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Category Archives: toronto’s old theatres

Toronto’s sinful Victory Theatre—new photos

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The Victory Theatre, which closed in 1975, an undated photo from the Toronto Archives.

Few theatres in Toronto elicit as many stories and memories as Toronto’s Victory Theatre, located on the northeast corner of Dundas and Spadina Avenue. The theatre was at one time an important part of the city’s live theatrical scene. Built in 1921, it opened as the Standard Theatre to present Jewish dramatic productions. In 1935 it was renamed the Strand, and at the end of World War II in 1945, its name was changed to the Victory. It was under this name that the theatre became famous and notorious, as it began featuring burlesque. In the years ahead, it offered exotic dancers and strippers. By modern standards, it was quite tame, but the antics on its stage outraged some of the citizens of Toronto. The police morality quads were continually raiding the theatre and arresting the girls and staff.

In 1975, Hang Hing purchased the Victory, renovated it, and reopened it in 1976 as the Golden Harvest Cinema that screened Cantonese films. Recently, Anthony Lee informed me that when the theatre was renovated, some aspects of the old Victory Theatre were maintained and some new features were added. In 1994 it was closed permanently.  

Many people today have fond memories of attending the theatre when it was the Victory, and if given the opportunity, enjoy relating them. It became a favourite hangout of students, who often lied about their ages to attend a performance. One of the show girls at the Victory caught the attention of the mayor of the city. His comments of condemnation created so much publicity for her that the students said that he was either her agent or the president of her fan club. The mayor was not amused.

M father often attended the Victory when he was in his 80s. My mother had long since passed away and having nothing to occupy his time in the evenings, he sometimes attended the theatre to watch the girls and listen to the MC’s raunchy jokes. He also liked Starvin’ Marvin’s at Yonge and Dundas, as it passed out free sandwiches to its patrons to enjoy as they observed the girls.

I recently discovered some photos taken by Roger Jowett of the interior of the theatre. They are all from the days when it was the Golden Harvest Cinema, screening Cantonese films. The photos are contained in Series 881, File 177, in the Toronto Archives. They reveal how elegant the theatre once was, with its classical pillars, high ceiling, and rich ornamentations. The pictures show that the auditorium had stadium seating, its floor slanting upward steeply from the stage area. This was considered better than creating a balcony.

In June 2015, I received confirmation from a reader that the auditorium of the theatre remains intact and is quite well preserved. He was inside the auditorium when it was being used as a distribution centre for a Christmas charity. He sent me a few photos, and the theatre looked much the same as in the 1970s pictures. .   

A link to a more in depth post on this blog about the history of the Victory:

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

all coloured photos by Roger Jowett

View of the auditorium of the theatre. Photo by Roger Jowett, Toronto Archives.

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                           View from the stage

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     View of the ceiling with the large design inset into the ceiling.

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                                    Close-up view of the ceiling.

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Stairway from the lobby that gave access to the seats in the upper section of the auditorium. The design in the ceiling is visible. To the left is the candy bar, where there is a poster in Cantonese.

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                                   Candy bar in the lobby.

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          View of the stage from the top half of the auditorium’s seating.

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                     View of the stage of the Victory Theatre.

Map of Dundas St W & Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T

                Location of the Victory Theatre.

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

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

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

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

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

   To place an order for this book:

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

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

Theatres Included in the Book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

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

 

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Toronto’s old Clyde (Avalon) Theatre

The Clyde (Avalon) theatre was built in the years after the Prince Edward Viaduct (Bloor Viaduct) was constructed across the Don Valley in 1919. During the 1920s, Danforth Avenue became the site of numerous movie theatres that were within easy walking distance of the neighbourhoods to the north and south of it. Though these theatres originally screened recently released films, as streetcar service improved along the Bloor/Danforth line, some patrons preferred to travel downtown to the larger theatres. In order to compete, many of the theatres along the Danforth began to feature double-bill shows of films that were a year or two old. However, those who wished to view more recent Hollywood releases without travelling downtown attended the Palace or Allen’s Danforth.

One of the popular smaller theatres on The Danforth was the Clyde. Located at 2923 Danforth Avenue, it was on the southeast corner of Luttrell and Danforth Avenue, one block west of Victoria Park. Built for Mr. F. Moss in 1926, it  lacked a balcony, but contained two aisles and almost 500 seats, installed by the Canadian Office and School Furniture Company. The seats were of wood, on a concrete floor, and there was no air conditioning. 

The architects were Kaplan and Sprachman, who designed many theatres in Toronto, including the Allenby at 1219 Danforth Avenue. The Clyde was a two storey structure, with offices, a rewind room, and the projection booth on the second floor. The marquee was a simple structure in a pre-Art Deco style that protruded over the sidewalk. There was a shop on theatre’s east side that was rented to defray the costs of operating the theatre.  

