Arts & Entertainment

Before the War of 1812, the wealthier citizens of York and the garrison officers enjoyed a modest cultural life. With fewer than 1000 residents, mostly artisans, labourers, and transient farmers, York was no cultural Mecca.

Soldiers pose outside the Royal Alexandra Theatre, c 1930 (courtesy City of Toronto Archives/Fonds 1244, Item 1003).

However, in the post war period, the arts began to evolve in step with the rise of a prosperous commercial middle class and rapid population growth through mainly British immigration. American theatrical touring companies regularly performed in the 1820s. Further stimulation came with the incorporation of the City of Toronto in 1834. Art, musical and literary societies formed in the 1830s. Between 1850 and 1912, Toronto's first concert hall, art gallery, museum, live theatre and film house opened. Toronto in the 20th century developed into a world-class centre for music, art, literature and entertainment.

A selection of sites from this theme is laid out in the trails Arts & Letters and Musical Toronto.

The Stories