RSS

Tag Archives: Queen Street West

Queen Street’s Hugging Tree repainted (2016)

DSCN1022  DSCN1019

The west side of the Hugging Tree in October 2016, the Black Bull Pub in the background.

It is not often that we find graffiti art painted on trees, or in the case of the “Hug Me Tree,” (Hugging Tree), on a tree stump. This favourite piece of art is located on the north side of Queen Street West, a short distance west of Peter Street. It appeared for the first time in 1999, painted by Elicer Elliott, a graduate of Sheridan College. He has since become one of Toronto’s best known graffiti artists. I highly recommend that you Google his name to see further examples of his work.

After completing the “Hug Me Tree,”“ Elicer Elliott placed a tag on the tree – “H.U.G.”- the name of his graffiti crew. As an afterthought, he added the “Me” to the tag, and Queen Street’s famous “Hug Me Tree” was born.

                 The hugging Tree in 2012.

In 2008, the tree toppled over onto the pavement. It may have been hit by a car, or pushed over by overly exuberant patrons of the nearby Black Bull Pub. Whatever occurred, the city decided to dispose of it. However, a group of concerned citizens prevented the tree from being carted away. On June 15, 2009, after the tree was restored, it was returned to its original location. It is now weather-proofed and has a metal base to secure it.

The next time you stroll along Queen Street West, on the section of the street east of Spadina, take a few moments to appreciate this example of graffiti art. Give it a hug. Who knows, it may bring you good luck.

DSCN1017  DSCN1021

             The west side of the Hugging Tree in October 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/

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

   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: , ,

The lost buildings of St. Patrick’s Market, Toronto

pictures-r-5352[1]

Toronto’s second town market, the St. Patrick’s Market, was preceded by the St. Lawrence Market, founded in 1803, on orders from Governor Peter Hunt. The second market was required as the city was expanding westward and the St. Lawrence Market was too distant for those living to the west of Yonge Street. In response to this need, in 1836, Mr. D’Arcy Boulton donated land from his estate, known as the Grange, to the city on the condition that it be used for a market square in perpetuity. If the land ceased to be used for a market, ownership of the property was to revert to the heirs of D’Arcy Boulton. The property he donated had a ninety-foot frontage on Queen Street, and it extended 123 feet northward. The new market was named St. Patrick’s Market, as it was in the St. Patrick’s Ward, one of the city’s original five wards.

The market opened in 1837, in a small  temporary structure that had sufficient space for only a couple of stalls. Its only merit was that it protected a few shoppers from the worst of the inclement weather. However, because the market building was viewed as temporary, it was not maintained and fell into disrepair. A more suitable building was badly needed. I was unable to discover the year that the first permanent building was erected, but it was likely about 1840, as records state that in 1842, a fire station was located in the St. Patrick’s Market building. It was manned by trained volunteers. Later, the market was renovated to include a police station.

The new building was a frame structure, erected on the northern portion of the donated land. The structure contained a large interior space with stalls, where farmers displayed and sold their produce. It was a two-storey structure, with a centre block that had a triangular pediment above the south facade and a small cupola on the roof. There were one-storey wings on the east and west sides of the centre block. The building was set back from Queen Street, on the north side of the square, to allow space for open-air stalls to be erected in front of it on market days, when farmers from the surrounding areas brought their produce to the city. 

This is the market that is depicted in the watercolour shown above. It was painted in 1845 and is from the collection of the Toronto Public Library, r-5352. The Anglican Church of St. George the Martyr, on John Street, is visible in the painting, behind the market. The church’s spire was destroyed by fire in 1955. In 1852, the fame building was demolished to erect a white-brick building. Three well-known citizens provided funds for the new market on condition that they were reimbursed from the profits of the enterprise.

