Hart House Theatre

Hart House Theatre

 

Address: 7 Hart House Circle

History

Hart House Theatre is often referred to as the cradle of Canadian Theatre. Opening in November of 1919 the Art Deco theatre on the University of Toronto campus quickly became a leader in the Canadian “Little Theatre” movement of the 1920’s and 1930’s. Hart House Theatre cultivated and featured some of the country’s finest actors, directors, playwrights and designers of the pre-World War II era, including Raymond Massey, Dora Mavor Moore, Lloyd Bochner, Lawren Harris, Arthur Lismer, Wayne and Shuster and Merrill Denison.

After the war, Hart House Theatre, under the direction of Robert Gill, became an extracurricular student theatre and for twenty years turned out a new generation of stage professionals. William Hutt, Don Harron, Kate Reid, David Gardner, Arthur Hiller, Donald Sutherland, Norman Jewison and Lorne Michaels all got their start treading the boards on the Hart House stage.

By the mid 1960’s the theatre joined the world of academia with the creation of the Graduate Centre for Study of Drama. A new generation of students combined dramatic literature with practical theatre experience and learned from and contributed to the vibrant Toronto theatre scene of the 1970’s.

Today Hart House Theatre is the focal point for the performing arts at the University of Toronto. With over a thousand students participating each year in its extra-curricular season of drama, dance, music and film, Hart House Theatre continues to influence each new generation of performers, designers and audiences.

“About Hart House Theatre.” Hart House, University of Toronto, 2013, harthouse.ca/about-hart-house-theatre.

Hart House Theatre Auditorium circa 1930. “About.”  Hart House 100th Anniversary,  University of Toronto, 2019. www.harthouse100.ca/about-us/

Hart House Theatre Auditorium circa 1930. “About.” Hart House 100th Anniversary, University of Toronto, 2019. www.harthouse100.ca/about-us/

Hart House Theatre Stage, circa 2013.  “Theatre Rentals.”  Hart House , University of Toronto, 2013 harthouse.ca/theatre-rentals/

Hart House Theatre Stage, circa 2013.

“Theatre Rentals.” Hart House, University of Toronto, 2013 harthouse.ca/theatre-rentals/

Hart House Theatre Entrance, circa 2013.  “Theatre Rentals.”  Hart House , University of Toronto, 2013, harthouse.ca/theatre-rentals/

Hart House Theatre Entrance, circa 2013.

“Theatre Rentals.” Hart House, University of Toronto, 2013, harthouse.ca/theatre-rentals/

Hart House Theatre, Stage Right Wing, circa 2013.  “Theatre Rentals.”  Hart House , University of Toronto, 2013, harthouse.ca/theatre-rentals/

Hart House Theatre, Stage Right Wing, circa 2013.

“Theatre Rentals.” Hart House, University of Toronto, 2013, harthouse.ca/theatre-rentals/

Hart House Theatre, Stage Left Wing. “Theatre Rentals.”  Hart House , University of Toronto, 2013, harthouse.ca/theatre-rentals/

Hart House Theatre, Stage Left Wing. “Theatre Rentals.” Hart House, University of Toronto, 2013, harthouse.ca/theatre-rentals/

Hart House Theatre, Lobby circa 2013. “Theatre Rentals.”  Hart House , University of Toronto, 2013, harthouse.ca/theatre-rentals/

Hart House Theatre, Lobby circa 2013. “Theatre Rentals.” Hart House, University of Toronto, 2013, harthouse.ca/theatre-rentals/

Toronto Opera House

Toronto Opera House

 

Address: 25-27 Adelaide Street East (pp.87)

Might Directories Ltd. The Toronto City Directory 1903. The Internet Archive. Archive.org https://archive.org/details/torontodirec190300mighuoft/page/n61

Also Known As: Jacob & Sparrow’s Opera House, Majestic, Regent.

Early in the 1880s a prominent theatrical manager in New York, H.R. Jacob, and his Montreal partner, J.R. Sparrow, bought a roller-skating rink on the south side of Adelaide Street between Bay and Yonge streets and converted it into a theatre they named the Toronto Opera House. The place was also known as Jacob and Sparrow’s Opera House and it catered to patrons of lurid melodrama until it was purchased in 1889 by Ambrose Small and his partner E.D. Stair of Detroit, whoredid the interior and continued to offer lurid melodrama. In March 1903 a fire gutted the building’s interior, but the place was reconstructed in a bare seven months and christened the ‘Majestic Theatre’ on 2 November 1903 by Mrs Fiske, who played the lead in Mary of Magdalen. According to seating plans of the Majestic published in 1904, the theatre at that time had 732 seats at orchestra level and 455 in the balcony. The gallery likely did not have space for more than 500 and fewer than that if safety and comfort became the governing criteria. Renamed the ‘Regent’ in 1920, the house became the ‘flagship’ of the newly formed Famous Players circuit, where the first film shown on 23 January 1920 was Pollyanna, starring Mary Pickford. The Regent was demolished in the 1930s. (225-226)

Fairfield, Robert. “Theatres and Performance Halls”. In Early Stages: Theatre in Ontario 1800-1914. Edited by Ann Saddlemyer. University of Toronto Press, 1990, pp. 214-287.

Royal Alexandra Theatre

Royal Alexandra Theatre

 

Address: 260 King Street W.

 

DESCRIPTION OF HISTORIC PLACE

The Royal Alexandra Theatre is an early-20th-century, Beaux-Arts-style theatre. It is located in downtown Toronto. The formal recognition consists of the building on the legal property on which it sat at the time of recognition.

HERITAGE VALUE

The Royal Alexandra Theatre was designated a national historic site because it is a nationally significant example of a theatre which was built specifically for the presentation of live theatrical performances.

The Royal Alexandra is an intimate but lavish version of a traditional 19th-century theatre built exclusively for live theatrical performances. Designed by noted Toronto architect John M. Lyle (1872-1945), who had worked in theatre design in New York, the Royal Alexandra was a direct importation of the small, lavish and more intimate type of theatre being built in New York. Its design allowed a relatively large number of seats in a deceptively small space. The Royal Alexandra was one of the last theatres of its type built in Canada and likely the best surviving example. Since its rescue and rejuvenation by Ed Mirvish in 1963, the Royal Alexandra has played a central role in the social and cultural life of Toronto. Its Beaux-Arts style continues to provide an elegant setting for theatrical and musical events.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minute, 1985; Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Plaque Text, 1988.

CHARACTER-DEFINING ELEMENTS

The key elements that relate to the heritage value of this site include:

-its symmetrical, five-bay composition, in which a central, two-and-a-half-storey, mansard-roofed, three-bay block is flanked by smaller, recessed wings

-its tripartite facade, composed of: a channelled base; a pilastered main storey capped by a pronounced parapet edge; and a steep mansard roof over the central block and partially concealed behind the parapet edge

-exterior detailing loosely following the Louis XVI style, including: the channelled stone base with radiating voussoirs over window openings; elaborate entablatures and balconies at each of the massive windows on the main storey; Ionic pilasters; a heavy, dentilled cornice; and a stepped and decorated parapet

-its fenestration, consisting of: small, mullioned windows at street level; massive, heavily mullioned windows on the main level, and small, hooded dormer windows at roof level

-its interior plan, with the front third of the building devoted to reception and administration; the auditorium occupying the central third; and the back third taken up by stage and backstage areas

-curving staircases which ascend from either side of the lobby to a promenade foyer at balcony level

-the broad, shallow proportions of the auditorium, bringing the audience closer to the stage

-its steeply pitched, cantilevered balconies and boxes, allowing clear sightlines

-the heavy, lavish, Baroque-inspired classicism of its interior décor

-its use of durable, fireproof materials, including: brick, reinforced concrete, steel, terracotta and stone

"Royal Alexandra Theatre National Historic Site of Canada." Canada's HIstoric Places. Parks Canada. 2017. www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=1137. Accessed 10 May 2017.

 

History

A masterpiece of beaux-arts architecture, the historic Royal Alexandra is Toronto's senior theatre and, at 108, never having been converted to any other use, the oldest continuously operating legitimate theatre in North America.

The Royal Alexandra embodies the ambition of the young Toronto stock broker Cawthra Mulock, who sought to put his home town on the cultural map by building for it "the finest theatre on the continent." What he and his architect - John M. Lyle - created has since been called "an Edwardian jewel-box", a treasure chest of imported marble, hand-carved cherry and walnut, fine silks and velvets, crystal chandeliers and ornate, gilded plaster - all constructed on the city's first steel-framed structure (allowing cantilevered balconies, with no internal pillars to obstruct lines of sight) - and over a huge ice-pit that made this theatre one of the first "air conditioned" buildings in North America.

