The Odeon Humber returns


After a delayed start or two, it appears the former Odeon Humber is finally set to re-open today, courtesy of the same folks who revived the Kingsway a few years ago. The Humber, located at 2442 Bloor St. West at Jane, was twinned in 1975 and closed in 2003 while under the control of Cineplex Odeon. But over sixty years ago,  on January 27, 1949, the 1200 seat theatre  opened with a flourish.

In the spirit of showmanship and general bonhommie, the Rank Organization and theatre manager Chris Holmes held a gala premiere of the J. Arthur Rank production Blanche Fury for local merchants, members of the Kingsway Businessmen’s Association and all the craftsmen and contractors who helped build the majestic theatre.

Built at a cost of $400 000, the Humber was the sixteenth new Odeon theatre built during the company’s rapid post-war expansion into the Ontario marketplace. Commended for its ample leg room, here, the moderne design of architect Jay I. English (who also designed the local Fairlawn, Danforth, Toronto/Carlton and Hyland) eschewed the fancy accoutrements of theatres of yore like a proscenium arch, a theatre standard since the 1800s, so that “patrons will lose no time projecting themselves into the picture.”


Toronto Daily Star, January 27, 1949 (top image from the Star, January 26, 1949)
“The Ontario Odeons of Jay I. English,” Paul S. Moore. Marquee: The Theatre Historical Society of America. Issue 34, vol. 3. 2002. [PDF link]

For a more in-depth look at the creation of Canadian Odeon and the impact it had on nationwide movie-going, check out Paul S. Moore’s 2003 essay from the Canadian Journal of Film Studies [PDF link].

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