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Tag Archives: Spadina Avenue Toronto

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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Renovations at site of old Backpackers’ Hotel

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          The site of the former Backpackers’ Hotel on February 10, 2015.

I have been observing the renovations in progress at the former site of the Backpackers’ Hotel at King Street West and Spadina Avenue. Thankfully, these heritage structures are being restored, although they presently appear rather forlorn, their windows boarded over and the doorway on King Street containing graffiti. However, the results of the renovations are slowly emerging. The 19th-century bricks, hidden by many layers of paint, are once more exposed. The ornate trim around the windows in the Mansard roofs have been repaired and the missing slate tiles replaced. Thus, a hint of its original appearance is now visible.

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The former  Backpackers’ Hotel (left) and the entrance door of the south building (right). Photos, February 10, 2015.

The buildings on the northwest corner of Spadina and Kings Street have a long history. In 1873, Samuel Richardson erected a two-storey frame home on the site. It survives today and is the building that is painted blue. Richardson added a third floor to the house in 1875, employing the Second Empire style of architecture, with a Mansard roof and ornate gabled windows. When completed, he converted it into a hotel, named the Richardson House. His establishment, which included a tavern, was popular with the businessmen in the western part of the city. As Richardson had served eleven years overseas with the Thirteenth Hussars Regiment, he constantly repeated his accomplishment when promoting his hotel.

In 1885, a four-storey brick addition was added to the north side of the hotel, on Spadina Avenue, and two years later another extension was added, doubling the number of rooms. The hotel advertised hot-water heating in every room, at the rate of $2.00 per day. Weekly boarders received a special rate of $1.50 per day. Samuel Richardson died in 1904. In 1906, the hotel was renamed the Hotel Falconer. Its name was changed again in 1914, when it became Zeigler’s Hotel.

In 1916, it became the Spadina Hotel and retained this name for many decades. In the 1950s, the hotel was extensively renovated. When completed, visitors who entered the hotel walked to the far end of the lobby, where there was a narrow set of stairs with five steps, which gave access to the dining room. It had been restored to its 1883 splendour, with Canadian walnut and chestnut panelling. The old doors and the wood panelling had been maintained. On the second floor, on the north side of the hotel, the redecorated large space was named the Cabana Room, which featured nightly entertainment.

In this decade, the hotel became a centre for the avant-garde community of the city. Established artists and students from the Ontario College of Art (today the Ontario College of Art and Design University) congregated in the Cabana room to raise a glass to toast their accomplishments or to drown the sorrows of their failures. The students vilified, praised, defended and ignored the latest trends in art. Despite their varying opinions and general disrespect for the established art forms of the day, throughout the years ahead, many of the young artists established themselves in promising careers in galleries, graphic design firms, and commercial art establishments. Others, similar to the old hotel, fell into obscurity. Such is the way of life in the arts community.

Finally, the hotel became a hostel for student backpackers, with 185 beds available, with four occupants per room. The former dining room became a billiard and games room, much removed from its elegant past. The Cabana room was a lounge and reading room. Because of the building’s brightly-coloured exterior walls, ornate gables, and garish trim, it has been a landmark in the Spadina district for many years.

The Backpackers’ Hotel closed in 2014 and is presently being restored. When completed, the buildings will be leased for office and retail space. The city will be enriched by the preservation of these historic structures.

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                               The Backpackers’ Hotel in 2013.

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The corner of Spadina and King Street West, c. 1900  City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1568 It. 284. 

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The former Backpackers’ Hotel when it was the Spadina Hotel in 1954. Photo from City of Toronto Archives.

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The Spadina Hotel in the 1950s. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, File 0124 Id. 0097

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   Same view as previous picture, taken in 2013, when it was the Backpackers’ Hotel.

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The dining room of the Hotel Spadina, after it was converted into a billiard’s room by the Backpackers’ Hotel.

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Staircase in the former Spadina Hotel when its was the Backpacker’s Hotel. Photo taken in 2013.

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A quiet reading corner in the Backpackers’ Hotel (left) and the sign above the doorway of the hotel (right).

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                                          Backpackers’ Hotel in 2013.

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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 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 old Pickford Theatre—Part 11

Pickford, Spadina and Queen 1916, dmol. 1972

                            The Pickford Theatre in 1916

The intersection of Spadina Avenue and Queen Street West is today one of the busiest intersections in downtown Toronto. I sometimes refer to it as “hamburger corner,” as  there are four fast-food hamburger outlets located at this intersection. However, until I commenced researching Toronto’s old movie houses, I had never realized that it was also the site of one of the city’s earliest theatres—the Auditorium Theatre.