The Royal Alexandra is also North America's first truly "royal" theatre - "royal" by patent from Edward VII - named with royal permission for his consort, Alexandra, a Danish princess and great-grandmother of the present queen.

Since its opening in 1907, almost 3000 productions have played the Royal Alexandra. Its roster of stars is an honour-roll of twentieth century theatre: John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson, Katherine Cornell, Helen Hayes, Orson Welles, Ruth Gordon, Al Jolson, Humphrey Bogart, Mary Pickford, Cedric Hardwicke, Sydney Greenstreet, John and Ethel Barrymore, Fred and Adele Astaire, Harry Lauder, Maurice Evans, Alan Bates, Marilyn Miller, Deborah Kerr... Edith Piaf sang here, Paul Robeson played Othello here, Pavlova danced here, the Marx Brothers made Alex audiences laugh and Mae West made them blush.

Edwin "Honest Ed" Mirvish purchased the Royal Alexandra from the Mulock estate in 1963 and closed the theatre for extensive modernisation, repair and renovation, restoring the old house to the splendour of its early days. Ed Mirvish personally oversaw the operation of the theatre for the next 23 years, until 1986 when he handed management and administration over to his son, David, and David's company, Mirvish Productions.

The Royal Alexandra was named a National Historic Monument in 1987, on its 80th birthday.

INSIDE THE THEATRE

There are three levels of seating in the Royal Alexandra: orchestra, balcony and upper balcony(gallery). Each level offers a lobby, bar/refreshment area and washrooms. The largest lounge area, the Yale Simpson Room, is on the lowest level, beneath the auditorium. The Royal Alex has a wheelchair-accessible washroom on the street (orchestra) level, on the east side of the main lobby.

“History - Royal Alexandra Theatre.” Mirvish.com, Mirvish Company, 2017, www.mirvish.com/theatres/royal-alexandra-theatre?open=history#view. Accessed 10 May 2017.

Royal Alexandra Theatre Exterior.jpg
Royal Alexandra Interior 1.jpg
Royal Alexandra Interior 2.jpg

Shea's Yonge Street Theatre

Shea's Yonge Street Theatre

 

Address: 91-93 Yonge St.


Also Known As: Wonderland Museum, Robinson's Museum, Moore's Musee Theatre, Crystal Theatre, Eden Museum, the Bijou,


History

Details of Site Location: Located at 91-93 Yonge Street, on the east side, half way between King and Adelaide Streets, Toronto.

Boundary History: Built upon two lots (25'2" x 74'6" and 26' x 81'6") the theatre filled almost all of the two lots.

Current Use of Property: A high-rise office building which occupies more than the theatre site.

Historical Description: Constructed in 1889 and opening in 1891 as the Wonderland Museum or Robinson's Museum, since it was owned by Marvyn Robinson of Buffalo. Robinson sold the building in 1890 to George Moore of Detroit who called it Moore's Musee Theatre. Its next names were: Crystal Theatre, then Eden Museum. Then in 1896, Robinson took over the theatre again, this time calling it the Bijou. In 1897 the theatre was gutted by fire, one year from the time it began to show movies. In 1899, the property was bought by Shea Amusement Company of Buffalo, and the opening performances were given in September that year. The bookings were identical to those given at their Gordon Theatre in Buffalo and, under Mr. Shea's auspices, excellent bills raised the vaudeville bookings to a higher level. In 1910 Shea's bought the southeast corner of Richmond and Victoria and here developed Shea's Victoria. The old Yonge Street building was then named the Strand. As Moore's, the theatre had pyrotechnic displays, orchestras, operatic selections, blackface performers, and comedians. As Shea's it offered performances by dogs and cats, dancing comedians, singers, jugglers, and had shows given by the Aborn Comic Opera Company.

Relative Importance: Part of Toronto's performing arts history, the site, in its many incarnations should be remembered as an interesting Yonge Street fixture and attraction, and because most of its offerings were American in origin. It seems that little home-grown talent had a chance here, although the theatre was lucrative, despite its history with fires. It is part of a period when live theatre flourished and fought for survival against the growing movie business.

Planning Importance: Other than a plaque, there are no planning implications.

Reference Sources: Toronto Reference Library, newspaper collections; City of Toronto Archives, assessment rolls; National Library of Canada, newspaper collections.

Acknowledgements: Peggy Kurtin; James Orr. "Shea's Theatre." 

“Shea’s Theatre.” Toronto Historical Association. torontohistory.net/sheas-theatre.html


"6 December, 1890, Toronto: Opening of Robinson's Musee Theatre, a dime museum; later operated under variety of names: Moore's Musee Theatre, Crystal Theatre and Eden Musee, Bijou Theatre." (pp.334)

"31 August 1896, Toronto: Edison's Vitascope at Robinson's Musee Theatre makes first public showing of a film in Toronto." (pp.336)

 Plant, Richard. "Chronology." Early Stages: Theatre in Ontario 1800-1914. University of Toronto, 1990, pp.288-346.

Shea's Victoria Street Theatre

Shea’s Victoria Street Theatre

 

Address: 83 Victoria Street


History

In the early decades of the 20th century, the name “Shea” was synonymous with theatre excellence. The name referred to two brothers, Jeremiah (Jerry) and Michael Shea, born in St. Catherines, Ontario. Enterprising by nature, they realized the potential of the new entertainment medium,“moving pictures.” In 1903, they rented space at 91 Yonge Street and opened a small theatre, on the east side of the street, between King and Adelaide Streets. The theatre screened silent films, accompanied by vaudeville acts. The vaudeville’s slap-stick routines and comedians had always been popular, but it became obvious that the real attraction was now the “moving picture” shows. Films in this  decade were not as lengthy as today, so vaudeville routines were necessary if the Shea brother were to offer a performance that justified the five-cent admission price.  The Shea’s Theatre on Yonge Street was an immediate success. With the funds they accumulated, in 1910, they decided to open a larger and grander theatre.

The Shea brothers chose a site at 83 Victoria Street, on the southeast corner of Richmond and Victoria Streets. They engaged the architect Charles James Reid to design their theatre. In 1908, Reid had been appointed the official architect of the Roman Catholic Separate School Board in Toronto, and between the years 1910 and 1920, he designed many school throughout the city. He was also the architect of the York Theatre on Yonge Street, north of Bloor. Reid chose an unadorned facade for the new Shea’s theatre, with an elaborate cornice and beneath it, modillions that resembled large dentils. The design of the facade facing Victoria Street was symmetrical, except for the ground floor, where there was a door to the right of the entrance. A plain rectangular canopy over the entrance protected patrons from inclement weather as they alighted from cabs and carriages or entered on foot.

Determined to offer the best vaudeville and legitimate theatre in the city, the Shea brothers competed with the Princess and Royal Alexandra Theatres on King Street. In some respects this was not accurate, as the latter two theatres did not offer vaudeville. However, the Shea brothers did compete for popular touring plays. Shea’s Victoria, which was simply referred to as the Victoria, contained two balconies, the combined seating capacity approximately 1800 seats, of which 700 were on the ground-floor level. The projection booth was at the rear of the second balcony. A 1909 issue of Construction Magazine, a highly respected periodical, gave the theatre a positive review for its architectural design. 

Despite the increasing popularity of films, the Victoria continued to offer live theatre. Barry Jones, a famous British film star in the 1920s, performed at the Victoria in 1926. In later years, Jones played Aristotle in the film “Alexander the Great.” This movie was released 1956, Richard Burton playing the role of Alexander. Jones retained fond memories of the Victoria, but stated that the Royal Alexandra was the finest theatre of them all. On April 16, 1936, “Ten Minute Alibi,” a smash hit from London’s West End, where it had played for two years, opened at the Victoria. It was one of many road shows performed at the theatre. These shows usually played between one and eight weeks, depending on ticket sales. Eventually, Famous Players purchased the theatre.  

When vaudeville died, the Victoria closed. Though empty, it was employed for special events and for charity fund-raisers, such as those for Crippled Children’s. Jewish stage plays were also performed in the theatre. Since it was not in continuous use, during the early years of World War II, big-name theatrical acts rehearsed at the Victoria prior to being shipped overseas to entertain the troops. 

About the year 1944, Famous Players submitted a request for a license to convert the theatre exclusively for movies. The license was granted on December 3, 1945, the capacity listed as 1896 seats. However, difficulties with the licensing authorities continued as the top balcony did not contain proper exists, the aisles blocking the escape route. The authorities ordered the upper balcony closed. In 1947, with a reduction in seating capacity to 1260, another licence was issued. The same year, a candy bar was installed.  During the summer of 1949, the theatre closed for renovations. It received new seating and a new floor in the auditorium. These were completed by January 1950.

