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Category Archives: King Street West

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.

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     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.

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          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

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

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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

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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)

DSCN7029       Sept. 2015

(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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Upper Canada College’s former boarding house—Toronto

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

A student boarding house that was part of Upper Canada College, when  it was locate on the north side of King Street, is the only building that has survived from the 19th-century campus. Today, its address is 22 Duncan Street, and it is on the southwest corner of Duncan and Adelaide Streets. It was part  of a large complex of structures built for the college. It was erected in 1833, the year prior to York being incorporated as a city and changing its name to Toronto. The above photo depicts the building c. 1890 and is from the collection of the Toronto Public Library, r-2330.

DSCN1441_thumb1 

The above photo is of the boys’ boarding house at Duncan and Adelaide Streets in 2013. Though the building is in good shape, it has been altered greatly over the years and today there are no chimneys. It was part of the campus of Upper Canada College, founded in 1829 by Sir John Colborne, and located on a large tract of land known as Russell Square. The square was bounded on the north by Adelaide Street, on the south by King Street West, on the east by Simcoe, and the west by John Street. The school remained on this site between the years 1831 and 1891. It was eventually relocated to a site at 200 Lonsdale Road, at the top of Avenue Road, which at that time was in the Toronto suburb of Deer Park.

The old student residence from 1833 was designed in the Georgian style, with a symmetrical east facade and plain lines. The only ornamentation was the brick patterns on the corners of the building. The cornice of today is completely unadorned, though it has likely been changed several times since the building was originally constructed.  The student residence was altered in 1856 by the prestigious architectural firm of  Cumberland and Stone, and was altered several more times in the years ahead while it was owned by U.C.C.

After the college relocated to Lonsdale Road, the other college buildings on Russell Square were demolished. The student residence is the sole survivor. It became a factory until being renovated in 1953 to be used for commercial purposes. For the past few years, the building has been vacant. An historical plaque was placed on the structure in 1986, and was the main source of information for this post.       

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The symmetrical east facade of the boys’ residence at 22 Duncan Street. The ornamental brickwork on the corners of the building and the simple cornice are visible. 

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View of the cornice and the brickwork patterns on the northeast corner of the building.

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Entrance on the east facade at 22 Duncan Street (left), and one of the large rectangular windows on the east facade (right) , with the large stone sill beneath it. When the building was a student residence, there was a large porch structure over the entranceway. It is visible on the 1890 map.

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First floor on the east side of the old student residence on the southwest corner of Duncan and Adelaide Streets.

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Map from the Goad’s Atlas of 1890 in the City of Toronto Archives. It depicts Russell Square, where the buildings of Upper Canada College were located. The boys’ boarding house is in the upper left-hand corner of the map. On the map, Simcoe is on the right-hand side and John Street is on the left. On the south side is King Street West. In 1890, Duncan Street had not yet been extended south from Adelaide Street. The dotted-line extending north-south from the top of the map, to the left of the centre of the square, is where Duncan Street would eventually be extended.

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The place of the map where the word “house” appears is the building that is today 22 Duncan Street. Notice that there is an extended porch on the east side of the building, in the top right-hand corner of the map. The porch has been removed, perhaps when Duncan Street was extended south from Adelaide Street.

Map of 22 Duncan St, Toronto, ON M5H 3G8

        The site of the boarding house at 22 Duncan Street.

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 Gurney Stove Foundry, King Street West

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The Gurney Iron Foundry on King Street West on April 13, 1927. Toronto Archives, S0071, It.4812 (1)

The magnificent Victorian buildings, constructed of red and yellow brick, are among the oldest industrial structures in the city. The building on the east (closest to Spadina) is the oldest. With a history that spans almost a century and a half, the E. C. Gurney Company, originated in Hamilton, Ontario. Edward and Charles Gurney manufactured stoves and general castings. When business expanded, the Gurney brothers opened a retail store in Toronto at 91 Yonge Street. Edward Gurney Junior relocated to Toronto to manage the family business in the provincial capital, purchasing a residence at 209 Jarvis Street for his family.

During the 1870s, much of the land along King Street West was vacant, although it was privately owned. Children in the area ran freely in the fields, kicking a ball and shouting to friends to join in their game. In autumn, the grasshoppers flew in clouds as the children raced along the paths among the fields. In winter, they built snow forts, engaged in snowball fights, and employed creative cursing when they received a direct hit in the face. However, it was soon to change, as the natural playground was to be buried beneath an enormous industrial complex.

Intending to build a factory in Toronto, in 1872, the Gurney Company bought several of the lots on King, west of Spadina, and erected a four-storey building. Located on the east side of the property, its brick walls were particularly attractive, especially the yellow-brick designs above the windows and the yellow-brick pilasters (fake columns) that commenced at the ground level and rose to the top of the building. In 1872, the postal address of the factory was 356 King Street, but today it is 500–510 King Street West. They also constructed more buildings to the north of the King Street structures, but they have not survived into the modern era.

When  the building that today has the postal address 500-510 King Street opened, a newspaper advertisement stated, “Gurney Stove Foundry, manufacturing agent for the famed Buttan Heater.”

The business expanded and in 1887 they constructed a three-storey building to the west of the original site. Its address today is 522 King Street. A narrow laneway separated the two structures. During the following years, other buildings appeared to the north of the original two, but these have since been demolished.

The buildings deteriorated throughout the years ahead and their attractive facades were covered with a tin siding. In the modern era, when its owners decided to restore the buildings, they removed the tin, revealing the attractive brickwork. It now appears as it did in yesteryear. During the restoration, they replaced the cornices on both structures with metal trim.

In the laneway between the two surviving buildings on King Street, they erected a connecting passageway at the second and third-floor levels. Thankfully, it matches the two existing buildings. Today, multiple tenants are located within. With its polished original oak floors and massive wood beams of old-growth Canadian pine, it possesses some of the most handsome nineteenth-century rental spaces in the city.

Viewing these restored buildings today, it is difficult to imagine them being a part of a bustling, sooty, industrial complex, with hundreds of workers labouring in hot, fetid conditions to tend the furnaces, shovelling coal to keep the fires alive. It was an era when workers possessed few rights. Wages were poor and hours were long, usually nine or ten hours a day, six days a week. Lung disease and work-related illnesses were common.

To the modern eye, these factories appear pristine and quaint, their patterned brickwork attractive to behold. The massive pine pillars within them inspire awe, as no trees remain in Ontario to obtain such magnificent giants ever again.

No trace remains of the hardworking labourers who once worked on these premises. Evidence of their joys and sorrows has long departed the scene. Only the rattle of the streetcars on the street or the shout of a truck driver remind us of earlier days, when this was a busy industrial complex. The past has departed forever, but evidence of earlier days remains through the presence of these attractive historic buildings.

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The buildings that were formerly the Gurney Iron Foundry. Photo May 2015.

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                    Old Gurney Iron Foundry Building in 2015.

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              Passageway that was built to joint the two buildings together.

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South facade of the two buildings that were jointed by the passageway.

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

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

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

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

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   To place an order for this book:

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

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

Theatres Included in the Book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

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

 

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