It was located at 382 Queen Street West, on the northwest corner of Spadina Avenue and Queen Street West. It opened in 1908, on the ground-floor level of the Moler College Barber Building, which was three storeys in height and topped by a Mansard roof. The 1916 photo depicts the theatre and shows two of the three storeys above it.

When the theatre opened in the first decade of the 20th century, the movie theatre business was in its infancy and was considered a risky business enterprise. Thus, renting space within an existing building was  the least expensive way to present “film plays.” However, within a few years this attitude changed due to the increasing popularity of the movies. Buildings were then constructed for the express purpose of showing films. The situation now was reversed, as theatre owners rented excess space for other business enterprises. The funds assisted in reducing the expenses of operating a theatre.

When the Auditorium opened, it imitated the format established by the Theatorium Theatre at Yonge and Queen, which featured films and a series of vaudeville acts. The Theatorium  was a nickelodeon, as it charged five cents for tickets. The Auditorium Theatre followed this pattern too. It boasted that it showed films that required three reels to complete, considered quite a technological feat in 1908.

The interior space of the theatre was long and narrow, extending back from Queen Street. There was a stage at the north end of the auditorium, but its ceiling was not of sufficient height to accommodate a large screen. This restriction also prevented the building of a balcony. Thus, it was a small theatre, containing less than 400 leatherette seats, all with plush-backs. It possessed three narrow sections of seats, separated by two aisles. From its opening day, it was well attended as there were no other theatres in close proximity to it.

In 1913 the theatre was renovated, its north wall extended further back to increase the seating capacity by almost 50 seats. Following the alterations, the theatre was renamed the Avenue, the name likely chosen because it was on Spadina Avenue.

In 1915, it again changed its name and became the Mary Pickford Theatre. This allowed the theatre to take advantage of the fame associated with the first true international film star of the silver screen. She had been born in Toronto and her name added to the popularity of the theatre. The theatre’s name was later shortened and it was simply referred to as the Pickford. This name was to remain until 1945, when it was renamed the Variety.

The old theatre finally closed in 1947. The Moler Barber Building, where the Pickford had been located, during the 1950s was occupied by Bargain Benny’s. It operated on business practices similar to Honest Ed’s. The bargain emporium went bankrupt in 1961. After the building was demolished in 1972, a small cafe was erected on the site. Today, a hamburger outlet occupies the cafe.

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    The entrance to the Standard  Theatre, later renamed the Pickford.

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View gazes north on Spadina toward Queen Street West. The Pickford was on the ground floor of the Moler Barber building, which has a turret on its southeast corner.

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The Moler Barber Building at Spadina and Queen in 1958, where the Pickford Theatre was located.

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The small cafe that was erected on the site after the Moler Barber Building was demolished.

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The northwest corner of Queen and Spadina after the cafe became a McDonald’s outlet (photo 2012) .

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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The historic Gale Building—24-30 Spadina Ave., Toronto

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      View of the east facade of the Gale Building at 24-30 Spadina Avenue. 

Researching the history of the Gale Building at 24-30 Spadina Avenue was not easy. I was unable to find any postal address on the building, but since it was located near the southwest corner of Wellington and Spadina, I ascertained the address through the Toronto Directories and rechecked it on a map in the Goad’s Atlas.

The Gale Building was constructed at the height of Toronto’s railway era, shortly after the beginning of the 20th century. However, the railroads had first appeared in Toronto in the 1850s and during the decades ahead, the number of rail lines increased until they occupied much of the land hugging the lakeshore and the land to the north of the lake. This caused the area of Spadina, north of the rail lands, to be viewed as less desirable for residential purposes. On streets such as Wellington Street West, the grand homes and estates began to disappear, including those of J. Denny, H.L. Seaton and Ja’s Michie. On the east side of Spadina, the avenues surrounding Clarence Square also had grand homes, but these too disappeared in the latter decades of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th.

Wealthy families vacated the lower portion of Spadina Avenue and moved further north to areas such as Rosedale. Their mansions and grand homes were demolished, the land they had occupied employed by companies for factories and warehouses.

According to the Toronto Directories, in 1905 houses existed where 24-34 Spadina is located today. The following year, they were demolished and in 1907, a factory/warehouse appeared on the site. It was one of the earliest manufacturing and distribution buildings in the area—the Gale Building. Its location capitalized on its proximity to the lake and the rail lands, both immediately to the south.

The three-storey red-brick structure possesses a basement that is partially above ground, adding another full storey of useable space. Its facade facing Spadina is unadorned, although there are a few simple embellishments near the cornice. The stone trim around the north doorway of the east facade is one of the few impressive features of the building. The company manufactured “whitewear,” specializing in fine earthenware—plates, platters, bowls and porcelain crockery—all of which were white.