The newly renovated Victoria continued as one of Toronto’s largest movie theatres. However, as attendance declined, the theatre’s size made it difficult to fill. No longer profitable, it was demolished in April 1956 by the wrecking company of A. Badali, and the site became a parking lot.

"Toronto's old Shea's Victoria Theatre" Historic Toronto. tayloronhistory.com/2015/04/17/torontos-old-sheas-victoria-theatre/

Shea's Theatre, Victoria Street, s.e.cor. Richmond St. E..jpg - 1955  Salmon, James Victor. "Shea's Theatre, Victoria Street, s.e. cor. Richmond St. E." Toronto Public Library. Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Collection, S 1-3287.  www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDMDC-PICTURES-R-5617&R=DC-PICTURES-R-5617

Shea's Theatre, Victoria Street, s.e.cor. Richmond St. E..jpg - 1955

Salmon, James Victor. "Shea's Theatre, Victoria Street, s.e. cor. Richmond St. E." Toronto Public Library. Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Collection, S 1-3287.

www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDMDC-PICTURES-R-5617&R=DC-PICTURES-R-5617

Auditorium of the Victoria  Taylor, Doug. "Toronto's old Shea's Victoria Theatre." Historic Toronto: Information on Toronto's History. April 2017.   tayloronhistory.com/2015/04/17/torontos-old-sheas-victoria-theatre/

Auditorium of the Victoria

Taylor, Doug. "Toronto's old Shea's Victoria Theatre." Historic Toronto: Information on Toronto's History. April 2017.

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

Shea’s Victoria Theatre - Lobby - 1946  Taylor, Doug. "Toronto's old Shea's Victoria Theatre." Historic Toronto: Information on Toronto's History. April 2017.   tayloronhistory.com/2015/04/17/torontos-old-sheas-victoria-theatre/

Shea’s Victoria Theatre - Lobby - 1946

Taylor, Doug. "Toronto's old Shea's Victoria Theatre." Historic Toronto: Information on Toronto's History. April 2017.

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

Auditorium of the Victoria, the organ and organist visible on the left-thand side of the stage.   Photo Toronto Archives, Series 1278 File 166  Taylor, Doug. "Toronto's old Shea's Victoria Theatre." Historic Toronto: Information on Toronto's History. April 2017.   tayloronhistory.com/2015/04/17/torontos-old-sheas-victoria-theatre/

Auditorium of the Victoria, the organ and organist visible on the left-thand side of the stage.

Photo Toronto Archives, Series 1278 File 166

Taylor, Doug. "Toronto's old Shea's Victoria Theatre." Historic Toronto: Information on Toronto's History. April 2017.

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

Shea's Theatre, Victoria St., view from rear during demolition - 1956  Salmon, James Victor. "Shea's Theatre, Victoria St., s.e. cor. Richmond St. E.; view from rear, during demolition." Toronto Public Library. Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Collection, S 1-3524A.  www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDMDC-PICTURES-R-5615&R=DC-PICTURES-R-5615

Shea's Theatre, Victoria St., view from rear during demolition - 1956

Salmon, James Victor. "Shea's Theatre, Victoria St., s.e. cor. Richmond St. E.; view from rear, during demolition." Toronto Public Library. Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Collection, S 1-3524A.

www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDMDC-PICTURES-R-5615&R=DC-PICTURES-R-5615

Shea's Hippodrome

Shea’s Hippodrome

 

Address: 440-448 Bay St. (pp.71)

The Toronto City Directory 1924. Might Directories Ltd. 1924. Toronto Public Library. 

archive.org/stream/torontocitydirectory1924#page/n11/mode/2up

 

History

The next "movie palace" that opened in Toronto was Shae's Hippodrome on Bay St., north of Queen.[...]

Two Ontario-born brothers, Jerry and Michael Shea were the enterprising businessmen who built the theatre, at a cost of $245,000, an enormous amount of money in 1914. The brotehrs were later to relocate their residences to Buffalo, New York, where they eventually owne twenty0three theatre in the Buffalo area, as well as three in Toronto.

When the Hippodrome opened on April 27, 1914, it was the largest vaudeville house in Canada. It contained 3,200 seats, evenly divided between the auditorium and the balcony. The Hippodrome's enamelled white-brick, terra cotta facade dominated Bay Street, with only the west facade fo the Old City Hall across it being more impressive. On the north and south corners of the theatre's east facade were copper-topped towers. The massive marquee soared forty-six feet above the entrance, and its lobby was the large the city at the time. To reduce the time people spent in the ticket lines, sales booths were located on both sides of the lobby.

On the evening the Hippodrome opened, the feature film was Run for Cover, starring James Cagney. The theatre's auditorium contained intricate plaster mouldings that were painted ivory and gold. The walls and ceiling were decorated in gold and grey. The ceilings contained huge panels that created a massive dome. The twelve opera boxes had polished brass railings. [...]

In 1924, Shea's Hippodrome presented a new marvel: the "phonofilm", which combined the media of raido and moving pictures to create a "talkie."

In 1926, the Hippodrome was renovated. A Wurlitzer organ was installed, at a cost of $50,000, and the famous organist Roland Todd was hired to perform on the grand instrument.

In 1957, as the attendance of movie theatres began to lag, they demolished the great theatre. Theatre's organ was sold for than $500 and relocated to Maple Leaf Gardens. Today, it is in Casa Loma. The site of Shea's Hippodrome is now a part of Nathan Philips Square in front of city hall.

Taylor, Doug. "Shea's Hippodrome". Toronto Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen. The History Press, 2014. 

books.google.ca/books?id=zHyACQAAQBAJ&pg=PT28&lpg=PT28&dq=Shea's+hippodrome&source=bl&ots=BWpV3V9pn0&sig=V18EmYYV_Gw7mmV2lsH9EYTZ_Jo:

Shea’s Hippodrome  Salmon, James Victor. "Shea's Hippodrome, Bay St., w. side, s. of Albert St." 1953. Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Collection, S 1-2569. www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDMDC-PICTURES-R-4067&R=DC-PICTURES-R-4067  Salmon's silver gelatin print, Acc. S 2-2569; 129 x 177 mm.; Inscribed by him in dark blue ballpoint pen, vso t.: Shea's Hippodrome Theatre 80 ft south of the s/w cor. of Bay & / Albert St. Apr. 3/55|1953 Apr 03

Shea’s Hippodrome

Salmon, James Victor. "Shea's Hippodrome, Bay St., w. side, s. of Albert St." 1953. Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Collection, S 1-2569. www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDMDC-PICTURES-R-4067&R=DC-PICTURES-R-4067

Salmon's silver gelatin print, Acc. S 2-2569; 129 x 177 mm.; Inscribed by him in dark blue ballpoint pen, vso t.: Shea's Hippodrome Theatre 80 ft south of the s/w cor. of Bay & / Albert St. Apr. 3/55|1953 Apr 03

Shae’s Hippodrome - Interior  Auditorium and Stage of Shea's Hippodrome. Ontario Archives, RG 56-11-0-325.   books.google.ca/books?id=zHyACQAAQBAJ&pg=PT28&lpg=PT28&dq=Shea's+hippodrome&source=bl&ots=BWpV3V9pn0&sig=V18EmYYV_Gw7mmV2lsH9EYTZ_Jo&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwignOqAxebTAhVq2IMKHZT6DSs4ChDoAQgzMAU#v=onepage&q=Shea's%20hippodrome&f=false

Shae’s Hippodrome - Interior

Auditorium and Stage of Shea's Hippodrome. Ontario Archives, RG 56-11-0-325.

books.google.ca/books?id=zHyACQAAQBAJ&pg=PT28&lpg=PT28&dq=Shea's+hippodrome&source=bl&ots=BWpV3V9pn0&sig=V18EmYYV_Gw7mmV2lsH9EYTZ_Jo&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwignOqAxebTAhVq2IMKHZT6DSs4ChDoAQgzMAU#v=onepage&q=Shea's%20hippodrome&f=false

Shea’s Hippodrome - Interior - 1914  Taylor, Doug. "Memories of Toronto's Shea's Hippodrome Theatre." Historic Toronto: Information on Toronto's History. tayloronhistory.com/2012/03/06/old-movie-houses-of-toronto-fond-memories-of-sheas-hippodrome/

Shea’s Hippodrome - Interior - 1914

Taylor, Doug. "Memories of Toronto's Shea's Hippodrome Theatre." Historic Toronto: Information on Toronto's History. tayloronhistory.com/2012/03/06/old-movie-houses-of-toronto-fond-memories-of-sheas-hippodrome/

Royal Lyceum Theatre

Royal Lyceum Theatre

 

Address: 99 1/2 King St. W (pp.250)

Mitchell's Toronto Directory for 1864-5; containing an Alphabetical Directory of the Citizens, a Street Directory, a Business Directoy, or Classified List of Business, Trades and Professions; and an appendix of much Useful Information. W.C. Chewett & Co., 1864. 

static.torontopubliclibrary.ca/da/pdfs/37131055361174d.pdf

History

The Royal Lyceum was the first building in Toronto to be erected for exclusive theatre use, the first proper theatre in town, and, from all accounts, the first proper theatre in Ontario. Histories differ on the matter of an opening date, although according to the Toronto Globe at the time, the theatre opened on 28 December 1848. The main facade of the building presented a two-storey masonry front with four pilasters carrying a pediment into which was inserted a half-round attic window. Below are three entrance doorways. Two precarious-looking wood stoops are indicated, with steps to grade. A Sketch plan and interior perspective by F.H. Granger, dated 24 September 1849, gives a general picture of the likely arrangement of the house and backstage. The auditorium evidently had the usual pit seating, with a balcony and gallery on two levels above. Supported on posts and encircling the house in horseshoe fashion, the balcony and circle terminated at boxes on each side of the proscenium. A Brithish Colonist article on 21 December 1848 notes tha tthe theatre accommodated an audience of 600 to 700 comfortably, although likely all the seating consisted of benches. 

