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The lost movie theatres of Toronto

Posted by Derek Flack / February 22, 2011

Lost movie theatres TorontoPutting together a comprehensive photo survey of Toronto's lost movie theatres would be a rather laborious task given how many have come and gone over the years. But insofar as I came across a number of heart-wrenching images of Toronto's cinematic heritage in the course of putting together our series of decade-by-decade photo posts, I thought it worth spending a little time searching out a few more so as to offer at least a decent glimpse back at a style of building that's slowly becoming extinct.

A number of the buildings that housed the theatres below are still standing, but even those that have been well preserved — like the Eglinton, for instance — don't captivate the imagination as they once did. This, no doubt, has to do with the fact that they no longer play films, but I suspect it goes deeper than this as well. Although it's old news now, the advent of the megaplex ushered in an era in which theatres became more and more like big box stores: anonymous, forgettable and ugly. And as much as the movie-going experience is about watching the films themselves, nostalgic folk like me can't help but feel saddened by this.

Lest I pout too much, however, it'd be good to note that Toronto does have a healthy number of rep cinemas that aren't included here — well, excluding the lead image, which is of the Midtown Cinema (now the Bloor) — because they still actively play films. I hope to examine the history of some of these buildings in a future post. Lead image from the Silent Toronto Archives.

The Allen (13 Richmond St. East, later the Tivoli), 1919
Allen Theatre Toronto

Loews (Queen and and Yonge, later the Elgin) Ca. 1940s
Loews Theatre Toronto

The Victory Burlesque (Spadina and Dundas, formerly the Standard), Ca. 1940s
Standard Theatre Toronto

The Parkdale (1605 Queen St. W), 1947
Parkdale Theatre Toronto

The Eglinton (when it was a movie theatre), 1947
Eglinton Theatre Toronto

The Eglinton, Interior (also 1947)
Eglinton Theatre Toronto

The Nortown (875 Eglinton St. West), 1948
Nortown Theatre Toronto

The Nortown, Interior, 1948
Nortown Theatre Toronto

The Odeon, Interior, Ca. 1950s
Odeon Theatre Toronto

The Broadway (Queen and Bay), Ca. 1960s
Broadway Theatre Toronto

The Odeon (Yonge and Carlton), Ca. 1960s
Odeon Theatre Toronto

The Glendale (Avenue and Cranbrooke), Ca. early 1970s
Glendale Cinema Toronto

The Uptown (Yonge and Bloor), Ca. 1970s
Uptown Theatre Toronto

The Tivoli (formerly the Allen), Ca. 1970s
Tivoli Theatre Toronto

University Theatre (Bay and Bloor), Ca. 1980s
University Theatre Toronto

The Eaton Centre Cineplex, Ca. early 1990s (?)
Eaton Centre Cineplex

For those interested in reading more about the history of Toronto's movie theatres, the following sites are excellent resources:

Related posts:

And for more images, check out the slideshow below from Toronto History.

Above images sourced from the Toronto Archives, the Archives of Ontario (link above), and the Wikimedia Commons.

Discussion

93 Comments

scottd / February 22, 2011 at 03:53 pm
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I am pretty sure that the "The Nortown, Interior, 1948" shot is actually a 1948 shot of the interior of the Willow Theatre on Yonge south of Finch. It has those distinct groovy shapes outside and on the walls of the seating area. I doubt it is the Nortown as why would two different chains have 2 new cinemas in the same year with the same design motif?
have a cigar / February 22, 2011 at 04:03 pm
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You should do a feature on theatres that are still standing, although possibly repurposed.
Frank replying to a comment from have a cigar / February 22, 2011 at 04:08 pm
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A lot of these theatres have been re-purposed (Eglinton, Parkdale, Standard, University, etc).
Sean / February 22, 2011 at 04:13 pm
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I miss the University, the Eglinton and not mentioned, the Capitol up on Yonge & Castlefield.

Imagine if the Odeon was still around but with a much bigger screen and keeping those curtains? It would have brought so class to see a movie, unlike those cookie cutter box theatres... It's a shame the Art Deco style gets quashed in this town.
Armand S. / February 22, 2011 at 04:19 pm
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I was looking for the Willow Theatre to be listed here too, but the interior of the Nortown doesn't look like the interior of the Willow Theatre, or the lobby area, as I remember it. There was a concession stand prominently set up between the left and right entrance to the cinema. However, there are similar design features (the "groovy" shapes), so the interior could've been done by the same person, at least. Still, changes/additions could've been made over the years, so who knows?