During the decades ahead, the building continued to be named the Gale Building, but much of the interior space was rented to other occupants. In 1929, the only company listed in the building was Eisman Company Limited, manufacturers of corsets and and rubber specialties. In 1948, though still named the Gale Building, it was occupied by J. H. McNairn Paper Manufacturer, and on the second floor was the Dominion Paper Box Company.

When I moved into the area in November 2000, the McGregor Sock Company maintained a retail outlet in the building, its postal address listed as 30 Spadina Avenue.  I googled the address recently (October 2014), but was unable to discover the present-day occupants. It is assumed that it has various tenants.   

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The Gale Building, 24-30 Spadina Avenue. View gazes north on Spadina from near Front Street. Photo taken in 2014

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               The east facade of the Gale Building in 2014.

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The north facade of the Gale Building, facing Wellington Street West.

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The brickwork below the cornice on the east facade and the stone trim above the windows on the third floor.

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                                  The north doorway on the east facade.

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                The east and south facades of the Gale Building.

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

   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)

 

 

 

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Backpackers’ Hotel amid chaos at King and Spadina

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The historic Backpackers’ Hotel has been surrounded by construction chaos during the replacement of the streetcar tracks during the summer of 2013. The construction has greatly disrupted traffic for the two weeks it has taken to complete the project. The above photo was taken August 11th, the streetcar tracks remaining exposed.

The old hotel quietly over-looks the scene as it has done for over a century.

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This view of the hotel was taken from the east side of King Street, gazing west.

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This view was taken on Sunday 18 August, looking north up Spadina. The construction is almost complete. 

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The Backpackers’ Hotel on Sunday 18th August, 2013.

To view a previous post about the Backpackers’ Hotel and its history, follow the link:

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

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

To view other posts about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

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

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

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

Book published in 2014 about Toronto’s old movie theatres, which 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.  

“Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen”

                           cid_6E1BDA0D-74B3-4810-AB4C-AC5CC5C0

To place and order for this book, either in electronic or hard copy format, follow the link below.

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), 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 architectural gems—the Waverly Hotel 484 Spadina

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The Waverly Hotel at 484 Spadina is located north of the CIBC, on the northwest corner of Spadina and College. Next to hotel, on its north side (right-hand side in the photo) is the hotel’s Silver Dollar Room. Although not truly an architectural gem, the site and building have a rich history.

Spa.-w-side-north-of-College-1870.-T[2]

This photo shows west side of Spadina Avenue in 1870, looking northwest toward  Spadina and College. This corner was the first location of the Waverley Hotel. The land was originally part of a market garden that extended north of College Street, on the west side of Spadina Avenue.

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Close-up view of the northwest corner of College and Spadina in 1870. These cottages were demolished in 1882 to accommodate the construction of a three-storey building for the YMCA.

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Northwest corner of College and Spadina in 1893, and one of the first electric streetcars in Toronto. The building in the background was the YMCA, which contained a branch of the Bank of Commerce (later renamed the CIBC). A shop shares the ground-floor, facing Spadina, with the bank. To the north of the shop, mostly hidden by the larger building, was the residence of the Griffiths family.  When the YMCA relocated, the building became the first site of the Waverley Hotel.

In 1900, J. J. Powell built the Waverley Hotel of today, after the YMCA building was demolished. The Bank occupied the corner location, and the hotel was to the north of it. Powell increased the size of the hotel in 1925. In 1955, the lounge in the hotel received a liquor license. The Silver Dollar room was added to the Waverly in 1958.

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This photo gazes south on Spadina in 1927, the Waverly Hotel on the right, to the north of the bank. The spelling of the name of the hotel contains an “E,” which has since disappeared. In this photo, the Bank of Commerce occupies the corner site, and the Waverly Hotel is to the north of it.

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Gazing northwest in 1937 at the corner of Spadina and College. The streetcar tracks were being repaired when this photo was taken.

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                            East facade of the hotel today, on Spadina Avenue.

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A view of the north facade of the hotel, showing the Silver Dollar Room and the additions added to the rear of the hotel. The sign on the north wall contains the original spelling of the name of the hotel.

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                                             The Silver Dollar Room on the north side of the hotel.

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An historic plaque on the wall of the Waverly Hotel. Milton Acorn was born in PEI. He was severely wounded in the Second World War, and suffered from being bipolar. However, he became known as the People’s Poet and won the Governor General’s Award in 1976 for a collection of his poems entitled, “The Island Means Minago.” In 1984, the National Film Board produced a film of his life entitled, “In Love and Anger–Milton Acorn-Poet.” The NFB produced another film about him in 1988 – “A Wake for Milton Acorn.”