Granger's sketch of the stage indidcates a depth of twenty-nine feet from curtain line to back wall and a width of twenty-six feet, giving a playing area eighteen feet wide inside wings. A height shown of twenty feet possibly referred to the clear distance between stage floor and timber roof trusses above. Eleven footlight lanterns are inidcated in the Granger floor plan, as well as an orchestra pit which did not appear to be depressed below auditorium floor level.

John Nickinson leased the Royal Lyceum in 1852 and, after completeing renovations of the premises, reopened the theatre on 28 March 1853. Nickinson possibly reconstructed the boxes, the occupants of which previously faced the audience instead of the stage. Later complaints concerning the Lyceum's uncharitable benches, dim gas lighting, and tarnished gilt suggest, however, that he had not improved conditions quite enough in matters of public comfort. [...]

Following a fire in 1874, the Lyceum was reconstructed by the new proprietor, James French, to the designs of his architect, Wallace Hume of Chicago. The building then became known as the Royal Theatre, or the Royal Opera House. (pp. 218-221)

Fairfield, Robert. "Theatres and Performance Halls." Early Stages: Theatre in Ontario 1800-1914. Editor Ann Saddlemyer. University of Toronto, 1990. pp. 214-287.

Royal Lyceum Theatre - Exterior  Cotton, John Wesley. "Royal Lyceum Theatre, King St. W., s. side, between Bay & York Sts." Toronto Public Library. Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Collection, JRR 857.  www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?R=DC-PICTURES-R-6837

Royal Lyceum Theatre - Exterior

Cotton, John Wesley. "Royal Lyceum Theatre, King St. W., s. side, between Bay & York Sts." Toronto Public Library. Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Collection, JRR 857.

www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?R=DC-PICTURES-R-6837

Granger, Francis Hincks. "Royal Lyceum Theatre, King St. W., s. side, between Bay & York Sts.; interior, ground floor plan." Toronto Public Library. Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Collection, B 2-68b.  www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDMDC-PICTURES-R-6511&R=DC-PICTURES-R-6511

Granger, Francis Hincks. "Royal Lyceum Theatre, King St. W., s. side, between Bay & York Sts.; interior, ground floor plan." Toronto Public Library. Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Collection, B 2-68b.

www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDMDC-PICTURES-R-6511&R=DC-PICTURES-R-6511

Royal Lyceum Theatre - Interior  Granger, Francis Hincks. "Royal Lyceum Theatre, King St. W., s.side, between Bay & York Sts.; interior, view from stage." Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Collection, B 2-68a.   www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?R=DC-PICTURES-R-6509

Royal Lyceum Theatre - Interior

Granger, Francis Hincks. "Royal Lyceum Theatre, King St. W., s.side, between Bay & York Sts.; interior, view from stage." Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Collection, B 2-68a.

www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?R=DC-PICTURES-R-6509

Regent Theatre

Regent Theatre

 

Address: 551 Mount Pleasant Rd.


Also Known As: The Regent, The Belsize, The Crest


History

The Regent Theatre Toronto on Mount Pleasant Road is an old neighbourhood theatre that opened in 1927. It was designed by architect Murray Brown, a Scotsman who opened his practice in Toronto in 1914. In the 20s, as the city expanded northward, the empty fields and dirt roads of Mount Pleasant soon disappeared alongside a building boom. When the Regent opened in 1927, it did so as The Belsize, after the neighborhood in London, England. The theatre was built with an impressive lobby, opening to an opulent façade complete with decorative arches, ornate plaster trim, and small Venetian-style balconies for box seats. The stage was built to accommodate live stage productions as well as moving pictures. The Belsize had 726 leatherette seats and an additional 205 in the balcony.

The front of the Regent Theatre Toronto is symmetrical, on the second floor, there are large windows, topped by Roman arches. Stone trim was added to the façade to create a formal but attractive appearance. In the middle of the pediment, below the peaked roof, there is a large stone crest. The roof is terra cotta tile.

In 1953, the Belsize ceased screening film for an interim of nearly twenty years. It was renovated and reopened as the Crest, a venue exclusively dedicated to live theatre. As the only other theatre offering live stage performances was the Royal Alexandra, which featured plays and musicals from the American touring companies, many felt that a theatre for Canadian talent was needed, and the Crest was invented to fulfil this position. During the 1960s it was well known for its annual satirical review — the “Spring Thaw.”

In March of 1971, the theatre began screening films once again. In 1988, it was again extensively renovated and reopened as The Regent Theatre. The name Regent had been employed by two of Toronto’s earlier theatres. One of them was on the southwest corner of John and Adelaide Streets. However, it retained the name between the years 1884 and 1890 only, and then became the Majestic. It was demolished in 1930. Another Regent Theatre was at 225 Queen Street East, west of Sherbourne, but it too was demolished. 

Thankfully, the Regent on Mount Pleasant Avenue has survived into the modern era. The old Belsize Theatre lives on.

Taylor, Doug. "Toronto's old movie theatres - the Regent (the Belsize, the Crest)". Historic Toronto.  tayloronhistory.com/2013/12/21/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-regent-mt-pleasant/

Regent Theatre Interior - 1927  "About/History." The Regent Theatre Toronto. regenttoronto.com/about/  City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 27.

Regent Theatre Interior - 1927

"About/History." The Regent Theatre Toronto. regenttoronto.com/about/

City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 27.

Regent Theatre - Orchestra Rehearsal - 1927  "Regent Theatre Orchestra" City of Toronto Archives. Fonds 1266, Item 10106.

Regent Theatre - Orchestra Rehearsal - 1927

"Regent Theatre Orchestra" City of Toronto Archives. Fonds 1266, Item 10106.

Belsize Theatre - Exterior -   Taylor, Doug. "Toronto's old movie theatres - the Regent (the Belsize, the Crest)". Historic Toronto. City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 27.  tayloronhistory.com/2013/12/21/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-regent-mt-pleasant/

Belsize Theatre - Exterior -

Taylor, Doug. "Toronto's old movie theatres - the Regent (the Belsize, the Crest)". Historic Toronto. City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 27.

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

Belsize Theatre - Lobby  Taylor, Doug. "Toronto's old movie theatres - the Regent (the Belsize, the Crest)". Historic Toronto. City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, Fl. 27.  tayloronhistory.com/2013/12/21/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-regent-mt-pleasant/

Belsize Theatre - Lobby

Taylor, Doug. "Toronto's old movie theatres - the Regent (the Belsize, the Crest)". Historic Toronto. City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, Fl. 27.

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

Regent Theatre - Interior   "About/History." The Regent Theatre Toronto. regenttoronto.com/about/

Regent Theatre - Interior

"About/History." The Regent Theatre Toronto. regenttoronto.com/about/

Queen's Theatre

Queen’s Theatre

 

Address: 90 King St. W 

Toronto Directory, for 1876Containg an Alphabetical Directory of the Citizens, and a Street Directory, with Classfiied Business Directory and a Miscellaneous Directory..." Fisher & Taylor, 1876. Toronto Public Library. 

static.torontopubliclibrary.ca/da/pdfs/1316821003.pdf


History

Queen's Theatre

An early theatre existed on the north side of King Street West, ambiguously knows as the Lyceum Theatre, until another theatre replaced it at that location, opening on 11 May 1874 under the name of the Queen's Theatre. By opening with Lady Audley's Secret plus a variety program, the Queen's sponosrs clearly intended the new house to be a variety theatre. According to the Toronto Mail of 29 April 1874, the theatre was 'constructed entirely without stairs, the whole occupying a spacious ground floor.' Audience capacity was reported to be 1,000, arranged in a parquette, dress circle, and amphitheatre, addressing a stage of sixty by forty feet. Destroyed by fire on 23 April 1883, the Queen's had caatered to abundant tast for the mroe popular forms of theatrical entertainment, which could have accounted in some measure for its more egalitarian floor plan. (pp.222)

 

Fairfield, Robert. "Theatres and Performance Halls." Early Stages: Theatre in Ontario 1800-1914. Edited by Ann Saddlemyer. University of Toronto Press, 1990. pp. 214-287.


