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Tag Archives: Yonge St. Toronto

Memories of Toronto’s International Cinema (the Oriole, Cinema)

Inter. Cinema (Oriole) 2061 Yonge, OA 2122

                    Photo from the Ontario Archives (AO 2122).

The above photo depicts the Oriole Theatre in 1945, when it was the Cinema. Its name was later changed to the International Cinema. Located at 2061 Yonge Street, it was on the east side of the street, near Manor Road. Plans for the theatre were submitted to the city by the architect Kirk Hyslop in June 1933. The simple unadorned facade of the theatre reflected the austerity of the years of the Great Depression. It was a modest-size theatre, with a concrete floor and 576 leatherette seats with plush backs. The balcony was exceptionally small, as the files in the archives reveal that there were only 29 seats. Perhaps it was the loges, reserved for smoking.

The theatre was renovated by Kaplan and Sprachman in December of 1941 for Botany Theatres, the changes completed by May 1942. Perhaps this was when the name of the theatres was changed to the Cinema Theatre. This was during the war years, when theatres played a major role in maintaining morale on the home front. During 1940s, other than the radio and newspapers, there were no visual images of the war effort. News reels in theatres were the public’s only source of actually viewing the devastations of the conflict. Today, viewing war movies from the 1940s, the films may appear overly simplistic and heavy on Allied propaganda, but they were an important tool of war in their day. The 1944 movie “The White Cliffs of Dover” is an excellent example. The speech narrated by Irene Dunne at the end of the film is inspirational, and even now, listening to it is a deeply emotional experience. It was films such as this, many of them screened at theatres such as the Cinema, which gave Canadians hope that the nation’s armed forces would be triumphant and that the men and women serving overseas would return home safely.

There were other great movies that were produced during the war years. The extravagant MGM musicals helped a weary nation sooth the wounds of war, and for a few hours forget the terrible news from the Allied front. I remember viewing films such as: “For Me and My Girl” (1943) with Gene Kelly,”Girl Crazy” (1943) with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland,“Meet Me in St. Louis” (1944) with Judy Garland, and “Anchors Away” (1945) with Frank Sinatra and Kathryn Grayson. At one time or another, many of the these great film played at the Cinema.

Eventually the Cinema Theatre became the International Cinema. Its sister theatre was the Town Cinema at Bloor and Yonge Streets. Both theatres specialized in art films and other adult entertainment. They did not screen cartoons or other films that appealed to children. In 1947, the movie version of Shakespeare’s “Henry V” played for a record-breaking nineteen weeks at the International Cinema. For the occasion, they decorated the theatre with streamers representing the colours of the French flag. During the 1950s,  art exhibitions were displayed in the lobby of the International Cinema. They were curated and arranged by Beatrice Fischer. Air–conditioning was added to the theatre in 1954.

Inter. Cimema (Oriole) OA 2121

Auditorium of the Oriole, photo from the Archives of Ontario AO 2121

site of Inter. Cimema

The site of the International Cinema at 2061 Yonge Street. Photo from City of Toronto Archives.

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

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

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

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 .

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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Toronto’s architectural gems—the Ryrie Building at Yonge and Shuter Streets

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The Ryrie Building at 229 Yonge Street, on the northeast corner of Shuter and Yonge, is an impressive structure built in the second decade of the 20th century. Thankfully, it has been restored, the restoration accomplished by Everest Restoration and heritage architects, E. R. A. Architects Limited. The structure adds texture to the street, and is a vibrant reminder of an era when Toronto was booming. The optimism of the era is evident in the ornate detailing of its facades, which though not exactly exuberant, are elegant and dignified.

The first phase of the Ryrie Building was erected in 1899, designed by Burke and Horwood. It absorbed a building that was already on the site, which had been built in 1891. The reconstructed building, with a new facade, occupied the numbers 229-231 Yonge Street. It was not on the corner of Shuter Street, but was immediately to the north of it. In 1912, the Ryrie Building absorbed the property next to it, on the corner, and its facade was altered to match the original building.  This is the structure that remains on the site today. In 1912, the cornice on the combined buildings was quite elaborate, but it has since been removed.