In fact, there's a Facebook group ("I've seen a movie in the Willow Theatre") that shows a few photos of the Willow, though they unfortunately don't show the lobby. But the theatre itself is shown from the outside, as well as the inside seating area...and those "groovy" shapes.
Mitch / February 22, 2011 at 04:21 pm
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You forgot to mention Mies' Movie House in the TD Centre http://www.canadianarchitect.com/issues/story.aspx?aid=1000205396
Alex / February 22, 2011 at 04:40 pm
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I am of two minds here...clearly these places went under because they couldn't compete on user experience. I right at Yonge/Eg and pretty much stopped looking at times/shows for the Eglinton theater when the Silvercity went in. Closer to home, closer to parking and a WAY better place to see movies (better sound, seats, stadium seating, concessions)

On the other hand, I sorta like the idea of these places being around...

Lonny / February 22, 2011 at 05:03 pm
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Fairlawn at Yonge & Lawrence, survived into early 1980s
http://wholemap.com/historic/toronto.php?neighborhood=Bedford%20Park
Lonny / February 22, 2011 at 05:04 pm
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and pics of the Hollywood & Hyland at Yonge & Lonsdale can't be that elusive, can they? were around until 15 years ago or so
Jeremy / February 22, 2011 at 05:20 pm
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Two more:
1. Runnymede Theatre (now Chapters) at Runnymede & Bloor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runnymede_Theatre)
2. Humber Odeon (now condo?) at Jane & Bloor
Dion Conflict / February 22, 2011 at 05:31 pm
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Awesome article and pics. I had ad for the Tivoli, but never had seen a pic of it.

Sadly however, no pic of the Rio on Yonge Street? Sure it was infamous and always 2nd run, but truly a cinema that made a landmark on the Yonge Street strip. That theatre alone inspired me to do the SHOCK AND AWE festival and always enjoy meeting projectionist's stories of those who worked there.

Ditto with Cinema 2000.
Jeremy / February 22, 2011 at 06:00 pm
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Awesome seeing some of these pictures! I'm too young to remember many of them but I really dig seeing old pictures like this before theaters went the Silvercity-bigbox route.

I agree with "have a cigar" above about doing a feature on current theaters - there's something very cool about many of the old independent spots around town. I still see a movie at the Regent or Mt. Pleasant whenever I can.
David / February 22, 2011 at 06:24 pm
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There is an ex-film theatre at 509 Parliament whose once name is unknown to me. It was for many years the CBC radio Toronto studio and is now the home of the Canadian Children's Dance Theatre.
Bubba / February 22, 2011 at 07:30 pm
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The Cineplex shot is in the early to mid 80's by the time the 90's came around it was a filthy dive, as they added more screens, chopped up the bigger rooms into smaller ones to add more.
Boba Fett Diop / February 22, 2011 at 07:49 pm
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That shot of the Victory Burlesque is clearly from the 1960s, rather than the '40s.
Mary replying to a comment from David / February 22, 2011 at 08:15 pm
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The Bluebell was at Dundas and Parliament in the 40's.
The Eclipse I believe was on Parliament too but not sure where.
Mary / February 22, 2011 at 09:48 pm
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The Parliament show was at Gerrard and Parliament (east side)
The Carleton was at Carleton and Parliament (east side) and
probably 509 Parliament St.
Saw many a show in these theatres. Hope it helps!!!
Teena / February 22, 2011 at 10:01 pm
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Richard at Muddy York Tours recently did a great review of the past theatres in Toronto:

http://torontothenandnow.blogspot.com/2011/02/17-cinemas-scandals-then-and-now-part.html