Cf. pen & ink drawing 189? by W. J. Thomson reproduced in Landmarks of Toronto v.1, p.490, and also pen & ink drawing, ca 1888? reproduced in Evening Telegram series 'Landmarks of Toronto' 16 May 1889. Former printed JRR caption referred to the present as 1913, and described the building as "Originally Second Drill Shed in City."  Thomson, W.J. "Queen's Theatre, King St. W., n. side, betw. Bay & York Sts." Virtual Reference Library. Baldwin Collection, Toronto Reference Library, JRR 858. Accessed June 21, 2017. www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDMDC-PICTURES-R-5399&R=DC-PICTURES-R-5399&searchPageType=vrl

Cf. pen & ink drawing 189? by W. J. Thomson reproduced in Landmarks of Toronto v.1, p.490, and also pen & ink drawing, ca 1888? reproduced in Evening Telegram series 'Landmarks of Toronto' 16 May 1889. Former printed JRR caption referred to the present as 1913, and described the building as "Originally Second Drill Shed in City."

Thomson, W.J. "Queen's Theatre, King St. W., n. side, betw. Bay & York Sts." Virtual Reference Library. Baldwin Collection, Toronto Reference Library, JRR 858. Accessed June 21, 2017. www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDMDC-PICTURES-R-5399&R=DC-PICTURES-R-5399&searchPageType=vrl

Park Theatre

Park Theatre

 

Also Known As: Bedford Theatre


The above photo of the Bedford Theatre (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 23, SC 612), was taken in 1926, likely the year it opened. Later renamed the Park, the theatre was located at 3291 Yonge Street, on the east side of the street, near Glenforest Road. 

In the 19th century, the area had been a farming community to the north of the city, and a favourite stop-over for farmers hauling their produce to Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market. In the early decades of the 20th century, the area developed as a middle-class residential community, with mostly semi-detached houses. Eventually it possessed sufficient population to support a movie theatre. The Bedford Theatre was designed by Murray Brown, who was also the architect for the Belsize Theatre on Mount Pleasant Road, which survives to this day, although it has been renamed the Regent. The Bedford Theatre possessed Mediterranean style architecture, with a white stucco facade and terracotta tiles on the steeply-sloped roof. 

In the early 1940s, the name of the theatre was changed to the Park, and operated by Famous Players Corporation. In 1948 the management of the Bedford was chastised by the authorities for holding a Thursday afternoon matinee without proper authorization. The following year, the theatre was again in trouble. It opened on a Sunday afternoon to allow actors to audition for an amateur production, which was against the law since Sunday openings were forbidden. The theatre argued that only 20 people were in the theatre at the time and no admission charge had been paid by those who attended. The matter was dropped.  

On January 23, 1948 the theatre was robbed at gun point, but the thief was apprehended within fifteen minutes. The police arrested him in another theatre, where he had attempted to hide in the darkness amid the patrons. The same year, the theatre was extensively renovated, and in June of the following year, air-conditioning was installed.

In 1951, the theatre was again in  trouble with the law as it allowed its Saturday evening screenings to extend past midnight. On one occasion, it was discovered that a film had ended at 12:45 a.m., a major offence. It seems that the theatre possessed a propensity for offending the provincial regulations.  

After the theatre ceased screening films, it was employed for other commercial enterprises, but the walls and facade of the theatre remain.

 

Taylor, Doug. "The Bedford (Park Theatre, Toronto, on north Yonge St." Historic Toronto: Information on Toronto's History. tayloronhistory.com/2014/01/07/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-bedford-park-theatre-on-north-yonge-st/


Park Theatre Exterior - c. 1950.   Taylor, Doug. "The theatre c. 1950 when it was named the Park." Historic Toronto: Information on Toronto's History. Ontario Archives, AO 2163. tayloronhistory.com/2014/01/07/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-bedford-park-theatre-on-north-yonge-st/

Park Theatre Exterior - c. 1950.

Taylor, Doug. "The theatre c. 1950 when it was named the Park." Historic Toronto: Information on Toronto's History. Ontario Archives, AO 2163. tayloronhistory.com/2014/01/07/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-bedford-park-theatre-on-north-yonge-st/

Bedford Theatre Interior -   Taylor, Doug. "The Bedford (Park Theatre, Toronto, on north Yonge St." Historic Toronto: Information on Toronto's History. City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 23. tayloronhistory.com/2014/01/07/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-bedford-park-theatre-on-north-yonge-st/

Bedford Theatre Interior -

Taylor, Doug. "The Bedford (Park Theatre, Toronto, on north Yonge St." Historic Toronto: Information on Toronto's History. City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 23. tayloronhistory.com/2014/01/07/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-bedford-park-theatre-on-north-yonge-st/

Bedford Theatre Exterior -   Taylor, Doug. "The Bedford (Park Theatre, Toronto, on north Yonge St." Historic Toronto: Information on Toronto's History. City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 23, SC612). tayloronhistory.com/2014/01/07/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-bedford-park-theatre-on-north-yonge-st/

Bedford Theatre Exterior -

Taylor, Doug. "The Bedford (Park Theatre, Toronto, on north Yonge St." Historic Toronto: Information on Toronto's History. City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 23, SC612). tayloronhistory.com/2014/01/07/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-bedford-park-theatre-on-north-yonge-st/

Bedford Theatre Lobby  Taylor, Doug. "The Bedford (Park Theatre, Toronto, on north Yonge St." Historic Toronto: Information on Toronto's History. City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 23, SC 612. tayloronhistory.com/2014/01/07/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-bedford-park-theatre-on-north-yonge-st/

Bedford Theatre Lobby

Taylor, Doug. "The Bedford (Park Theatre, Toronto, on north Yonge St." Historic Toronto: Information on Toronto's History. City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 23, SC 612. tayloronhistory.com/2014/01/07/torontos-old-movie-theatresthe-bedford-park-theatre-on-north-yonge-st/

Massey Hall

Massey Hall

 

Address: 178 Victoria Street

History

DESCRIPTION OF HISTORIC PLACE

Massey Hall is a three-storey, red brick concert hall located in downtown Toronto. Built in a late Palladian style at the end of the nineteenth century, it was Toronto's major concert hall for much of the twentieth century and is renowned for the warmth of its acoustics.

HERITAGE VALUE

Massey Hall was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1981 because it has served as one of Canada's most important cultural institutions and has earned widespread renown for its outstanding acoustics.

The heritage value of Massey Hall lies in its historic role and a cultural institution and in the functional design which resulted in excellent acoustic conditions. These values are illustrated by the physical and design properties of the building. Massey Hall was a gift to the City of Toronto from wealthy industrialist Hart Massey (1823-1896). He commissioned the design from Canadian-born Cleveland architect S.R.Badgeley. Since it opened in 1894 Massey Hall has provided Toronto with concert facilities which have encouraged the development of the city's music community, in particular the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. Interior modifications occurred in 1933 and 1948. The "warm" quality of its acoustics have attracted audiences, orchestras, soloists and speakers from around the world for over a century.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1981.

CHARACTER-DEFINING ELEMENTS

Key elements that contribute to the heritage value of this site include:
- the location in downtown Toronto;
- its siting flush to the sidewalk;
- the conservative late Palladian-revival style of architecture with its slightly projecting pedimented centre block and lower, hipped roof side wings;
- the restrained use of classical elements on the façade, including the symmetrically organized round and flat-headed windows divided by fluted pilasters, a decorated pediment, and triple portal entry under its inscribed name; 
- its red brick facing with stone detailing; 
- its steel frame construction technology; 
- the organization of the auditorium with a relatively small stage with 8 tiers of seats behind and 6 boxes on either side, a segmented orchestra area, dense 3-tiered seating arrangement with a U-shaped gallery and balcony supported by cast iron columns;
- Moorish elements of its interior decor (ogee balcony arches, horseshoe-shaped box arches, scalloped ceiling hangings with delicately carved trim, Moorish motifs), and use of rich interior materials and coverings;
- the dimensions and arrangement of interior spaces, surfacing finishings and structural materials that foster its idiosyncratic acoustics; 
- surviving original interior layout including basement offices, storage areas and rehearsal hall, small vestibule with ticket office and stairs leading to upper levels of the concert hall;
- surviving evidence of the rich materials and decorative elements of the lobby, dating from 1934 as well as evidence and memorabilia associated with the former decoration and use of the hall.