Thomas Young, who was born in England and immigrated to Canada in 1832, was hired by the city as the architect. The brick market building was constructed between the years 1850 and 1854. To compare it to the frame structure that preceded is difficult as artists tend to romanticize their subjects. This must be taken into consideration when viewing the watercolour to compare the first permanent market structure with the one that followed it. “The History of Toronto and York County—Part IV” (Chapter 32) states that the new brick building had “no pretentions to architectural beauty.” Unfortunately, this was an apt description.

The brick market building was erected closer to Queen Street, to the south of the previous market building. Constructed in the Italianate style, it was a two-storey building, its brick walls covered with stucco. Its south facade faced Queen Street. Behind it there was a single-storey extension where the stalls were located. The south facade, where the main entrance was located, was symmetrical in design. The entranceway was surrounded by a Roman archway, the large windows on either side of the doorway topped with similar arches. A bell tower provided a look-out for the fire station within. The tower had an extended cornice at the top, with large modillions (brackets) below it.

1890--pictures-r-5354[1]

The St. Patrick’s Market in 1890, Photo from the Toronto Public Library r- 5354. 

The market building served as a focal point of the district, since the two-storey section contained a room for public meetings on the second floor. The nearby church of St. George the Martyr, to the north of the market, added to the importance of the area to the community. Though the market was never as prominent as the St. Lawrence or St. Andrew’s Markets, it was well attended by those who resided nearby as it had many stalls displaying vegetables, poultry and fish, as well as several butcher shops. Each Christmas, the market overflowed with seasonal treats for people’s festive tables.

However, because it never achieved the popularity of the other two markets of the city, it was not as well maintained. Even after the city purchased land to the north of the market to create St. Patrick’s Square, the market building continued to decline. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by fire about the year 1912, and replaced with another brick building that still exists on Queen Street West today.

Sources for this post:

urbantoronto.ca—www.landmarksoftoronto.com—“Lost Toronto” by William Dendy”— www.electric canadian.com— “Landmarks of Toronto” by John Ross Robertson.

Map of 238 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1Z7

   Location of the St. Patrick’s Market at 238 Queen Street West.

1909, drypoint sketch, J. W. Beatty  pictures-r-344[1]

Drypoint sketch created in 1909 of the market, the Church of St. George the Martyr in the background. Sketch by J. W. Beatty, now in the collection of the Toronto Public Library.

                   1910.  I0021910[1]

The St. Patrick’s Market on Queen Street in 1910. The one-story extension behind the taller building is evident. It was where the produce and food stalls were located. The second floor of the two-storey structure, facing Queen Street, contained the large room for public meetings. Photo from the Ontario Archives, 10021910.

                     1913, pictures-r-6840[1]

The market in 1913, photo from the collection of the Toronto Public Library r-6840.

St. Patrick's Market (14)

The market building that replaced the structure destroyed by fire in 1912. This building remains on Queen Street West today, and was designated a Heritage Site in 1975.

St. Patrick's Market (11)

Rear view (north side) of the St. Patrick’s Market in 2014, looking south from the tranquil St. Patrick’s Square. 

St. Patrick's Market (3)

Interior of the market in 2014, the original pine support-beams in evidence. A skylight provides plenteous light for the interior. Since this photo was taken, many of the stalls have been rented, mostly for fast food outlets.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   To place an order for this book:

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

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

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

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

 

 

Tags: ,

Toronto’s 441-443 Queen West at Spadina

Sept. 29, 1910  f1231_it2047[1]

The view in the above photo gazes east along Queen Street on September 29, 1910, from a short distance west of Spadina Avenue. On the right-hand side of the photo is the building with the postal address 441-443 Queen Street, on the southeast corner of the intersection. It contained the Devaney Brothers Dry Goods store. There is a coal yard on the southwest corner of the intersection. (Photo, Toronto Archives, F 1231, It.20471.)

