For about three years it’s been a waiting game to determine if or if not, one of TORONTO’s oldest cinemas would bite the dust. The time has come. Saturday, June 1st will be the last day the HUMBER is with us.Opened in 1949 as an Odeon, it was shut down in 2003 and then re-opened in 2011. Four cinemas (two downstairs) were created out of the original two, but the integrity of the building was maintained.It’s always sad when a movie theatre is torn down. These happy gathering places are oftentimes the heart and soul of a community, and when it’s a beauty like The Humber doubly so.TORONTO has at least 10 intact, fully functioning neighbourhood cinemas – many of them survivors from the Golden Age. Unfortunately the Humber won‘t be joining the club.
I love it when people take the time and make the effort to do something like this. Some unknown creator has brightened up Gerrard Street East for a few blocks, with what seem to be Dinky Toys stuck on multi-colored painted backgrounds strapped to cement telephone poles. You can’t help but look at them – and for many passers-by it brings a smile. Whoever did this, you’re the best!Photographer ROSS WINTER – “An anonymous artist has brought lots of TLC to the north side of Gerrard, from River Street to Sherbourne – a stretch of 10 blocks, 43 installations and counting. The fixing to lamp posts is 100% City of TORONTO style. The boards are laminated to let the strap pass through. Sad to say, west of Parliament Street several have been vandalized. What do you do with half a Dinky other than take pride in your destructive tendencies?”
They were such winsome little things, created in DETROIT by Charles and Margaret Austin in 1928. The first one arrived in TORONTO in 1936. It began selling gas for a few cents less per gallon than its competitors. Law suits from the big trusts weren’t far behind as JOY OIL spread across the city.The architecture was based on movie sets from Disney’s 1937 film ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’In the 1950’s the company ceased operations, and all of TORONTO’s – except the one at Lakeshore and Windermere Avenue – shut down. It was moved across the road, renovated between 2006 and 2008, and locked behind a chain link fence. There it remains.The hope is that someone somewhere will rescue the little station. There have been proposals from a food service company to a bike rental shop – but the castle is still waiting.
Brightly coloured blooms are everywhere in ALLAN GARDENS, both outside and inside the Conservatory. It’s been a very long, wet and cold winter which never seemed to end. Forget all that. Spring has arrived.To reach ALLAN GARDENS, take the Line 1 subway to College Street, transfer to a #506 streetcar heading east, alight at Jarvis Street – and you’re there. The turtles, by the way, are an added attraction.
Cinemas make neighbourhoods, and The Paradise is fortunately in comeback mode after near demolition in 2007. Thanks go to the design & construction crew – and vintner MORAY TAWSE who bought the building in 2012.As time passed, the exterior was plastered with tags and graffiti – not a pleasant sight for those who passed by 1006 Bloor Street West. <PHOTO – Andre Sousa Photography>Rebuilding is a slow process, but the end is coming soon, and the finished building should be fully functional in 2019. The 218 seats (formerly 400) will hopefully fill up for live music, talk series, comedy, programming for kids, other events – and of course, movies.<PHOTOS ABOVE – @paradiseonbloor><PHOTO ABOVE by JASON WAGER . . . @jasonwager . . . @paradisecinema><PHOTO – the auditorium before the rebuild; Archives of ONTARIO> The theatre was designed in 1937 by TORONTO’s first Jewish architect, BENJAMIN BROWN (1890-1974), embellished by HAROLD KAPLAN and ABRAHAM SPRACHMAN a few years later.<ABOVE – the lobby, containing a rather quaint popcorn machine and not much else; Archives of ONTARIO> Plans are to make quality food and drinks available – one of the few cinemas in the city that will provide such customer services. The PARADISE joins another 10 or so restored neighbourhood cinemas – the first one to come on line in 2019 was the Grand Gerrard Cinema.
Development is underway, around the corner from Ryerson University, on a full block of Yonge Street from Gerrard East to Gould. This block and its sketchy past may soon have a bright future.An 85-storey streamlined condo tower will take the place of a pizza house, the Made in China restaurant, Cellar Tech, the Rio theatre, Remington’s male strip joint and a collection of other small businesses.The tower – YSL (Yonge Street Living) residences will be in one of the tallest buildings in the city. Living space will be mixed with retail and office space, designed for Cresford Developments by New York’s Kohn Pedersen Fox.Several historic storefronts along Yonge Street will remain, as well as the former home of the Evergreen Yonge Street Mission. <PHOTO – The Varsity>The S. Williams Block (above) at 363-365 Yonge will be reconstructed with new materials to match the existing facade.Plans are to keep the stone Gerrard Building, which at one time housed Child’s Restaurant downstairs and CBC television offices upstairs.The neighbourhood has a perfect Transit Score 100 out of 100, and a perfect Walk Score of 99 out of 100.ABOVE – another remnant of the past – the RIO Cinema, which specialized in triple bills and untoward activities. It’s a neighbourhood that seldom sleeps. And now this significant part of the downtown strip, is on the way to reinventing itself..
Like all big towns TORONTO has some not-so-tall tales to share about the buildings, people, events and curiosities set here in Canada’s largest city.A BAY STREET legend – in the late 1700’s Mr. JUSTICE BOULTON’s horses chased a wild bear into the harbour. The street began as Bear Street, later corrupted to Bay Street. Being the principal thoroughfare in the Financial District, it’s bears and bulls yet again.Toronto’s last hanging took place at the DON JAIL on December 11, 1962. Ronald Turpin & Arthur Lucas were tied back-to-back, hooded, and then hanged. Turpin had killed a police constable, and Lucas was a hit man who murdered a witness in an American drug trial and a bystander.The ROYAL BANK twin towers on Bay Street were built in the 1970’s. All of their windows were coated with 14,000 pieces of 24-karat gold glass. The gold makes the tower shimmer in the sun and provides excellent insulation, reducing heating bills.The HOCKEY HALL OF FAME may have a ghost in it. There’ve been rumours of flickering lights, hands on shoulders, moving chairs and other occurrences in the former Bank of Montreal building. A young teller named DOROTHY, mysteriously died there in 1953.