Imperial Six Theatre – One of the World’s First Multiplex Theatres

1972 - Looking northeast from Yonge St, south of Dundas St towards the Imperial Theatre at 263 Yonge St
1972 – Looking northeast from Yonge St, south of Dundas St towards the Imperial Theatre at 263 Yonge St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, File 3, ID 3)

The Imperial Six Theatre, now the Ed Mirvish Theatre, is located at 263 Yonge St and 244 Victoria St (south of Dundas St E) in downtown Toronto.

Originally the Pantages Theatre

Built in 1920, the theatre opened as the Pantages. It was one of Canada’s last combination vaudeville/movie-house theatres. The grand theatre was part of the Pantages chain that operated more than 120 theatres throughout North America. While Alexander Pantages operated it, it was owned by Famous Players.

The magnificent gem was designed by renowned architect Thomas W Lamb and lavishly decorated in elegant Adam Revival style. Inside there’s a stunning colonnaded lobby and foyer along with a magnificent domed auditorium that seated over 3,600 guests.

In 1929, the Pantages theatre chain collapsed. It was taken over completely by Famous Players, who renamed it Imperial Theatre and began only showing movies one year later.

Sprachman Renovation & The Imperial Six

1973 - The Imperial Six Theatre on Yonge St, south of Dundas St on the east side
1973 – The Imperial Six Theatre on Yonge St, south of Dundas St on the east side (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, Series 841, File 44, Item 1)

In 1972, the theatre underwent a renovation by Mandel Sprachman as the architect. He skillfully modified the theatre to retain much of the interior while dividing it into 6 auditoriums. In 1973, it was renamed Imperial Six Theatre. The building received heritage status in 1979.

The Phantom of the Opera

Famous Players lost the building to Cineplex Odeon in 1986. Cineplex (Livent) restored the lobby to its original design, rebuilt it into a live theatre and renamed it The Pantages. In 1989, the theatre reopened with a production of “The Phantom of the Opera.” It ran at the theatre for 10 years and had over 4,200 performances.

Ed Mirvish Theatre

2022 - Looking northeast towards the Ed Mirvish Theatre advertising the production of "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child"
2022 – Looking northeast towards the Ed Mirvish Theatre advertising the production of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”

In 1999, the theatre was purchased by Clear Channel. In 2001 was renamed Canon Theatre because of the support pledge from Canon. They leased the theatre to Mirvish Productions, who also managed it. Clear Channel was bought out by Key Brand Entertainment Ltd, and in 2008, Mirvish Productions purchased the theatre.

In 2011, after the Canon partnership ended, David Mirvish renamed the landmark the Ed Mirvish Theatre in honour of his father.

