Welcome to the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres, also known as the last operating “stacked” theatre in the world. This is the theatre’s rendition of a double-decker bus; the Elgin Theatre sits at ground level with the Winter Garden Theatre located seven stories above it.
Built in 1913, the theatres were initially purposed for small entertainment acts and silent films. Not only were event calendars different in these two theatres, but the clientele and personalities of each theatre were different as well.
The Elgin Theatre is a large and more traditional venue, while the Winter Garden was intended to resemble an actual botanical garden, with hand-painted forest walls and real beech branches and lanterns hanging from the ceiling.
The decline of vaudeville and the emergence of other venues of movie entertainment led to the Winter Garden closing down in 1928. It remained closed down for nearly 60 years, leaving the Elgin Theatre to slowly slide into disrepair.
After decades of decline, the Ontario Heritage Trust purchased the building in the 1980s, and, alongside other public and private organizations, restored and reopened both of the theatres once again in 1989.
At the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre, you can take a guided tour of the theatres. View different artifacts from the various productions, as well as film technology used throughout the history of these venues. Check out the event calendar as well; you may be lucky enough to see a show too! Visiting these theatres is a great way to look into Toronto’s past while also enjoying the arts of the city.
Cover image by kaykaybarrie is licensed under CC by 2.0