In the 1850s, a modest home occupied the corner where the Devaney Brothers store was later located. In those years, the intersection was relatively quiet and free of vehicle traffic, since it was considered remote from the downtown. However, as the city expanded, increasingly the houses along Queen Street disappeared. They were replaced by two-storey buildings with shops on the ground floor and living spaces on the upper floors. As real estate prices increased, taller structures were built. They too possessed stores on the ground-floor level, the second and third floors rented as residential apartments or office spaces. Many of the buildings were joined to create commercial blocks, such as the Noble Block, on the north side of Queen, east of Spadina. Few were taller than three floors as it was an age without elevators.

In 1886, the modest house on the corner of Spadina and Queen was demolished and a three-storey structure erected. Its architects were Henry Langley and Edmund Burke, who were later to design Victoria College at the University of Toronto. The northwest corner of the building contained an ornate Italianate-style turret, which became a landmark in the neighbourhood. The red-brick building possessed an ornate wood cornice with modillions beneath it that resembled large dentils. The first occupants were Devenay Brothers, who, as mentioned, opened a dry goods store on the first floor. 

The second and third-floor levels were rented to various tenants, including the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows, as well commercial enterprises and manufacturers. The building was in a prime location, at a busy intersection. During the years ahead, various restaurants occupied the first-floor level of the building, and in the 1930s, trade unions and workers’ organizations rented space within it. In the 1950s and early 1960s, rooms on the upper floors were leased to art students, as the large windows provided excellent lighting for studios. In 1984, Makos Furs moved into the building and renovated the turret and the wood trim on the north and west facades.

The building is now beginning to show its age as it has been in continuous use for well over a 125 years. The pillar on the northwest corner, at the entrance to the restaurant that currently occupies the first floor, is badly eroded. Several years ago it was braced by a steel beam, but because the deterioration has worsened, plans have been made to replace it (2015). However, the structure remains an important heritage building and still dominates the intersection, as it did in past decades.

DSCN2662   

View of the building 441-443 Queen St. West, gazing from the northwest corner of the intersection.

                          DSCN2668

                    View from the northeast corner of Queen and Spadina.

DSCN2673

The turret on the northwest corner of the building. The District Loft condominium is in the background.

DSCN2666   DSCN2665

Ornate wood trim on the cornice and around the bay windows.

DSCN2661

The west facade, facing Spadina Avenue. On the south side of the building there is a modern building that attempts to match the architecture of the original structure.

                      DSCN2671

Light and shadow on the 19th century structure that once housed Daveney Brothers Dry Goods. 

April 16, 2015 (6)

Support pillar on the northwest corner that has eroded and is braced by a steel girder. Wood has been placed around. In the background is the CIBC branch at Queen and Spadina.  (Photo May 2015) 

DSCN7685

                                   Photo taken May 28, 2015.

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)

 

 

1

 

Tags: , ,

Odeon Theatre in Parkdale—Toronto

Odeon Theatre, 1913, at 1558 Queen West

The Odeon Theatre in 1919. The featured movie is Cecil  B. DeMille’s film, “Don’t Change Your Husband,” a silent comedy released in 1919. Photo from the City of Toronto Archives, Series 1231, Fl. 231, It. 0758

The Odeon Theatre at 1558 Queen Street West was an architectural gem in the former village of Parkdale, which was annexed to the city in 1889. The theatre opened in 1919, shortly after the end of the First World War. It undoubtedly provided a welcome relief to the war-weary people of the community, providing an evening’s entertainment and an opportunity to forget the horrors of battle from the previous years. The Odeon was likely the first theatre in the neighbourhood, as its competitor, the Parkdale Theatre, did not open until the spring of the following year. The Odeon Theatre had no connection to the British Odeon theatre chain that began building theatres in the city in the 1940s. The word “Odeon” was derived from the name of an ancient Greek theatre, the Odeon Herodes Atticus, in Athens, built in 161 CE (AD). It was located on the south side of the Acropolis, and still exists today.

The Odeon Theatre in Parkdale was a two-storey red brick building, with a residential apartment on the second floor. Its symmetrical facade was formal and dignified, the stone trim adding architectural detailing to the facade. The cornice was plain, with a narrow parapet to increase the size of the south facade when viewed from Queen Street.

