The Victory Burlesque Theatre | A Once Famous Toronto Venue

by Denise Marie

The Victory Burlesque Theatre was located at 285 Spadina Ave (at Dundas St West) in the Chinatown neighbourhood of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The History

Originally built as the Standard Theatre in 1922, the live Yiddish theatre venue was developed by Toronto’s Jewish community. Designed by architect, John Jeffrey, the three-storey, Art-Deco style building features buff-brick cladding and is trimmed with cast stone and brick. There are two pairs of brick piers with decorative cast stone capitals, flat-headed window openings on the upper floors with stone sills and brick flat arches, a dentilled cornice and brick parapet.

Along with presenting Jewish theatrical productions with its own company of actors, the Standard Theatre also hosted NYC touring companies and was the backdrop for political meetings. The building also contained a pharmacy along with general rooms and was considered mixed-use.

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

The Victory Burlesque Theatre

The Victory Burlesque Theatre in 1935-1937 (Photo Credit: Toronto Archives)

In 1961, the venue once again began showing live performances, 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.” The Toronto Police morality squad kept a watchful eye on the theatre. It was quite the corner at the time. In the 1970’s, similar Yonge Street establishments were attracting more of an audience and in 1975, the curtains closed on the theatre.

The Victory Burlesque Theatre

The Victory Burlesque Theatre in 1972 (Photo Credit: Toronto Archives)

In 1975, the venue was renovated and became a Chinese-language theatre called Golden Harvest. Mandal Sprachman was the architect. It was in operation for about two decades.

Throughout the years, various retail and a bank branch has occupied parts of the building which received heritage status in 2007. I read that on the interior, the auditorium with stage, recessed ceiling and Classical sidewall decoration still exist inside.

Rexall Drugstore at Spadina Ave & Dundas St East

The former Victory Burlesque Theatre in 2020

Today, the building on the northeast corner of Spadina Ave and Dundas St West is home to Rexall Drugstore and retail shops.

 

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