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Category Archives: toronto theatres

Toronto’s old Variety (Arcadian) Theatre

Variety arcadian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arcadian   (2)

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

Arcadian      

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

Arcadian  2

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

Variety Arcadian   (2)

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

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

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

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

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

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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 .

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

Theatres Included in the Book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

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

 

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Old Movie Theatres—tayloronhistory.com

/Shea's Hippodrome  DSCN0638

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

Academy Theatre on Bloor West at St. Clarens

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

Ace Theatre on Danforth (see Iola)

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

Ace Theatre on Queen near Bay

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

Adelphi Theatre (Kum Bac) on Dovercourt Road

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

Alhambra Theatre on Bloor Street, west of Bathurst Street

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

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

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

Allenby on the Danforth

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

Allen’s Danforth

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

Apollo (Crystal) Theatre on Dundas West

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

Arcadian (Variety) Theatre

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

Auditorium Theatre

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

Avalon Theatre on Danforth Avenue

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

Avenue Theatre (see Pickford)

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

Avon Theatre at 1092 Queen Street West

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

Bay (Colonial Theatre) at Queen and Bay

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

Bayview Theatre

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

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

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

Bell Lightbox (TIFF)

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

Bellevue Theatre on College Street that became the Lux Burlesque Theatre

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

Belsize Theatre (see Regent)

Biltmore Theatre on Yonge, north of Dundas St.

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

Birchcliff Theatre on Kingston Rd.

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

Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on Bloor Street West

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

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

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

Blue Bell (Gay) Theatre on Parliament Street

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

Bonita (Gerrard) Theatre on Gerrard East

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

Brighton Theatre on Roncesvalles Avenue

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

Brock Theatre (the Gem)

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

Cameo Theatre

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

Cannon Theatre (see Ed Mirvish)

Capitol Theatre on Yonge at Castlefield

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

Carlton Theatre on Parliament Street

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

Casino Burlesque Theatre on Queen Street

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

Cineplex Eaton Centre

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

Cineplex Odeon Varsity Theatre at Bloor and Bay

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

Cineplex Theatre at Yonge and Dundas Streets

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

Circle on Dundas West (see Duchess)

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

Circle Theatre on Yonge Street

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

Clyde Theatre (Avalon)

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

College Theatre at College St. and Dovercourt Rd.

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

Colonial Theatre (see Bay Theatre)

Colony Theatre at Vaughan Road and Eglinton Avenue

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

Community Theatre on Woodbine Avenue

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

Coronet Theatre (Savoy) on Yonge St. at Gerrard

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

Crest Theatre (see Regent)

Crown Theatre on Gerrard St. East

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

Crystal Theatre (see Apollo)

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

Cumberland In Yorkville

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

Danforth Music Hall (Allen’s Danforth)

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

Donlands Theatre

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

Downtown Theatre (now demolished) at Yonge and Dundas

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

Duchess Theatre (Circle) on Dundas West

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

Eastwood Theatre on Gerrard St. East

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

Ed Mirvish Theatre (the Pantages, Imperial and Cannon)

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

Eglinton Theatre

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

Elgin Theatre (Loew’s Downtown)

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

Elgin/Winter/Garden Theatres on Yonge Street

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

Empire (Rialto, Palton) on Queen East

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

Esquire (Lyndhurst) Theatre on Bloor Street West

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

Eve’s Paradise (see Paradise)

Garden Theatre at 290 College Street.

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

Gay Theatre (see Blue Bell)

Gem Theatre (see Brock)

Gerrard Theatre (see Bonita)

Glendale Theatre on Avenue Rd.

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

Golden Mile Theatre on Eglinton East

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

Grand Opera House on Adelaide Street West

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

Grant Theatre on Oakwood Avenue near Vaughan Road

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

Greenwood Theatre (the Guild)

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

Grover on Danforth Avenue

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

Guild Theatre (see Greenwood)

Hillcrest Theatre on Christie Street, south of Dupont St.