"Massey Hall National Historic Site of Canada" Canada's Historic Places. Parks Canada. www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=9369&pid=0

Massey Hall Exterior

Massey Hall Exterior

Massey Hall Stage - 1993  Bateman, Chris. "A brief history of Toronto's iconic Massey Hall." blogTO. 22 June 2013. www.blogto.com/city/2013/06/a_brief_history_of_torontos_iconic_massey_hall/

Massey Hall Stage - 1993

Bateman, Chris. "A brief history of Toronto's iconic Massey Hall." blogTO. 22 June 2013. www.blogto.com/city/2013/06/a_brief_history_of_torontos_iconic_massey_hall/

Elgin & Winter Garden Theatres

Elgin & Winter Garden Theatres

 

Address: 189 Yonge Street


Also Known As: Loew’s Downtown Theatre

History

At this magnificent National Historic Site, you can bask in the gilded elegance of the Elgin Theatre, and then go upstairs to gaze in amazement at the leafy ceiling of the Winter Garden Theatre, seven storeys above the Elgin.

Rescued by the Ontario Heritage Trust in 1981 and meticulously restored to its original grandeur, this former vaudeville house is the last operating double-decker theatre in the world. A popular venue for the performing arts, the centre hosts theatre, opera and ballet productions, as well as corporate gatherings and other special events.

Designed by prominent New York architect Thomas W. Lamb and built as the Canadian flagship for Marcus Loew's growing chain of vaudeville houses, the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre contains two large theatres, stacked one above the other. Fewer than a dozen of these double-decker theatres were built, and the Toronto complex – the only one of its kind constructed in Canada – is now the last one operating in the world.

The lower house, the Elgin, originally known as Loew's Yonge Street Theatre, opened in late 1913. Its gilded plaster details, faux marble finishes and damask wall fabrics dazzled patrons. During its 30-month restoration by the Ontario Heritage Trust in the mid-1980s, over 300,000 sheets of wafer-thin aluminum leaf were used in a seven-step process to re-gild the plaster details.

The Winter Garden Theatre opened upstairs in 1914. Decorated to resemble a rooftop garden in full bloom, its walls were hand-painted with garden scenes, its columns disguised as tree trunks and its ceiling and balcony soffit hung with an astonishing combination of real beech leaves, cotton blossoms and garden lanterns. For its restoration, over 5,000 real beech branches were harvested, preserved, painted and painstakingly woven into wire grids suspended from the theatre's ceiling.

One of the Centre's greatest treasures, discovered during the restoration, is the world's largest collection of vaudeville scenery – hand-painted cloth flats and drops dating from 1913 to 1918. Several restored pieces, including the magnificent Butterfly Scenery and Scarab flats, are displayed at the Theatre Centre.

"Buildings: Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre" Ontario Heritage Trust. Ontario Heritage Trust.

www.heritagetrust.on.ca/en/index.php/properties/elgin-and-winter-garden-theatre-centre

Timeline

1913 – December 15: Loew's Yonge Street Theatre opens as the flagship for Loew's chain of Canadian vaudeville theatres. Built by Marcus Loew and designed by architect Thomas Lamb

1914 – February 16: the Loew's roof garden theatre, the Winter Garden, opens

1928 – May: Due to the decline of vaudeville's popularity and the advent of talking pictures, the Winter Garden is closed to the public; the lower auditorium remains open and is wired for sound

1930 – October 3: Loew drops vaudeville in favour of an all-movie program in the Yonge Street Theatre

1978 – March 17: The Yonge Street Theatre is re-named the Elgin

1981 – December 1: The Ontario Heritage Trust purchases the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres to restore them for use as a performing arts complex. What is believed to be the world's largest collection of vaudeville scenery is purchased along with the building – pieces from the collection are displayed in the cascading lobbies

1982 – June: The Winter Garden Theatre is declared a National Historic Site; designation of the Elgin follows shortly thereafter

1984 – October: Retrofit of the Elgin Theatre and restoration of the colonnaded lobby takes place

1985 – March 14: The celebrated production of "Cats" opens in the Elgin Theatre for a two-year run

1987 – May: Full restoration begins

1989 – December 15: After almost three years of restoration, the grand reopening of the historic Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres takes place – exactly 76 years after the original opening of the Loew's Yonge Street Theatre

"History: Timeline" The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre. Ontario Heritage Trust. 

www.heritagetrust.on.ca/en/index.php/ewg/ewg-home/history/timeline

"Elgin & Wintergarden Theatres". Eatertainment. Eatertainment catering, 2014. www.eatertainment.com/venue/elgin-wintergarden-theatres/

"Elgin & Wintergarden Theatres". Eatertainment. Eatertainment catering, 2014. www.eatertainment.com/venue/elgin-wintergarden-theatres/

Elgin Theatre - Interior  "Buildings: Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre" Ontario Heritage Trust. Ontario Heritage Trust.  www.heritagetrust.on.ca/en/index.php/properties/elgin-and-winter-garden-theatre-centre

Elgin Theatre - Interior

"Buildings: Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre" Ontario Heritage Trust. Ontario Heritage Trust.

www.heritagetrust.on.ca/en/index.php/properties/elgin-and-winter-garden-theatre-centre

Elgin Theatre - Entrance  Haic, Deborah. "In Pictures: The century-old Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre." The Globe and Mail, 3 Oct. 2013.   www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/in-pictures-elgin-and-winter-garden-theatre/article14677367/

Elgin Theatre - Entrance

Haic, Deborah. "In Pictures: The century-old Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre." The Globe and Mail, 3 Oct. 2013.

www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/in-pictures-elgin-and-winter-garden-theatre/article14677367/

Elgin - Grand Stairwell  "Buildings: Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre" Ontario Heritage Trust. Ontario Heritage Trust.  www.heritagetrust.on.ca/en/index.php/properties/elgin-and-winter-garden-theatre-centre

Elgin - Grand Stairwell

"Buildings: Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre" Ontario Heritage Trust. Ontario Heritage Trust.

www.heritagetrust.on.ca/en/index.php/properties/elgin-and-winter-garden-theatre-centre

Winter Garden Theatre - Interior  "Buildings: Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre" Ontario Heritage Trust. Ontario Heritage Trust.  www.heritagetrust.on.ca/en/index.php/properties/elgin-and-winter-garden-theatre-centre

Winter Garden Theatre - Interior

"Buildings: Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre" Ontario Heritage Trust. Ontario Heritage Trust.

www.heritagetrust.on.ca/en/index.php/properties/elgin-and-winter-garden-theatre-centre

Winter Garden Theatre - Interior  "Buildings: Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre" Ontario Heritage Trust. Ontario Heritage Trust.  www.heritagetrust.on.ca/en/index.php/properties/elgin-and-winter-garden-theatre-centre

Winter Garden Theatre - Interior

"Buildings: Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre" Ontario Heritage Trust. Ontario Heritage Trust.

www.heritagetrust.on.ca/en/index.php/properties/elgin-and-winter-garden-theatre-centre

The Winter Garden Theatre - Ceiling  Haic, Deborah. "In Pictures: The century-old Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre." The Globe and Mail, 3 Oct. 2013.   www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/in-pictures-elgin-and-winter-garden-theatre/article14677367/

The Winter Garden Theatre - Ceiling

Haic, Deborah. "In Pictures: The century-old Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre." The Globe and Mail, 3 Oct. 2013.

www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/in-pictures-elgin-and-winter-garden-theatre/article14677367/

Grand Opera House

The Grand Opera House

 

Address: 12 Adelaide St. W 


Source

The Toronto City Directory for 1888. R.L. Polk, 1888. static.torontopubliclibrary.ca/da/pdfs/1316282_4.pdf

"Grand Opera House


History

Toronto's Grand Opera House, located on Adelaide Street, west of Yonge Street in Toronto, opened to the public on 21 September 1874 and was managed by the remarkable and popular Charlotte Morrison. The building was erected by the Grand Opera House Company, with Lalor and Martin of Toronto as architects andT.D. Jackson of New York the consulting architect. 

The new Grand Opera House measured ninety-one feet by 208 feet, presenting a four-storey entrance front on Adelaide Street, described by one reviewer as a 'handsome rendering of florid Parisian renaissance.' A more flattering description attributed to the architects before opening, the Mail of 30 March 1874, stated there would be an inclined passage fifteen feet wide leading from the street to a glass roofed vestibule, which in turn was to connect directly to the main seating level of the house. On either side of the vestibule space, stairs would lead to upper galleries. According to the Canadian Illustrated News of 29 August 1874, the Grand had a 'seating capacity of 1323 and campstool and standing room for 500 more.' Although accounts of seating distribution differ, there were 620 folding opera chairs upholstered in crimson rep in the orchestra stalls, with the remaining seats in the dress circle, family circile, and eight private boxes, each of the latter having four loose chairs [...] 

