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Category Archives: toronto’s heritage buildings

CIBC celebrates its 150th year

                 f1244_it3181[1]   1930

The Bank of Commerce in 1930, the tallest building in the British Empire when it was completed in 1929. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, S 1257, S 1007, item 0409.

The CIBC recently opened the observation deck on the 32th floor of the Bank of Commerce (now the CIBC) on King Street West for a one-time private viewing. Closed for the past fifty years, it was opened to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Bank of Commerce, one of the founding banks of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. It was was also to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation. Due to safety concerns, it is not practical to permit the observation deck to be open to the general public. Besides, the view is not as spectacular as when it was in 1929, as the building is hemmed in by tall skyscrapers. However, the view is still magnificent. I found it amazing to view the sculptures on the 32th floor from a close-up perspective.

Completed in 1929, the former Bank of Commerce is one of Toronto’s finest Art Deco structures. Its banking hall remains impressive, despite the passing of the many decades since it opened.

To view a pictorial history of the bank: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-bank-of-commerce-cibc-on-king-street/

Photos taken on May 11, 2017 commemorating the 150th anniversary of the bank.

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The chandelier in the banking hall was lowered for the 150th anniversary of the founding of the bank, allowing a close-up view .

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The richly ornamented chandelier in the banking hall, its bottom tier containing the caduceus, the symbol of the Bank of Commerce.

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The caduceus is the traditional symbol of Hermes and features two snakes winding around a staff, often mistakenly used as a symbol of medicine. In Greek mythology, it was a symbol of commerce and negotiation, a natural representation for The Bank of Commerce.

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(Left-hand photo) the northeast corner of the bank when it was under construction in 1927-1929, and (right), people on the observation deck c. 1930.

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Gazing south toward the Toronto Islands from the observation deck in May 2017.

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                                        Sculpted stone face that gazes east.

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   Gazing west along King Street. In North America, only New York City has more skyscrapers than Toronto.

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Looking east, Adelaide Street East on the left-hand side, and in the foreground the tower and spire of St. James Cathedral.

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The north facade of the 58-storey L-Tower at I Front Street East, architect  Daniel Libeskind.

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                              The Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.                  

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       The building that houses Sleep Country, on the northeast corner of King and Yonge (8 King Street East)

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          The Art Deco designed foyer that leads to the observation deck.

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Glimpse of the northeast corner of Union Station between the towering skyscrapers. 

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    

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

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

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

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. 

Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

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

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

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

 

 

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Southeast Corner of Bathurst and King—Toronto

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                The building at 665 King Street West in May 2017.

The southeast corner of Bathurst and King Streets is slated for redevelopment. The early-20th-century building on the site has survived for over a century, but is soon to meet the wrecker’s ball as it is in an area that is exploding demographically.

The four-storey red-brick structure was erected between the years 1901 and 1902. On its completion, the Canada Biscuit Company owned by Thomas McCormick occupied the site, but remained on the premises for only two years. It was vacant for the next two years. For the following two years (1907 and 1908) the Smith Baggs and Heaven Company rented the property. In 1909, the Anglo-Canadian Leather Company and Sanitol Chemical Laboratory Company shared the building. The latter company manufactured hygienic products, including tooth powder and toilet paper.

In 1913, the Anglo-Canadian Leather Company and the Reliance Knitting Company shared the structure. However, in 1923, the Bank of Montreal opened a branch on the ground-floor, facing King Street. The bank branch closed in 2000.

The Banknote Bar opened shortly after 2000, taking its name from the fact that legal tender, known as bank notes, was representative of the previous occupant of the space. The Bank Note Bar had no connection with the British American Bank Note Company, which distributed paper bills and coins from the Canadian mint to the various banks throughout the city. This arrangement commenced after 1935, when the Bank of Canada was created. Previously, each bank printed its own bank notes.