The theatre’s auditorium possessed two aisles, with a centre section and aisles on either side of it. There were no side aisles, so seats were crammed against the side walls. It had a sloped floor that extended from where the screen was located to the rear wall, the back rows accessed by stairs. The auditorium walls were plain with very few decorative details, although there were attractive designs surrounding the screen. When the theatre opened in 1919, there would have been a stage and an area for a piano or a few musicians, as it offered vaudeville, live theatre, and silent movies.

A letter in the files at the Toronto Archives confirms that the theatre closed in October 1968. However, the building remains on Queen Street today, and contains a fruit market.

AO 2303

         Interior of the Odeon Theatre, Ontario Archives, AO 2303

AO 2304

      View of the stage area of the Odeon Theatre. Ontario Archives, AO 2304

DSCN1295

                   The site of the Odeon Theatre as it appeared in 2013.

DSCN1294

                Architectural detailing on the facade of the theatre

                  DSCN1296 - Copy

View of the site of the former theatre, gazing east along Queen West, in the spring of 2013.

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

To view previous posts about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/torontos-old-movie-theatrestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to 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 also relates anecdotes and stories from those 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 .

 

Tags: , ,

Toronto’s old Rivoli (People’s) Theatre on Queen West

DSCN4811

The Rivoli Restaurant and Club on Queen Street West, a short distance east of Spadina

While wandering around Toronto examining its heritage architecture, sometimes I discover an historic plaque that I had never noticed before. I recently saw a temporary plaque in the window of the Rivoli Restaurant at 334 Queen Street West. I had passed the building many times, but never realized that it was one of the city’s earliest vaudeville and burlesque houses, as well a silent movie theatre. Information on this theatre was almost nonexistent, and I discovered no photographs of it in the archives. However, I was fortunate that Colby Bayne forwarded to me a misfiled photo that he had discovered in the Toronto Archives. It is likely the only picture that exists of this old movie house. To supplement the details evident in the photo, I examined the building in detail and made some suppositions about how the building that contained Rivoli might have appeared when it was a functioning theatre.

According to information posted on a web site by Paul Moore of the Canadian Theatre Historical Project at Ryerson University, the theatre opened in January 1911. This was a year after the death of King Edward VII. The theatre was originally named the People’s Theatre, but in 1925 its name was changed to the Rivoli. I was unable to to find any details about its interior. Today, the Edwardian building has a symmetrical facade and possesses few ornamentations. Almost all the architectural detailing from the days when it was a theatre has disappeared. The roof of the building has also been altered. Originally, it likely possessed a sloped roof, with large chimneys. Today, the roof is flat and chimneys are evident.

The stone trim around the windows is original. They contrast attractively with the dark-red brickwork. However, the original bricks are no longer visible, as the facade has been refaced. This possibly occurred in the 1940s, since the present-day bricks are similar to those used in Toronto in that decade. An examination of the back of the building suggests that this is true, as the old 19th century bricks remain visible at the rear, if viewed from Bulwer Street.

As well, it is difficult to determine if the cornice on today’s building is the original, as cornices from former decades are often removed as they are expensive to maintain. When the building housed a theatre, it is almost certain that the second floor contained residential apartments. The windows on the second floor are large and rectangular, and are topped by Roman arches. The second-floor apartments were accessed by a staircase that fronted on Queen Street, on the west side of the building.

When the People’s (Rivoli) Theatre opened in 1911, the concept of constructing buildings specifically for screening “moving pictures” was in its infancy. The Colonial Theatre, later renamed the Bay, was the first structure built in Toronto for this purpose. It opened in 1909. The strip of Queen Street West where the Rivoli was located had contained houses since the 1850s. They were demolished in the 1870s and 1880s to construct buildings of three or four storeys. They contained shops on the ground-floor level and residential apartments on the floors above. The People’s (Rivoli) Theatre opened in one of these.