In 1930, the Clyde’s name was changed to the Avalon. In 1936, it was licensed to Max Stein, who also managed the theatre. In 1937, air conditioning was installed. Further changes occurred in 1943, when the store on its east side was removed and the seats in the auditorium were reconfigured. In 1949, the seats were again improved by the same firm as had installed them in 1926. In 1950, the box office was relocated closer to the sidewalk. I was unable to discover when the Avalon closed, but it was likely in the mid-1950s.    

               Map of 2923 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4C 1M4

              Google map showing the location of the Clyde (Avalon) Theatre.

Note: Despite the information in the Toronto Archives, I was unable to locate a photo of the Clyde (Avalon) in either the Toronto or Ontario Archives. I discovered a photo on the internet that was labelled as the Avalon, but it was actually of the Allenby, also on the Danforth. If anyone has a photo of the Arcadian that they are willing to share, please contact me at tayloronhistory@gmail.com

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

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

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

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

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

   To place an order for this book:

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

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

Theatres Included in the Book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

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

 

 

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Toronto’s old Variety (Arcadian) Theatre

Variety arcadian

The former branch of the Bank of Montreal on the northeast corner of Yonge and Queen Streets, the Variety Theatre on its east side (right-hand side of photo). 

When researching Toronto’s old movie theatre, I was surprised to discover that there had once been a theatre at 8-10 Queen Street East, on the east side of a former branch of the Bank of Montreal. During the 1950s, I travelled downtown many times to where the theatre was located, but do not recall ever noticing it. The bank building next door to it has survived, although it is no longer a bank; it now contains a coffee shop and an entrance to the Yonge subway line. The building that contained the Variety Theatre has been demolished, replaced by a modern office tower of glass and steel.

The Variety Theatre was located in a four-storey building constructed in the 19th century, perhaps the 1870s, as it was in the Second Empire style of architecture. It possessed a relatively plain facade and a Mansard roof with gabled windows. I was unable to discover the exact year the theatre opened, but it was likely prior to 1920, as it contained a stage and orchestra pit for vaudeville. There were almost 400 plush seats on a concrete floor, with three aisles. Pillars in the theatre’s auditorium obstructed the view of the stage from some of the seats, suggesting that the ground floor was renovated to accommodate the movie and vaudeville house. There was no air conditioning, and the lobby was small. The theatre was on the ground floor, offices and rented space on the storeys above. The theatre’s canopy protruding over the sidewalk, which contained the marquee was small, but the signage above it was two-storey’s in height.

In the late-1920s, the theatre’s name was changed to the Arcadian. During the latter years of the 1930s, it opened at 9 a.m. each day and closed shortly before midnight, a common practice for theatres that did not screen recently released films. The Toronto Star newspaper reported that on January 19, 1933, the doorman and the cashier at the theatre were arrested for fraud. The doorman failed to tear up all the tickets that patrons handed to him. He returned them to the cashier and they pocketed their value in cash, which they shared. The newspaper said that their scheme netted them $2.00 to $3.00 per day. This was a sizable amount of money during the Depression years.

The theatre was renovated in 1931 by V. L. Morgan and Company, architects. It was again renovated in 1936-1937 by J. W. Siddall, architect. The lobby was retiled and the box office faced with vitrolite tiles (opaque pigmented glass).

On March 30, 1939 three men were arrested on the roof of the theatre. While climbing up the fire escape with the intention of breaking into the building through the roof, a citizen phoned the police as he heard unusual noises at the rear of the theatre.

The Arcadian closed permanently in June 1954. After it closed, a women’s clothing store occupied the premises, employing the old theatre sign to advertise the shop. It is interesting to note that beneath the theatre is a subway station that was intended for the Queen Street subway line, which was never built. However, the vacant station remains today, a relic from the past that is sometimes used for film shoots.

Arcadian   (2)

Photo was taken c. 1930 (Toronto Archives F1278, It.164). The Variety Theatre’s marquee is the film “Laughing Lady,” released in 1929, starring Clive Brook and Ruth Chatterton. This was when the theatre screened recent films.

Arcadian      

The northeast corner of Queen and Yonge Streets in 1939, the Bank of Montreal on the left-hand side of the photo. The marquee and sign for the Arcadian Theatre is visible in the background. The streetcar is a Peter Witt car; streetcars of this type first arrived in Toronto in 1921. Toronto Archives, F1278, It.164.

Arcadian  2

Gazing east on Queen Street from a short distance west of Yonge Street on October 29, 1950, showing the construction of the Yonge subway. The sign for the Arcadian Theatre is evident in the background on the north side of Queen Street.

Variety Arcadian   (2)

This undated photo from the archives shows a women’s clothing store on the site of the old Variety Theatre, as well as a piano shop.

