thousand pounds each year was to be provided by the Canada Company, a semi-government agency that sold crown land on behalf of the government. These funds were supplemented by student fees.

The plans for the campus included a large block of red-brick buildings, the largest of them located in a central position. It was constructed by Mathew Priestman, its size and commanding position denoting that it was the heart of the school. The administrative offices, including the principal’s, and the student classrooms were located within it. On either side of the centre structure were two buildings, referred to as “houses,” which provided room and board for the students. Built by John Ewart, the houses were connected to each other and to the centre building by covered passageways. These allowed students and staff to access the various buildings without stepping outside. This arrangement was considered necessary because of the severity of the Canadian winters. 

1835,  pictures-r-2275[1]

The main (centre) building and those on either side of it contained two storeys, with a centre hall on both levels. All the buildings were Georgian in style, symmetrical and unadorned. There was a gravelled east-west roadway in front of them, and a walkway that extended south to King Street. In the northwest corner of the centre building there was a prayer room, with a raised platform for the masters to lead the prayers, and box pews in which the students listened. Henry Scadding, Toronto’s early-day historian, became a teaching master at the college in 1838, and taught classes in drawing.

During the 1830s, Upper Canada College expanded its enrolment and more boarding houses were constructed. In 1855, the architectural firm of Cumberland and Storm was contracted to refurbish and update the buildings. A large stone portico (porch) was added to the centre structure, and its windows were trimmed with stone. Further repairs were required following a fire in 1869, and W. J. Stibbs was hired for the project. It is thought that this was when the Mansard roofs, in the Second-Empire style, were added to the buildings. More expansion occurred in 1876-1877, and perhaps this is when the tower was installed on the main building.

In 1890, the Ontario Government ceased funding the school and it became completely independent. In 1891, the school relocated  to a new campus that was larger, situated on Lonsdale Road, north of Avenue Road and St. Clair Avenue. At the time, the area was remote from the city as Toronto did not extend much beyond Davenport Road. The buildings on King Street were eventually demolished, except for one of the student residences. It still exists today on the southwest corner of Duncan and Adelaide Streets. In the years ahead, it was converted into a warehouse.

Russell Square, the home of Upper Canada College for six decades, was sold for commercial development. It is unfortunate that except for one boarding house, the historic buildings of Upper Canada College did not survive. Perhaps the most well-known buildings erected on Russell Square after the UCC relocated were the Royal Alexandra Theatre, erected in 1907, and the Princess of Wales Theatre, constructed in 1993. More recently, a 47-storey condo named “Theatre Park” was built. The Ed Mirvish project, which consists of two condominium towers, are to be added in the near future to the area that was once Russell Square. 

Upper Canada College today maintains a link to the British Crown, as HRH Prince Philip acts as a “special visitor.” UCC is the oldest private school in Ontario and the third oldest in Canada.

Sources: torontoplqques.com — bluenet.ucc.on.ca — “Lost Toronto” by William Dendy.”

1890

Map from the Goad’s Atlas, dated 1890. King Street is at the bottom (south) of the map, and at the top (north) is Adelaide Street West. Today, Duncan Street has been extended southward from Adelaide Street to King Street, through the former campus.

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The buildings of Upper Canada College in 1865.  View is of the south facades facing King Street West, from the west side, looking east. The main building, in the centre position, has a Greek-style porch that had been added on the front. Photos from the Ontario Archives-10021817. 

1867  I0005306[1]

A similar view of the buildings, but from the east side looking west, in 1867. Photo from the Ontario Archives-10005306.

1871  I0021818[1]

View of the south facades of the buildings, looking west from east of the structures in 1871, after the Mansard roofs and towers were added. Photo from the Ontario Archives, 10021818.

1884 - pictures-r-2305[1]

View looking from the northwest toward the campus in 1884. Photo from the Toronto Public Library, r-2305

1884  pictures-r-2344[1]

View gazing north at the campus in 1884, from near King Street. The connecting passageways between the structures are clearly evident. Photo from the Toronto Public Library, r-2344.

boarding house on Adelaide  1890  pictures-r-2330[1]

Upper Canada College boys’ boarding house on Adelaide Street in 1890. View is from the northwest. Duncan Street was eventually extended south to King Street, on the east side of the structure. The other buildings in the photo were demolished.  Photo from the Toronto Public Library, 1890  r-2330.

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Photo taken in 2013 of the the boarding House of 1833. The view gazes at the northeast corner of the building. A third storey has been added to the old boarding house.

To explore more about this building:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/01/31/upper-canada-colleges-former-boarding-housetoronto/

main dining room c. 1890  pictures-r-2325[1] - Copy 

The eastern portion of the main dining room of the college, c. 1890, Toronto Public Library, r-2325.

principal's room, 1890.  pictures-r-6629[1]

     Principal’s room c. 1890, Photo from Toronto Public Library r-6629.

classrom of Mr. Wedd, 1890  pictures-r-6638[1]

Classroom of Mr. Wedd, c. 1890. Photos from the collection of the Toronto Public Library r-6638.

gymnasium, 1890  pictures-r-2326[1]

The gymnasium of Upper Canada College, c. 1890. Photo from the Toronto Public Library r- 2326.

prayer room, 1890, TPR.  pictures-r-6630[1]

Prayer room of Upper Canada College, c. 1890, the raised dais for the “master” on the left-hand side. By this year, the box pews had been removed. Toronto Public Library r-6630.

Library and Archives Canada, RD353, 1890 thumbnail_600_600[1]

Upper Canada College campus after it was relocated to Lonsdale Road, north of  Avenue Road and St. Clair Avenue. Photo from Library and Archives Canada, RD 353.

Buildings on King Street today that were constructed on the former Russell Square

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(Left) Gillett Building, 276 King St. (1901) and (right) Eclipse Building, 322 King St. (1903)

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Reid Building, 266-270 King St. West (1904). The Royal Alexandra Theatre is to the right (east) of it.

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(Left) Royal Alexandra Theatre (1907) and (right) Anderson Building, 284 King St. (1915)

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(Left) Princess of Wales Theatre (1993), and (right), Theatre Park Condominium, on the east side of the Royal Alexandra Theatre, in September 2015 (its construction incomplete).

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

A link to view posts that explore Toronto’s Heritage Buildings:

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

A link to view previous posts about the movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern.

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

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)

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

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

 

 

 

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Toronto’s old hotel at Spadina and King renovated

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The former Backpacker’s Hotel on the northwest corner of King Street West and Spadina Avenue was unveiled the 4th week of July 2015, after almost two years of restoration. Though originally a home that was converted into a hotel, for many years it was the Backpackers’ Hotel, providing reasonably-priced accommodations for students and youths visiting the city. Prior to its restoration, the two buildings were a colourful part of the King-West scene, its 19th-century red bricks covered with many layers of paint. It will now be employed for offices and retail space.

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This photo was taken in 2012, when the buildings were painted various colours. 

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The original building as it appeared in 2012, and the same building following its restoration in 2015 (right).

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The buildings as they appeared c. 1910. View gazes west along King Street from Spadina. Toronto Archives, F. 1568, id.0282

For a link to photographs and a history of the buildings at King and Spadina:

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

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

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

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

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

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

   To place an order for this book:

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

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

Theatres Included in the Book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

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

 

 

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