It is a pity that the building the Banknote Bar occupies will not survive, except for its north facade. The city and developers have not learned that destroying heritage structures is a losing proposition—both environmentally and financially. If a heritage building is recycled, labour costs are higher but the cost of materials is less. This is an environmental win and a job stimulus for the city. The developers’ total costs are only slightly higher, despite their argument to the contrary, although it requires more time to include a heritage property within a project. However, developers win big time when the spaces within the projects are either sold or rented. People and businesses pay increased prices as the sites are deemed more desirable.

King St, west to Bathurst, (Way Department) – April 13, 1927    

Gazing west on King Street toward Bathurst and King Streets on April 13, 1927. The building where the Bank of Montreal was located is visible in the distance, on the left-hand side of the photo. The turret on the Wheat Sheaf Tavern can also be seen at Bathurst, on the southwest corner. There are houses on the north side of King Street. Toronto Archives, S 0071, item 4810. 

View of King Street West, looking east from Bathurst Street – August 25, 1973

Looking east on King Street from the corner of King and Bathurst on August 25, 1972. The Bank of Montreal occupies the space where the Banknote Bar is located today (2017). Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, Fl 0074, item 0037.

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The Banknote Bar in May 2017. The building at 665 King Street is an handsome structure and deserves to be protected from demolition.

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The north facade on King Street in 2017, the only part of the building that will survive. The large stones on the ground floor create the impression of pillars, this heavy, fortified appearance typical of banks in 1920s.

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                           Entrance to the building on King Street West

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An entranceway with ornate brickwork on the west facade facing Bathurst Street, likely used by other tenants that rent space within. 

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          Architectural detailing on the southwest corner of the structure.

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Interior of the Banknote Bar with its pine beams. This is the space where the Bank of Montreal was located from 1923 to 2000.

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        The door of the vault of the Bank of Montreal in the Banknote Bar

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Diagram of the redevelopment of the site at Bathurst and King Streets. The view gazes south on Bathurst Street, the spire of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in the foreground. This diagram does not show the two other heritage buildings on the corners of Bathurst and King, so its appears as if the redevelopment of the site is a suitable match.

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[1]

   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[1]    

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

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

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

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. 

Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Westbury Hotel Toronto (history of)

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The Westbury Hotel in 2015, the view looking south on Yonge Street toward Carlton from Alexander Street. 

The Westbury Hotel is soon to be demolished, replaced by two high-rise towers, 65 and 45 storeys tall. The Westbury is located at 475 Yonge Street, on the east side of the street, one block north of Carlton Street. Being a resident of Toronto, I never stayed in the Westbury Hotel, but I retain fond memories of visiting its restaurant in the 1970s. I had read an article in the TV Guide, inserted into the Toronto Star each Saturday. The publication encouraged readers to request favourite recipes from restaurants throughout the city. One reader asked for the recipe of a dish served at Creighton’s, on the ground floor of the Westbury. This was the reason I first visited the hotel.

The dish being requested at Creighton’s was likely a response in the 1970s to Torontonians’ becoming increasingly aware of French cooking This was partly due to Julia Child’s TV show (“The French Chef”), which had commenced broadcasting in 1963. She promoted many dishes that were heavy with butter and cream. One of her favourite quotes was: “The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” The Westbury Hotel already had a gastronomic reputation. Susur Lee, who later was to become a star in the gourmet world, for a time was a chef at the hotel. However, Chef Tony Roldan’s “Les Scampis Amoureux” (“Scampi in Love”), rich with cream, butter, white wine and a dash of Pernod, was the dish that the reader had requested from the Star newspaper. I ordered it when I visited the restaurant and enjoyed it immensely. 

The history of the Westbury spans almost seven decades. The first 16-storey tower of the hotel opened in 1957. Named after the Knott Westbury hotels in New York and London, it was originally to be called The Torontonian. However, this was changed after it was leased by the Knott Hotels Company of Canada. Located on the northeast corner of Yonge and Wood Streets, it was considered an excellent location for a luxury hotel. Its architect was Peter Dickinson when he was employed by Page and Steele. His design was a variation of the postwar International Style, its facades containing many large glass windows. Dickinson was also the architect of the O’Keefe Centre, which opened in 1960.

