Scrap­book

The golden era of Toronto’s movie houses

Toronto Life - - Contents -

Doug Tay­lor first vis­ited a movie theatre when he was six years old, in the mid-1940s. At the time, a kid’s tick­ets cost 10 cents. The ex­pe­ri­ence felt sin­ful—his grandma de­scribed cin­e­mas as “dens of in­iq­uity”—and he couldn’t wait to do it again. Soon, Satur­day mat­inées be­came a weekly rit­ual. “The world of film was my form of es­capism, long be­fore I had ever heard of the term,” he says. “It al­lowed me to visit ex­cit­ing for­eign lands and ex­otic climes.”

Tay­lor, now a his­to­rian, blog­ger and re­tired teacher, re­cently set out to pre­serve the mem­o­ries of the shut­tered the­atres of his youth. He combed the city’s and prov­ince’s ar­chives, and col­lected his and other movie­go­ers’ mem­o­ries. The re­sult is Toronto’s Lo­cal Movie The­atres of Yes­ter­year, a charm­ing cat­a­logue of the city’s oldest cin­e­mas. Here, Tay­lor re­counts fas­ci­nat­ing sto­ries from some of his favourite the­atres, adapted from his book.

vaughan Theatre St. Clair Av­enue West

“when i was 10 years old, i had a news­pa­per de­liv­ery route. Pa­pers sold for three cents, and in my eyes, the prof­its from my busi­ness en­ter­prise were im­mense, though it meant i had to keep reg­u­lar hours. How­ever, af­ter i had at­tended a mat­inée at the vaughan, my cus­tomers some­times waited longer than usual for their pa­pers. i never ex­plained to them why i was late. vis­it­ing the vaughan was worth the risk of los­ing a cus­tomer.”

Park­dale Theatre Queen Street West

“as a child in the 1940s, i of­ten gazed at the Park­dale Theatre’s showy mar­quee from the win­dows of the Queen street­car. as the years pro­gressed, the Park­dale slowly lost in the com­pe­ti­tion with tele­vi­sion, de­spite its orig­i­nal op­u­lence. The theatre closed on July 6, 1970. The build­ing is still stand­ing to­day, but has been con­verted into vin­tage and an­tique fur­ni­ture shops.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.