Why I Love Toronto Reason #97
Canon Ed Mirvish Theatre
For those who do not understand why I crossed out Canon, have clearly not been reading the newspaper lately, but that is understandable up until a few hours ago my head was in the works of Goffman, Gergen and Hoschild studying for an exam. Regardless after my exam Amee, Laura, Eugenie and I went to Blueberry Hill a bar/ diner thing at York’s Keele campus to have some celebratory beers, when on CP24 live at 5 it was announced that Canon Theatre would renamed after Ed Mirivish. Now there are only two men who I will acknowledge as being leaders to developing Toronto and giving it its history. The first man is immortalized in a statue in the basement of the ROM reason #24 , Timothy Eaton. The other is Ed Mirvish.
Everyone knows Mr. Mirvish he is the man behind Honest Ed’s in the Annex! Anyways a brief history on Mr. Mirvish’s life. He was the son of a grocer who opened up Honest Ed’s on the corner of Bloor and Bathurst. He also had an interest in the arts which led to the restoration of the Royal Alexandra Theatre (where I once worked), the building of the Princess of Wales Theatre and the revitalization of King Street where he opened restaurants so that after someone went to see his show they could enjoy dinner. This eventually lead Torontonians to dub the area the theatre district. He also owns the Panasonic and Canon/ now Ed Mirvish Theatre.
When you first look at the Ed Mirish Theatre (which I will now abbreviate to EMT) it looks really small and you wonder how can one have live theatre in such a small venue. Well that was my first impression anyways. The first time I went to the Canon was with Sanjana to see Wicked. Let me tell you even though it may look small on the outside the theatre is massive with beautiful grand staircase.
When the theatre opened in 1920 it ran under the name the Pantages and was a combination of Vaudeville and motion picture (Vaudeville seemed to be very popular back in the day! Do you recall Reason #76 and #93). It was designed by Thomas W. Lamb who also built the Elgin Theatre down the street. It was the largest cinema in Canada with 3373 seats! At the time of course. It eventually lost its name because of a very sad/ disturbing story. Alexander Pantages who was behind the theatres was convicted of the rape of a minor and was sent to jail and eventually had his conviction overturn. Well this bad press ruined the Pantages name and it was sold off and became the Imperial, which was a movie theatre only. It was eventually turned into multiplex with 6 screens and operated by Famous Players. Eventually Cineplex came in and bought the Yonge Street entrance forcing Famous Players to sell, however Famous players fought it and eventually won an injunction preventing movies from being shown at the theatre ever again! Did you get all that? It’s more confusing than the Diane Jenkins murder Investigation on the Y&R.
To get back at Famous Players and to prove the land wasn’t a waste they began restoring the original design of the theatre and renamed it the Pantages and operated it as an actual live theatre like it is today. The first musical shown was the Phantom Of The Opera in 1989.
After a really long history it became the Canon theatre in 2001 after it was purchased by Clear Channel and then only a few years ago was it purchased by the Mirvish’s in 2008. And today Mr. Mirvish’s son announced that he would honour his father by naming the theatre after him.
When you go to the EMT you have to look at its grand lobby, vaulted ornate plaster ceilings, columns and grand staircase which I personally love and you will be shocked by the theatres size. The hallway provides one of the most beautiful walks ever, you feel as though the men should be dressed in suits and the women in the most beautiful ball gown fitting for an Oscar ceremony. I feel as though I should have broken out into a choreographed waltz. (ps I can’t get any photos of the inside but go here to check them out! http://mirvish.com/theatres/edmirvishtheatre)
So I love this building because it is beautifully designed, the size on the outside is misleading, it has a history that is fit for a soap opera, it has been renamed 5 times and the name it has today is that of one of this city’s most brilliant minds.
That Is Why I Love Toronto.