Shea's Hippodrome Theatre

440 Bay Street,
Toronto, ON M5G

Unfavorite 1 person favorited this theater

Showing 16 comments

Lillian on August 20, 2014 at 3:27 pm

My grandmother played the pipe organ at the Hippodrome for the silent movies. I believe in the teens or the 20’s Her name was Lillian (Lil) Lafraniere.(from Gravenhurst. I have taken my grandchildren to Casa Loma for pictures. Any info. re: Lil would be most appreciated. Thanks. Jane Lifchis

DavidDymond on February 10, 2013 at 6:19 pm

This theatre was a partnership situation between Mr. Mike Shea and the Shea family and Famous Players Canadian Corporation. I actually have a signed letter from Mr. Mike Shea advising that his doorman was on holidays and to please extend to him the courtesy of free movies should he so desire!!

CSWalczak on May 22, 2012 at 2:31 am

Updated links to some pictures I originally posted in 2009.

Shea’s Hippodrome under construction: View link

As it was in 1921: View link

In 1947:View link

SilentToronto on January 22, 2011 at 11:51 am

An ad for “A Devil With Women” starring Victor McLaglen from Dec 22 1930:

SilentToronto on January 22, 2011 at 11:07 am

A new article at Silent Toronto shows Lee de Forrest’s Phonofilms, featuring Eddie Cantor, playing at Shea’s Hippodrome in 1924.

SilentToronto on December 13, 2010 at 10:03 am

Hey Jerry, drop me a line at — would love to have a look!

jerryross on December 13, 2010 at 8:46 am

I have Shea’s program time schedules for every show from early 50’s to closing. These are the typed timetables of starting/end times and length for News, cartoon, preview, short, feature, etc. and also size of screen when Cinemascope came in. Would anyone know if these have any monetary value to somebody, or how to find out?
I also have NY Paramount “audience troublemakers” reports (mashers, pickpockets, hooligans etc.). Would these have any monetary value?

SilentToronto on November 5, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Over at Silent Toronto, a winter shot from 1924 advertising a Gloria Swanson flick at the Hippodrome.

TLSLOEWS on June 21, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Great vintage shots CWalczak.

lindawild on May 23, 2010 at 7:51 am

My mother was an usherette at Shea’s Hippodrome on Bay Street, Toronto in the late 1950’s. She met the likes of Gloria Swanson and Gordon Lightfoot.

She recalls a photographer from ??Famous Players? coming in and asking if she’d do some photography of her getting ready to “go on the floor”, and she is wondering what happened to those photos. She recalls him taking photos of her sitting and putting on her hat, fixing her make up, putting on her jacket – all this was taken in the usherettes dressing room. Anyone seen any of these or have a lead where we may find them?

CSWalczak on April 13, 2009 at 6:15 pm

The Toronto Theatre Organ Society (TTOS), whose members over the years have worked so hard to see that the Shea’s Wurlitzer would be preserved have posted a number of pictures of the theatre, including interior shots at these sites:

CSWalczak on April 13, 2009 at 4:43 pm

The history of the Wurlitzer organ (Opus 558, 3/15) that was installed in Shea’s Hippodrome in 1922 at a cost of 50,000is a fascinating story. It was rescued and purchased (for a mere $2,000) even as the theatre was being demolished. It was then installed at the Maple Leaf Gardens and expanded in size. It was later removed from the Gardens and stored at the Imperial Theatre on Yonge, and then installed at Casa Loma after again being modified. The complete story can be read here:

hanksykes on April 13, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Fascinating info,was there a large water pool included in this Hippodrome, as the ones in London,Bristol,and Cleveland had?

CSWalczak on April 13, 2009 at 12:51 pm

I too was surprised that it had not been entered previously; recently I was rereading “Palaces of the Night: Canada’s Grand Theatres” by John Lindsay and thought I would see what CT had to say about it and discovered there was no entry.

There are some terrific interior shots of Shea’s in that book, showing that it had, at least at one time, twelve opera boxes and elaborate ceiling lighting. I had noted the 1947 picture before during a previous hunt, but had not been able to match it up to a specific theatre as there is no vertical and the theatre’s name is not visible anywhere else in the picture. I finally figured it out when I came across the 1921 picture and matched the designs in the facade’s brickwork.

telliott on April 13, 2009 at 10:51 am

Hurray, Shea’s is finally in here! If it hadn’t been torn down for the new City Hall, I’ve always imagined that Shea’s would have lasted in to the 60s, 70s and maybe beyond…maybe even multi-plexed like the Imperial Six, or the Uptown 5.

Luis Vazquez
Luis Vazquez on April 13, 2009 at 10:40 am

I’m always astounded to see theaters of this size (in the US and Canada) only now making it to Cinema Treasures. I wonder how many others are waiting to be discovered.