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

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

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

Hudson Theatre (see Mount Pleasant)

Imperial and Downtown Theatres on Yonge Street (archival photos)

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

Imperial Theatre (see Ed Mirvish)

Iola (Ace, Regal) on Danforth Avenue

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

Island Theatre on Centre Island

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

Kent Theatre at Yonge and St. Clair

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

Kenwood Theatre on Bloor St. West 

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

King Theatre at College and Manning Streets

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

Kingsway Theatre in the Kingsway Village on Bloor St. West

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

Kum-Bac Theatre (see Adelphi)

KUM-C Theatre in Parkdale

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

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

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

La Salle Theatre on Dundas, near Spadina

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

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

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

Loew’s Uptown Theatre (the Uptown)

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

Loew’s Downtown Theatre (see Elgin)

Lyndhurst Theatre (see Esquire)

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

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

Mayfair Theatre at Jane and Annette

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

Metro Theatre at 679 Bloor West

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

Mount Dennis Theatre on Weston Rd, north of Eglinton

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

Mount Pleasant (Hudson) Theatre

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

Nortown Theatre on Eglinton, west of Bathurst St.

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

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

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

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

Odeon Carlton at Yonge and Carlton Streets

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

Odeon Carlton Theatre

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

Odeon Danforth Theatre on the Danforth, near Pape Avenue

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

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

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

Odeon Hyland Theatre at Yonge and St. Clair

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

Odeon Theatre On Queen West in Parkdale

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

Opera House (see La Plaza)

Orpheum Theatre on Queen St., west of Bathurst

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

Palace Theatre on the Danforth

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

Palace Theatre on the Danforth near Pape Avenue

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

Palton Theatre (see Empire)

Panasonic Theatre on Yonge Street

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

Pantages Theatre (see Ed Mirvish)

Paradise (Eve’s Paradise)

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

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

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

Parkdale Theatre on Queen Street, near Roncesvalles

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

Photodrome (Ace) Theatre on Queen St. West

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

Pickford (Auditorium, Avenue) Theatre

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

Princess Theatre on King Street

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

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

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

Regal Theatre (see Iola)

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

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

Revue Theatre at 400 Roncesvalles Avenue

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

Rex Theatre (the Joy)

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

Rialto Theatre (see Empire)

Rivoli Theatre on Queen Street West

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

Royal Alexandra Theatre

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

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

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

Royal Theatre on Dundas Street

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

Royal Theatre (the Pylon) on College St.

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

Runnymede Theatre in the Bloor West Village

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

Savoy Theatre (see Coronet)

Scarboro Theatre

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

Scotiabank Theatre at Richmond and John Streets

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

Shea’s Hippodrome Theatre on Bay St. near Queen

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

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

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

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

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

St. Clair Theatre, west of Dufferin Street

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

State Theatre (see Bloordale)

Teck Theatre on Queen St. East

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

The Tivoli Theatre on Richmond Street East

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

Toronto’s first movie screening and its first movie theatre

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

Town Cinema on Bloor East, near Yonge Street

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

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

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

Uptown 5 Multiplex Theatre on Yonge south of Bloor

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

Variety Theatre (see Arcadian)

Vaughan Theatre on St. Clair Avenue

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

Victoria (Shea’s Victoria)

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

Victory burlesque and movie theatre on Spadina at Dundas:

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

Village Theatre on Spadina Road in Forest Hill Village

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

Westwood Theatre on Bloor Street West near Six Points

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

The Willow Theatre on north Yonge St. in Willowdale

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

York Theatre on Yonge near Bloor St.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

              To place an order for this book:

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

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

ISBN # 978.1.62619.450.2

 

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Toronto’s new Union Station

f0124_fl0002_id0117[1]

      Union Station in the 1960s, Toronto Archives, F0124, F10002, Id.017 (1)

There was a time when almost everyone who entered or departed Toronto travelled by train. The first railway station was a mere shed, located on Front Street. The second was east of the shed, between Simcoe and York Streets, and was the first to be named Union Station. The third was constructed in 1873, on land that was also between York and Simcoe, but a short distance further west. The Union Station of today was officially opened on August 6, 1927, by the Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VIII, but the station was not fully operational until January of 1930. By this time, the Great Depression had descended across the nation and train travel was greatly reduced. During the Second World War, many Canadian soldiers departed the station to commence their journey overseas, and in 1945, returned home through the station.