http://torontothenandnow.blogspot.com/2011/02/18-cinemas-scandals-then-and-now-part.html
cinemania / February 22, 2011 at 10:23 pm
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For a comprehensive pictoral history of Toronto's movie theatres by neighborhood, check out John Seward's book, The "Nabes": Toronto's Wonderful Neighborhood Movie Houses (2001). In addition to accounting for theatres standing, demolished or re-purposed, Seward's study includes accounts of the experience of yesteryear movie-going from the likes of Norman Jewison and Toronto notables. (The Toronto Public Library system has 17 copies in all.)
cinemania / February 22, 2011 at 10:33 pm
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For a comprehensive pictoral history of Toronto’s old movie theatres by neighborhood, check out John Seward’s The “Nabes”: Toronto’s Wonderful Neighborhood Movie Houses (2001). In addition to covering movie houses standing, demolished and re-purposed, this study includes comments on the experience of movie-going when every neighborhood had a theatre from Norman Jewison and other Toronto notables. Now out of print, we can be thankful that the Toronto Public Library system has seventeen copies in its holdings.
cinemania / February 22, 2011 at 10:35 pm
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For a comprehensive pictoral history of Toronto’s old movie theatres by neighborhood, check out John Seward’s The “Nabes”: Toronto’s Wonderful Neighborhood Movie Houses (2001). In addition to covering movie houses standing, demolished and re-purposed, this study includes comments on the experience of movie-going when every neighborhood had a theatre from Norman Jewison and other Toronto notables. Given its value on Amazon.com at over one hundred dollars used, we can be thankful that the Toronto Public Library system has seventeen copies in its holdings.
Mir replying to a comment from cinemania / February 22, 2011 at 11:42 pm
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"The Nabes" used to be a big seller at The World's Biggest Bookstore (multimedia section)... maybe they still have some in stock?
Paolo / February 23, 2011 at 12:36 am
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John Garfield had top billing ion Humoresque? Joan Crawford was the star of that film. Sorry, gay guy talking. Move along... :P
W. K. Lis / February 23, 2011 at 06:58 am
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The Humber cinema (formerly of Odeon fame) at Bloor & Jane is currently undergoing renovation BACK into a movie theatre. Don't know yet if it will really open as such.
Stra replying to a comment from W. K. Lis / February 23, 2011 at 09:33 am
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that's awesome news - was going to mention that theatre here. Don't live in Bloor West, but just the other day I was wondering where people go to see movies who live in that neighbourhood (besides the Kingsway). Further up the road closer to the burbs was the Westwood - remember that theatre strictly because it was such a maze around there to get to with Bloor changing to Dundas and all the other intersecting streets.

Have to mention the theatre on Mount Pleasant south of Eglinton I think. Still standing. Saw Star Wars there when it first opened and remember standing in line totally psyched.

There use to be a theatre in Albion Mall that was the bomb. You climbed a semi circular staircase to get to the main floor and there was this huge Clockwork Orange poster in the stair well that always freaked me out. Patterned orange and brown carpeting throughout the cinema as well was a nice touch.
Rena / February 23, 2011 at 09:34 am
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What was the cinema that used to be on Roncesvalles at Galley Ave? (About eight blocks south of the Revue). It's been a convenience store for at least twenty years, but it was always my favourite store because the floors are slanted down away from the entrance and it has a huge back wall that clearly used to be a screen. I have no idea how long since it was a cinema.

Glad we still have some great rep cinemas going strong!
moi / February 23, 2011 at 10:16 am
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the brighton!
Paul / February 23, 2011 at 01:27 pm
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I grew up in Toronto's west end during the 50's & 60's. That was a time when most kids I knew could be found at the Saturday afternoon matinee at the neighbourhood movie theater. They were plentiful in those days and you usually
had 2 or 3 within walking distance. Here are the ones I attended regularly over the years and therefore the ones I remember most fondly.

The Odeon

This was an independent on Queen W. about a block west of Lansdowne on the south side. Saw all of the "Beach" movies there, as well as "A Hard Day's Night".

The Parkdale

South side of Queen W. just east of Roncesvalles. Magnificent interior for a neighbourhood theater. Saw "Shaggy Dog" and "Absent Minded Professor (Flubber)" here with my entire family...including grandparents. How corny is that?!

The Kum-C

On Queen W. between Dunn & Dufferin on the north side. A real dump in the early 60's. I seem to remember them showing a lot of Elvis double-bills.

The Pix

On the south-east corner of Dundas & Ossington. A bit of
a hole-in-the-wall.

The Gem

On the south side of Dundas W. about 2 or 3 blocks west of Dufferin. What a classic! Used to show 6 sci-fi or 6 westerns or 6 pirate movies on Saturday. Admission for kids was a nickel and they gave you a free comic-book on the way
in. Still can't figure out how they could do that.

The Lansdowne

On Lansdowne just north of Bloor on the east side. Saw "Old Yeller" there among many others. Also obscurely famous for being the location where CHCH TV in Hamilton televised the Ken Sobel Amateur Hour on Sunday afternoons.

The Academy

On north side of Bloor W. at the corner of St. Clarens Ave. Saw millions of movies here. There was a bowling alley above.

The Adelphi

On the west side of Dovercourt Rd. just north of Hallam. Saw "Bambi", "Dumbo" and "Peter Pan" here as a young child. Has been a mosque for many years now.

The College

On the north-west corner of College & Dovercourt.

The Midtown & Alhambra

These 2 were right across the street from each other near Bloor & Bathurst. My friends & I would walk here from Bloor-Dovercourt on Saturdays when I was about 10. We considered this as going "downtown".