The hotel’s interior was designed and outfitted by the Robert Simpson Company, the lobby containing marble and walnut panelling. The Sky Lounge on the top (sixteenth) floor possessed an amazing view to the south, overlooking the city’s financial district and Lake Ontario. The Polo Room cocktail lounge, named after its namesake in London, became a favourite on the Yonge Street strip for those who enjoyed a late-night drink.

In the early 1960s, a matching nine-storey tower designed by Webb Zerafa Menkes was built on the north side of the original tower, the two towers connected by a large hallway. A few years later, Menkes was to design Hazelton Lanes. The north facade of the Westbury’s north tower was on Alexander Street, so the hotel then occupied the entire city block on Yonge Street between Alexander and Wood Streets. 

However, by the second decade of the 21st century, the pace of intensification of the city had increased astronomically. The Westbury Hotel occupied land on Yonge Street that contained towers of merely 16 and 9 storeys. A rezoning application to replace the Westbury was submitted to the city in 2015, proposing to construct of a pair of towers of 65 and 45 storeys. Thus, a familiar portion of the Yonge Street strip was to disappear forever. I will miss the Westbury, though I admit that other than when I photograph it, I had not been inside it for several decades. However, I still have the recipe for Chef Tony Roldan’s “Scampi in Love.”

Sources: I am grateful for the information provided by robertmoffatt115.wordpress.com 

dig foundations, 1955  pictures-r-5660[1]

The digging of the foundations for construction of the Westbury Hotel in 1955. The clock tower of the St. Charles Tavern is visible on the west side of Yonge Street, as well as the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre on Alexander Street (top right-hand corner). Toronto Reference library. r-5660.

Street view of Westbury Hotel and fire trucks – May 13, 1975 

The west facade of the Westbury on Yonge Street on May 13, 1975. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, Fl1010, item 0045.

View of fire at Westbury Hotel and some store fronts on Yonge Street – May 13, 1975

Looking south on Yonge Street on May 13, 1975. Both towers of the Westbury are visible. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, Fl 10100, item 0044.

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View gazing south on Yonge Street in 2015, the nine-storey north tower on the left and the sixteen-storey original tower on the right.

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               Hotel’s main entrance that is accessed from Wood Street.

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               The coffee shop on the ground floor of the south tower.

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                               The lobby in the south tower.

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                               A conference room in the Westbury.

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Hallway connecting the north and south towers, the view looking toward the north tower. Colourful art work is on the east wall, beside the woman who is seated.

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                                Close up view of the art work.

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View in April 2016, looking northwest from Wood Street at the east sides of the towers.

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                            Sign on the hotel in December 2015.

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    Artist’s view of the towers that will be on the site of the Westbury Hotel.

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[1]

   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[1]    

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

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

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

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. 

Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

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

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

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

 

 

 

Tags:

Toronto’s Temple Building (demolished)

             1902, Canada archives  a028964[1]

The Temple Building on Bay Street in 1902, after a tenth storey had been added. The camera faces the northwest corner of Bay and Richmond Street West. The Old City Hall, on Queen Street West, is visible in the background. Photo from the Canada Archives, aO28964

In the 1880s, as elevator technology became more proficient, Toronto began experimenting with taller commercial buildings. Multi-floor structures, with elevators to connect the various floors, allowed greatly increased floor space and thus greater profits. These structures became possible because iron and steel were being employed to erect the frames of the buildings. However, the stone and brick exteriors were still sustained the weight of the walls, as opposed to using solely relying on the steel frame.

In the 1890s, as technology improved, steel frames began supporting the entire weight of the walls, allowing for greater height without compromising the  overall strength of the structure. This allowed true “skyscrapers” to be erected.

When City Council voted to erect a new city hall at the top of Bay Street at Queen West, it was evident that taller buildings were in the future for upper Bay Street. There were already tall office buildings to the south of it at King Street, but the upper portion of Bay Street remained mostly low-rise commercial structures and frame cottages with stucco facades. The first of the taller buildings to be planned for this section of the street was the North American headquarters of the Independent Order of Foresters, a fraternal service club founded in 1874 to provided life insurance, savings accounts, and investment opportunities for families. Named the Temple Building, it was also was to contain club rooms for the members.