Imperial Six Theatre Photos

1972 - Looking northeast from Yonge St, south of Dundas St towards the Imperial Theatre at 263 Yonge St. On the marquee, "The Godfather," starring Al Pacino, Talia Shire, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall and James Caan, was playing
1972 – Looking northeast from Yonge St, south of Dundas St towards the Imperial Theatre at 263 Yonge St. On the marquee, “The Godfather,” starring Al Pacino, Talia Shire, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall and James Caan, was playing (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, File 3, ID 3)
2022 - Looking northeast towards the Ed Mirvish Theatre advertising the production of "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child"
2022 – Looking northeast towards the Ed Mirvish Theatre advertising the production of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”
1973 - The Imperial Six on Yonge St, south of Dundas St on the east side during the theatre's reopening/open house
1973 – The Imperial Six on Yonge St, south of Dundas St on the east side during the theatre’s reopening/open house (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, Series 841, File 44, Item 1)
1977 - The Imperial Six Theatre from Victoria St
1977 – The Imperial Six Theatre from Victoria St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 44, Item 5)
1977 - The Imperial Six Theatre and the Nickelodeon on Yonge St, looking southeast
1977 – The Imperial Six Theatre and the Nickelodeon on Yonge St, looking southeast (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 4, Item 9)
1973 - The interior of the Imperial Six Theatre after renovations
1973 – The interior of the Imperial Six Theatre after renovations (Mandel Sprachman Architect Fonds, photo taken at City of Toronto Archives, Series 881, Item 377)
1973 - The Imperial Six Theatre on Yonge St, looking northeast
1973 – The Imperial Six Theatre on Yonge St, looking northeast (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 4, Item 4)
1977 - Looking north on Victoria St towards the rear of the Imperial Six Theatre and Dundas St E
1977 – Looking north on Victoria St towards the rear of the Imperial Six Theatre and Dundas St E (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 44, Item 4)
1972 - A view of Yonge St and the Imperial Theatre, looking north. Notice the Downtown Theatre in the background
1972 – A view of Yonge St and the Imperial Theatre, looking north. Notice the Downtown Theatre in the background (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 312, Item 81)
Between 1970 and 1972 - Looking south on Yonge St from south of Dundas Sq towards the Imperial Theatre
Between 1970 and 1972 – Looking south on Yonge St from south of Dundas Sq towards the Imperial Theatre (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 312, Item 53)
1972 - The Imperial Theatre from Dundas St E and Victoria St, looking southwest
1972 – The Imperial Theatre from Dundas St E and Victoria St, looking southwest (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 73, Item 3)
1950 - Subway excavation in front of the Imperial Theatre on Yonge St, looking southeast. On the marquee, " The Eagle and the Hawk," starring John Payne, Rhonda Fleming and Dennis O'Keefe, was playing
1950 – Subway excavation in front of the Imperial Theatre on Yonge St, looking southeast. On the marquee, ” The Eagle and the Hawk,” starring John Payne, Rhonda Fleming and Dennis O’Keefe, was playing (Brigdens Limited Photography & City of Toronto Archives, Series 574, File 28, ID 49499)
1950 - Excavation near the Imperial Theatre on Yonge St, looking northeast
1950 – Excavation near the Imperial Theatre on Yonge St, looking northeast (Brigdens Limited Photography & City of Toronto Archives, Series 574, File 28, ID 49495)
1950's – Looking north towards the  Imperial Theatre and Downtown Theatre on Yonge St
1950’s – Looking north towards the Imperial Theatre and Downtown Theatre on Yonge St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 8939)
1950 - Excavation near the Imperial Theatre on Yonge St, looking north
1950 – Excavation near the Imperial Theatre on Yonge St, looking north (Brigdens Limited Photography & City of Toronto Archives, Series 574, File 29, ID 49501)
Between 1929 and 1930 - A night photo looking north on Yonge St from north of Shuter St
Between 1929 and 1930 – A night photo looking north on Yonge St from north of Shuter St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1488, Series 1230, Item 3742)
1929/30 -The Imperial Theatre on Yonge St, looking south
1929/30 -The Imperial Theatre on Yonge St, looking south (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1488, Series 1230, Item 3884)
Between 1986 and 1994 - Looking south on Yonge St from south of Dundas Sq. Notice the Pantages Theatre on the left
Between 1986 and 1994 – Looking south on Yonge St from south of Dundas Sq. Notice the Pantages Theatre on the left (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 439, Item 44)
Between 1929 and 1930 - Looking south on Victoria St from Dundas St E. The Pantages Theatre is on the right
Between 1929 and 1930 – Looking south on Victoria St from Dundas St E. The Pantages Theatre is on the right (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1488, Series 1230, Item 3499)
1926 – Written on the photo "All English Bill Pantages Theatre Toronto - Week of Aug 21st 1926"
1926 – Written on the photo “All English Bill Pantages Theatre Toronto – Week of Aug 21st 1926” (Archives of Ontario I0031007)
Between 1920 and 1924 - A billboard advertising "In the Shadows of Whitechapel" playing at the Pantages Theatre
Between 1920 and 1924 – A billboard advertising “In the Shadows of Whitechapel” playing at the Pantages Theatre (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1488, Series 1230, Item 1980)
2009 – Canon Theatre advertising the production of "Billy Elliot the Musical"
2009 – Canon Theatre advertising the production of “Billy Elliot the Musical” (Google Maps)
2020 - The Ed Mirvish Theatre entrance and advertising for the production of "Anastasia"
2020 – The Ed Mirvish Theatre entrance and advertising for the production of “Anastasia”
2020 - The Ed Mirvish Theatre sign advertising the production of "Hamilton"
2020 – The Ed Mirvish Theatre sign advertising the production of “Hamilton”
2020 - The Ed Mirvish Theatre entrance, once the Imperial Six Theatre
2020 – The Ed Mirvish Theatre entrance, once the Imperial Six Theatre
2020 - The Ed Mirvish Theatre advertising the production of "Hamilton"
2020 – The Ed Mirvish Theatre advertising the production of “Hamilton”
2022 - Looking north on Victoria St towards the rear of Ed Mirvish Theatre
2022 – Looking north on Victoria St towards the rear of Ed Mirvish Theatre
2022 - Phantom of the Opera ghost sign "Celebrating its tenth phantastic year!" on the southeast side of the Ed Mirvish Theatre building
2022 – Phantom of the Opera ghost sign “Celebrating its tenth phantastic year!” on the southeast side of the Ed Mirvish Theatre building
2022 - Advertising the production of "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" at Ed Mirvish Theatre
2022 – Advertising the production of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” at Ed Mirvish Theatre
2021 - Exterior architectural details on the Ed Mirvish Theatre, originally the Pantages Theatre, at 263 Yonge St
2021 – Exterior architectural details on the Ed Mirvish Theatre, originally the Pantages Theatre, at 263 Yonge St
2021 - The Pantages Theatre plaque
2021 – The Pantages Theatre plaque
1921 - The Toronto City Directory showing the address of the Pantages Theatre
1921 – The Toronto City Directory showing the address of the Pantages Theatre (Courtesy of Toronto Public Library)
1952 - The Toronto City Directory showing the address, phone number and manager of the Imperial Theatre
1952 – The Toronto City Directory showing the address, phone number and manager of the Imperial Theatre (Courtesy of Toronto Public Library)
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