In every sense of the word, Toronto’s new Union Station is a temple worthy of the gods, resembling a palace or an ancient temple. It was conceived in the Beaux-Arts style by the architects H. G. Jones and J. M. Lyle, containing many classical architectural detailing and trim. On its monumental facade on Front Street are twenty-two enormous pillars, forty feet in  height, each weighing seventy-five tons, and resting on the bedrock below. The Great Hall, originally referred to as the ticket lobby, has a ceiling that soars eighty-eight feet above the floor below, composed of Tennessee marble. The stairways that leads to the exits and entrances are of the same material, chosen for their inherent beauty and natural shine. The vaulted ceiling is faced with Vitrified Guastavino Tile, its colours matching the walls. The Royal York Hotel, which opened a year prior to the station, is connected to Union Station by a tunnel under Front Street.

Though built as a rail terminal to serve travel between Ontario cities and across the nation, as well as to the United States, it now serves the needs of VIA Rail’s commuting passengers and is the central hub for the city’s expanding GO Transit rail service. In 2010, massive renovations and reconstruction commenced to increase the capacity and improve the service that the station offers, at a cost of half a billion dollars. It is designated as a National Historic Site, owned by the City of Toronto. It has the most daily trains and number of passengers of any station in Canada.

1917-- f1548_s0393_it14352[1]  1917

Union Station in 1917, when work on the station was almost at a standstill as most of the workforce was overseas. Toronto Archives, F 1548, S0393, It.14352

1922-  f1548_s0393_it17357-1[1]  1922

Union Station in 1922, when construction had been mostly completed but it remained unopened. Toronto Archives, F 1548, S0393, It. 1755-1

1930--f1231_it0070[1]   1930

Gazing east along Front Street in 1930. Union Station, fully opened to the public in this year, can be seen in the foreground. In the distance is the tower on the old Union Station of 1873. Toronto Archives, F 1231, It. 0070.

April 30, 1930. S)071_it7597[1]

Gazing east on Front Street on April 30, 1930, when the streetcar tracks were being repaired. Toronto Archives, S071, It. 7597.

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                                         July 2014, the station under renovations.

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The enormous pillar on the Front Street facade, each of them forty feet in  height, weighing seventy-five tons, and resting on the bedrock below.

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The Great Hall of Union Station with its high vaulted ceiling that soars over the ticket booths.

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                      The Vitrified Guastavino Tiles on the ceiling of the Great Hall.

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                           Ornamental detailing on the interior of the station.

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                       Marble staircase that leads to the departure level below.

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

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

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

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

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

   To place an order for this book:

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

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

Theatres Included in the Book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

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

 

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Village Theatre on Spadina Road—Toronto

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

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

         Village

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

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

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

Village   7

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

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

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

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

Village  5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   To place an order for this book:

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

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

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

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

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s old movie theatres will be released in the spring of 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 130 archival photographs.

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

 

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Toronto’s old (Odeon) Carlton—Part 11

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Cover of the pamphlet designed for the opening of the Toronto Odeon Theatre, later renamed the Odeon Carlton. Graphic courtesy of Walter Godfrey of Toronto.

Even though I lived in the west end of Toronto, I considered the Odeon Theatre on Carlton Street one of my local theatres. This was because when I was a teenager in the 1950s, I frequently travelled downtown to attend it. Whenever I entered its enormous lobby, I was in awe of its elegant grandeur and viewed it as a true movie palace. However, unlike the movie palaces of yesteryear, such as the Imperial and Shea’s Hippodrome, the Odeon was sleek and modern. Its architecture and interior trim reflected the finest trends of the second half of the 20th century. As a young adult, I saw several of the James Bond films at the Odeon Carlton—Goldfinger in 1964 and Thunderball in 1966.

When the theatre opened on September 9, 1948, the posters and newspaper ads boasting that it was, “The Showplace of the Dominion.” It contained a restaurant on the mezzanine level, the first theatre-restaurant in Canada. On frigid winter evenings, friends and I enjoyed fish and chips or a Ritz Carltons (hot dogs) in this eatery, managed by the Honey Dew Restaurant chain, famous for its orange drink that included real pulp. It was one of the most popular beverages at the CNE during this decade. The theatre had originally intended to operate a first-class restaurant on the premises, but was unable to obtain a liquor license.

