The Curtain Rises And The Captivation Begins!
The year was 1918 when the historic Capitol Theatre first started captivating the imagination of many at 2492 Yonge Street on the northwest corner of Yonge and Castlefield Avenue in uptown Toronto. Featuring vaudeville shows and silent films, records show the venue was originally built for Mr. McClelland, who arrived in Canada from Kingston Jamaica. Mr. McClelland hired the architect J. M. Jeffrey to design his theatre.

Capable of seating 1300 patrons, the Capitol was a considerable size for a venue that catered mainly to local residents in uptown Toronto. However, it did attract customers from other areas as the Yonge Streetcar line rumbled past it with a stop right out front. The theatre possessed a stage to accommodate vaudeville and a space near the stage for musicians. The full three floors of the section of the building was occupied by the Capitol Theatre, with the remainder of the block containing residential apartments on the second and third floors and shops on the ground-floor level.

In 1924, a balcony was added and more shops were included in the space on the first-floor level. In 1933, the theatre was converted for exclusively screening films. Further renovations were done in 1946 and 1947, but no candy bar was added to avoid competition with the Laura Secord shop to the left of the theatre's entrance. In 1954 a confection bar was finally added to the Capitol.

The Show Must Go On!
It is reported that in 1957, a fire in the stage area broke out at 4:50 pm. Thankfully, the fire was not too serious and quickly contained no doubt due to the diligent efforts and "the show must go on" attitude of the Capitol staff. The theatre was back in operation by 7:20 pm that very day!

The theatre was originally independently owned but in the years ahead it was managed by Famous Players, though they did not own the building. In the 1990s, it was a second-run movie house, featuring films that were not recent releases and run by Festival Cinemas.

The Curtain Closes And The Lights Go Out .....
The End Of An Era?

The Capitol shut its doors as a movie theatre in November 1998. However .. The old movie house was saved from demolition. After a two-million dollar renovation The Capitol was lovingly restored to its former glory and re-opened as a special event venue named the Capitol Event Theatre. A wall was removed to expose the projection room, which then became a bar. Though the seating had been removed, the high ceiling, stage and ornate interior detailing were maintained with several modern comforts added for guests to enjoy in the city's premier special events venue!

After almost a century, the Show goes on and The Capitol Event Theatre continues to captivate the imagination!

References:, Cinema Treasures, City of Toronto Archives

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