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Archive for January, 2015

Experience the World on Bloor West

Friday, January 30th, 2015

imagesJS7TEDRTIf you want to experience life in far off places without boarding a plane the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema is the place for you.

The space at 506 Bloor West has housed a theatre for more than a century and todayacts as a beacon for the city’s documentary films, providing audiences with an up close and often personal window to the world around us. From punk music to Chinese food to Royal Ballet performances and stories about aging beauties, the Bloor Cinema, as it was most recently known, has something for everyone.imagesSQYBRH8U

Opened in 1913 the theatre, which is located in the heart of the Annex, was originally named the Madison Picture Palace. As one of Toronto’s first picture palaces, the theatre would soon be joined by Allen’s Bloor Theatre (later Lee’s Palace) and the Alhambra Theatre, which both opened in 1919 near Bloor and Bathurst.

In 1940 the theatre was rebuilt and all that was left of the original building were two side walls. The following year the theatre opened as the Midtown and would become a popular movie house throughout the ‘40s and ‘50s, known for matinees and horror flicks.imagesJQSEHD5B

With the advent of television, the number of movie goers began dwindling by the mid 1960s. The theatre would change hands several times over the years, from Famous Players’ naming it the Capri in 1967 to it being rechristened a few years later as the Eden, which ran mainly adult films.untitled1

In 1979, the theatre was renamed the Bloor Theatre. It offered first-run movies to appeal to the tastes of the families who were increasingly calling the Annex home. By 1980, Carm Bordonaro and his partners would take over the theatre, which eventually led to the Bordonaro family purchasing the building in 2010 to ensure the theatre’s survival.

The fate of the cinema was paramount for the Bordonaros, who turned away a number of property developers for the much-coveted land before finding a simpatico buyer in Toronto-based Blue Ice Group, a film financing and production company, and its partner, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.

Following renovations in 2012 that upgraded the cinema’s projection and sound capabilities, seating, restrooms and lobby facilities, the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema reopened in March 2012. Today, the cinema is home to first-run Canadian and international documentaries in addition to special documentary presentations such as the Doc Soup screening series. It also hosts many of the city’s independent film festivals and offers audiences some repertory and specialized fiction film programming.untitled


A Club that Fosters Growth & So Much More

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Grassroots community organizations such as the St. Alban’s Boys and Girls Club are a big part of what makes Toronto neighbourhoods such great places to call home. untitled untitled1





The club, which is headquartered in Vermont Square Park near Bathurst and Bloor, adheres to the values of inclusion, compassion, caring and safety for the thousands of children and young adults who have entered its doors. The organization’s mission statement kind of says it all: We provide a safe, supportive place where children and youth can experience new opportunities, overcome barriers, build positive relationships and develop confidence and skills for life.

“I think it’s a key component to the community and that it has a positive impact,” says Anna Sturino, the club’s director of operations. “I believe for some families it has probably saved them and, for some children, it has been their only form of family.”

What began as a recreational group for boys in 1949 thanks to Toronto police inspector Bill Bolton would eventually be renamed the St. Alban’s Boys and Girls Club in 1978. This, of course, was long after girls started using the club’s programs and services as early as 1960.

In 1999, the club merged with the Jane and Finch Boys and Girls Club, which allowed it to grow and offer outreach, programs and services at 18 locations in the Jane and Finch, Weston-Mount Dennis, Lawrence Heights and Bathurst and Dupont communities.

For a nominal membership fee, members get access to the building and its programs and services, which are many. The club, which is open seven days a week, offers programs for toddlers, pre-schoolers, school-aged children, youth and young adults.

Is your little Donatella Versace dying to design her own Grade 8 grad dress? She might want to check out Fashion Class. Got a wee Shaquille O’Neal on your hands? Sign up for basketball at St. Alban’s.  Got a miniature Bill Nye the Science Guy in your home? Let them see how science helps in the unfolding of magic tricks and mentalism.

Aquatic programs are available in addition to nutrition and wellness, various sports such as soccer and volleyball, skateboarding and ball hockey.  The club offers an early years program free of charge to the public as well as a preschool daycare program, an after-school program for children six to 12 and youth programs for those 13 and up.

A creative arts department is available for those interested in dance, theatre and drama, animation, photography and music.

St. Alban’s also offers programs and services geared to at-risk youth such as Roger’s Raising the Grade, a program that pairs youth with adult mentors. In addition, there is also a homework assistance club.

Many of the programs’ facilitators, mentors and frontline staff are former club members or college and university students who are working toward careers as youth workers, teachers, recreationists or social workers.

“It feels like a family here,” says Sturino. “Everyone belongs and is accepted and we do anything we can for people. I think we’re only successful because of companies like Freeman Real Estate, who have supported us and come on board to help with fundraising events in support of this community.”



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