As a teenager, I remember seeing the film star Dorothy Lamour on its stage in a live show that also featured the famous quartet, The Four Lads. They were graduates of the St. Michael’s Choir School on Bond Street in Toronto. The magnificent sound of the theatre’s enormous organ, situated on the right-hand side of the stage is another memory that remains with me. The instrument was capable of surrounding the audience in full lush sounds, despite the cavernous size of the venue. Today, the organ resides at Queen’s University in Kingston.

The theatre required two years and 2 1/2 million dollars to build. It opened as the Odeon Toronto, the premier movie house in Toronto of the British Odeon chain. The theatre contained 2300 plush seats of green and gold, the drapery and curtains surrounding the stage weighing 2 ½ tons, contoured to wrap around the front of the auditorium. Long horizontal decorative lines swept the full length of the north and south walls, the lines becoming curved near the stage area. All floors were covered with thick broadloom that possessed brightly coloured floral designs. The carpeting and colour scheme had been chosen by Eaton’s College Street store, on the southwest corner of Yonge and College Streets. The trim throughout the theatre was blond-stained wood and stainless steel. The curved balcony swept across the width of the auditorium. At the rear of the theatre, there was free parking for patrons from 6 pm onward. This information was obtained from the brochure provided to patrons on opening night.

For its inauguration, the theatre featured the North American premier of the J. Arthur Rank production of Dickens’ classic tale of Oliver Twist, with Alec Guinness as Fagan. Trevor Howard and Patricia Roc, who starred in the film, were present for the opening. The seating was all reserved ticketing.

Later in the month, the naughty stars of the CNE Grandstand—Olsen and Johnson—attended the theatre. These stars had been warned by the Toronto morality squad to censor the jokes they told in their grandstand performances. This rebuke created great publicity for the comedians and ticket sales soared. A luncheon was held in their honour at the Carlton, but I doubt if they were served either fish and chips or hotdogs in the restaurant.

In January 1949, the film Scott of the Antarctica was screened, starring John Mills showed at the Carlton. No luncheon was held for this show, although frozen fish sticks would have been appropriate.

By the early 1970s, it became obvious that the Carlton was too large to screen movies profitably, and operating it at reduced capacity was not economical. For a brief period, the city considered purchasing it as a home for the Canadian Opera Company. However, this was deemed financially ruinous for the city, since it was already subsidizing the O’Keefe Centre, now named the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.

The theatre shut its doors in September 1975 and was later demolished. A modern office building is on the site today, and on its ground floor is a multiplex theatre named the Carlton Cinemas.

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Construction of the Odeon Toronto (Carlton in 1947-1948). Photo courtesy of Walter Godfrey, Toronto.

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Invitation to the opening of the Odeon Toronto (Carlton) Theatre. Photo courtesy of Walter Godfrey, Toronto.

               Odeon Carlton

View of the facade of the Odeon Carlton Theatre in 1972. Photo, City of Toronto Archives.

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Opening night program, courtesy of Walter Godfrey, Toronto.

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Auditorium of the Odeon Carlton, photo courtesy of Walter Godfrey, Toronto

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The lobby and candy bar of the theatre in the 1950s, photo courtesy of Walter Godfrey, Toronto.

from Tor. Ref. Lib. DSCN3033

Gazing north on Yonge Street in 1956 toward College/Carlton Street, the Westbury Hotel under construction. This intersection was one block west of the Odeon Carlton. Photo, Toronto Reference Library.

                      Odeon Carlton 1958

Photo of the Odeon Carlton in 1956, from the author’s 35mm slide collection.

                          site of Odeon Carlton

                         Site of the Odeon Carlton in 2014.

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

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

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

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

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

   To place an order for this book:

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

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

Theatres Included in the Book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

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

 

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Toronto’s old Madison Theatre Part II

                  MIdtown, 1278-File 103, SC488-6047

The Midtown Theatre c. 1940, photo City of Toronto archives, Series 1278, File 103

When I was a teenager in the 1950s, for two summers I was employed was at the Dominion Bank (now the TD), on the southeast corner of Bloor West and Bathurst Streets. The bank’s largest customer was a relatively unknown merchant named Ed Mirvish, who had converted two old houses on the southeast corner of Bloor and Markham Streets into shops. Mirvish eventually took over the entire block, creating the famous Honest Ed’s bargain store. One of his slogans was, “Often imitated but never duplicated.” I find it sad that this Toronto landmark will disappear on December 31, 2016.