There are several others of course, but these are the ones I attended most. Common to many of these neighbourhood theaters
in those days was the live events they would put on stage between movies. This could be a demonstration of some
product or a draw for a bicycle or some guy doing amazing yo-yo tricks. It's a shame that today's kids don't have these facilities available to them...or the memories that go along with them.

Here's the link for an excellent compendium of Toronto theaters both old & current. Lots of surprises here.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/17593666/Toronto-movie-theatres
cinemania replying to a comment from Paolo / February 24, 2011 at 10:16 am
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Absolutely, Paolo, on the Parkdale theatre billing of Garfield. I double-checked the credits in Humoresque and Crawford appears above Garfield on the first cast credit page. Perhaps, the Parkdale crew put Crawford (Oscar winner in the year before Humoresque)on the opposite side of the board facing the other direction?
norm / February 24, 2011 at 11:41 am
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Paul is right to ask how they made money. Orpheum at Queen and Bathurst gave kids (early '50's) the Sat. matinee 2 features, 1 serial, 1 cartoon and a candy on the way out (the way to clear the seats quickly), all for 5 cents. Chateau across from Dukes Cycle also was a nickel as was the Pickford at Spadina & Queen, if my memory serves me. Saw my first 3D with the cardboard glasses at the Chateau and what a thrill for us kids. As teens we moved on to Friday night movies at the Downtown or occasionally the Savoy (Yonge & Gerrard). First run Blockbusters were usually seen at the University (Sound of Music/Ben Hur), Odeon Carlton, Imperial, Shea's and Tivoli. It was a way of life and great places to make out with your current squeeze.
Parker / February 24, 2011 at 02:50 pm
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Loved the University theatre. Saw Quest For Fire there. Crappy movie, but very impressive on that big screen.

Other notables:
the Towne (Bloor, just east of Yonge)
the Backstage (Balmuto St.)
the International (Yonge St. between Eglinton and Davisville)
mark replying to a comment from Alex / February 25, 2011 at 12:49 am
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accessabilty had a big part in the closing of the eglintiom, famous players (which is ironically owned by cineplex now) was too cheap to bring it up to code, i only saw one movie there, one of the mission impossable movie with my school, its too bad its not a movie theatre anymore, it was a beatifull theatre, unlike the generic megaplexs that killed it (and other theatres like it)
Eric S. Smith replying to a comment from Rena / February 25, 2011 at 10:41 am
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According to the document that <b>Paul</b> linked to, and as <b>moi</b> notes, the theatre at Roncesvalles and Galley was the Brighton:

<i>Brighton
127 Roncesvalles
Opened about 1954 and closed ?1983
C & W Welsman owned the Brighton, which had 418 seats.
In later years it was part of the Festival Chain.</i>

http://www.scribd.com/doc/17593666/Toronto-movie-theatres
Adam Sobolak / February 27, 2011 at 01:06 pm
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Interesting thing about the Broadway in that photo above is that *it*, in the mid-60s, was already billing itself as an adult cinema...
AESLK / February 27, 2011 at 02:19 pm
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The author of the "Nabes" is not John Seward, but JOHN SEBERT, a wonderful Toronto photographer and commercial director who now lives in Victoria, BC.
Bob Wiggins / May 23, 2011 at 12:17 pm
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There was the GRANT THEATRE on Oakwood Ave at Vaughan Rd. They had Cowboy movies on Saturday mornings. Also we had the COLONY THEATRE on Eglinton Ave. At Dufferin St.
Sarah / June 6, 2011 at 11:37 pm
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Thanks for such a great article. @Paul My grandpa was a theatre manager of The College, and I googled the name after your article and found some great pics from Toronto Archive... I loved this piece. Thank you for sharing :)
Ian Gilchrist / June 10, 2011 at 06:17 am
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Small (and minor) correction to your caption accompanying the photo of the Odeon at Yonge & Carleton Derek; The New Centurions was released in 1972.

The photo of the Uptown was taken in 1970 (to be precise), per the films on the marquee.

