Historian’s app puts old Toronto photos at your fingertips

Historian’s app puts old Toronto photos at your fingertips

ZeitagTO app aims to pull local history out of government archives and into the hands of those who are curious to see the Toronto that was. Looking west at the intersection of Queen and Bay, you see the grand Shea’s Hippodrome theatre. Various storefronts line the street. A newsboy waves the morning edition. But remove your iPad from sight and the cold truth of modern-day reality returns. Those buildings no longer exist, demolished during the…

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The polka dot time machine

The polka dot time machine

Thanks to the Internet, you no longer have to suffer the indignity of asking friends if a favourite childhood television show actually existed or whether it was a figment of your imagination. This week, TVOntario joined the growing fold of public broadcasters offering a free streaming archive of vintage programming. The publicly funded station, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last September, has digitized nearly 10,000 hours of content — “merely the tip of the iceberg,”…

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Reviving the sounds of silents

Reviving the sounds of silents

Musicians breathe new life into mute movies at Toronto Silent Film Festival. The films of the silent era were a varied lot, from slapstick to melodrama, featuring high society folk, cowboys, swashbucklers, vamps, flappers and rascals. Nearly a century later, these films are anything but silent. Plenty of music, both traditional and modern, will be heard during the Toronto Silent Film Festival, which runs March 30 to April 7. The lineup — seven screenings held…

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Project documents Toronto’s evolution in Kodachrome

Project documents Toronto’s evolution in Kodachrome

The format is gone, but one enthusiast is preserving its warm take on Toronto one image at a time. Don Draper said it best: “Nostalgia – it’s delicate, but potent.” Presenting a slide projector to a room full of Eastman Kodak executives, the advertising visionary from AMC’s television series Mad Men clicked through dozens of family photos, generating an emotional response from those in the room. A trip down memory lane is no less powerful…

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The day Shakespeare was banned

The day Shakespeare was banned

There was a time in Ontario when film versions of Shakespeare’s greatest plays were too violent or too racy for the public good. In February 1910, one Staff Insp. Kennedy seized a print of Hamlet. The Daily Star quoted this arbiter of public morals about how how he “witnessed a moving picture show of Hamlet, written I think by Shakespeare, this week. . . .That’s all very well to say it’s a famous drama, but…

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Burlesque Festival: Less sleaze, more tease

Burlesque Festival: Less sleaze, more tease

In an era where sexual imagery is everywhere, it’s hard to believe that a woman dressed in an evening gown, teasingly eyeing her audience while slowly removing a silk glove, can still cause a stir. The Toronto Burlesque Festival, running July 21 to 25 at the Gladstone Hotel, aims to prove that less is still more. An amalgam of inventive striptease, variety acts and live music, the festival aims to blend the old and the…

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Festival celebrates lost art of silent films

Festival celebrates lost art of silent films

In the early days of movie-going, when silent films reigned supreme, there were no snack bars, reclining seats, or disclaimers discouraging cellphone use (although friendly title-cards kindly asked ladies to remove their hats); coming attractions were projected on glass slides and hand-painted posters graced sandwich boards placed outside the street-front cinemas. When talkies arrived in Toronto in late 1928, silent films disappeared, replaced by the chatter of jazz-babies and tough-talking heavies as theatres were quickly…

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The man who let The Littlest Hobo run off-leash

The man who let The Littlest Hobo run off-leash

In the mid-1970s, after the federal government enacted new tax-shelter laws, movie production in the city was on the rise. But there was a problem. In 1979, the City of Toronto still had no permitting system in place to handle the influx of film crews. After several run-ins between producers and public works officials, then-mayor John Sewell appointed Naish McHugh, a seasoned industrial manager with a long-standing reputation as a mediator, to be the city’s…

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