Part of my job at the bank during the 1950s was to deliver bank drafts to the shops between Bathurst Street and Ossington Avenue. I often strolled past the Midtown Theatre at 506 Bloor West. During these years it was screening mostly horror flicks. I was fascinated by the colourful posters outside the theatre and often gazed up longingly at the movies listed on the marquee. However, because the theatre’s location was distant from my home, I was never inside it.

The bank where I worked has long since been closed and the building where it was located renovated for other commercial purposes. Alas, the Midtown Theatre has also departed the scene and has been demolished.

Map of 506 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1Y3

In the early twentieth century, the Bathurst/Bloor district was serviced by two major streetcar lines. The homes in the surrounding streets were constructed close together, increasing the population density. It was a decade when builders were not required to provide laneways between houses to accommodate automobiles. In later decades, when automobile ownership became more common, space was taken from the rear gardens of the houses. It was employed to construct laneways behind the houses, parallel to the streets. The lanes, flanked by garages, remain today.

During the 1940s and 1950s, the city’s children employed these laneways as playgrounds, which were superior to anything that modern designers could ever create. They were private world’s, away from the prying eyes of adults, where kids explored and learned about life, sometimes even about sex. The veracity of the sex lessons was often doubtful, but the laneways did teach kids how to “exaggerate.” Another source of exaggerated  sexual activity was the back rows of theatres, although by today’s standards, they were relatively innocent. No one “made out” on the back of a #504 King streetcar, as happened in 2014.

Returning to the Bathurst-Bloor area, because it possessed much pedestrian traffic, it was ideal for a theatre. The site chosen for the Madison was on the north side of Bloor, between Bathurst and Albany Avenue (Lippincott on the south side of Bloor). When it opened on December 23, 1913, it was one of the earliest Toronto “picture palace” theatres in Toronto. It possessed slightly over 700 plush leather seats, including the balcony and ground-floor level.

In 1913, silent films were the latest entertainment craze. Lacking soundtracks, instrumentalists were hired to provide suitable music for the scenes shown on the screen. In smaller local theatres, a single piano player was the norm. A stage was included in the construction of the Madison to accommodate vaudeville acts. It was necessary to supplement the films in that decade as movies were often less than an hour in length. Until Allen’s Bloor (Lee’s Palace) Theatre opened in 1919 and the Alhambra in 1920, the Madison was the main theatre on Bloor Street, near Bathurst. 

It remained a popular local theatre for several decades. In 1940, Twentieth Century Theatres took over the property. They demolished the building, except for the two side walls. The architectural firm of Kaplan and Sprachman designed the new theatre, which opened in May 1941—renamed the Midtown.

During the 1950s, attendance at the Midtown slowly dwindled. To attract patrons, it screened mostly horror films. The theatre remained under the management of Famous Players until 1967, but at some time during this period its name was changed to the Capri.

In 1973 its name was again renamed and it became the Eden, screening censored adult films, containing scenes that today are often shown on regular TV programs during primetime hours. Times have indeed changed. The adult flicks at the Eden ended in 1979. Its name was changed to the Bloor Theatre and it reverted to showing family-type films.

From 1980 to 1999 the theatre was managed by Carm Bordonaro and his partners, as part of the Fesitval Cinema Chain. Finally the Bordonaro family purchased the theatre to ensure that it would remain an active movie house.

In 2011 the Blue Ice group invested in the property. The theatre was renovated and reopened on November 14th of the same year, renamed the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. Its interior was almost as luxurious as the movie palaces of the early decades of the twentieth century, although its design was more modern.

It remains as one of the most comfortable and attractive theatres in Toronto, specializing in documentary films that audiences might not have a change to view in other theatres. It is sincerely hoped that Toronto never loses this exceptional theatre venue.

Series 1278, File 103 AO 2031

            Interior of the Midtown Theatre—date unknown

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Entrance to the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on Bloor Street, summer of 2014

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          Interior of the Bloor Hot Docs Theatre (the old Midtown) in 2014

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                     View from the rear of the auditorium in 2014.