The Ryrie Building was an investment enterprise of “Ryrie Brothers Jewellers,” located further south at 113 Yonge Street. At the turn of the 20th century, it was the most prestigious and successful jewellery business in the city. The firm eventually amalgamated with Henry Birk and Son of Montreal. In the 1930s, another partner joined the company and it became known as Ryrie, Birks, and Ellis. Birks Jewellers survives to this day and has stores across Canada.

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The facade on Yonge Street is impressive. The two-storey podium, faced with red Manitoba limestone, has its own cornice, with a row of dentils (teeth-like pattern) at the top of it. The support columns between the bay windows on the second storey contains elaborate capitals. Above the podium, the upper three floors are of red bricks, trimmed with decorative terracotta glazed tiles.

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A view of the capitals on the columns, which are really pilasters, as they are not free-standing. Above the windows is the cornice atop the second floor. The row of dentils (teeth-like decorations) is evident at the top of this photo.

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The two-storey windows of the third and fourth floors are topped by Roman arches, trimmed with decorative terracotta glazed tiles.

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On the ground floor, on the southwest corner of the building, a Buffalo Clothing store is located. This was once the site of the famous “Silver Rail” restaurant and bar.

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                  Lobby of the building (photos taken in July of 2013)

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Mosaic floor in the lobby. Unfortunately the mat in front of the elevators blocks the view of the mosaics.

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The Ryrie Building in 1919, when it possessed its elaborate cornice, which was eventually removed. Photo from the City of Toronto Archives.

Silver Rail (2)

This photo from the City of Toronto Archives shows the Ryrie Building in the 1960s, when the “Silver Rail” was located on the corner of Yonge and Shuter Streets. The “Silver Rail” opened on 2 April in 1947, taking over the site previously occupied by Muirhead’s Grill and Cafeteria. In Muirhead’s, there was a staircase connecting the ground-floor level with the basement. It possessed a magnificent silver railing. When the the “Silver Rail” opened in 1947, it retained this railing, giving the establishment its name . The “Rail,” as the restaurant became known, was the first place in Toronto to receive a liquor license from the LCBO.  The 110-foot chrome and neon bar on the first floor extended the length of the building.  Oscar Peterson once gave an impromptu concert at the bar. Opposite it were semi-circular booths.  The restaurant in the basement had white table cloths and formal seating. It was a favourite of the employees of Eaton’s and Simpson’s Stores at Yonge and Queen.

I recall having lunch at “the Rail” in the 1990s, and was very impressed with the food. Unfortunately, the restaurant closed in 1998. Toronto lost a valuable piece of its heritage.

Ont. Archives  Silver_Rail_Tavern_2[1]

              The Silver Rail in the 1950s—photo from the Ontario Archives

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                    The Ryrie Building on the evening of 4 July 2013.

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[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 .

      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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Toronto’s architectural gems—the old Bank of Commerce at 197 Yonge Street

Colonial Tavern

These impressive bank buildings are located on the east side of Yonge Street, across from the Eaton Centre. When the above photo was taken, the famous Colonial Tavern was situated between the two banks. The Colonial was demolished in 1987, and for the past few years, a small green space has occupied the site. The structure on the south side of the Colonial Tavern (right-hand side) was for many decades was a branch of the Bank of Commerce. The bank building to the north (left-hand side) of the Colonial tavern was the Bank of Toronto. The above photo is from the City of Toronto Archives.

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This photo shows the two former bank buildings in 2013. The space once occupied by the Colonial Tavern is vacant.

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This is the old Bank of Commerce building as it appears today (2013). The former bank is presently the showroom and sales office for the 60-storey Massey Tower condominium project. It is to be constructed to the rear of the old bank, the former bank becoming the Yonge Street entrance to the new condo residences.