The theatre occupied the ground floor only, so there was no balcony and the number of seats would not have been numerous. The projection screen at the north end of the auditorium was not large, as it was limited by the height of the ceiling. In the early years of the 20th century, the theatre’s box office was inside the lobby, which I am certain was not spacious. The canopy over the entrance was a plain rectangular shape, with scalloped edges. Posters that advertised the current films as well as future attractions were displayed on billboards on either side of the entrance.       

When the People’s (Rivoli) opened in 1911, its major competitor was the Auditorium Theatre, on the northwest corner of Spadina and Queen. A McDonald’s is now on the site. The Auditorium opened in 1908. It was later renamed the Pickford, in honour of Mary Pickford, a Torontonian who became the first international star of the silver screen.

In 1982, the building that had once housed the Rivoli Theatre was renovated and opened as a hip restaurant and club. It helped define the “Queen West style,” a street that was funky, outlandish and trendy. The Canadian group, “Blue Rodeo,” first performed in the club on the second floor in February 1985. a year after the group was formed. “The Drowsy Chaperon,” a spoof of 1920s musicals, had its debut at the Rivoli in 1998. It became a hit when staged at Toronto’s Fringe Festival and in 2001 was part of the Mirvish subscription series. Its success led to it opening on Broadway on May 1, 2006. 

Today, the Rivoli remains a popular and well-known venue on the Queen West strip.

series 1257, s. 1257, It. 9439

This photograph with the Rivoli Theatre in the background is from the City of Toronto Archives (Series 1257, s. 1257, It. 9439). It was sent to me by Colby Bayne. I am very grateful that he shared this photograph. The picture is of Leo Turofsky on the occasion of the purchase of his first automobile. All of the buildings in the background remain on Queen Street West today. It is interesting to note that the florist shop to the west of the theatre is “People’s Florists.” Perhaps it had the same owners as the theatre.

DSCN3370

The row of buildings on Queen Street West where the Rivoli Theatre was located. The building on the right-hand (east) side of the old theatre was built in the 1870s, which suggests that the original Rivoli structure is from the same decade.

DSCN3373

The second floor of the Rivoli, where today there is a club. The stone trim is possibly original, and enhances the appearance of the facade.

                           DSCN3374

One of the large rectangular windows on the second floor that is topped with a Roman arch. The window panes are not original but have been modernized.

DSCN3377

Plaque that was in the window of the Rivoli Restaurant in 2013. It was a temporary plaque and has since been removed.

                               DSCN4812

The stairs that lead to the apartments above the Rivoli as seen in 2014.

DSCN4813

The tin ceiling and the ornate metal trim that adorns the Rivoli Restaurant today (2014). I do not know if the tin ceiling is from when the building was a theatre in 1911, but the metal crown moulding is almost certainly from this period. 

DSCN4819

The original brickwork of the Rivoli from the 19th century is visible at the rear of the building, on Bulwer Street. It also reveals that several additions have been added to the structure since the days when it was a theatre. 

DSCN3376

DSCN3369   DSCN4810

The Rivoli in early spring of 2013 (left) and during the summer of 2014. 

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

To view previous posts about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/torontos-old-movie-theatrestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to posts about 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 also relates anecdotes and stories from those 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 .

 

Tags: , ,

Old bank of Montreal at Queen and Portland

BDSCN1974

The former site of a branch of the Bank of Montreal, at 577 Queen Street West, on the southeast corner of Portland and Queen West, c. 1910

In the 19th century, for over 25 years, a furniture store owned by R. Potter was on the southeast corner of Portland and Queen Street West. In 1899, the building containing the store was demolished to construct a bank. It was designed by Frederick H. Herbert, one of Toronto’s most prominent architects in that decade. He designed homes for wealthy patrons in Rosedale, Parkdale and the Annex.

