I got a call from my mother mid-week saying that my dad had won tickets to a play that was to be on Sunday afternoon. I readily agreed to join in, because I looked forward to the visit, but had also been wanting to see the building in which the play was being staged, The Bathurst Street Theatre.
I used to pass this building, located on Bathurst Street, just south of Bloor, while in the streetcar on my way to work, and always wondered about it. It had clearly been built as a church but wasn’t being used as such. I knew it was a theatre but had never had the opportunity to go inside.
Some research revealed that it had been erected in 1888, as a Methodist church. The most interesting part of the story for me, was the fact that the area had, at the time, been a whole separate village! It wasn’t even part of Toronto (which was called York back then), but rather, this was Seaton Village. While it only took me 10 minutes on the streetcar to get there, back then it would have been quite a trek, because Bathurst Street was still just a mud path north of Queen Street (called the Crookshank Laneway), and they would have been traveling by horse and carriage.
It turned out that just after the completion of the church, the area became part of Toronto, and the Methodist congregation did not thrive enough to make use of such a large building, so by the mid-1940s they began using it for other purposes in addition to church services. By 1985 the congregation left the building completely, becoming absorbed within other churches in the area. At this time, the building became The Bathurst Street Theatre. Part of it has since been taken over by The Randolph School for Performing Arts.
Here’s a cool old picture of a horse drawn trolley car, labelled Seaton Village via Spadina Avenue, which was taken just after the area was amalgamated with Toronto. To put it in perspective, this picture was taken 2 years after the church/theatre was built.
The inside of the theatre is relatively small, seating 555 people when the balcony is full, but quite lovely. During the play, in the darkness I could see the tiniest bit of light outlining what, at one time must have been spectacular arched windows, but which are now blacked over. The people working there were very nice too, allowing me to take some photos, but understandably not while the performance was on.
Following the show, at my brother’s suggestion, we popped over to The Victory Cafe at 581 Markham Street. Being a matinee, the show had let out just before 4pm, so they were just getting things going at this friendly and pleasantly casual place. I had a lovely dinner of Caesar salad, and Macaroni and Cheese served with garlic bread (which was delicious and generous … I brought half home for my lunch on Monday!). The restaurant offers an impressive range of beer choices, so I had a German Pilsner beer (which I forgot to write down the name of).
All in all, it was a really fun Sunday!
And here we are on Tuesday. I wish you a fine day! It is pouring rain here and Nick has just headed out walking to Kensington Market. I usually go with him, but he didn’t want me tagging along because I’m still pretty slow with my ankle, which I sprained a whole 3 weeks ago but is still causing a limp. This gives me a whole new respect for anyone who has suffered a sprain. I had no idea how much pain this type of injury caused. Now I know, and am frankly a little worried about going out walking again. Though I’m sure this will pass, because walking is my all time favourite method of transportation. … though if that horse drawn trolley was an option, I might reevaluate that! :)
ps. If you enjoyed this look at an old building in Toronto, please take a look within the “Interesting Buildings” category to the right for more.