I am currently writing a piece to coincide with the UK Blu-ray release of Apocalypse Now on Monday (June 13th) for UK blog heyuguys. Does anyone have or know where I might find a picture of the University theatre exterior when Apocalypse Now was playing there in its initial 3 city run?
Mary Molloy / June 10, 2011 at 11:17 am
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I saw On the Waterfront at the Odeon in 1954. I'm sure it opened in the 50's.
Does anyone remember the Rio on Yonge south of Gerrard? (east side)
barry applebaum / June 23, 2011 at 12:46 pm
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anyone recall the Kent theatre?
it was on the north side of Bloor near Dovercourt.
Gary Morris / July 17, 2011 at 02:53 pm
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How about the Empire theatre on queen street
cost 25 cents two movies cartoons three stooges a serial
in one afternoon on saturdays.
Gary Morris
885 Damascus court
Newmarket Ontario
L3X 1K9
Mary Molloy / July 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm
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Gary was the Empire across from
St. Paul's? Did you go there to school?
Adrian / August 26, 2011 at 11:57 am
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The Brighton on Roncesvalles deserves a mention. It was a great little place close to Parkdale, where a dearth of independent cinema was available. Of course after it turned into a Korean supermarket, we went to the Revue. Saw so many films there.
Ron Newberry-Evans replying to a comment from Rena / October 2, 2011 at 11:12 pm
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I believe that was The Bristol (now a convenience store, I believe...).
Walter Egeualt replying to a comment from barry applebaum / November 13, 2011 at 08:36 pm
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I remember the Kent as being on Young just north of St. Clair. I went to see old movies there as a kid.
Walter Egeault replying to a comment from barry applebaum / November 13, 2011 at 08:38 pm
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Sorry, Yonge at St. Clair.
Shell Sturges / December 6, 2011 at 08:24 am
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Would it be possible to get copies of any of these photos ?
I particularly love the picture of the Glendale.
Thanks.
GJ Worth / December 6, 2011 at 12:51 pm
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My favorite was the short lived Toronto-Dominion Centre theatre in what is now the Path. The theatre was in the International style as was the rest of Mies van der Rohe's vision, long lost now.
Avril / December 6, 2011 at 03:36 pm
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How about the east end? The Century on Danforth, just east of Broadview, now revived as The Music Hall, the Palace on Danforth, just east of Pape, the Odeon Danforth, just west of Pape, The Donlands, just south of O'Connor and a theatre on Pape, just north of Mortimer. I can't remember the last one's name.
Matt / December 12, 2011 at 08:55 pm
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Miss the Uptown, so, so much.

What happened to that theatre in the lobby of the Bay at Yonge and Bloor? The Plaza? Has that just been sealed up forever?
Ron / January 14, 2012 at 10:09 am
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I went to the University, Towne, Eglinton among the older theatres. The Towne (Bloor e of Yonge) was there until the early 80's I think, and we sat up in the balcony. It's funny though, I get nostalgic for otherwise cookie-cutter places like the Sheraton Centre theatres which are gone now, just because I saw so many movies there.

Still miss the old Capitol theatre, the one in New Toronto on Lakeshore and 3rd Street, demolished in the mid-70's. A dump but I recall seeing The Incredible Mr. Limpett there (Don Knotts cartoon). Across the street were the Lakeshore Odeon theatres where I saw a double bill of Rocky II and Invasion of the Body Snatchers circa 1979.

The Roxy, International, Brighton,Kingsway, Westwood, York, Humber, all gone now, good memories in all.
Fred / February 16, 2012 at 02:33 pm
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My mother would let us go to the Uptown and the Hollywood, but not the Coronet at Yonge and Gerrard. I never knew why, and it always had a cachet because of that...
Had a memorable first date at the Rio in the early 80s...saw Motel Hell and a cat ran around the seats. Also, what about Cinecity at Yonge and Charles, where I saw And Now for Something Completely Different and smelled hash for the first time?
Fred / February 16, 2012 at 02:35 pm
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Also will never forget seeing Apocalypse Now and 2001 at the University. It was a crime to demolish that place.
laurence replying to a comment from Sarah / March 17, 2012 at 11:25 am
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Hi Sarah,

My father and grandfather were projectionists in Toronto theatres (The park, The Casino,The Ace) as far back as the 1930's.
Who was your grandfather who managed the College?
Do you have any photos, know any other people who might have relatives who were in "the business"?