The Temple Building was at 62-76 Richmond Street, on the northwest corner of Bay and Richmond Streets. A competition was held for the architectural contract, which was won by George W. Gouinlock (1861-1932).  This was an important contract in the history of the city, as it was the first time that a Canadian had been hired to design all the stages of erecting a Toronto skyscraper. Gouinlock was born in Paris, Ontario and was educated in Winnipeg and Toronto. He was later to design the Press Building at the CNE in 1905, the Music Building in 1907, the Ontario Government Building (now the Medieval Times building) in 1926, and the Horticultural Building in 1927. All these structures remain on the CNE grounds today.

The corner stone of the nine-storey Temple Building, with its cast-iron frame, was laid by the Governor General, the Earl of Aberdeen. The structure was completed in 1897, and for a year or so was the tallest building in the British Empire. Above the ninth floor there was an observation space, with a wide view of the downtown area. Created in the Romanesque Revival style, the building was similar in design to the City Hall to the north of it, which was completed in 1899 (today’s Old City Hall). The foundation walls supporting the Temple Building were over three feet thick, composed of stone and brick. Despite their immense size, it was the steel frame of the structures that supported it. It was devoid of architectural detail, other than over the two main doorways. The facades contained red bricks and Credit Valley sandstone. On the ninth floor, the walls were reduced in size to eighteen inches. The rectangular windows were recessed, which would have reduced the amount of sunlight entering the interior if Gouinlock had not created bay windows that captured extra light. It possessed heating and air-conditioning systems, marble fountains with taps that spouted iced water, mosaic floors, rich wood panelling, and fireproofing. The turrets on the corners above the ninth floor added to its appearance of Skyscraper height.

In 1901, a tenth storey was added to the structure, but the original cornice was retained. In 1921, the firm of Shepard and Calvin was hired to make minor changes and upgrades to the building. The Foresters relocated in 1954 to larger premises on Jarvis Street, and then to a 22-storey building in Don Mills.

However, as the 20th century progressed, Toronto rushed headlong into the future, fully entranced with the idea of out with the old and in with the new. The desire to create even higher buildings became overpowering. The last of the tenants of the magnificent Temple Building vacated the premises on June 29, 1970, and it was demolished later in the year. On the site of the Temple Building, a faceless 32-storey high-rise office building was erected, which contributed little to the streetscape. Its address was 390 Bay Street, and it was named the Thomson Building.

I remember the Temple Building quite well, as in the 1940s when my parents visited Eatons at Queen and Yonge, we travelled on the Bay streetcars and alighted at Bay and Queen. We walked eastward to the Eaton store. As a young boy, I often glanced southward toward the building, as in my imagination it resembled the castles that I had seen in my picture books.

Sources: urbantoronto.ca, heritagetoronto.org, torontoist.com, www.foresters.com, www.blogto.com, and “Lost Toronto” by William Dendy.

1890- Library pictures-r-1431[1]

Views of the Temple Building in 1897 from the collection of the Toronto Public Library, r-1431

                   1900. library pictures-r-1457[1]

View looking north on Bay Street in 1900, the clock tower of the City Hall (now the Old City Hall) visible in the background. Toronto Public Library, r- 1431

             1910, Library  pcr-2200[1]

Postcard view, looking north on Bay Street in 1901 from Richmond Street, Toronto Public Library, pcr-2200

             

Similar view to the previous photo, taken in 1910. Photo from the Ontario Archives, 10021945

1910, Death Edward VII  Library  pictures-r-6528[1]

Entrance to the Temple Building in 1910, when King Edward VII died. Toronto Public Library, r-6528 

Bell telephone dinner, March 21, 1911,  Canada  a029799[1]

Banquet held by the Bell Telephone Company on March 21, 1911, inside the Temple Building. Canada Archives, aO 29799

1928-temple-building-f1244_it7361[1]

View gazing south from Queen Street in 1928, from the steps of today’s Old City Hall. Toronto Archives, F 1244, Item 7361.