Born in Bath, England, Herbert arrived in Toronto in 1889. His preference was to create buildings that displayed symmetry, with detailed ornamentations. One of the finest houses he designed was for Thomas W. Horn, in 1898, on the corner of St. George and Prince Arthur. Herbert was also the architect of the Dineen Building on Yonge Street, and in 1910, he received a commission for a three-storey addition to Osgoode Hall.

The bank at Queen and Portland opened in 1901. It was named the Ontario Bank and its manager was John Randall, who lived in an apartment above the bank. In 1908, the Ontario Bank was purchased and became a branch of the Bank of Montreal, but John Randall remained its manager. In 1910, when the above photo was taken, one of the tenants renting space above the bank was Ogden Winter, who was a dentist. John Randall remained in residence on the site in that year as well.   

When the Ontario Bank opened, it was an impressive addition to the street. It was ornamented with classical designs, meant to impress customers and encourage them to deposit funds and arrange financial transactions with the bank. The facades on the ground-floor level have red bricks. The second and third floors have yellow bricks and contained offices and residential apartments. There is an impressive entrance at the southwest corner of the building (on Portland Street) that gives access to a staircase that leads to the upper floors. The cornice at the top of the structure is exceptionally well detailed, with classical designs and Wedgewood-style patterns.

Today, the bank is located on the corner opposite the Loblaws store at Queen and Portland. It is doubtful that many people notice the building and its exceptionally fine ornamentations. However, this structure is one of Queen West’s finest surviving buildings from the early-20th century and a fine example of the work of the architect Frederick H. Herbert.

DSCN1985

              The old bank building during the summer of 2013.     

DSCN1977 

      The west facade of the old Bank of Ontario (Montreal), facing Portland Street.

                          DSCN1981

The northwest coroner of the building, which in 1901 contained the entrance to the bank. The doorway was angled to allow access from either Queen or Portland Streets.

DSCN1978

The cornice of the old bank building, with ornate modillions below it, as well as Wedgewood-style patterns and a row of dentils.

DSCN1987

A window on the north facade, with brick pilasters on either side, which are capped with terracotta tiles that are an ornate version of Ionic capitals.

DSCN1988

Terracotta tiles that decorate the top of the pilasters on either side of the windows on Queen Street.

DSCN1991

Decorative details above a window on the first-floor level of the old bank.

DSCN4801

View of the old Bank of Montreal at Queen and Portland Streets and the buildings on the east side of it. The east facade of the Loblaws store on Portland Street is on the right-hand side of the picture. View is from the north side of Queen West, in 2014.

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

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

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

To view previous blogs about old 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 also relates anecdotes and stories from those 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 .

 

 

Tags: ,

Toronto’s 1881 row of shops at 388-396 Queen West

DSCN2687

The above photo reveals an impressive row of shops on Queen Street West, near the northwest corner of Queen and Spadina. The shops are contained within a single block, built in 1881. Ever since it was constructed, it has dominated the north side of the street, west of Spadina. Beside the blocks, on its east side, is a busy McDonald’s Restaurant, a familiar landmark in the neighbourhood. It is frequented by customers throughout the day and well into late-night hours. However, few who enter the hamburger outlet notice the row of shops, located to the west of it. Perhaps this is because they are no longer as attractive as when they were first constructed. Time has taken a heavy toll on the block containing the five shops.

The facade of the block is symmetrical in design, a feature common to many late-19th century buildings. It was constructed of yellow and red bricks from the brickyards of Toronto, although gazing at it today it is difficult to determine their original colours. The shop on the east side of the group, number 388, was cleaned at some time in the past, revealing the original surface (see photo below). Three of the other shops in the block, have bricks that have been painted, hiding their colours. The shop in the centre of the group, number 392, has been allowed to darken with soot and grime, and it is now a dark grey.