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

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

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

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

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

   To place an order for this book:

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

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

Theatres Included in the Book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

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

 

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Old Movie Theatres—tayloronhistory.com

/Shea's Hippodrome  DSCN0638

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

Academy Theatre on Bloor West at St. Clarens

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

Ace Theatre on Danforth (see Iola)

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

Ace Theatre on Queen near Bay

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

Adelphi Theatre (Kum Bac) on Dovercourt Road

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

Alhambra Theatre on Bloor Street, west of Bathurst Street

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

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

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

Allenby on the Danforth

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

Allen’s Danforth

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

Apollo (Crystal) Theatre on Dundas West

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

Arcadian (Variety) Theatre

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

Auditorium Theatre

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

Avalon Theatre on Danforth Avenue

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

Avenue Theatre (see Pickford)

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

Avon Theatre at 1092 Queen Street West

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

Bay (Colonial Theatre) at Queen and Bay

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

Bayview Theatre

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

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

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

Bell Lightbox (TIFF)

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

Bellevue Theatre on College Street that became the Lux Burlesque Theatre

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

Belsize Theatre (see Regent)

Biltmore Theatre on Yonge, north of Dundas St.

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

Birchcliff Theatre on Kingston Rd.

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

Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on Bloor Street West

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

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

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

Blue Bell (Gay) Theatre on Parliament Street

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

Bonita (Gerrard) Theatre on Gerrard East

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

Brighton Theatre on Roncesvalles Avenue

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

Brock Theatre (the Gem)

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

Cameo Theatre

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

Cannon Theatre (see Ed Mirvish)

Capitol Theatre on Yonge at Castlefield

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

Carlton Theatre on Parliament Street

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

Casino Burlesque Theatre on Queen Street

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

Cineplex Eaton Centre

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

Cineplex Odeon Varsity Theatre at Bloor and Bay

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

Cineplex Theatre at Yonge and Dundas Streets

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

Circle on Dundas West (see Duchess)

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

Circle Theatre on Yonge Street

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

Clyde Theatre (Avalon)

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

College Theatre at College St. and Dovercourt Rd.

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

Colonial Theatre (see Bay Theatre)

Colony Theatre at Vaughan Road and Eglinton Avenue

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

Community Theatre on Woodbine Avenue

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

Coronet Theatre (Savoy) on Yonge St. at Gerrard

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

Crest Theatre (see Regent)

Crown Theatre on Gerrard St. East

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

Crystal Theatre (see Apollo)

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

Cumberland In Yorkville

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

Danforth Music Hall (Allen’s Danforth)

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

Donlands Theatre

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

Downtown Theatre (now demolished) at Yonge and Dundas

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

Duchess Theatre (Circle) on Dundas West

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

Eastwood Theatre on Gerrard St. East

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

Ed Mirvish Theatre (the Pantages, Imperial and Cannon)

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

Eglinton Theatre

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

Elgin Theatre (Loew’s Downtown)

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

Elgin/Winter/Garden Theatres on Yonge Street

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

Empire (Rialto, Palton) on Queen East

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

Esquire (Lyndhurst) Theatre on Bloor Street West

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

Eve’s Paradise (see Paradise)

Garden Theatre at 290 College Street.

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

Gay Theatre (see Blue Bell)

Gem Theatre (see Brock)

Gerrard Theatre (see Bonita)

Glendale Theatre on Avenue Rd.

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

Golden Mile Theatre on Eglinton East

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

Grand Opera House on Adelaide Street West

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

Grant Theatre on Oakwood Avenue near Vaughan Road

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

Greenwood Theatre (the Guild)

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

Grover on Danforth Avenue

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

Guild Theatre (see Greenwood)

Hillcrest Theatre on Christie Street, south of Dupont St.

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

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

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

Hudson Theatre (see Mount Pleasant)

Imperial and Downtown Theatres on Yonge Street (archival photos)

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

Imperial Theatre (see Ed Mirvish)

Iola (Ace, Regal) on Danforth Avenue

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

Island Theatre on Centre Island

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

Kent Theatre at Yonge and St. Clair

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

Kenwood Theatre on Bloor St. West 

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

King Theatre at College and Manning Streets

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

Kingsway Theatre in the Kingsway Village on Bloor St. West

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

Kum-Bac Theatre (see Adelphi)

KUM-C Theatre in Parkdale

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

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

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

La Salle Theatre on Dundas, near Spadina

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

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

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

Loew’s Uptown Theatre (the Uptown)

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

Loew’s Downtown Theatre (see Elgin)

Lyndhurst Theatre (see Esquire)

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

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

Mayfair Theatre at Jane and Annette

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

Metro Theatre at 679 Bloor West

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

Mount Dennis Theatre on Weston Rd, north of Eglinton

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

Mount Pleasant (Hudson) Theatre

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

Nortown Theatre on Eglinton, west of Bathurst St.

