Victory Burlesque Theatre – Once Began as a Live Yiddish Venue

1935/37 - The Strand Theatre at Spadina Ave and Dundas St W, looking south
1935/37 – The Strand Theatre at Spadina Ave and Dundas St W, looking south (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1488, Series 1230, Item 1133)

The Victory Burlesque Theatre was located at ‪287 Spadina Ave‬ (at Dundas St W on the northeast corner) in the Chinatown neighbourhood of Toronto.

The Standard & Strand Theatre

Originally built as the Standard Theatre in 1922, Toronto’s Jewish community developed the live Yiddish theatre venue. It’s debatable which architect designed the theatre, either Benjamin Brown or John Jeffrey. The three-storey, Art-Deco style building features buff brick, two pairs of brick piers with decorative cast stone capitals, flat-headed window openings, a dentiled cornice and a brick parapet.

Along with presenting Jewish theatrical productions with its own company of actors, the Standard Theatre also hosted New York City touring companies and was the backdrop for political meetings.

In 1935, the post-World War I era theatre became The Strand and changed names once again in 1941 to the Victory Theatre.

The Victory Burlesque Theatre

1968 - The Victory Burlesque Theatre and Shopsy's Deli at Spadina Ave and Dundas St W, looking northeast
1968 – The Victory Burlesque Theatre and Shopsy’s Deli at Spadina Ave and Dundas St W, looking northeast (City of Toronto Archives, Series 648, File 246, ID 5)

In 1961, the venue began showing live performances again, this time of the risqué variety. It was called the Victory Burlesque Theatre, and the opening act was Little Star, “the blazing gal from outer space.” Toronto Police morality squad kept a watchful eye on the theatre. It was quite the corner at the time. In the 1970s, similar Yonge St establishments attracted more of an audience, and in 1975, its curtains closed.

That same year, the venue was renovated and became a Golden Harvest Chinese-language theatre. It was in operation for about 20 years.

The Heritage Building Today

Throughout the years, retail shops and a bank have occupied various building parts, which received heritage status in 2007. Today, the building is home to Rexall Drugstore and retail shops.

Victory Burlesque Theatre Photos

1972 - The Victory Burlesque Theatre at Spadina Ave and Dundas St W, looking northeast
1972 – The Victory Burlesque Theatre at Spadina Ave and Dundas St W, looking northeast (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 47, Item 15)
2020 - Rexall, formerly the Victory Burlesque Theatre at the northeast corner of Spadina Ave and Dundas St W
2020 – Rexall, formerly the Victory Burlesque Theatre at the northeast corner of Spadina Ave and Dundas St W
1980's - The Royal Bank, formerly the Victory Burlesque Theatre at the northeast corner of Spadina Ave and Dundas St W
1980’s – The Royal Bank, formerly the Victory Burlesque Theatre at the northeast corner of Spadina Ave and Dundas St W (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 601, Item 3)
1970's - The Golden Harvest Theatre, formerly the Victory Burlesque Theatre at Spadina Ave and Dundas St W, looking northeast
1970’s – The Golden Harvest Theatre, formerly the Victory Burlesque Theatre at Spadina Ave and Dundas St W, looking northeast (photo of a photo taken at City of Toronto Archives)
1968 - The Victory Burlesque Theatre and Shopsy's Deli at Spadina Ave and Dundas St W, looking northeast
1968 – The Victory Burlesque Theatre and Shopsy’s Deli at Spadina Ave and Dundas St W, looking northeast (City of Toronto Archives, Series 648, File 246, ID 5)
1935/37 - The Strand Theatre at Spadina Ave and Dundas St W, looking south
1935/37 – The Strand Theatre at Spadina Ave and Dundas St W, looking south (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1488, Series 1230, Item 1133)
1930 - The Standard Theatre at Spadina Ave and Dundas St W, looking north
1930 – The Standard Theatre at Spadina Ave and Dundas St W, looking north (City of Toronto Archives, Series 372, Sub Series 58, Item 1232a)
2022 – The Standard Theatre 1922 heritage plaque reads:      "This building was the first purpose-built Yiddish-language theatre in Canada and a cultural landmark in the local Jewish community. Architect John MacNee Jeffrey designed the Standard Theatre in the Art deco style, possibly with architect Benjamin Brown. Despite a modest exterior, the 1,500-seat venue was ornately decorated inside.   The Standard attracted major Yiddish actors from the United States and developed its own respected group of performers. Russian plays, Shakespeare, and the works of Jewish playwrights were popular. The theatre also held sporting events, fundraisers, the leftist political rallies, which police often treated as subversive.   The Standard became a movie house in the 1930s and was renamed the Strand, and then the Victory. In the 1960s, the Victory became a popular burlesque house and hosted bands like Rush and the Stooges.   The local Chinese community held performances at the theatre and, in 1975, the film company Golden Harvest bought and extensively renovated the venue to show Mandarin and Cantonese action and kung fu movies. The cinema portion of the building closed in 1994.  Designated in 2007 under the Ontario Heritage Act - Heritage Toronto 2021"
2022 – The Standard Theatre 1922 heritage plaque reads:

“This building was the first purpose-built Yiddish-language theatre in Canada and a cultural landmark in the local Jewish community. Architect John MacNee Jeffrey designed the Standard Theatre in the Art deco style, possibly with architect Benjamin Brown. Despite a modest exterior, the 1,500-seat venue was ornately decorated inside.

The Standard attracted major Yiddish actors from the United States and developed its own respected group of performers. Russian plays, Shakespeare, and the works of Jewish playwrights were popular. The theatre also held sporting events, fundraisers, the leftist political rallies, which police often treated as subversive.

The Standard became a movie house in the 1930s and was renamed the Strand, and then the Victory. In the 1960s, the Victory became a popular burlesque house and hosted bands like Rush and the Stooges.

The local Chinese community held performances at the theatre and, in 1975, the film company Golden Harvest bought and extensively renovated the venue to show Mandarin and Cantonese action and kung fu movies. The cinema portion of the building closed in 1994.

Designated in 2007 under the Ontario Heritage Act – Heritage Toronto 2021″
Before 1915 - Dr Henry Moorhouse's residence and later the site of the theatre, on the northeast corner of Spadina Ave and Dundas St W
Before 1915 – Dr Henry Moorhouse’s residence and later the site of the theatre, on the northeast corner of Spadina Ave and Dundas St W (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 295)
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