For the history buffs: the full Paradise timeline
A flagship in Toronto’s diverse and exciting Bloorcourt neighbourhood, Paradise has lived many lives over the past century.
The venue has long been a communal place of gathering, as a neighbourhood cinema aka “Nabe” in its early days, to an Italian filmhouse run by a local trio of brothers, and cornerstone of the indie cinema network under the Festival Cinemas chain.
“One-storey brick theatorium” Bloor Palace is built, part of the neighbourhood’s wave of development around when this section of Bloor St. was paved.
The Bloor Palace was a “Nabe” (short for “neighbourhood”) cinema, of which there were many across Toronto. In the few blocks east and west of Bloor Palace, there was The Kenwood, which is now used by Sistering for their 24-hour drop-in centre, and The Doric, which is now a Tim Horton’s.
Renamed The Kitchener, purportedly in recognition of the WWI British war secretary whose mysterious demise at sea spawned endless conspiracy theories.
1937 Paradise born
Paradise Theatre is born, built in the Art Deco and Art Moderne styles under the direction of one of Toronto’s earliest practising Jewish architects, Benjamin Brown. The new venue had 643 seats, including a balcony where you could “smoke if you wish.”
Operated by Odeon Theatres chain, a British company which grew to own over 100 cinemas across Canada.
A decade of frequently-changing ownership begins. There is evidence of German (Paradise Kino) and Italian (Nuovo Cinema Paradise) ownership.
1966 Italian community hub
Local family, the Giacominis, purchase Paradise and operate it as an Italian filmhouse. Every three months, Francesco Giacomini brought unsubtitled 35mm film prints back from Italy to share with a local audience.
Next to the Paradise Theatre, the brothers owned and operated “Remo Brothers Grocers” in the small neighbouring space—which will be Osteria Rialto. In Remo’s obituary in the Toronto Star, it is noted that, “As he grew older, Remo Giacomini was admired for, among other things, helping out needy families who came to his store by giving them food. He became known informally as ‘Il Prefetto,’ meaning a leader, a captain, a good person.”
The Giacominis leave the movie-showing business, selling the building but holding the mortgage.
The interim owner leases Paradise out to the “Eves and Edens” chain of adult theatres. Paradise is re-named “Eve’s Paradise.”
1990 Indie flicks
Paradise joins the Festival Cinemas chain, which showed repertory and arthouse fare in Toronto’s stalwart single-screen venues including the Bloor (now Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema), Revue, Kingsway and Fox.
With the closing of the Festival Cinemas chain, so too did Paradise shut its doors.
Paradise is purchased by Moray Tawse, with plans to reopen the space as a hub for entertainment, food and drink in West Toronto.
Paradise is designated as being of cultural heritage value and interest by the City of Toronto.
2019 A future for Paradise
Paradise reopens its doors, complete with a flexible theatre space, full-service Italian restaurant and dazzling cocktail bar.