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

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

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

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

Odeon Carlton at Yonge and Carlton Streets

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

Odeon Carlton Theatre

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

Odeon Danforth Theatre on the Danforth, near Pape Avenue

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

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

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

Odeon Hyland Theatre at Yonge and St. Clair

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

Odeon Theatre On Queen West in Parkdale

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

Opera House (see La Plaza)

Orpheum Theatre on Queen St., west of Bathurst

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

Palace Theatre on the Danforth

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

Palace Theatre on the Danforth near Pape Avenue

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

Palton Theatre (see Empire)

Panasonic Theatre on Yonge Street

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

Pantages Theatre (see Ed Mirvish)

Paradise (Eve’s Paradise)

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

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

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

Parkdale Theatre on Queen Street, near Roncesvalles

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

Photodrome (Ace) Theatre on Queen St. West

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

Pickford (Auditorium, Avenue) Theatre

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

Princess Theatre on King Street

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

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

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

Regal Theatre (see Iola)

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

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

Revue Theatre at 400 Roncesvalles Avenue

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

Rex Theatre (the Joy)

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

Rialto Theatre (see Empire)

Rivoli Theatre on Queen Street West

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

Royal Alexandra Theatre

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

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

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

Royal Theatre on Dundas Street

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

Royal Theatre (the Pylon) on College St.

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

Runnymede Theatre in the Bloor West Village

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

Savoy Theatre (see Coronet)

Scarboro Theatre

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

Scotiabank Theatre at Richmond and John Streets

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

Shea’s Hippodrome Theatre on Bay St. near Queen

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

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

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

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

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

St. Clair Theatre, west of Dufferin Street

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

State Theatre (see Bloordale)

Teck Theatre on Queen St. East

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

The Tivoli Theatre on Richmond Street East

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

Toronto’s first movie screening and its first movie theatre

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

Town Cinema on Bloor East, near Yonge Street

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

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

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

Uptown 5 Multiplex Theatre on Yonge south of Bloor

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

Variety Theatre (see Arcadian)

Vaughan Theatre on St. Clair Avenue

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

Victoria (Shea’s Victoria)

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

Victory burlesque and movie theatre on Spadina at Dundas:

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

Village Theatre on Spadina Road in Forest Hill Village

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

Westwood Theatre on Bloor Street West near Six Points

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

The Willow Theatre on north Yonge St. in Willowdale

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

York Theatre on Yonge near Bloor St.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

              To place an order for this book:

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

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

ISBN # 978.1.62619.450.2

 

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Village Theatre on Spadina Road—Toronto

The Village Theatre at 418 Spadina Road in Forest Hill Village (Spadina Village) was a gem in the heart of a small business community that truly created the atmosphere of a small town. In past decades it was referred to as Lower Forest Hill Village and centred on Spadina Road and Lonsdale Avenue. E. M. Farquharson, in an article in the Canadian Home Journal, referred to the Village Theatre as “a neighbourhood cinema in a district of lovely homes.”

Plans for the theatre were submitted to the City of Toronto in November of 1935, at the height of the Great Depression. The architect was Herbert Duerr (1891-1966), who designed the Hollywood Theatre and the Major Rogers Road Theatre (Rogers Road and Silverthorne Avenue). Born in Pittsburgh, he caught the attention of Famous Players and became the corporation’s favourite architect. He designed many theatres across Canada and the United States.

         Village

               This sketch of the Village Theatre is from the Toronto Archives.

I was unable to locate any photos of the Village Theatre in the City of Toronto Archives or the Ontario Archives. However, of all the local theatres I have researched, judging by the sketch that has survived, it was architecturally one of the most unusual. It resembled a quaint shop or house that one might see in an Alpine village, its small peaked roof and unpretentious marquee adding to its quaintness.

The theatre’s box office was in a central position at the front of the structure, and extended from the facade toward the sidewalk. Double doors on either side of it gave access to the outer lobby, which was aligned east-west. Another set of doors opened onto the inner lobby. Because the theatre’s frontage was narrow, the lobby extended a considerable distance from the street. A drink machine that dispensed carbonated beverages was tucked into an alcove in the inner lobby. The auditorium was aligned north-south, with separate doors leading to the aisles. 

Village   7

           Diagram of the interior of the Village Theatre. City of Toronto Archives.

For many years, the manager of the theatre was Miss Evelyn Lilly. A pioneer in the industry, she was the first woman manager hired by Famous Players Corporation. A petit blonde woman, she was less than five feet in height, but possessed a forceful personality. During the years that she managed the theatre, she knew all the local theatregoers and was able to address most of them by name. In 1924, Miss Lilly had commenced her career as a cashier at the Kingswood Theatre, located at 922 Kingston Road, near Kingswood and Kingston Roads. She worked part time at the Kingswood—a few hours on weeknights and Saturday afternoons, for six dollars a week.

