By 1915, Toronto’s own Mary Pickford was arguably the biggest movie star in the world. Long before her name graced Canada’s Walk of Fame or her famous curls adorned a Canada Post stamp, her hometown paid testament to her success when a theatre at the north-west corner of Queen and Spadina was renamed the Mary Pickford Theatre.
The theatre, later shortened to Pickford, had been known as the Variety for a few years and was originally named the Auditorium when it opened as part of showman John Griffin’s first group of theatoriums in 1906.
During World War 1, it was often the site of recruitment drives such as this one on March 18, 1916. Another drive, held on May 29, had M.P. W.F. MacLean calling on married men to “join the fight.” Pickford herself helped in the war effort, buying thousands of dollars in subscriptions to the Canada War Loan and appearing in a short recruitment film.
According to newspaper listings, it languished on as a cinema until the 1950s. In 1972, the building housing one of Toronto’s oldest cinemas was demolished.
Top photo: Rasputin and the Empress at the Pickford Theatre, 1932. City of Toronto Archives, Series 71, Item 9966Tags: griffin's auditorium, john griffin, mary pickford, old toronto movie theatres, pickford theatre, queen st. theatres, war recruitment