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The Bank of Commerce (later the CIBC) at 197 Yonge Street has now passed the century mark, as it was completed in 1905. It was designed by the architects Darling and Pearson, the same firm that designed the 1929 Bank of Commerce Building on King Street, which for many years was the tallest building in the British Empire. It is today the north tower of Commerce Court. For a link to a post about the history of this Toronto landmark, follow the link: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-bank-of-commerce-cibc-on-king-street/

The impressive old Bank of Commerce on Yonge Street was created in the Beaux Arts style, containing Classical detailing. The two centre columns of the portico are Ionic in design. The two pilasters on the ends of the structure are Doric, with the Greek egg-and-dart design added. Above these pilasters are the dates the bank of Commerce was founded (1867, and is on the left-hand side) and the year the bank was built (1905, on the right-hand side).

The bank is four storeys in height, the top floor being behind the pediment, which is the Greek triangle above the pillars. The building’s facade is of Ohio sandstone and is recessed behind the portico (porch), which dominates the front of the structure. The sides of the building are brick. The building was vacated in 1987, so is presently in poor condition. It will require extensive work to restore it to its former grandeur.

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This photo shows the facade of the bank that faces Yonge Street and the north wall that overlooks the small park between the two banks. The windows, on the fourth floor are also visible.

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Classical ornamentation in the interior banking hall.

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Mosaic tiles on the floor of the 1905 Bank of Commerce building

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[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 .

      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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Toronto’s architectural gems—the CPR Building at Yonge and King

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The Canadian Pacific Building at 1 King Street East, on the southeast corner of Yonge and King Streets, also possesses the postal address of 69 Yonge Street. Located immediately to the north of the Traders Bank, for a few years the fifteen-storey CPR Building was the tallest skyscraper in Canada and the entire British Empire. Previous to its completion, its neighbour beside it, the Traders Bank, was the tallest structure. The CPR Building, built between the years 1911 and 1913, was the corporate headquarters of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Its magnificent ticket office was on the ground floor. The company also rented any space that was in excess of their needs to other companies.

Designed by Darling and Pearson, the CPR Building was one of the firm’s crowning accomplishments. The architectural firm designed buildings across Canada between the years 1897 and 1923. In Toronto, they were the architects for the West Wing of the Royal Ontario Museum, the Bank of Commerce (now Commerce Court North), and the Summerhill CPR Train Station. 

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This photo from the collection of the Toronto Reference Library, shows the CPR Building in 1910. The ticket office occupied the equivalent of two storeys. It was an impressive hall that contained marble floors and decorative columns. In this photo, the buildings first three floors were clad with granite, but the remainder of the floors (4th to 15th) with terracotta tiles. Unfortunately, the tiles weathered poorly and were replaced in 1929 with Indiana limestone. 

After the building ceased to be owned by CPR, the signs on it were removed, but traces of them remain visible on the north and west facades.

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The words “Canadian Pacific” are visible today on the north facade.

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The base of the CPR Building that housed the grand ticket hall. The old Traders Bank can be seen to the right (south) of the CPR Building.

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Decorative trim above the second floor and the lettering (in the lower left-hand corner of the photo) from the days when it was the CPR Building.

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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Toronto’s amazing intersection at Yonge and Front Streets

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Standing at the intersection of Yonge and Front Streets today, it is difficult to imagine that at one time it was beside the shoreline of the Lake Ontario. Gazing south from the intersection, the gentle slope of Yonge Street, south of Front Street, indicates where the embankment was in the early days of the 19th century. At that time, the town of York was to the west of the intersection, nestled around the eastern end of the harbour. However, as the city expanded westward, the land around Yonge and Front was absorbed into the town. Later in the century, landfill was dumped into the harbour, pushing the shoreline of the lake further south. Railway tracks were constructed on a portion of this reclaimed land. The tracks remain there today, but a bridge has been built where they cross over Yonge Street.

The above photo, taken in March of 2013, shows the four corners of the intersection. On the northwest corner is the old 1885 Bank of Montreal that now houses the Hockey Hall of Fame. On the northeast corner, at 33 Yonge Street, is an office building of glass and steel. On the southwest corner is the impressive Dominion Public Building, constructed in 1930. On the southeast corner is the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. When it opened its doors as a theatre on 1 October 1960, it was named the O’Keefe Centre. Today the L-Tower condo is being constructed on part of the land that was once owned by the theatre.