Patrons said that she added a woman’s touch at the Village Theatre. After every show, she opened the rear doors to air out the he auditorium. During the war years, she avoided screening war movies as she felt that women were too mindful of the real events taking place overseas to want to witness the conflict on screen. After the war, she became an advocate for more women managers.

After the theatre closed, the building was renovated and contained a dry cleaners. Eventually, the dry cleaners and the restaurant next to it were demolished to construct a boxy two-story building that contained an LCBO on the ground floor.   

Village  5

This undated photo in the City of Toronto Archives shows the site of the Village Theatre after it became a dry cleaners.

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/

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

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

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

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

   To place an order for this book:

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

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

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 130 archival photographs.

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

 

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Toronto’s old Princess Theatre

Princess

The Princess Theatre on November 18, 1930. City of Toronto Archives, Salmon Collection, Series 1278 File 136.

In 1880, a grand theatre opened in Toronto at 167 King Street West. Its original name was the Academy of Music, but it was changed to the more regal title of Princess. Located on the south side of King Street West, it was between Simcoe and York Streets. The row of buildings that included the theatre no longer exists as it was demolished when University Avenue was extended south from Queen Street. Thus, the site today is buried beneath the multi-lane University Avenue.

The theatre’s opening was an historic event, as it was first theatre in Toronto of any size that offered live theatre. No one knew that the opening of the Princess was the beginning of Toronto’s rise to become the third most important English-speaking theatre centre in the world. The theatre was amazing for its day. It was the first public building in Toronto to be electrified, following the lead of the Savoy Theatre in London, England, the first building in that city to be electrified.

The Princess was an early-day version of an entertainment complex, as it contained a ballroom, banquet room, art gallery and drawing room, as well as a luxurious auditorium and stage. Along with comic and dramatic plays, it also featured major sporting events. On May 23, 1896, the title contest between fighters Tommy Dixon and Frank Zimpher, for the featherweight boxing division was held at the Princess, 

Mary Pickford, whose real name was Gladys Smith, gave her first stage performance at the Princess in 1900, in the play “The Silver King.” Her mother needed money and allowed her daughter to audition for the part. Mary Pickford loved the experience and eventually became the greatest film star of her day, the first international star of the silver screen. In 1907, the city’s first performance of the opera “Madame Butterfly” was at the Princess, just three years after its Milan debut. The same year, another theatre opened on King Street, offering live theatre in competition with the Princess. This was the Royal Alexandra Theatre, which remains in existence today.

In 1915, fire destroyed much of the Princess Theatre. It required two years to repair the damage and reopened in 1917 as the New Princess Theatre. 

In November 1924, the film “Thief of Bagdad” premiered at the Princess, starring Douglas Fairbanks, the husband of Mary Pickford. It was a silent film and for the occasion the theatre hired a 20-piece orchestra to provide the background music. It was a gala performance, since the theatre rarely showed films, as it specialized in live theatre. However, because this one of the most important movies of the decade, the theatre allowed an exception.

After almost four decades as one of Toronto’s most popular theatres, it finally shuttered its doors. The theatre was demolished in 1931. 

DSCN6704   DSCN6696

DSCN6698  DSCN6703

    Programs from the Princess Theatre, Ontario Archives.

I am indebted to www.world theatres.com, silenttoronto.com, and Man in the green goggles journals.hil.unb.ca for some of the information contained in this post.

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

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

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

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

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

   To place an order for this book:

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

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

Theatres Included in the Book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

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

 

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Toronto’s old Grant Theatre-Post II

  Grant 1146N-143 (2)

              Grant Theatre in 1936. City of Toronto Archives, SC 488-1146

Of all the theatres explored in my posts, my fondest memories are of the Grant Theatre, where I attended my first Saturday-afternoon matinee and where I met all the great film stars of my youth. It opened in 1930 as an independent theatre, owned by the Grant family. Located at 524 Oakwood Avenue, it was near the intersection of Vaughan Road and Oakwood Avenue. It was an advantageous site for a theatre as the Oakwood streetcars and the Vaughan buses passed by its doors. In the 1940s, there were shops surrounding it that created a mini-village. The Oakwood Hotel a short distance to the south of it was the other entertainment attraction in the immediate area.

Map of 524 Oakwood Ave, Toronto, ON M6E 2X1

               Location of the Grant Theatre at 524 Oakwood Avenue.

When I visited the Grant the 1940s, the theatre was already showing its age. However, as a child, I thought it was the most wonderful movie palace in the entire world—a constant source of pure magic. When I attended my first Saturday-afternoon matinee, the first film shown was a murder mystery that almost scared me to death. I remember gazing at my older brother, who appeared entranced with the plot and not frightened in the least. I sat glued to the seat, tighter than the chewing gum stuck to its underside. Somehow, I managed to survive.

