An ongoing examination of the history of film exhibition and cinema spaces in Toronto, Silent Toronto aims to tell the stories of the cinemas that have graced the city’s streets, sidewalks and back alleys.
While Toronto cinemas have been well documented in books and on the web, what you’ll find here is a look at their urban fabric — how a cinema related to a neighbourhood and vice versa. You’ll find articles about neighbourhood showplaces, Yonge St. palaces, changes in movie-going customs, as well as print ephemera and photos from the Silent Toronto archive.
While the focus is on Toronto cinemas — from the arrival of the Lumiere Cinematographe in 1896, the first theatoriums in 1906, until the present day — we sometimes showcase movie houses from other cities.
A note on our events
Everyone yearns for the good old days of movie-going like in the photo above, so we want to bring them back to you. Here you’ll find information about our silent screening series,, Silent Sundays at the Revue Cinema.
A note on contributions
This site would be meaningless if it didn’t bring back a flurry of great memories for the readers. Contributions are not only welcome but encouraged via the comments section. However, if you would like to propose an article, feel free to drop us a line, as we’ve featured guest contributors in the past, like NFB producer Gerry Flahive’s account of working as an usher at the Imperial Six in the 1970s.
A note on accuracy
We strive to be as accurate as possible in our content. Basic information for the theatres (locations, statistics, dimensions, seat counts)– especially for demolished structures — is usually derived from the Theatres Regulatory files at the Archives of Ontario. Details on opening nights, closures and programming are usually sourced from local newspapers like the Toronto Star or Toronto Telegram. For early cinema filmographies, we tend to rely on the Progressive Silent Film List available at the tremendous Silent Era website. Still, we sometimes make errors, and we regret them. If you notice an inaccuracy, please comment directly on the post or email us. We’ll fix it right up, noting the correction.