           Fonds 1244, Item 589 

The above photo of the intersection was taken in 1916. On the southeast corner (bottom right of the photo), the roof of the Consolidated Rubber Company can be seen. It was taken over by the Dominion Rubber Company. On the northeast corner is the Board of Trade Building, with its impressive turret. On the southwest corner be seen a corner the rooftop of the old Customs House. On the northwest corner is the old Bank of Montreal Building, which is the only structure that remains today from this 1916 photo.

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The old Bank of Montreal building that was in the 1916 photo, as it appears in 2013.

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This photo, taken around the year 1900. It shows the southeast corner of the intersection, where the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts is now located.  The building in the picture had previously been the terminal of the Great Western Railway, which was converted into a wholesale fruit market. On the right-hand side of the building is Yonge Street, where it slopes gently toward the lake.

Fonds 1244, Item 10072

This photo from the City of Toronto Archives looks north on Yonge Street in 1912.  It was taken from the roof of the Customs House, on the southwest corner of the intersection. There is a partial view of the Canadian Consolidated Rubber Company, on the southeast corner of the intersection. It was demolished, and the site is presently occupied by the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. Gazing north up Yonge Street is a tall building, at 67 Yonge. It is the 15-story Trader’s Bank Building, constructed in 1906. It still  exists today, but cannot be seen from Front Street because of the tall buildings surrounding it. On the northeast corner is the Board of Trade building.

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This photo, taken in 1959 or 1960, shows the southeast corner where the O’Keefe Centre is under construction. The theatre is now named the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. The large 5-storey brick building to the east of the theatre was demolished to provide a site for the St. Lawrence Centre for the Performing Arts. To the east of this building are the Front Street warehouses that still exist there today. A corner of the old Bank of Montreal building is on the left of the photo.

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This 1959-60 photo also shows the O’Keefe Centre (Sony Centre for the Performing Arts) under construction on the southeast corner of Yonge and Front, where the railway terminal that was converted into a wholesale fruit market once stood. The Dominion Public Building is opposite it, on the southwest corner. The northeast corner is a parking lot, and the northwest corner contains the old Bank of Montreal building.

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View looking west along Front Street in 2013, the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts in the foreground. The L-Tower Condo is under construction behind the Centre, to the south of it.

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This is the Dominion Public Building of the southwest corner of the intersection in March of 2013. It was constructed in 1930.

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This building was on the corner where the Dominion Public Building is now is located. The photo was taken In 1908, and shows the old Customs House. One of the previous  photograph in this post, which looked north up Yonge Street in 1912, was taken from the roof of this building. It was demolished in 1919, to create a site for the Dominion Public Building, although its construction did not begin for several years. In the interim, it remained a vacant lot.

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This is the northeast corner of the intersection in March of 2013, showing the modern office building at 33 Yonge Street, with its glass facades.

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This magnificent Romanesque building, is the Board of Trade Building, erected in 1892, on the northeast corner of the intersection. The structure possesses a curved front and a roof with a conical tower. It had a structural steel skeleton, its facade of stone and brick. An international contest was held for its design, the New York City firm of Messrs. James and James being the winner. It was demolished in 1958, and for a few years was a parking lot. It is where the modern structure with the glass facades exists today.

It is amazing that a building with such architectural excellence was demolished, especially considering the quality of the structure that replaced it.

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This photo was taken in 1926, gazing north up Yonge Street. The gentle slope of the old shoreline is clearly visible. It would be interesting to know why the young lad is hopping on the running board of the automobile on the right.

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This is the Dominion Public Building in April of 1934, four years after it was officially opened. It is on the southwest corner of the intersection, where the Customs House was once located. The photo is from the TTC Collection, from the City of Toronto Archives. It was taken to reveal the “chaos” that double-parking was causing on Front Street. Judging by the amount of traffic that is visible, the “chaos” seems rather quaint today.

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The Dominion Public Building in March of 2013, the street partially closed to traffic due to construction.

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Gazing north up Yonge Street from the south side of Front Street in 2013. It is difficult to visualize the intersection in the past. Thankfully at least one structure remains from the 19th century. Its future seems secure as it houses the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Note: all historic photos in the post are 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.  

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                To place an order for this book:

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

      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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