Laurence ljsiegel@sympatico.ca
angie replying to a comment from Avril / April 14, 2012 at 06:57 pm
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omg THE Palace was hands down the most beautiful theater I have ever been too! I use to think I was in a grand audtorium as a child.
Greg Hannah replying to a comment from GJ Worth / April 23, 2012 at 02:58 am
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I remember The Cinema, I saw several films there - The Turning Point, a 70MM re-release of 2001 around 1977, Equus - can't remember what else. The PATH was there then, though not nearly as sprawling as it is today! It was a beautiful cinema, I have a few photos of the front of it in the TD Centre, the lobby and the auditorium.
Greg Hannah replying to a comment from Frank / April 23, 2012 at 03:00 am
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The University wasn't really re-purposed, the auditorium and north end of the lobby was demolished, only the front facade remained which eventually had to be dismantled, repaired, cleaned and then reassembled. The Pottery Barn in behind is all new construction.
Greg Hannah replying to a comment from Bubba / April 23, 2012 at 03:05 am
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That photo was taken in 1979. In 1984 four (or five) small cinemas were combined to make one larger 450 seat cinema with a larger screen, Dolby sound and a small balcony which was cinema #5. When a restaurant closed in the lower mall level three more cinemas were built in that space, which were cinemas #19, 20 & 21. They were a bit larger than the other small rooms, had slightly larger screens and proper projection.
Greg Hannah / April 23, 2012 at 03:33 am
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I'm 47, grew up in Scarbough and lived at cinemas from when I was about 13. My favorate theatres of my time: The University, Eglinton (I worked there in the early 80's... Raiders of the Lost Ark for 6 months straight 4 times a day!), The Fairlawn (much nicer before they split it up into two cinemas around 1975 + it had the best [loudest!] Sensurround sound system), The Cinema, The Yonge (late 70's it was renamed The Elgin) which played great double bills in the 70's & early 80's before it's life as a movie theatre ended, The Uptown & The Roxy on the Danforth which showed amazingly weird films (+Rocky Horror on weekends of course) & it had a giant screen and the loudest sound system in the city. Other favorate cinemas, The Biltmore, The Rio (but it was dirty and very sketchy there but 3 or 4 movies made it well worth it!), The Coronet (when it went independent/grindhouse in around 1977-78 when Odeon dropped it and they stopped showing adult films), The Imperial Six (I was never in there before they split it up), The New Yorker (later The Showcase, today it's the Panasonic on Yonge south of Bloor), The International (they played great films when I was discovering foreign/independent film), The Hyland (cinema #1), The Plaza (cinema #1), The Towne & The York (cinema #1). I also went to my local theatres in Scarbough when I was young, the Elaine, The Bijou, Cedarbrae & The Fox. Later in life I saw a lot of the theatres in the west end but I didn't frequent them except The Bloor (post porn-house) and Kingsway which also had great programming.
Today, the best older cinemas left are The Bloor (great renovation they just did in there!), The Regent has a nice big screen and dynamite sound and The Royal on College West has a good size screen and amazing sound.
I avoid the gigaplexes whenever I can, but living downtown for the last 27 years I have come to like the Varsity as it's calm, the audiences are well behaved plus it's a 5 minute walk from home! The AMC Yonge-Dundas have good cinemas too and I like seeing movies at the IMAX cinema at Scotiabank cinemas, it has a great screen and in my opinion, the best cinema sound system in Toronto (it used to be Uptown 1).
Finally, two long gone cinemas that I still have memories of: seeing 2001 at the Glendale when I was really young and bored! (very vague memory) and seeing The Poseidon Adventure at the Odeon Carlton which I remember well.
Clair Sedore / May 4, 2012 at 11:10 am
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I am old enough to remember all these glorious theatres, and most are on my website, under Toronto Theatres, with locations, seating capacities, year built, etc., do check it out!
My favourite theatres were the Sheas Hippodrome, The Odeon Carlton, Tivoli, Loews, Loews Uptown, and the Casino, which not only had vaudeville and name stars, but a film as well
Gayle / May 21, 2012 at 04:27 pm
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Wonderful collection. Thank you for your time and dedication. It took me through a very pleasant trip down Memory Lane - my husband and I spend evey Saturday prowling the movie theatres of Toronto - I loved seeing the University; Nortown; Carlton (with the rising organ) and all the old theatres on Yonge Street (the 70's were very good for movies).
I wish to add to your collection a couple of names: the PALACE at Pape and Danforth; the ALLENBY at Greenwood and Danforth - and a hidden childhood gem the BONITA at Jones and Gerrard - 10 cents to get in in the 1960's.
I just love your stuff, all the best.
Bill / June 25, 2012 at 06:50 am
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The Vaughan Theatre, on St Clair Ave, just west of Vaughan Road. Spent many a happy Saturday afternoon in this theatre, in the 1950`s - 60`s.
Bill / June 25, 2012 at 06:53 am
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The Vaughan Theatre, on St Clair Ave just west of Vaughan Rd, spent many a happy Saturday afternoon in the Vaughan. In the 1950`s - 60`s.
James / June 27, 2012 at 03:27 pm
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a great story for study, to which I add...

