Toronto’s oldest cinema survives as The Projection Booth

Reporting for OpenFile Toronto back in April, I covered a meeting of east-end residents wanting to breathe new life into the Gerrard Cinema, which until recently had shown Tamil-language films.

This weekend, Leslieville residents will get their wish as the former Bonita is re-christened The Projection Booth. Yesterday, TPB manager Jonathan Hlibka told OpenFile that an integration between the film industry and the film-going community will make this new theatre stand out among the city’s other rep and independent movie houses.

The building — Toronto’s oldest surviving movie house — opened as The Bonita sometime between 1910 and 1911. Along Gerrard, it would later be joined by the Greenwood/Guild at 591 (1913), Crown at 1275 (1916), the King’s Royal/Classic at 1300 (1914), the Eastwood at 1430 (1927) and the Gerrard at 1908 (1927).

With the exception of the Kingsway, Eglinton, Capitol, Runnymede, Humber, Mount Pleasant, Regent and derelict Paradise cinemas, it’s interesting to note that many of the city’s surviving classic cinemas date back to the early teens. Celebrating centenaries over the next few years: The Revue (1912), Bloor (originally the Madison, 1913, but rebuilt in 1941 as the Midtown), the Elgin (originally Loew’s Yonge St. in 1913) and the Fox (1914) all opened during a period of time after Toronto’s flicker houses went from temporary street-front nickel shows to an acceptable, yet severely regulated form of entertainment.

*Above ad (with incorrect address), courtesy of Paul Moore, from Toronto World, March 15, 1914.

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