I never saw a single movie at the Westwood Theatre. I lived in Toronto off and on with my mom throughout the 80’s and she favoured the downtown theatres: The Uptown, Cumberland, Eaton Center Cineplex and Carlton. When I finally moved to Toronto to attend school in Etobicoke in the 90’s I was off moving pictures and the love for a movie and some over-buttered popcorn never returned.
But a boarded up movie theater always makes me feel nostalgic for the simpler days of thriller/horror movies and greasy popcorn with the family.
I’ve since become a resident of Etobicoke and I’ve been to the Westwood a few times to take photos. The interior is a creepy dirty shell of its former self, but when I think about it, movie theatres always lost their magic and felt dirty when the lights came on. The exterior is nothing to write home about except the sign, and it isn’t particularly fabulous either, but the typeface is vintage and looks stellar in silhouette.
I do find the property visually intriguing and think it would have made for some fabulous photographs with the lot full of 50’s automobiles lit with pools of light from the streetlamps and the neon lit.
Now the building is home to feral felines and memories of cheap firsts and dates (okay, I embellished that last one!)
A little history: The Westwood Theatre opened on February 28, 1952, with Ontario Premier Leslie Frost in attendance for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The 1000 seat movie house was the first in Canada to feature a floating screen and a front-end parking lot, (later a common occurrence in the age of the multiplex). It was a discount movie house for first-run films and was apprently packed every night until it closed in 1998. According to the last manager of the Westwood, the last feature movies were Titanic and Wild Things. Sadly the interior was demolished and the sign damaged during the shooting of Resident Evil 2 a few years later – in the movie, the roof of the theatre is destroyed by a zombie wielding a rocket launcher, and according to numerous accounts, the “D” in sign was damaged during filming.
According to Peter Milczyn City Councillor of Ward 5, Etobicoke-Lakeshore, the building is slated for demolition this year to make way for a new provincial court house.
[Facts and details from: http://theintrepid.blogspot.ca and http://silenttoronto.com/ ]