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The lost movie theatres of Toronto

By Derek Flack April 14, 2012

Putting 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

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

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

The Parkdale (1605 Queen St. W), 1947

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

The Eglinton, Interior (also 1947)

The Nortown (875 Eglinton St. West), 1948

The Nortown, Interior, 1948

The Odeon, Interior, Ca. 1950s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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