The second feature starred Sonja Henie, the three-time Olympic champion who had become a movie star. I must admit that her graceful antics on the ice bored me. However, in the weeks ahead, I saw enough exciting films to erase the memories of Sonja Henie. I was introduced to pirates, cowboys, detective, assorted villains, comedians and musical/dancing stars.

My favourite comedy teams on the screen at the Grant were Laurel and Hardy, as well as Abbott and Costello. Their antics were enormously funny, much of their humour centring on the predicaments they encountered in daily life. Their style of comedy was familiar to me through the radio programs such as “The Life of Riley,” starring William Bendix, as well as the “Amos and Andy” show. This type of comedy continues today in sit-com TV shows such as Schitts Creek, Corner Gas and Little Mosque on the Prairies. Another series of comedy films I enjoyed when I was a boy was “The Bowery Boys.” Their movies told about the antics of a group of teenage boys who considered themselves wise guys, but their plans to acquire a few dollars always ended in failure. The situations they created were endlessly funny, or so I thought at the time.

Even after we purchased our first black and white television in 1953, the Grant retained its attraction due to the big-screen format and the superior quality of the pictures compared to TV. However, as TV images improved and with the introduction of colour TV, the Grant Theatre finally lost to the in-house entertainment medium.

Another event that helped destroy the appeal of movie theatres was the introduction of “Hockey Night in Canada,” in the 1952-1953 season. Young men began staying home to watch the games, broadcast by the CBC. The first tavern/bar in Canada to broadcast these games was the Horseshoe Tavern on Queen West near Spadina Avenue. Saturday nights “on the town” were no longer the same. Toronto’s entertainment scene was changing and movie houses were the losers.

In 1953, our family moved away from the area where the Grant was located. The theatre closed its doors in 1956. It was demolished except for the walls, and it renovated for other commercial purposes.

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Auditorium of the Grant, showing the south wall of the theatre. City of Toronto Archives, Series  1147 It. 144

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Auditorium and north wall of the Grant, City of Toronto Archives, Series 1148, It. 145.

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The Grant Theatre in the late-1950s, after it closed and was converted into a bowling alley.

Grant 532 Oakwood

The old theatre after the canopy and marquee were removed and it was a banquet hall.

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                          The site of the Grant theatre in 2013.

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

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

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

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

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

   To place an order for this book:

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

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

Theatres Included in the Book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

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

 

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Toronto’s old Odeon Danforth Theatre—Post 11

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Odeon Danforth Theatre, the film “Jassy” on the marquee. Released in 1947, it was a drama about an English squire and his daughter’s friendship with Jassy, a Gypsy psychic. Photo from City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 119. 

The Odeon Danforth is another of the movie theatres on the Danforth that I remember well, but never attended. However, I viewed it many times from the windows of the old Bloor PCC streetcars, which passed in front of the theatre. The Bloor cars were removed from service after the Bloor-Danforth Subway opened in 1966. The Odeon Danforth’s main rival was the Palace Theatre, located a short distance to the east of it. Both theatres are now long gone.

The Odeon chain of theatres entered the Toronto market to screen British films, but later showed Hollywood films as well. In the 1950s and 1960s, Odeon developed the policy of featuring the same films simultaneously in several of its theatres. As I lived nearer to the Odeon Humber, there was no need for me to journey to the east end of the city to view  the films playing at the Odeon Danforth.

On a hot day in July 2014, I travelled on the subway to visit the site where the theatre had once stood, at 635 Danforth Avenue. Today, a branch of Extreme Fitness, an exercise gym, is on the location. The site is on the south side of Danforth Avenue, a short distance west of Pape Avenue.

Map of 635 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K 1R2

The Odeon Danforth opened on April 16, 1947. Later the same year the Odeon chain opened the Odeon Toronto (Carlton) on September 9th, and the Odeon Hyland on November 22, 1948. The previous year, the company had opened the Odeon Fairlawn on Yonge Street. The following year they opened the Odeon Humber on January 7th. The Odeon Danforth was the only theatre they owned located east of the Don Valley.

The theatre was impressive, its massive marquee dominating the street. The modern glass doors were recessed a distance back from the street, creating an open space that formed a grand approach for patrons entering the theatre. This compensated  for the theatre’s small frontage on The Danforth. The box office was outside, to the right of the doors. Since the theatre extended back a good distance from the street, there was space for an extensive lobby, which was richly carpeted, with a wide staircase leading to the balcony. Its auditorium was large, possessing over 1300 seats, including the ground-floor and the balcony. The seating on the main floor contained two aisles—a centre section and further seating  on either side of the aisles. Surrounding the screen were rich folds of drapery, which created elegance, but also intimacy. The walls were decorated with sweeping decorative lines that accented its modernistic style.

