Canada is full of natural wonders and rich history. Though that is not a surprise to many, this may just be. Toronto is home to the last operating double-decker theatre of its kind in the world and it’s absolutely magical.
The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre is located at 189 Yonge Street, across the street from one of the city’s largest tourist hot spots – The Toronto Eaton Centre.
The theatre is owned and operated by the Ontario Heritage Trust. According to its operators, it is a century-old theatre and a National Historic Site.
“It is also the last operating vaudeville-era double-decker theatre in the world,” shares the site.
According to its history page, it was built in 1913, and designed by Thomas Lamb as a “double-decker” theatre complex. Thehe Winter Garden Theatre, was constructed on top of the Elgin Theatre which was originally known as Loew’s Yonge Street Theatre.
“The two theatres were of distinctly different personality: the Elgin was all gold leaf and rich fabrics, a formal theatre of plaster cherubs and ornate opera boxes,” shares the page.
#DYK Canada is home to the last operating double-decker #theater in the world? Located in downtown #Toronto, is the century-old Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre, two theaters stacked, one on top of the other! pic.twitter.com/RIM7w96S5q
— Canada (@Canada) November 4, 2023
“The Winter Garden was a botanical fantasy, its walls hand-painted to resemble a garden, its ceiling a mass of real beech boughs and twinkling lanterns.”
The Winter Garden closed in 1928 with the decline of vaudeville and only the Elgin theatre remained open as a movie house.
The Ontario Heritage Trust purchased the building in 1981 but it wasn’t until 1984, that its restoration began. The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre then reopened in December 1989, once again becoming one of “Canada’s finest theatrical stage complexes.”
Time travel back to now, the EWG hosts a number of events and occasions like “theatrical and operatic productions, award shows, concerts, dance, fashion shows, film and television location shoots, film premieres, fundraisers, lecture series and stand-up comedy.”
Another wonderful note is that the theatre is also home to the world’s largest collection of vaudeville scenery, discovered during its restoration.
“Several restored pieces, including the magnificent Butterfly and Scarab Scenery Flats, are displayed at the Theatre Centre,” shares the site.
If you’d like to see these treasures or experience the theatre for yourself, you can check out its events page and see what shows are on the schedule.
Now this is really stepping back in time.