This week, I’m looking at vintage and iconic signs for OpenFile Toronto. Discussed are the neon spinning records at the former Sam the Record Man (including comments from its designer, Sam Markle), the Vesta Lunch, the former Suspect Video on Queen St. West, as well as the radioactive palm tree that is the El Mocambo at Spadina and College.
But there are plenty more. Toronto’s cinemas — whether still active, downtrodden or re-purposed — also offer a few gems, from art deco marquees to faded, ghostly signs. Among them is the painted signage (shown above) claiming “Loew’s leads in Toronto!” on the south wall of the former Loew’s Yonge St. Theatre, which opened in December, 1913 and was restored as the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres in the 1980s.
I haven’t been able to confirm the sign’s vintage, but the “Loews leads” tagline seems to appear in the pages of the Daily Star as early as October, 1934. The following February, the lower theatre (the upstairs Winter Garden had been sealed off since 1928) was closed for renovations, re-opening on the 15th with David Copperfield. New carpeting and seating was added — “everything but the four walls,” claimed an ad in the Star — so it’s quite possible the sign on the south wall was added during those renovations.