In the 30 March 1874 issue of the Mail, the stage is described as being thirty-five feet wide by fiftey feet deep. Little evidence, so far, has been found to indicate what sort of fly loft existed over the stage, or how the scenery was moved about, except perhaps for the Bell Smith sketches, which show a stage of ample proportiaons having a loft height approaching forty-five feet. backstage elements were placed along the west side of building on three floor levels, including cast dressing-rooms, green room, property room, manager's office, and other facilities. A lane flanking the building on the east gave direct access to the stage.

The Grand Opera House burned on 29 November 1879, although apparently not to the ground, since it was reconstructed in fifty-one working days, reopening on 9 February 1880. Few changes were made in the house, it seeems, althrough Julius Cahn's Official Theatrical Guide of 1900 gives a total seating capacity of 1,707, a figure hard to accept when it is compared wit the original house capacity of 1,323. After the turn of the century, the Grand lost its place as Toronto's leading theatre, eclipsed first by the Princess and later by the Royal Alexandra. It had been empty for many years when in June 1928 it was pulled down." (pp.222-224)

Fairfield, Robert. "Theatres and Performance Halls." Early Stages: Theatre in Ontario 1800-1914. Editor Ann Saddlemyer. University of Toronto, 1990. pp. 214-287.



Toronto Historical Society Assessment


DETAILS OF SITE LOCATION: Located at 11 Adelaide Street West, the opera house was on the south side of Adelaide between Yonge and Bay. On its west side was a lane way named Johnson's Lane, now named Grand Opera Lane.


Boundary History: Bounded by Adelaide on the north side, Johnson's Lane on the west side, an unnamed lane on the east side, and backing onto an empty lot leading south to the Manning Arcade and the North of Scotland Chambers. Near its southwest corner were the Empire newspaper offices.


CURRENT USE OF PROPERTY: A building housing Wood Gundy.


HISTORICAL DESCRIPTION: The Grand Opera House was built in 1874 to become the major venue in the city for grand opera and for important theatrical performances. It fulfilled its ambitions and more. It opened in September 1874 with Sheridan's School for Scandal, then hosted a succession of international singing and stage stars. A fire destroyed the building in 1879, but it was rebuilt in only 51 days! Maurice Barrymore (father of Lionel, John, and Ethel) appeared there, as did Ellen Terry, Sarah Bernhardt, and a host of others. The Toronto Philharmonic Society gave concerts, including Handel's Messiah with singers from Mrs. Morrison's Opera Company. This event was pictured in the Canadian Illustrated Newsissue of January 1875. Mrs. Charlotte Morrison owned and managed the opera house, and gave it a brilliant record. O.B. Sheppard was a later manager, and moved on to manage the Princess. But it was mainly, and sadly, Ambrose Small for whom the opera house is remembered. Small was in the process of closing a sale of his theatrical assets to a syndicate, Trans Canada Theatres Ltd., when he vanished without a trace. At the end of her life, his wife confessed to murdering him and burning half of his dismembered body in the furnace of the opera house and disposing of the other half in the Rosedale Ravine. The case was never solved and remains a mystery today. The Small affair has overshadowed the brilliant history of the performing arts in the opera house, which brought the best in the world to Toronto and gave local talent many opportunities to shine. The Grand Opera House also demonstrated clearly that home grown impresarios had what it takes to reach the highest success. In 1927, eight years after Small's disappearance, the opera house was demolished.


REFERENCE SOURCES: Miles' Atlas 1878; Goad's Atlas 1884, 1890, 1900, 1910; Joan Parkhill Baillie, Look at the Record, 1985; Fred McClement, The Strange Case of Ambrose Small, 1974; Community History Project collections.


RELATIVE IMPORTANCE: No performing arts facility in Toronto's history quite equals that of the Grand Opera House. It is recalled in the name of the lane way existing today.


PLANNING IMPLICATIONS: In a densely developed section of the lower city, no archaeology is ever possible, but a large, permanent display giving some idea of its brilliant performing arts history should be encouraged for permanent mounting in the building that replaced it.

"Grand Opera House." Toronto Historical Association. torontohistory.net/grand-opera-house.html



Grand Opera House 1874

Grand Opera House 1874

Grand Opera House - 1921

Grand Opera House - 1921

Adelaide Street, south side, looking east from Bay Street - 1924

Adelaide Street, south side, looking east from Bay Street - 1924

Empire Theatre

The Empire Theatre

 

Address: 408 Queen Street East, Toronto ON

Also Known As: The Imperial, the Palton, the RIalto.

The Theatre that many people remember as the Empire, was originally named the Imperial. It opened in 1915 in a newly completed building named the Shepherd Refuge Building. When it opened it featured vaudeville and silent “moving pictures.” Located at 408 Queen Street East, it was on the north side of the street, between Parliament and Sackville. It contained 762 wooden seats and no balcony or air conditioning.

In 1922 its name was changed from the Imperial to the Palton, and in 1925, was renamed the Rialto. In February 1936, a report stated that there was no urinal in the men’s washroom, but only a toilet. The washroom was located at the bottom of the stairs, with only a flimsy wooden frame partition around it. The floor in it was wet and there was a bad smell. To make matters worse, the basement was often dark as teenage boys were constantly turning off the light switch as a prank. This made descending the wooden old stairs difficult. The inspector insisted that the light switch be protected so it would be accessible only to employees.

In 1942, the theatre was renovated and in that year its name remained the Rialto. A report in the Toronto Archives states that someone remembered that during the war years, “God Save the King” was played on a scratchy recording. In 1953, a candy bar was added to the theatre by removing seven seats in the back row of the auditorium, and in that year, the theatre’s name was the Empire. I was unable to discover the exact year that it became the Empire.

Taylor, Doug. "Toronto's Empire (Rialto, Palton) Theatre - Queen St. East." Historic Toronto: Information on Toronto's History.

tayloronhistory.com/tag/empire-theatre/





Taylor, Doug. "Toronto's Empire (Rialto, Palton) Theatre - Queen St. East." Historic Toronto: Information on Toronto's History.  tayloronhistory.com/tag/empire-theatre/

Taylor, Doug. "Toronto's Empire (Rialto, Palton) Theatre - Queen St. East." Historic Toronto: Information on Toronto's History.

tayloronhistory.com/tag/empire-theatre/

Beaver Theatre

The Beaver Theatre

 

Address: 2942 Dundas Street West

History

The district that became known as the Junction was originally a rural farming community to the northwest of Toronto. It centred around Keele and Dundas Street West. The name “Junction” was derived from the fact that it was at the “junction” of four railway lines. The southern terminal of the old Weston Road streetcars, which travelled north to the town of Weston, was at the Junction. The West Toronto Railway Station was on the east side of Keele Street, several blocks north of Dundas Street. The old stone railway bridge remains in use today, and continues to span Keele Street, although the railway station was demolished decades ago. 

The since the Junction was a transportation hub, more and more people built homes in the area. It eventually became the town of West Toronto, which was annexed to the city in 1909. With the increase in population, more businesses gravitated to the area as well. It was not long before someone realized that the town needed a movie theatre. The man who decided to fulfill this need was William Joy. In 1907, he had opened a small theatre for live performances, named the Wonderland. It must have been profitable, because in 1913, William Joy closed the Wonderland and opened the Beaver Theatre, which cost $60,000. His new theatre was to show “moving pictures” and to feature vaudeville acts. He managed the new theatre himself. It was he who insisted that the Beaver have a fire-proof picture curtain, and personally supervised its installation.    

The Beaver was located at 2942 Dundas Street West, near Pacific Avenue. It was an impressive structure, especially considering that it was remote from downtown Toronto, where the demographics provided more possibilities for patrons. It was one of the first structures in Toronto purposely built for showing  “moving pictures” (the Bay Theatre was the first, built in 1909). The Beaver’s architect was Neil G. Beggs, and the neoclassical facade that he created was quite ornate. Its symmetrical design included an ornamented cornice, with an impressive row of dentils (teeth-like designs) below it. The facade contained smooth, glossy terracotta tiles that were glazed with a light-yellow patina. The lower lobby and foyer possessed alternate mirrored panels with frames of terracotta and rouge-noir marble. The auditorium’s colour scheme was antique ivory and green, and it possessed a large mural of flying cupids.The seating capacity was approximately 800, including a narrow balcony that was 50’ by 176,’ decorated with various shades of bronze. There were box seats along the sides of the auditorium, the box seats closest to the stage less than 50’ from the actors. 

