Saturday, February 27, 2010

Pantages/Imperial/Imperial Six/Pantages/Canon Theatre

Built in 1920 and originally called The Pantages this was Canada's largest theatre, able to seat 3372. In 1930 the name was changed to the Imperial and it continued to operate until 1972 closing after a nine month long engagement of the Godfather.

On June 21, 1973 the redesigned theatre was re-opened as the Imperial Six and lasted until 1986 when a complicated leasing agreement split the theatre between two different owners.
It opened again briefly as the Pantages before closing for a complete restoration.
You can read the complete story here.
In July 2001 it was renamed the Canon Theatre.
Images courtesy of John Chuckman and Eric Viellette.

The Revue Cinema/ Then and Now

The Revue 2010.
The Revue Cinema on Roncesvalles in 1935.
The Revue Cinema on Roncesvalles was built in 1911 and had the distinction of being
the longest running theatre with it's original facade. That was until the supports gave way
and the entire canopy crashed to the sidewalk a couple of winters ago.
The Revue continues to operate as a single screen theatre and as such still an enjoyable place to go.

Old House on Spadina

This old house at 233 Spadina was built in the 1880's for Mr. Huson Murray and was used as a funeral home for a few years in the 1910's.
It's one of the last houses left on Spadina and a reminder of the street's former residential past.
Now it's just a mess.

Queen and Spadina/ Then and Now Part 2

Looking south west down Spadina across queen in 1921. At this time Spadina was still very much a residential street but business had started to move in.

Queen and Spadina/ Then and Now

Here's a shot looking south east on Spadina across queen Street taken in 1920 or so. The Church, St. Margarets was converted into a factory in the late 1910's.
2010, the church is still here with a new Art Deco facade and has been re-purposed as a clothing store. A look down the alley reveals the old church windows, and remnants of the bell tower.
An earlier photo with St Margaret's on the left and in the foreground the entrance to the public washrooms that were located in the centre median.
It must have been a comfort to know back then that despite not having a cell phone, Blackberry or I-Pod that you could still be confident that there was a public washroom available should the need arise. Sometimes you have to go.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Dundas and McCaul/ Then and Now

Dundas and McCaul looking east in 1919

The Strange Case of James Earl Ray-The Spring of 1968

James Earl Ray, the convicted killer of civil rights leader Martin   Luther King, shown here in a 1968 photo released by the FBI.
James Earl Ray.
After the assasination of Martin Luthor King in Memphis on April 4, 1968, James Earl Ray, the alleged assassin managed to evade capture and make his way to Toronto by bus, taxi and train. He spent the month of April here biding his time before travelling to London England on a Canadian passport using a name he had found in the Telegram Newspaper's archives.
Ray's Canadian passport under the alias of Ramon George Sneya.

He first took a room here on Ossington Ave.
To avoid suspicion, he also rented a room in this house on Dundas St W. alternating his time
between the two.
He was known to frequent the bar at the foot of Ossington. The Gondoratu House 1958.
The old Hotel being demolished to make room for.....
more condos!
He's also rumoured to have hung out at the old Drake Hotel further west on Queen.
For the full story of Ray's time in Toronto click here.
He's also believed to have spent time here at the Silver Dollar Room at the Waverly Hotel.
Two early postcards from Chuckman's of the Waverly Hotel. The Dining Room.
The Exterior.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Yonge and Finch 1971

This is Wimpy's Dairy Bar in 1971. It bears a striking resemblance to an early McDonald's outlet.
Including the truncated arches and red and white stripes.
McDonald's didn't enter the Ontario marketplace until 1970 so it's reasonable to assume that Wimpy's is a clone rather that a converted restaurant.

Spadina and Dundas/ Then and Then and Now

Dundas Street West looking across Spadina Avenue 1909

The same view a year later. Note the trees and boulevard
have disappeared as the road was widened.The grand house on the right was built by Dr. H.H. Moorehead in 1886 and was demolished shortly after this picture was taken. The Standard Theatre was the built on this corner in 1921. Re-namned the Strand in 1935 and after the war The Victory.
One hundred years later and things have certainly changed.
It's no longer a residential neighbourhood.

In 1968 the row houses seen in the second photo were still there, but not for long.
In 2010 the row houses are long gone but the Art Deco mechanic shop/garage is still there.

Parkdale Theatre/ Then and Now

A very early photo of the Parkdale.
The Box Office in 193719472010
The Parkdale Theatre on Queen Street West was built by the Allens and opened April 5, 1920 and was very successful thanks to it's proximity to Sunnyside Amusement park. It finally closed in 1970. A substantial venue with over 1500 seats.
For a short time the box office was used as a Beer Store and more recently the entire space has been divided into several antique stores.
In the 1937 photo the film playing is "Kid Galahad".
In the 1947 photo the film is "Humoresque".
Back when Parkdale was considered a suburb!
The lobby from 1947.
For more information on Toronto's Lost Movie Houses please look for John Sebert's book
"Nabes". A recent article on The Parkdale Theatre can be found here at Silent Toronto.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Capital Theatre Hamilton/Then and Now

A sad ending for the old Capitol Theatre in Hamilton. Recently operated as Buttinsky's bar, it now stands empty on King Street downtown.

Queen and Bay /Then and Now

Click on images for a better view.
From Old City Hall looking west along Queen Street towards the old Broadway Theatre.
This was Toronto's first burlesque house with "Girlie" shows and movies.
In 1935, the manager was murdered in his office and his son-in law, Murray Little took over the management.
The infamous Casino Theatre (The Festival in the top photo) was located five doors west and operated until 1963.
In 1965 to preserve the architectural integrity of the new City Hall, the City expropriated three and a half acres on the south side of Queen Street and all of the buildings were demolished.
In these photos the work has already started.
Looking across the south east intersection of Queen and Bay. . The film playing at the Bay Theatre is "The Small World of Sammy Lee", released in 1963.
The Bay opened in 1919 as The Colonial and the facade was built with material rescued from the demolished Customs House on Front Street.
This block has been replaced by the Simpson's Tower.
Window detail of the Bay Theatre
The same window from the Customs House demolished in 1919
The Colonial Theatre
Another early view of the Colonial (far left) before the second story addition.
Similar views today, looking west from Old City Hall.
Looking east.