When the demographics of the area changed, the theatre commenced showing Greek films and its name was changed to the Rex. Eventually the theatre was no longer profitable and it closed. Finally, the building was renovated for a fitness gym, but some of the interior architectural features of the theatre were maintained. Passing by the site of the Odeon Danforth today, it is difficult to conceive that there was once a grand theatre on the premises.

Odeon Danforth   AO 2142   2

Ground-floor seating of the Odeon Danforth, with its sweeping decorative lines on the side walls and generous drapery near the screen. Photo Ontario Archives, AO 2142.

Odeon Danforth -  AO 2141

Lobby of the theatre, with the rich carpeting and the grand staircase to the balcony. Ontario Archives, AO 2141.

              Odeon Danforth (3)

The fitness gym in 2014, at 635 Danforth Avenue, where the Odeon Danforth was located.

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

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

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

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

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

   To place an order for this book:

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

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

Theatres Included in the Book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

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

 

 

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Toronto’s Paradise Theatre—Part II

Paradise

                      Paradise Theatre c. 1946. Ontario Archives

During the summer of 2014, in my quest to locate and photograph Toronto’s old local theatres, none of the discoveries surprised and pleased me more than the sight of the Paradise Theatre. Located at 1008 Bloor Street West, it is on the northwest corner of Bloor and Westmoreland Avenue. However, I must admit that my pleasure slowly became tinged with a hint of sadness, as its impressive marquee was blank, devoid of the names of films, and the spaces where posters had once advertised films were empty or contained faded posters. One of the spaces had graffiti defacing it. The theatre was akin to a grand old lady whose glory days had vanished and was now a relic from the past.

Despite these thoughts, I must confess I was gladdened by the realization that at least the theatre had survived, and despite the passing of the many decades since it opened, its façade of glazed bricks still sparkled in the afternoon sun. Its marquee may have been empty, but it was well preserved and as attractive as when it was first installed. In my opinion, the Paradise is an architectural gem.

The site where it exists has a long history in the story of Toronto’s local theatres. The first theatre built on this site at 1008 Bloor Street was named the Kitchener. It opened its doors to screen silent movies in 1909, in the days prior to the First World War. The cost of constructing the theatre was $3000. To build the Paradise, the old Kitchener Theatre was gutted, very little of it being retained.

The present-day cinema opened in 1937, designed by the Lithuanian-born Benjamin Brown, one of the city’s famous architects. He had previously created the Reading Building in 1925, the Tower Building in 1927, and Balfour Building in 1930, all located on Spadina Avenue. Brown also was the architect of the infamous Victory Theatre. Benjamin Brown chose the Art Deco style for the Paradise Theatre. The tall rectangular windows on the second floor and the narrow rows of raised bricks create the impression of extra height. Its cornice is relatively unadorned, with a raised centre section in the central position, typical of many Art Deco buildings. When it opened in 1937, its auditorium contained a small stage, with dressing rooms to accommodate actors when live performances were offered. It was an intimate theatre, containing a small lobby and less than 500 seats in its auditorium, including the balcony.

The theatre changed ownership several times during the decades ahead, but except for a period in the 1980s, when it screened soft porno and was named Eve’s Paradise, it always retained its original name. It screened Italian films in the 1960s. In the 1990s it was a repertoire theatre, part of the Festival chain.

By the early years of the 21st century, it had become somewhat shabby, its projectors having insufficient power to properly illuminate the film-prints, and the sound system was in poor shape. It closed in 2006, but in 2007 was listed as a Heritage Property. Unfortunately, because the laws are very lax, this did not ensure that it would not be demolished.

However, this story has a happy ending. The Paradise Theatre was purchased by Moray Tawse, who plans to restore it to its original glory. It will become an arts centre and community theatre, a true addition to Toronto’s cultural scene.

To view plans for the redevelopment of the Paradise Theatre, google: www.insidetoronto.com

Paradise, OA 2308

Undated photo of the auditorium of the Paradise. Photo from Ontario Archives.

Paradise, OA 2307

            Lobby of the Paradise. Photo from the Ontario Archives.

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View of the Paradise on the northwest coroner of Bloor and Westmoreland during the summer of 2014.

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                        Marquee and the sign of the Paradise.

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                             Brick designs on the facade of the theatre.

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    The lobby and entrance door to the auditorium of the Paradise in 2014.

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Gazing west along the busy section of Bloor Street West, where the Paradise is located.

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

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“ Lost Toronto”—employing detailed archival photographs, this recaptures the city’s lost theatres, sporting venues, bars, restaurants and shops. This richly illustrated book brings some of Toronto’s most remarkable buildings and much-loved venues back to life. From the loss of John Strachan’s Bishop’s Palace in 1890 to the scrapping of the S. S. Cayuga in 1960 and the closure of the HMV Superstore in 2017, these pages cover more than 150 years of the city’s built heritage to reveal a Toronto that once was.