In 1918, the theatre was taken over by the Allen brothers, who owned the Allen Danforth and the the Allen Theatre at Adelaide and Victoria. In later years, the theatre was operated by  the B&F chain and was renovated and modernized. The box seats were removed, after the theatre was exclusively employed for movies. 

In 1961 the theatre was closed, being one of the first to succumb to the onslaught of television.

 

Taylor, Doug. "Memories of Toronto's Beaver Theatre on Dundas St. West". Historic Toronto.

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

Beaver Theatre Exterior - 1947  Taylor, Doug. "Memories of Toronto's Beaver Theatre on Dundas St. West".  Historic Toronto.  CIty of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 63.   tayloronhistory.com/2014/06/19/torontos-beaver-theatre-on-dundas-st-west/

Beaver Theatre Exterior - 1947

Taylor, Doug. "Memories of Toronto's Beaver Theatre on Dundas St. West". Historic Toronto. CIty of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 63.

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

Beaver Theatre Interior - 1947  Taylor, Doug. "Memories of Toronto's Beaver Theatre on Dundas St. West".  Historic Toronto.  CIty of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 63.   tayloronhistory.com/2014/06/19/torontos-beaver-theatre-on-dundas-st-west/

Beaver Theatre Interior - 1947

Taylor, Doug. "Memories of Toronto's Beaver Theatre on Dundas St. West". Historic Toronto. CIty of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 63.

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

Beaver Theatre Lobby - 1930  Taylor, Doug. "Memories of Toronto's Beaver Theatre on Dundas St. West".  Historic Toronto.  CIty of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 63.   tayloronhistory.com/2014/06/19/torontos-beaver-theatre-on-dundas-st-west/

Beaver Theatre Lobby - 1930

Taylor, Doug. "Memories of Toronto's Beaver Theatre on Dundas St. West". Historic Toronto. CIty of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 63.

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

Princess Theatre

The Princess Theatre

 

Address: 169-173 King St. W (pp.248)

1914 Toronto Directory. Might Directories Limited. 1914. Toronto Public Library.

static.torontopubliclibrary.ca/da/pdfs/torontodirec191400midiuoft.pdf

 

Also Known As: the Academy of Music

Princess Theatre

Toronto's second academy of Music opened on 6 November 1889 on King Street near York Street. After being remodelled in 1895, the Academy became known as the Princess Theatre. 

Beginning as a popular-priced playouose, the Princess functioned later as a stock house under the management of O.B. Sheppard. By 1901 it had been decided to run the Princess as a high-priced theatre, and after extetnsice alterations the house was reopened as such in September of that year.

A seating plan published in 1904 shows the orchestra and balcony levels of the Princess Theatre as having 698 and 375 seats, respectively, and in addition eight boxes are indicated, providing seating for fity or more. Together with gallery seating of some 500 patrons, the total seating capacity could have been in the order of 1,625. Less reliable perhaps is the Julius Cahn Theatrical Guide figure of 1,815 seats.

Photographs dated 10 May 1915, taken by the city architect after a disastrous fire at the theatre, furnish to only illustration of the auditorium so far found. The roof having burned away, what was left of the auditorium and stage was seen bathed in natural light, affording a rare photographic opportunity and giving us a reasonably accurate record of the first Princess Theatre interior.

The main floor appeared to have a gentle rake, without seating risers. The balcony had been framed in timber and supported on wrought-iron posts, the latter extending upward to carry the gallery framing above. Both balcony and gallery plans suggest a radisu curvature in the centre section, with seating in calipers on each side of the house, terminating at the boxes. The balcony front was of plaster, embellished with swags cast in thes ame material and likley picked out in gilt. The gallery balustrade was also plaster finished, although more modestly decorated, presumably in keeping with the cheaper seats.

The boxes, of which there were eight, seemed surprisingly untouched in the 1915 fire, even to the heavy velour draperies still elegantly framing each arched opening of the bupper boes. Richly detailed plaster work in the Edwardian mode framed the boxes and surrounds of the proscenium arch, displaying a stilted use of rosettes, sways, medaillions and other Baroque devices, all cast in plaster forms, which at that time could be purcahsed by the foot from mail-order houses.

From the 1915 photographs it would appear that the proscenium had a strcutural opening about thirty0five feet high and fifty feet wide. The stage appeared to be forty feet or so deep from curtain line to the upstage wall and about eighty feet wide. The height of the rigging loft above the stage could havn close to sixty-five feet. 

Recent studies suggest that the first Princess Theatre building accommodated an art gallery, a banqueting-room, and a drawing-room; also that stage and scene-handling equipment were, in some respects, unique in Toronto. The Princess, one can see, was a substantial and well-appointed theatre in its time, exlipsing the Grand in attracting discriminating audiences until the Royal Alexandra opened its doors in 1907.

Judging from the photographs, the fire of 1915 scarcely left the Princess a charred ruin. In any case a New Princess Theatre rose from the site of the old one in 1917, designed by architects C. Howard Crane and his associate Charles J. Read, on behalf of their client C.J. Whitney. Their building had a short life, however, for it was demolished in 1930 to make way for the extension of University Avenue. (pp.227-228).

Source:

Fairfield, Robert. "Theatres and Performance Halls." Early Stages: Theatre in Ontario 1800-1914. Edited by Ann Saddlemyer. University of Toronto Press, 1990. pp. 214-287.




Princess Theatre - seen from King Street, 1910.  "King St. W., south side, between York & Simcoe Sts., showing Princess Theatre. Toronto, Ont." Toronto Public Library. Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Collection, B 5-30b.  www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDMDC-B5-30B&R=DC-B5-30B

Princess Theatre - seen from King Street, 1910.

"King St. W., south side, between York & Simcoe Sts., showing Princess Theatre. Toronto, Ont." Toronto Public Library. Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Collection, B 5-30b.

www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDMDC-B5-30B&R=DC-B5-30B

Princess Theatre. November 14, 1913. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 372, Subseries 1, Item 64.

Princess Theatre. November 14, 1913. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 372, Subseries 1, Item 64.

"Princess Theatre ruins after fire." 10 May 1915. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 372, Subseries 1, Item 139.

"Princess Theatre ruins after fire." 10 May 1915. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 372, Subseries 1, Item 139.

"Princess Theatre ruins after fire." 10 May 1915. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 372, Subseries 1, Item 141.

"Princess Theatre ruins after fire." 10 May 1915. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 372, Subseries 1, Item 141.

"Princess Theatre ruins after fire." 10 May 1915. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 372, Subseries 1, Item 144.

"Princess Theatre ruins after fire." 10 May 1915. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 372, Subseries 1, Item 144.

"Princess Theatre ruins after fire." 10 May 1915. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 372, Subseries 1, Item 146.

"Princess Theatre ruins after fire." 10 May 1915. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 372, Subseries 1, Item 146.

"Princess Theatre ruins after fire." 10 May 1915. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 367.

"Princess Theatre ruins after fire." 10 May 1915. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 367.

"Princess Theatre ruins after fire." 10 May 1915. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 368.

"Princess Theatre ruins after fire." 10 May 1915. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 368.

"Princess Theatre ruins after fire." 10 May 1915. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 369.

"Princess Theatre ruins after fire." 10 May 1915. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 369.

Princess Theatre, King St. 11 Mar. 1929. Fonds 1266, Item 15895.

Princess Theatre, King St. 11 Mar. 1929. Fonds 1266, Item 15895.

Pickford Theatre

The Pickford Theatre

Address: 382 Queen Street West

 

Also Known As: The Auditorium Theatre, The Avenue Theatre

History

The Pickford Theatre at 382 Queen Street West was located on the northwest corner of Queen Street and Spadina Avenue. It opened in 1908 as the Auditorium Theatre, occupying the ground floor of the three-storey Moler Barber Building. Its entrance was on Queen Street, and it contained 356 seats with plush backs, but possessed no balcony. However, it contained a stage for live theatre and vaudeville. The floors above the theatre were rented for offices and as residential apartments. It’s corner location was ideal as the two streets it faced contained much foot traffic. As well, two of the busiest streetcar lines in the city passed by its doors (Queen and Spadina). 

The theatre was renovated in 1913, extending the auditorium slightly to the north. This allowed the seating capacity to be increased to 456 seats. The entrance was improved and its name was changed to the Avenue Theatre.

Source:

Taylor, Doug. "Toronto's old Pickford (Auditorium) Theatre at Queen and Spadina." Historic Toronto: Information on Toronto's History. 6 Jan. 2014. Accessed 4 Jul. 2017. 

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