                  May, 2013

View looking south on Bay Street from Queen Street in May 2013. The building on the right-hand side of the photo (in the foreground) is now on the site of the Temple Building.

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    

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s former movie theatres, 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.

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. This book will be released in June 2016. For further information follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link shown below:

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

 

 

Tags: ,

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.

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

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                      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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Toronto’s Brunswick House (now closed)

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The Brunswick House, view gazing east along Bloor Street from west of Brunswick Avenue. 

The Brunswick House, a well-known icon of the Toronto pub scene for 140 years, closed on April 1, 2016. It was slated to shutter its doors the previous day, but due to the enormous crowds attracted by its closing, it remained open for an extra day. Its demise will be mourned by many university students, locals, and others attracted to this unconventional, lively pub. Located at 481 Bloor Street West, it was on the southeast corner of Brunswick Avenue and Bloor Street West.

The Brunswick Hotel was established in 1876, to the northwest of the city, its proprietor Benjamin Hinchcliffe. When it opened, horse-drawn streetcars had not yet appeared in the district, since on Bloor Street, between Yonge and Bathurst Street, there remained many open fields and empty building lots. To the west of Dufferin Street was mostly farmland, so the Bloor and Brunswick area was viewed as rather remote. Thus, the hotel’s patrons were mainly those who resided in the area or travellers who needed local accommodations.

The building was architecturally typical of buildings constructed during the final decades of the 19th century. However, the three-storey red-brick structure would have been impressive in its day, its heavy cornice displaying a degree of extravagance that was unusual in the working-class district where it was located. Above the cornice was an elaborate parapet that gave the appearance of added height. The large rectangular windows allowed much daylight to enter the interior in an era that lacked electric lighting.

In 1900, the hotel remained under the proprietorship of Benjamin Hinchcliffe and was known as a saloon for immigrants and workmen of the district. Hinchcliffe resided at 207 Borden Street, near the corner of Borden and Sussex Streets, not far from his place of business. In 1902, W. J. Davidson became the manager of the hotel, and in 1912 Joseph McLachlan assumed control. In 1920, Mrs. Catherine (Kate) Davidson became the proprietor, commencing a long period under her management. During her days at the hotel, it was penalized several times for serving beer that possessed too high an alcoholic content. In 1942, Mrs. Davidson changed its name to the Ye Olde Brunswick Hotel.

In 1961, the hotel was purchased by Morris and Albert Nightingale, two brothers who increased business at the establishment by hosting unusual events such as pickle-eating contests and a Mrs. Brunswick contest for older woman. The promotional stunts attracted many customers and sometimes the police, who were called when the crowds became rowdy. A large room on the second floor, the Albert Hall, became famous as a jazz venue in the 1980s. It is not clear when the hotel’s name was changed from Ye Olde Brunswick Hotel to the Brunswick House, but it continued to attract people of various lifestyles, and on one occasion a wedding was performed within it. 

In 2005, the hotel’s interior and exterior were extensively renovated. When it closed in April 2016, the long rows of wooden tables in the pub area on the first floor, the pool table, games, and the stage for dancing, all fell silent. Abbis Mahmoud was the manager at the time of its closing. It appears that a Rexall Drug Store will occupy the large space on the ground floor, although this has not been confirmed.

Note: Below is additional information provided by Dorothy Willis in an email after the post on the Brunswick House was published on this blog.