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Stairs in the lobby to the balcony on the second-floor level (2014).

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     The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on a hot summer evening in 2014.

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 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.

 

 

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Toronto’s Music Hall (Allen’s Danforth)—Part 11

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             Allen’s Danforth Theatre, now the Music Hall in 2014.

When I was a teenager, I lived in the west end of the city and did not often travel east of Yonge Street to attend movie theatres, especially those on Danforth Avenue. Because the Danforth was east of the Don Valley, I viewed it as too close to Halifax. However, I remember the old Allen’s Danforth Theatre. In the 1970s, I worked for two years near Danforth and Pape Avenues and passed the theatre many times while travelling on the old PCC streetcars on the Bloor line. Prior to the construction of the Bloor-Danforth subway in 1966, the Bloor streetcars travelled from Jane Street in the west to Luttrell Avenue in the east.

Today, the TTC only has a few remaining PCC streetcars, which are only placed in service during the summer months as tourist attractions or as rentals for special occasion. On the occasions that I saw the Allen’s Danforth Theatre in the 1970s, it was named the Titania and was screening Greek films. As I remember, the theatre had become somewhat shabby.

Until the Prince Edward Viaduct (Bloor Viaduct) was opened in 1918, the land to the east of the Don Valley, near Danforth Avenue, was mostly farmland and dusty roads. After the opening of the bridge, a streetcar line was built across it. The area ceased to be a remote suburb of the city, since it was connected to downtown Toronto. This opened the district for commercial and residential development. It was not long before the opportunities for theatres became evident.

Two entrepreneurial brothers, Jule and Jay Allen, decided to open a theatre at 147 Danforth Avenue, not far from the eastern side of the viaduct. The theatre was on the south side of the street, near the corner of Danforth and Broadview. Though the Allen brothers were young, they were not new to the theatre business. They had opened their first theatre in Brantford, Ontario in 1907. After relocating to Toronto in 1915, they opened one of the city’s great movie palaces in November 1917—the Allen Theatre at Victoria and Adelaide Streets. The theatre was later renamed the Tivoli.

For the inauguration of Allen’s Danforth, it screened the silent film, “Through the Wrong Door,” starring Madge Kennedy and John Bowers. This 50-minute silent film was accompanied by vaudeville acts featuring comedians and musicians. On the opening night, patrons were amazed by the luxurious interior of the theatre, the finest east of the Don Valley. Allen’s Danforth possessed 1600 seats and when the opening ceremonies commenced, all of them were occupied. During the next few years, the theatre flourished as the Allen brothers had negotiated exclusive rights to screen Paramount films in their movie houses. For a few years, this monopoly kept the Allen theatres profitable. 

However, the Allen brothers over-extended themselves financially and in 1923, Famous Players bought the theatre chain, including the Allen’s Danforth. In 1929 it was renovated and converted to accommodate sound films. It was then renamed the Century, which mostly screened B-Grade movies and older films.

In 1934, the theatre became a part of the B&F chain, which managed theatres such as the Radio City and the Vaughan Theatres, both located near Bathurst and St. Clair Avenue West. These were two of my favourite theatres when I was a teenager. I still remember the towering sign on the Vaughan Theatre, at its pinnacle the words B&F flashing in the night sky.

In the 1970s, the old Allen’s Danforth again changed hands and commenced screening Greek films, reflecting the changing demographics of the neighbourhood. During these years, the theatre was named the Titania. I still remember the days before Greek cuisine became a familiar part of the Toronto restaurant scene. My earliest recollections of this was in the early 1970s, when I visited  the Acropole Restaurant, which was on the second-floor level of 18 Dundas Street West. Because authentic Greek foods were unfamiliar to Torontonians, instead of diners being given a menu, they were instructed to enter the kitchen and point to the dishes that attracted them. How times have changed. Today, the Danforth offers some of the best Greek cuisine in the world. For a few years, the Titania Theatre was a part of this Canadian-Greek world.

In 1978, it was renamed the Music Hall and featured second-run films and live shows. However, the theatre continued to deteriorate, its doors closing in 2004.