Similar to the old Gurney Iron Works at King and Brant Streets, in their day, the five buildings at 388-396 Queen were extremely attractive. The five shops share a common cornice at the top. It has simple unadorned lines. The slate tiles on the narrow Mansard-style roof beneath the cornice are arranged in a fish-scale pattern. A triangular pediment divides the cornice into two sections and contains the 1881-date that the building was constructed. Below the top cornice is another cornice that is more elaborate, and it has modillions under it. The modillions (brackets) remain on the west side of this cornice, but the ones on the east have vanished. Architectural adornments such as modillions often disappear from buildings over time, as unless properly maintained, they are in danger of falling to the sidewalk below.

The windows on the third floor are rectangular and spacious, well suited to an era without electric lighting. The windows on the second floor are larger, allowing even more natural light to enter the interior. This suggests that the second floor spaces were rented as work shops or for trades that required excellent lighting, and that the third floor contained residential apartments. As previously stated, there are five shops in the block. Constructing large buildings and sub-dividing them into smaller rental spaces became popular for investors in the latter decades of the 19th century, because land prices were steadily increasing as the city expanded.

The postal numbers of the shops have changed since the latter decades of the 19th century, but I will employ the modern address numbers only. In 1880, prior to the construction of the block, there was already a building on the northwest corner of Spadina and Queen, at number 386. Today, a McDonald’s Restaurant is on this site. However, west of this, extending to Cameron Street, the city lots remained empty fields. The Toronto Directories reveal that the corner premises at 386 was the grocery store of Henderson and Company. The building that today contains numbers 388-396 Queen West were all rented by 1884. From east to west (388 to 396), the shops were Mrs. Jones Dry Goods (388), S. Chapman Druggist (390), William Hollingworth boots, (392), William Henley furniture (394), and T. E. Perkins photographer (396). Today, the shops contain quite different enterprises, but the block remains a vital part of the Queen West retail scene. 

DSCN2690

The triangular pediment, high above the street, displaying the year the building was constructed. The bricks are now badly soiled with soot and grime.

DSCN2689

The upper cornice with its straight unadorned lines, and the narrow Mansard-style roof with slate tiles in a fish-scale pattern. Below it is the lower cornice with the modillions (brackets) below it. Under the modillions is a row of dentils (teeth-like ornamentations.) 

                 DSCN2688

The shops, numbers 394 and 396, on the west side of the block. The apparel shop occupies two of the original shops from 1881.

DSCN2691     DSCN2692

(Left-hand photo) shows the shop in the centre position (392), which is now a popular sandwich shop. (Right photo) The linen/towel store occupies two of the former shops (numbers 388 and 390). 

DSCN2698

The third floor of the shop on the east side of the building (number 388). The original colours of the bricks are evident. Much care was given to the patterns of the bricks, which contributes to the overall attractiveness of the facade. (photo, 2013)

DSCN8776

Gazing west along Queen Street from the the southwest corner of Spadina Avenue and Queen Street. On the right-hand (east) side of the 1881 block of shops can be seen a small portion of the McDonald’s Restaurant.  Picture taken in 2012.

Bargain Harold's

This undated photo from the City of Toronto Archives shows the building on northwest corner of Spadina and Queen, prior to the construction of the cafe that became the McDonald’s Restaurant. The 1881 block is evident on the left-hand (west) side of Bargain Benny’s, which was demolished. In this photo, the shop at 388 was a drug store.

DSCN8707

After Bargain Benny’s was demolished, a cafe was built on the site. The cafe is where the McDonald’s is located today. The 1881 block of shops can be seen next to it, on the left. This photo, taken in 2012.

NW corner, Queen and Spadina

This undated photo shows the cafe that was on the corner of Queen and Spadina prior to it being a McDonald’s. May’s Deli is closed in the picture, possible awaiting its reopening as a part of the hamburger chain. The 1881-block is evident on the left.

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

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

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

To view the links to posts that rediscover Toronto’s old movie houses:

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 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 .

      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), thePhotodome, 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)

 

Tags: , ,