I read with interest your article on Toronto’s Brunswick House on your website Historic Toronto (May 2016).  It is sad to note the loss of this historical building.  It was designated a Heritage Property in 1991 but will this make any difference to its future?
Benjamin Hinchcliffe (1831 – 1911) was my great great grandfather. After arriving in Toronto in 1865 from Silkstone England, his first hotel was the St. Georges at the corner of Yonge and Richmond (Mitchell’s Directory 1866), followed by the Osgoode House at Queen and York Streets from 1870 until he became innkeeper of the hotel at the corner of Brunswick and Bloor (various city directories).
Benjamin received his tavern licence in 1876 from the License Commissioners (Daily Globe May 8, 1876).  That same year, according to the Assessment Roll for the Ward of St. Patrick, City of Toronto, he was the owner and occupier of the tavern.  There was also a driving shed and ballroom on the property.
I have been writing a book on my Hinchcliffe family. I appreciated your photos and descriptions of the Brunswick in your article since I had never been inside. May I quote your descriptions in my book?
Also I did not realize that Benjamin still owned the Brunswick until his death in 1911, “in 1912 Joseph McLachan assumed control.” I had not researched the hotel once I thought he had branched into real estate so thank you for that info.
I have attached an undated photo of Benjamin and copies of his obit and probate of his will. He did not trust banks so put his money into property.
I wanted to let you see the man behind the Brunswick. Thank you for bringing the history of the Brunswick Inn to the readers of Toronto.

Map of 481 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1X9

        Location of the Brunswick House on Bloor Street West.

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The north facade (left-hand side) on Bloor Street, and west facade on Brunswick Avenue on April 2, 2016.

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      The hotel’s west facade on Brunswick Avenue, April 2016.

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The cornice on the Brunswick House in 2016. The dentil-like modillions (brackets) are beneath the large cornice that extends out over the street.

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                             Entrance to the Brunswick House.

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The pub area on April 2, 2016, the day after the Brunswick House closed.

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               The foyer inside the main door that led to the pub. 

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Interior of the pub, the day after the Brunswick House permanently closed.

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Staircase that led to the second floor, where the Albert Hall was once located.

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The space on the second floor remained open on the day after the Brunswick House permanently closed. This space was once the jazz venue known as the Albert Hall. 

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The west facade of the Brunswick House, facing Brunswick Avenue. Photo taken April 2, 2016.

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    

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 histories.

                        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 in June 2016. For further information follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link shown below:

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

 

 

 

 

 

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tayloronhistory.com—check it out!

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The blog tayloronhistory.com first appeared on the internet in 2011. Since its inception, over 800 posts have been published that explore the Toronto’s history and its heritage structures, including those that have been demolished and lost forever. The blog’s purpose is to generate an interest in our city’s past and its historic buildings, to prevent remaining heritage sites from being destroyed by developers or indifference on the part of the civic government. During the past few years, Torontonians have become more aware of the importance of preserving the past, but the laws remain weak and ineffective, so our architectural heritage continues to disappear.

As a result of the blog, three books have been published about the topics that have appeared on it: Toronto Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen (published by History Press), Toronto’s Local Movie Theatres of Yesteryear (Dundurn Press), and Toronto Then and Now (Pavilion Press). The latter two books will be available in the spring of 2016. 

Toronto’s Old Movie Theatres

Over 130 posts posts relate stories about the city’s old movie theatres. They include archival and modern photos that depict the theatres’ grand facades, marquees, auditoriums, and  lobbies. There are also present-day images of the locations where the theatres once existed. The great movie palaces of the early decades of the 20th century (e.g. Shea’s Hippodrome, Pantages, Victoria, Tivoli etc.) are explored, as well as the more modern film palaces such as the University and the Odeon Carlton. The following is a link to the posts about the old movie theatres of Toronto.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/02/26/torontos-old-movie-theatres-on-tayloronhistory-com/

Heritage Buildings and Sites

Famous heritage building such as Toronto’s First City Hall, the Old City Hall, St. Lawrence Hall, Osgoode Hall, Campbell House, Mackenzie House, St. James Cathedral, Union Station, St. Michael’s Cathedral, and the St. Lawrence Market have been researched and documented. Other sites, some of them less known, are also explored: Farr House, Oddfellow’s Temple, Grossman’s Tavern, Waverly Hotel, Gooderham Building, and the Bellevue Fire Station. Structures that no longer exist are included — a part of lost Toronto. The following is a link to a list of the sites included on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/02/26/torontos-heritage-buildings-and-sites-on-tayloronhistory-com/

Toronto’s 19th-Century Streetscapes

Several streets that possess timeless qualities have been researched. They harken back to the more tranquil days of the 19th century. Below are the links to access the posts about these unique avenues of downtown Toronto.