Eventually the Century (Allen’s Danforth) was taken over by Ellipsis Leisure Retail. Renovations to the theatre required one and a half years. However, after a few years they were evicted for non-payment of rent. The Music Hall reopened it December 2011, with improved seating and sound system. It is today one of the best venues for live entertainment in the city.

Map of 147 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K 1N2

           The site of Allen’s Danforth Theatre, now The Music Hall

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                               The Music Hall c. 2007

AO 1998

      Interior of Allen’s Danforth (The Music Hall). Photo Ontario Archives.

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                                              The Music Hall in 2014

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 Doric theatre

Doric, Jan. 18, 1941  G&M 71415

The Doric theatre, January 18, 1941, photo from the Toronto Archives, Globe and Mail Collection, 71416

The Doric theatre at 1094 Bloor Street West was located close to Gladstone Avenue, on the north side of Bloor, a short distance east of Dufferin Street. The year that it opened is difficult to ascertain. The web site world-theatres.com indicates that it opened in 1919, although the collection of John Chuckman contains a postcard that advertises Mary Pickford playing in a film for Famous Players at the Doric in 1910. However, I must admit that the 1919 date seems the most likely. For certain, when the Doric opened, it was among Toronto’s earliest theatres.

     Map of 1094 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6H 1M8

The building containing the Doric Theatre was unusual, as it was only one storey in height. It was a small venue, possessing only 527 seats, so was truly a neighbourhood theatre that depended for patrons on those who lived within walking distance of it. Although I discovered no proof, the theatre most likely offered vaudeville and silent films as this was the standard format during the decade when it opened. To facilitate vaudeville, it required a small stage. I should imagine that the acts offered at the Doric would have been second rate or beginning performers, since the audience was too small for the management to be able to afford first-rate acts.

When it originally opened, its facade possessed two ionic columns that supported a portico. Beneath the portico, recessed back from the sidewalk were the entrance doors. Because the theatre was a single-storey building, there were no residential apartments above it to generate extra income to offset the expenses of the theatre. Also, as the building was quite small, squeezed between other structures, there was no space for rental shops either. Thus, the sole income of the theatre was derived from ticket sales. It only remained profitable as long as the movie house was well attended.

The façade of the theatre changed greatly in the decades ahead. By the 1940s, a new canopy had been installed, which contained the marquee. Its design was typical of many Toronto theatres during the 1940s and 1950s. However, there was no large electric sign above the marquee as there was no second storey. In its place, the word “Doric” appeared in bold letters on either side of the canopy. These signs were clearly visible at night when the marquee was ablaze with light.

The box office was in the centre of the entranceway, the theatre’s doors only three or four feet from the sidewalk. On either side of the doors were display spaces advertising the daily attractions as well as future films.

The Doric closed its doors in 1955, one of the first theatres to be shuttered because of the decrease in attendance caused by the increasing popularity of television. Today, there is a coffee shop on the site.

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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Toronto’s old Circle Theatre

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The Circle Theatre c. 1945. Photo from Toronto Archives, Series 881, File 374

The Circle Theatre at 2567 Yonge Street opened its doors in 1933, on the east side of the street, north of Sherwood, five blocks north of Eglinton Avenue West. The architect of the Circle was Eric Hounsom, who was employed by the architectural firm of H. S. Kaplan and Abraham Sprachman. In later years, Hounsom designed the interior of the University Theatre on Bloor Street West.

         Map of 2567 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4P 2J1

                                            Map from Google, 2014.

Similar to most theatres designed by Kaplan and Sprachman, the Circle Theatre was in the Art Deco style, its façade containing strong vertical lines rising above the marquee. Contrasting with the vertical lines, were bold horizontal lines. The cornice was relatively plain, divided into sections of varying heights.

The theatre’s auditorium possessed 750 seats, with a wide centre section, aisles on either side of it, and more rows of seats across from the aisles. There was no balcony. The side walls were sleek and smooth, with horizontal lines. The corners near the stage were curved. There were Art Deco designs on the rear wall and near the stage, with elongated Art Deco lighting fixtures on the side walls.

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View of the auditorium of the Circle Theatre from the rear seats. City of Toronto Archives, Series 881, It. 374

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View from the stage area of the auditorium of the Circle Theatre. City of Toronto Archives, Series 881, It. 374.

