Willow Movie Theatre

5255 Yonge Street,
Toronto, ON M2N 1X9

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Additional Info

Architects: Herbert George Duerr

Styles: Streamline Moderne

Previous Names: Willow Theatre

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Willow Movie Theatre

The Willow Movie Theatre was a modern movie theatre on the east side of Yonge Street near the intersection of Yonge Street and Ellerslie Avenue in Willowdale, Ontario, a growing suburb of Toronto (now part of the North York region of Toronto). It opened June 17, 1948.

It was best known for its large block-glass entrance, and locals recall the around-the-block lines for its double-features, as it was one of the last Toronto-area theatres to run a double. It remained an independent theatre until its closure in 1987, when a Cineplex Odeon multi-screen was opened at Yonge Street and Shepherd Street about 2km (1.25 mi) south. The site is now a condominium.

Contributed by DL Cushing

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

CSWalczak on April 8, 2011 at 8:21 am

According to this webpage about the Willow, the theatre opened in 1947: http://www.mustangdrive-in.com/history.php?id=49

CSWalczak on April 8, 2011 at 8:29 am

A postcard view of the Willow: View link.

socal09 on June 17, 2011 at 7:05 am

There is a Willow Theatre Facebook page.

Sommerhouse on June 17, 2011 at 8:27 pm

I have a 20x24" print of the Willow Theater done in 1989 by Charles Dawson? Not sure of his last name as the speeling is not really clear. It matches the “Postcard” view posted by C SWalczak. Kanes Funeral Parlor on Yonge Street has this print as well as a number of other local buildings. I spend many a Saturday and/or Sunday of my childhood at this theater. I am trying to track down more information about the artist who did the Willow Theater painting.

marydowson2 on January 10, 2012 at 6:00 am

The artists name for the Willow theatre print is Charles DOWSON. Charles is my very talented brother and was a resident of Willowdale until 1991. He did many prints of local historical importance, including the old Fire Hall, Dempsey’s Hardware and the Gibson House. Charles was born in Willowdale and was one of 7 children born to William and Stella Dowson. I remember when the Willow was being built. We’d sneak in there and do a couple of cartwheels on the stage…Having the Willow theatre meant that Willowdale was now going to grow up…it would no longer be the sleepy little village north of Toronto. Mary Dowson

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 6, 2012 at 12:43 am

The page for architect Herbert George Duerr at the Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada lists his design for an unnamed theater at Yonge Street and Norton Avenue in North York as a 1947 project. It must have been the Willow Theatre.

theprofessor1961 on March 2, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Hi Everyone, just stumbled across this site. I grew up a few blocks away from the Willow Theatre and spent a lot of time there in the 60s. Recently at the Kane Funeral home on Yonge St I saw the prints of artist Charles Dowson hanging on their walls there > of the Willow Theatre, Mings variety etc. Can anyone please tell me where I get get prints??? or anything about the artist….much appreciated! Robert

rivest266 on March 5, 2014 at 4:08 pm

June 17th, 1948 grand opening ad in photo section.

gordonmcleod on July 9, 2014 at 12:53 pm

I worked there as the relief projectionist often just before it closed the booth was Simplex XL with SH1000 soundheads Peerless Magnarc Lamps and a Teco mono sound system That wide auditorium cried out for stereo and 70mm

noricem on June 1, 2015 at 9:16 am

Years ago my friends mother had a lovely print of the willow theatre hanging in her hall and like the previous comment would love to know if and when I can still get one somewhere? I discovered the cinema 6 months before it closed and we loved it! From the outside I remember it being spooky, but the inside was gorgeous! Can anyone help? Thanks

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