The poem below is from a web site about the poet.

I’ve Tasted My Blood”

If this brain’s over-tempered
consider that the fire was want
and the hammers were fists.
I’ve tasted my blood too much
to love what I was born to.
But my mother’s look
was a field of brown oats, soft-bearded;
her voice rain and air rich with lilacs:
and I loved her too much to like
how she dragged her days like a sled over gravel.
Playmates? I remember where their skulls roll!
One died hungry, gnawing grey porch-planks;
one fell, and landed so hard he splashed;
and many and many
came up atom by atom
in the worm-casts of Europe.
My deep prayer is a curse.
My deep prayer the promise that this won’t be.
My deep prayer my cunning,
my love, my anger,
and often even my forgiveness
that this won’t be and be.
I’ve tasted my blood too much
to abide what I was born to.

[Milton Acorn, 1963]

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

To view other posts about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

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

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

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

Book published in 2014 about Toronto’s old movie theatres, which 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.  

“Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen”

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To place and order for this book, either in electronic or hard copy format, follow the link below.

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), 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 Spadina Ave. when it was a quiet rural location

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Viewing this photo of Spadina Avenue, with its bustling retail shops, set amid modern and 19th-century buildings, it is difficult to visualize it as a quiet rural avenue that extended through land recently reclaimed from the heavily wooded forests of Upper Canada. The creator of the wide avenue that today we call Spadina was Dr. William Warren Baldwin. His wife Phoebe and his sister-in-law, Marie Willcocks (nee Baldwin), owned the land. The sisters had inherited the property from their cousin, Elizabeth Russell, sister of Peter Russell. However, it was Baldwin, in his capacity as adviser to the two women, who originated the idea for a grand avenue extending through the property. Dr. Henry Scadding, in his book “Toronto of Old,” stated that the width of the roadway was to be 160 feet throughout its mile-and-a-half course. However, it was actually 132 feet. Construction on the avenue commenced in 1815.

In the early decades of the nineteenth century, the portion of Spadina south of Queen Street was named Brock Street, after Sir Isaac Brock, killed at the Battle of Queenston Heights. Spadina commenced at Queen Street and extended as far north a Bloor. As the 19th-century progressed, modest homes were constructed along the street. They were cottage-like in appearance, and possessed small kitchen gardens, since these families were living a considerable beyond the boundaries of the town of  York. It was huddled close to the lake, and to the east of where Spadina Avenue exits today. In the modern era, It is difficult to think of the area around Spadina as being remote, as it is now in the heart of the city.

         pictures-r-149[1] Tor. Ref. 

This sketch, drawn from memory by R. L. Mulligan, depicts Spadina Avenue as Mulligan remembered it in his boyhood days, in the mid-1860s. At that time, there were only a few scattered houses along the avenue, surrounded by open land. The section of the street that is today named Spadina Circle, contained market gardens. In the bottom, right-hand side of the sketch is an open area (common), employed for training and reviewing the militia. 

se corner, Coll.-Spa. parade grounds, 1863. Tor Ref.

Artist’s painting of the troops being reviewed on the military common on the site of the present-day southeast corner of Spadina and College Streets.

pictures-r-389[1] Tor. Ref. Lib

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Spadina, north from College, 1870Tor. Ref. Lib.

This section of Spadina is between St. Patrick Street (Dundas Street West) and St. Andrews.

Spa. w side north of College, 1870. Tor. Ref.

Spadina Avenue in 1870, south of College Street, looking north. The brick building in the background, which is under construction, is on the northwest corner of College and Spadina, the site of the future Waverley Hotel.

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Close-up view of the northwest corner of College and Spadina in 1870.

W. side-Spa, north of Glen Baille PLace c.1885

Home on the west side of Spadina in 1885, between Dundas Street and the alleyway named Glen Baillie Place.

Spad. 1890, Tor Ref.

Horse-drawn streetcar on Spadina Avenue in 1890. By this decade, many fine homes had been built on the avenue, one of them seen in the background. 

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Northwest corner of College and Spadina in 1895, and one of the first electric streetcars in Toronto. Building in the background was the YMCA, which later was the first building occupied by the Waverley Hotel. 

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     Looking north on Spadina at College Street c. 1915.

Today, the Spadina Avenue that Baldwin created has many Asian and fusion restaurants that are enjoyed by tourists and residents from all over the city. The sketches and photographs in this post are from the collection of the Toronto Reference Library, except for the final photograph, which is from the City of Toronto Archives.

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

Links to other posts about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

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

Links to posts about Toronto’s movie houses—past and present.

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)

 

 

 

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