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Isometric Drawing of the Circle Theatre in 1933. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 122, Series 881, File 413. This drawing reveals some of the art deco designs that were in the interior spaces.

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Lobby of the Circle Theatre, c. 1945. City of Toronto Archives, Series 881, It.374

In the 1930s, few people owned automobiles, and those who possessed one, tended to drive it only on weekends in an effort to save gasoline. Neighbourhoods bordering Yonge Street, to the east and west of it, were connected by the square-shaped Peter Witt streetcars that rattled along Toronto’s main street. North of Eglinton, the streetcars were the main method of transportation to travel downtown. However, because streetcar tickets were considered expensive, most people preferred to walk to the local theatres rather than journey to the larger movie houses near Yonge and Queen Streets. For those living near Yonge Street, north of Eglinton Avenue, the Circle Theatre was popular as it was within easy walking distance.

From its earliest days, Torontonians had always possessed a strong sense of community. Families lived in a neighbourhood, raised their children and retired in the same houses that they had dwelt in for decades. Neighbours knew each other and chatted with easy familiarity in the local shops or in ticket lines at theatres. They often shared the same butcher, green grocer and mailman. The same milkman and bread man delivered their products to the doors of their homes, where they shared local news and gossip. When people attended the Circle Theatre, it was not unusual for them to recognize several neighbours among those in the audience.

Within the homes, the only sources of entertainment were radios, books, magazines, newspapers and for some, decks of cards. For the children, library books, homework and board games occupied their time. Thus, for adults, a night out at the Circle Theatre was a well-anticipated event and for the children, a Saturday afternoon matinee.

In the years following the Second World War, community life was forever altered. People had more money to spend and purchased automobiles and eventually homes in the suburbs. Telephones allowed people to remain in contact, removing the necessity to live within close proximity to friends and relatives. Many families moved away and others bought their homes. Local theatres became less important in the daily lives of the residents of the communities.

Then, with the advent of television, people stayed home to view programs and movies on TV. Theatres lost much of their appeal. Attendance at local theatres declined, many of them shutting their doors. The Circle Theatre on Yonge Street closed in 1956. The building was demolished and today there is an apartment building on the site.

The author is grateful to cinematreasures.org and lost-toronto.blogspot.com for some of the information contained in this post.

1278-45

Site of the Circle Theatre, City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278. It. 45

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 .

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:

Toronto’s old Prince of Wales Theatre

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               The Prince of Wales in 1927, photo, Toronto Reference Library

The Prince of Wales Theatre was located at 2094 Danforth Avenue, on the north side of the street, near Woodbine Avenue. Today, the Woodbine subway station is nearby. The theatre opened on May 5, 1924, six years after the Prince Edward Viaduct was completed across the Don Valley. On its brick facade were several narrow horizontal bands of stone, which gave the building a degree of individuality that differentiated it from the structures on either side of it. The theatre possessed a heavy cornice that contained a row of dentils beneath it. Above the cornice was a parapet that created the illusion of extra height. On the second storey were residential apartments, their rental income helping to defray the operating expenses. The theatre’s auditorium contained 1250 seats.

                 Map of 2094 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4C 1J9

                                                  Map from Google, 2014

There is very little information on the theatre in the archives, but it likely possessed a stage and an area to accommodate musicians, since it was built in an era when theatres featured vaudeville acts along with the silent films. Both of these forms of entertainment required music.

The film advertised on the marquee of the 1927 photo of the Prince of Wales is “An Affair of the Follies,” released in February 1927, directed by Millard Webb, starring Billie Dove. This movie is one of many films from the era of silent films that has been lost. The fact that the film was being shown at the Prince of Wales the same year it was released illustrates that the theatre was showing recent films in direct completion with the larger theatres on Danforth Avenue. The theatre shut its doors in 1966, but the building remains today though it has been altered to accommodate other commercial enterprises.

Note: The author is grateful to cinematreasures.org for the information about the opening and closing dates of the Prince of Wales Theatre.

DSCN4933_thumb2

The site of the Prince of Wales  after the theatre was demolished. Photo, Toronto Archives.

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)

 

Tags: