Sunday, July 27, 2014

The golden age of Toronto movie theatres

The immense 2,318-seat Odeon Carlton Theatre, featuring three lobbies, a restaurant, a powerful theatre organ and a huge cascade of drapes that parted as the film began was on Carlton St. just east of Yonge. When this grand theatre opened in September of 1948 it was known as the Odeon Toronto and was part of a chain that included the Odeon Humber, Fairlawn, Danforth and Hyland theatres. The Odeon Toronto name was changed to Odeon Carlton in 1956. After failed negotiations with the city to preserve the building it was demolished in 1973. An apartment now stands on the site while next door to it is a “modern day” Carlton, the Carlton Cinema. Interestingly (for me, at least), this was the theatre I took my bride-to-be on our very first date. I even remember the movie, Jack Lemmon in “Under the Yum-Yum Tree”. Our marriage has outlasted the theatre by more than 40 years and we’re still counting. To the extreme left of this photo from the City of Toronto Archives is a portion of Maple Leaf Gardens. In the background is CBC’ s long demolished television transmission tower on Jarvis St. across the street from the Four Season’s Motor Hotel.

TORONTO - Just released by the History Press out of Charleston, South Carolina (what a great city!) and distributed by the good people at Dundurn here in Toronto (an even better city!!) is a new book by Toronto history buff Doug Taylor.

Titled “Toronto Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen” the book is chocked full of stories and photos of many of Toronto’s long gone but for many not forgotten movie theatres scattered all over the city.

As soon as I saw the title it brought back memories of growing up. I’m still waiting to read Doug’s book. However, if I had written it two places, the Alhambra and Odeon Carlton would have been front and centre for reasons that will become apparent when you look at the pictures attached to this story.


One of the many ways Heritage Toronto brings our city’s heritage to life this summer is through a delightful walking tour called "Creating Toronto: The Story of the City in Ten Stops."

Passing by some of the city’s most celebrated sites, this tour gives a “big picture” overview of Toronto’s history.

It visits a number of Toronto landmarks and shares inspiring stories of the people who built the city.

The tour also introduces citizens and tourists to key moments of innovation and creativity that have shaped Toronto, from the people who, over 10,000 years ago, left footprints in the clay under Toronto Bay, to the rise of the city's Financial District, to the story of stunning homegrown scientific breakthroughs that shaped our modern world.

This special tour runs every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. up to and including August 28. Cost is $20 per person and proceeds go directly toward the charitable agency responsible for Toronto’s heritage programming.

Pre-registration and pre-payment at is necessary to secure a guaranteed spot.
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