 

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

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses. To place an order for this book, published by History Press:

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

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

 

                  image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[2]

“Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again” explores 81 theatres. It 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®

“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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Toronto’s Revue Theatre-Part II

AO 2020

The Revue Theatre in 1938, Ontario Archives.

The Revue Theatre at 400 Roncesvalles Avenue is one of the oldest surviving movie houses in Toronto, its only rival for this distinction being the Fox Theatre, on Queen Street East. Both theatres opened between 1912 and 1913 and remain active today. Their façades are unchanged from when they opened, although the original marquees on both theatres have been removed as they were too costly to maintain.

Because of the Revue’s location, I was never inside it when I was a teenager. However, during “Doors Open Toronto” in 2013, I journeyed on the streetcar to visit it. I had my choice of boarding either a King or a College streetcar, as the theatre is located near the intersection of Roncesvalles and Howard Park Avenues. This caused me to realize the advantage of the theatre’s location in earlier decades, when almost everyone moved around the city by streetcar. On arriving at the theatre, I was impressed with the young volunteers that enthusiastically talked about the Revue and provided tours of the space behind the screen. They also allowed access to the projection room. Free popcorn was available at the candy bar—a nice touch.

In the mid-19th century, the area known as Parkdale, to the south of where the Revue is located today, was relative undeveloped. However, it was expanding rapidly, even though it was considered remote from the downtown. Nestled beside Lake Ontario, many of its inhabitants were cottagers who spent only the summer months in Parkdale, sharing it with people who were enjoying day-trips to the beach from the core of the city. However, because of its highly desirable location beside the lake, Parkdale increasingly attracted more and more permanent residents, many large Victorian-style homes appearing on its tree-lined streets. As a result, it was annexed to the City of Toronto in 1889. As land prices increased and vacant residential lots disappeared, residential development moved further northward, along Roncesvalles Avenue. This street derived its name from a mountain pass in the Pyrenees, where a battle was fought in the Napoleonic Wars. 

As the area of Roncesvalles near Howard Park Avenue became more populated, it was obvious that building a movie theatre in the area could be a profitable enterprise. Thus, between 1912-1913, the Revue Theatre was constructed. Though in a quiet neighbourhood to the northwest of the downtown core, it benefited from being close to two streetcar lines and surrounded by residential streets to the east and west of Roncesvalles with ever-increasing populations .

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People arriving at the terminus of the College streetcar line in High Park in 1906, on an open trolley car. This was only a few blocks from where the Revue Theatre was located. City of Toronto Archives, Series 71, Item 9896

The Revue was not a large theatre, containing only around 500 seats. However, its size was appropriate for a local theatre that depended mainly on the surrounding community for patrons, supplemented by those who arrived by streetcar. The theatre’s Fabricord seats were comfortable, and its two aisles provided easy access and exiting of the theatre. This was an advantage in an era when movie-goers entered and departed constantly, rather than arriving at the staring time of a film. Despite the theatre’s modest size, it possessed an impressive marquee, attached to a façade displaying classical designs, with Greek dentils and Doric columns. The cornice on the peaked roof and the horizontal lower cornice below it contained classical decorative detailing. The interior was decorated with designs possessing geometric shapes and patterns.

In the 1980s, the theatre became part of the Festival Theatre chain. However, in 2006 the company closed the Revue. It appeared as if a developer might purchase the property and demolish it. Fortunately, concerned residents raised funds to ensure its survival as a functioning movie house. It reopened the following year, operated by the non-profit Revue Film Society.

In February of the year it reopened, a section of the marquee collapsed to the sidewalk, likely cause by the weight of the snow. For safety reasons, it was necessary to remove the entire marquee. A part of it was preserved by storing it in an area behind the screen.

Thankfully, the Revue Cinema remains today and continues to offer nightly screenings. It is one of Toronto’s few remaining neighbourhood theatres of yesteryear.

Revue 1109-106

The Revue Theatre in 1935, City of Toronto Archives, Series 1109 File 106

Revue 1111-108

The Revue Theatre in 1935, City of Toronto Archives, Series 1111, It. 108

AO 2021

   Interior of the Revue Theatre in the 1930s, City of Toronto Archives.

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      Interior of the theatre in 2013, from the rear of the auditorium. 

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                   View of the auditorium from near the screen.

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Greek dentils in the peak of the facade and the name of the theatre.

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     A section of the old marquee that is stored behind the screen.

DSCN0587

                        Facade of the Revue Theatre in 2013.

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

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

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

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

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

   To place an order for this book:

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

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

Theatres Included in the Book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

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

 

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