the revolving door @ 263 Yonge Street: Pantages Theatre (1920) > Imperial Theatre > Imperial Six > Pantages Cinema >> Pantages Theatre (live theatre) > name change only: Canon Theatre > Ed Mirvish Theatre (present)...
subplot: The Famous Players/Cineplex Odeon War!

personally, newspaper-delivery-income first spent on a movie: Star Wars at The Palace - http://goo.gl/llcWb

Thanks for the memory!
mark replying to a comment from scottd / September 23, 2012 at 10:40 pm
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Found this pic- i used to go there as a kid, 60's/70's
Ted Wright / October 2, 2012 at 01:19 pm
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If you want to do more research look through the Toronto Directory on line. Look under Theatres. You will see names and addresses of theatres from the early days. I mean 1912 to 1922. I found one, The Maple Leaf Theatre. 94-96 Queen and in Mount Dennis, 1006 Weston Rd. No one remembered it. And the building still stands.
Sean / October 7, 2012 at 11:24 am
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Add another one, AMC Kennedy Commons 20, 33 William Kitchen Road, Scarborough. Shut down September 2012.

China bought the entire AMC chain back in May of this year. Since then, AMC Interchange 30 now uses only 15 screens. Just awful to see half the place walled off. No thank you RED COMMUNIST China.
http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/media/story/2012-05-21/china-company-buys-amc-movie-theater-chain/55106114/1
NostalgicMan / October 20, 2012 at 09:35 pm
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I'm surprised there are no photos of the Willow. That photo of the Eaton Centre Cinemas is definitely not the 90's - late 70's or early 80's at best. Definitely not even late 80's.
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from Sean / November 14, 2012 at 08:59 am
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Actually, the theater's still open, but as a Cineplex/Famous Players theater now, just like the Yonge & Dundas one.
jim replying to a comment from Bill / November 26, 2012 at 02:53 am
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Bill, how about the Radio City near the TTC loop or the Christie on St Clair or the St Clair near dufferin or the Oakwood just north of St Clair and the small one on Spadina in Forest Hill village. Durango Kid was our favorite.
Gary Morris / December 10, 2012 at 08:47 pm
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How about the empire theatre on queen near power street
use to cost a quarter to get in you saw two movies a couple of cartoons and maybe the 3 stooges.
as a kid couldn't get in unless a adult bought your ticket.
Cant seem to get any information or pictures of the old theatre.
Can anyone help with a photo of the theatre would appreciate any picture or sight.
Gary Morris
542 Pelletier Court
Newmarket Ontario
Canada L3X 2N7
christin replying to a comment from scottd / January 20, 2013 at 03:32 pm
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i don't think it's the Willow. It had artist's palettes as its motif.
Gene replying to a comment from scottd / February 2, 2013 at 03:46 pm
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Just to Correct the first comment on the Nortown theater. It is correct, I have a photo of the willow very different.
Clair Sedore / March 5, 2013 at 01:08 pm
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it is so great to see photos of theatres that are long gone, and at 75 I remember most of them vividly

Clair Sedore
world-theatres.com
Merv / April 30, 2013 at 01:58 pm
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Does anyone recall the Village theatre on west side of Spadina Road, north of Lonsdale?
John / August 1, 2013 at 10:57 am
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There was a movie theatre on Main St. just south of Gerrard St. E., near the public library. I can't remember the name but it closed in the early to mid-fifties.
Nancy / August 13, 2013 at 07:49 pm
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Does anyone have an image or description of what an usher's uniform looked that worked at The Casino Theater in Toronto, Canada.

Any ideas???
Thank you!
Nancy
Nancy / August 13, 2013 at 07:49 pm
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Oops in the late 30's early 40's.
Patricia / September 12, 2013 at 01:08 am
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I was born in 1961 in Toronto
Like many of you I am also a movie buff.
I have been to the Roxy, Carlton, Willow, Fairlawn, Hollywood, Sheraton Centre Cinemas, Towne, Varsity (ManuLife Building), The Eglinton, Imperial Six, Yonge (Now Elgin), The Uptown & Uptown Backstage, The Runnymede, Fox, Bloor, Humber, Westwood, Park, The 7 & 427 Drive-In, The Odeon at Yonge & Carlton, just to name a few.