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

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

Bulwer Street: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/a-toronto-street-that-disappeared-but-yet-remains-in-view-bulwer-street/

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

Huron Street: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/a-toronto-street-that-disappeared-but-yet-remains-in-view-bulwer-street/

Toronto Disasters

Three of the greatest disasters that Toronto suffered are chronicled on the blog. In 1914, the “RMS Empress of Ireland” sank in fourteen minutes in the icy waters of the St. Lawrence River. More passengers lost their lives than on the Titanic, yet few Canadian know about this maritime tragedy. Many of those who perished were from Toronto.

In 1949, a lake steamer named the “S S Noronic” caught fire in Toronto Harbour and 122 people lost their lives.

In 1954, Hurricane Hazel flooded the Humber and Don Valley, and over 100 drowned in the flood waters.

Below are the links to read about these events.

Empress of Ireland: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/the-empress-of-ireland-tragedymay-29-1914/

Noronic: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/01/01/the-noronic-disaster-in-1949-122-people-burn-to-death-on-torontos-waterfront/

Hurricane Hazel: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/03/28/torontos-1950s-newspapers-hurricane-hazelpart-3/ 

History of Toronto Streetcars and Toronto Island Ferries

Posts on Streetcars:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/travel-on-torontos-great-streetcars/

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

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/05/amazing-streetcar-trips-on-torontos-red-rockets-during-yesteryears/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/07/17/toronto-streetcarsfrom-omnibus-to-red-rocket/

A post about the Toronto Island Ferries

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

Posts on the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/02/16/the-old-dufferin-gates-at-torontos-cne/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/11/26/muzik-nightclubsite-of-cnes-crystal-palace/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/thoughts-about-torontos-2014-cne/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/ten-suggestion-to-make-the-cne-great/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/09/03/the-magnificent-grandstand-shows-of-the-1950s/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/31/the-magificent-1921-grandstand-show-at-the-cne/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/postcard-views-of-the-1947-cne-part-one/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/30/postcard-views-of-the-1947-cne-part-two/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/28/golden-memories-of-the-cne-from-yesteryear/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/whats-it-like-to-attend-the-cne-in-2011-in-comparison-with-yesteryear/https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/22/memories-of-the-cnetoday-and-yesterday/

Memories of War-Time Toronto During the 1940s

Sunnyside Beach and Amusement Park

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

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

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/a-private-memory-of-a-95-year-old-about-the-sunnyside-of-her-youth/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/walking-along-lakeshore-boulevard-near-sunnyside-in-1922/

Snow storm of December 1944, the largest amount of snow to ever descend on Toronto.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/the-worst-snowstorm-to-ever-hit-toronto-post-1/ 

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/downtown-torontos-five-best-xmas-displays2015/

Toyland at Eaton’s (Queen and and Yonge Street Store) and Eaton’s Santa Claus Parade 

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/memories-of-eatons-toyland-in-the-1940s/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/are-you-ever-too-old-to-enjoy-torontos-santa-claus-parade/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/12/03/torontos-santa-claus-parade-through-the-decades/

The village on Manitou Road on Centre Island

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/01/centre-islands-lost-villagetoronto/

The Author of this Blog

Doug Taylor was a member of the faculty of the Lakeshore Teachers’ College (York University) and the Ontario Teacher Education College, where he shared his love of history with promising young teachers-to-be. During the 1970s, he conducted walking tours of Toronto’s historic districts for university students, during the days when such tours were rare. He also led tours of Chinatown, the Kensington Market, and the Necropolis Cemetery.

Now retired, he lives in downtown Toronto, within walking distance of Toronto’s historic neighbourhoods. Since retiring, he has written ten books, all of them employing the history of his native city as either the subject or the background for the story.  He continues to promote the history of the city he loves through his books and his blog. He can be contacted at tayloronhistory@gmail.com.

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

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” is one of the books that was written incorporating the research material from 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[1]

   To place an order for this book:

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

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

                                     image_thumb6    

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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