The Regent Theatre: History and Revival on Mount Pleasant

Linger and Learn Mount Pleasant Village

The stage is set for the Regent Theatre to undergo an exciting revitalization project. The old theatre was purchased by Terra Bruce productions in 2022. Terra Bruce is a St. John’s based production company that places an emphasis on Canadian stories through music and theatre. They have a vision to restore and reimagine The Regent as a multi-purpose theatrical facility. The new Regent will serve as a community hub just as it did in the beginning of its history. It will also be a venue for great Canadian talent as it was in its days as The Crest. The renovation promises to breathe new life into the theatre while also protecting its heritage features. Thanks to the team at Terra Bruce, this transformational theatre will grace Mount Pleasant for many more years to come. With its future story set, let’s explore the theatre’s previous acts.

The Regent is just one of the three names this theatre has gone by. For a hint of its first name, just look up. Nestled in the peak of the building is a stone crest “B”. When the theatre opened in 1927, it was known as The Belsize, named for the nearby road. It was constructed as a movie house and vaudeville theatre for the Famous Players Canada Chain. The first movie shown was a screening of the silent film “It” starring Clara Bow playing the lead role of an It Girl, “it” being defined in the movie as a “quality possessed by some which draws all others with its magnetic force.” It seems that the Belsize theatre had the “it” factor as well, drawing in crowds with a magnetic force for years to come.

Belsize Theatre, 1942, Mount Pleasant Village
Belsize Theatre, 1942, Archives of Ontario
Belsize Theatre, 1930, Mount Pleasant Village
Belsize Theatre, c.1930, Archives of Ontario
Regent & Sweets Belsize
Photo from Mcfcrandall blog showcases Belsize Theatre and Blue Bird Sweets

It wasn’t until the introduction of television that crowds at the Belsize began to thin out. In 1953 the theatre was officially reopened as The Crest, a venue for live theatre. Rather than feature touring British or American companies, The Crest had its own company. The revitalised theatre placed an emphasis on Canadian storytelling and talent. Opening night was a success, with The Star reporting that “probably no local company ever had the good fortune to get its first curtain up before such a receptive audience.” The Crest would see thirteen seasons and foster dozens of Canadian talents on its stage before reverting back to a movie theatre by 1966.

The theatre gained its third and final name in 1988 when it was renovated once again to become The Regent. The Regent operated as a movie house until 2021, showing a mix of new releases and vintage crowd-pleasers.

Crest Theatre, 1964, Toronto-Star-Collection-via-Toronto-Public-Library
Crest Theatre, 1964, Toronto-Star-Collection-via-Toronto-Public-Library

Following the theatre’s closure in 2021 after having been for sale for years, there was concern in the community that this historic landmark may be lost. The Regent (or Crest, or Belsize if you prefer) had survived the Great Depression, seen many renovations and alterations as silent films turned to talkies, from vaudeville to Canadian-focused drama, but its future looked uncertain. What was next for the Regent?

The Regent Theatre is resilient. It has stood on Mount Pleasant Road for nearly one hundred years, going through tremendous changes in order to stay current in a rapidly moving century. From Clara Bow silent movies to cutting edge Canadian stage productions, The Regent has persevered. Like the community the building is situated in, this old theatre has managed to stand the test of time with a vintage charm that sets it apart from the rest. Recently purchased by Terra Bruce productions, the Regent is about to enter its newest and most exciting phase. The Regent Revival project promises to restore all that is wonderful about the old theatre while also giving it a new, modern life.

Regent Theatre Mount Pleasant Village BIA

Join the Terra Bruce Company as they revitalize this cultural gem. Subscribe to their newsletter here and share your stories, your memories of The Regent, and your hopes for the future by emailing info@regentrevival.com

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We have 8 different stories at 8 different locations! Check out our map to find other places for you to rest and learn more about our neighbourhood!

Thank you to our Sponsors 

This initiative has been funded by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), and the City of Toronto’s Main Street Innovation Fund.

FedDev Funding Mount Pleasant Village BIA                 City of Toronto Logo

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