My favourite of all movie theatres in Toronto was the University.
I used to sit in the balcony Front row Center with all the leg room in the world and front row seats at a perfect altitude for a 70mm movie. A short list of the films I saw there were, 2001: A Space Odyssey, ALIEN, Black Sunday, A re-release of STAR WARS 4,5, &6 back-to-back! 6 hours in line...and almost 7 hours in the theatre...glorious! Saw Apocalypse Now and many other films. As Honourable Mention...I add to this incomplete list, the Ontario Place Cinesphere IMAX Theatre....saw it all there, from North Of Superior onward...and the winter film festivals....what GLOROUS days and rich memories our movie houses have given! It deeply saddens me that they are all but gone.
Cate Cole / September 17, 2013 at 08:20 pm
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I have a very vague memory of a movie theatre on the East Side of Avenue Road between Bloor and Davenport from 1970 or so, which specialized in silent movies. I thought it was called Silent Cinema or something of that nature. They specialized in these great silent films: Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, etc. What was really striking was a sign on the top of the theatre--a black & white rendition of Laurel & Hardy, I think (?) Avenue Road has changed so much in the past 45 years I can barely recognize it. Am I dreaming--or were there silent films being offered at the time? Perplexed in Toronto
Derek / October 28, 2013 at 02:03 am
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these are some great photos, but many of them have the wrong dates on them. one photo said it was from the 1940's, but the car in the foreground of the picture was a 1961 chevrolet corvair later there was one that was supposed to be from the 60's but there was a 1973 AMC Gremlin in the photo.
Bert / October 29, 2013 at 09:56 pm
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I remember seeing Empire Strikes Back at the University as it was the only theater in Toronto that showed it during its first month or so. Seemed like a huge, magical place when I was 10 years old.
Bob Kates replying to a comment from Armand S. / October 31, 2013 at 09:30 am
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The Willow theatre is no more. It was located on Yonge Street just south of Steeles. It was closed around 1981 and replaced with some retail and restaurant.
Bzine / December 2, 2013 at 12:25 am
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Years ago a friend who had a job doing movie promotion, asked me to usher a premiere at the Festival of Festivals. Basically just hold the first three rows on the balcony for the stars and show them to their seats.

It was the University Theatre and the movie was The Big Chill.

This was thirty years ago. Strangely enough the characters were maybe 15 years away from "The Summer of Love" in 1967.

Richard / December 2, 2013 at 08:52 am
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The Allen and the Tivoli, both pictured, were of course the same theatre. The Allen was bought up by Famous Players and renamed. It was in the Tivoli on December 28, 1928, that "The Terror", a horror movie, flickered across the screen. This screening is often credited as the first showing of a "talkie" in Toronto.

The picture of the Tivoli shown here must have been in the 1960s, as I believe the Tivoli was demolished by 1970.
jim nicholson / January 1, 2014 at 01:54 pm
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Was there a theatre named the "Downtown" and if so, when did it close? thank you..
Godfrey Mallion replying to a comment from jim nicholson / January 1, 2014 at 02:57 pm
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The Downtown theatre in Toronto stood at the northeastern corner of Yonge and Dundas Square. It opened on Oct. 25, 1948, and closed on Oct. 31, 1972.
jim nicholson / January 1, 2014 at 03:31 pm
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Thank you Godfrey..I just found a old movie article in the paper about the Bowery Boys.. as was wondering about the article..
Dan Plishka / February 4, 2014 at 11:25 pm
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I was in the Antique Mall at the former Parkdale theatre today. The owner confirmed that the original ceiling is hidden above the drop ceiling and the original pilasters hidden behind all the drywall. The Parkdale Theatre was built on the natural slope of Queen Street down to where the Sunnyside Railway station amd Grey Coach Bus Terminal used to be. I believe that a restoration could make it as nice as what Chapters did to the former Runnymede Theatre on Bloor St.
Marie / February 20, 2014 at 12:05 pm
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In the 1940s I lived at Bloor & Dufferin. My Mom used to give me 10 cents every Saturday to go to the Doric Theatre (Bloor & Gladstone) one block east of Dufferin St. which was across the road from the Gladstone Library. They always showed a continuing suspenseful serial so you had to go the following Saturday to see how someone gets out of a dangerous situation. I also remember two other theatres a block away from the Doric but can't remember their names. In the 50s I went to the Alhambra and the Midtown at Bloor & Bathurst. They used to have yo-yo contests at intermission.
Harold / April 10, 2014 at 05:34 pm
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My Father ran and may have owned (possibly with a partner, not sure) the Adelphi on Dovercourt in the 1940's, and I actually still have one of the usher's uniforms (pants, jacket, hat - "Hand Made by Tip Top Tailors"). He was a licensed union projectionist all his life from the 1920's - 1973 and kept a journal, which I have, of every film he presented, including Theatre, Date, Title, and two numbers which may have been (guessing) the number of reels and showings.

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