So, I’ve just returned from being chased through a suburban mall parking lot by some angry people in a Westphalia van (armed with an RPG), craving the plutonium in my possession. That may actually be the plot to Back to the Future, and has absolutely nothing to do with old movie theatres in Toronto.
Or maybe it does? Having spent some time living in Etobicoke in high school, the only place to watch a movie was at the mall’s “Multiplex/Cineplex” etc… which over the years, seemed to gradually expand in proportion, lighting, and noise (though sadly, not in Deloreans).
*The Wurlitzer formerly belonging to Shea’s Hippodrome (Bay and Teraulay Streets) now resides at Casa Loma, and is still used for silent film screenings.
The experience leaves me overwhelmed now (perhaps due to my advanced age). The whole ordeal is a mess of fast food, coffee, cocktails, games, lights, teenage antics and SUPER AVX (cue head explosions). Being the “luddite” that I am, I yearn for simpler times; The Humber, The Westwood, and the Revue Cinema. During the silent era (and long after), the city boasted a plethora of inner city theatres.
Many of those grand theatres have been torn down, converted, and some even still reside underneath parking lots (Shea’s Victoria Theatre, Victoria and Richmond Streets). So feast your eyes on Toronto’s forgotten cinematic past: when the movies were silent and the Wurlitzer organ was king*.
See more photos of old movie theatres in the Toronto Archives.