The Westwood Theatre
The Westwood Theatre opened on February 28, 1952, with Ontario Premier Leslie Frost in attendance for ribbon-cutting ceremonies. Located at Bloor and Islington, the 1000-seat movie house was one of several new Toronto theatres built to serve the urban sprawl of the post-war years.
It was a rather toned-down affair when compared to the opulence found in other new downtown theatres like the University and the Odeon Carlton, which had opened a few years earlier. Still, the 20th Century theatre, originally built as a single-screen house (later tripled) is an example of the later work of architects Kaplan & Sprachman, who designed the Eglinton and the Circle; it was the first in Canada to feature a floating screen; and one of the first to feature a front-end parking lot, later a common occurence in the age of the multiplex.
These innovations were typical of 20th Century Theatres. Nat Taylor, who founded the company in 1934, is credited with pioneering the multi-screen concept when he twinned Ottawa’s Elgin Theatre in 1957. Along with Garth Drabinsky, he founded Cineplex and opened the Eaton Centre Cineplex in 1979, then the world’s largest multiplex cinema.
The Westwood closed in 1998 and its interior was demolished during the shooting of Resident Evil 2 a few years later. The building, which served Toronto’s west-end residents for nearly fifty years, is slated for demolition to make way for a new provincial court house.
Sources: Toronto Star, February 29, 1952; Archives of Ontario Regulatory Files