Address: 551 Mount Pleasant Rd.
Also Known As: The Regent, The Belsize, The Crest
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/