Shea's Yonge Street Theatre


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venue map legend

Venue Type & Location


Site Name: Shea's Theatre
Location: Toronto
County: York
Location Type: Town - in town at determined location


Address: 91-93 Yonge St.

(Formerly Bijou and Robinson's Theatre Musee )

  Shea's Theatre Cultural heritage site: museum, theatre, movie house.

Details of Site Location: Located at 91-93 Yonge Street, on the east side, half way between King and Adelaide Streets, Toronto.

  Boundary History: Built upon two lots (25'2" x 74'6" and 26' x 81'6") the theatre filled almost all of the two lots.

  Current Use of Property: A high-rise office building which occupies more than the theatre site.

  Historical Description: Constructed in 1889 and opening in 1891 as the Wonderland Museum or Robinson's Museum, since it was owned by Marvyn Robinson of Buffalo. Robinson sold the building in 1890 to George Moore of Detroit who called it Moore's Musee Theatre. Its next names were: Crystal Theatre, then Eden Museum. Then in 1896, Robinson took over the theatre again, this time calling it the Bijou. In 1897 the theatre was gutted by fire, one year from the time it began to show movies. In 1899, the property was bought by Shea Amusement Company of Buffalo, and the opening performances were given in September that year. The bookings were identical to those given at their Gordon Theatre in Buffalo and, under Mr. Shea's auspices, excellent bills raised the vaudeville bookings to a higher level. In 1910 Shea's bought the southeast corner of Richmond and Victoria and here developed Shea's Victoria. The old Yonge Street building was then named the Strand. As Moore's, the theatre had pyrotechnic displays, orchestras, operatic selections, blackface performers, and comedians. As Shea's it offered performances by dogs and cats, dancing comedians, singers, jugglers, and had shows given by the Aborn Comic Opera Company.

  Relative Importance: Part of Toronto's performing arts history, the site, in its many incarnations should be remembered as an interesting Yonge Street fixture and attraction, and because most of its offerings were American in origin. It seems that little home-grown talent had a chance here, although the theatre was lucrative, despite its history with fires. It is part of a period when live theatre flourished and fought for survival against the growing movie business.   Planning Importance: Other than a plaque, there are no planning implications.

  Reference Sources: Toronto Reference Library, newspaper collections; City of Toronto Archives, assessment rolls; National Library of Canada, newspaper collections.

  Acknowledgements: Peggy Kurtin; James Orr. "Shea's Theatre." Toronto Historical Association.

Events at Shea's Yonge Street Theatre

Event Date Venue Location Troupe
Variety 1895-1895 Toronto, York Cuporiti, "the famous Hindoo Juggler", The Carltons (dancers), Nankeville, The Bowmans (comedy), see notes
Variety 1895-1895 Toronto, York Morton and Revell, the Only Cranes, Valesca, Clara Raymond, Williams Sisters, Williams Trio … see notes
Dramatic 1899-1899 Toronto, York Cherry Sisters
Dramatic 1901-1901 Toronto, York Mrs. Louise Whiting Gay
Dramatic 1901-1901 Toronto, York Jim McIntyre and Tom Heath
Circus 1902-1902 Toronto, York Maritine Brothers
Dramatic 1903-1903 Toronto, York Aborn Opera Company
Dramatic 1903-1904 Toronto, York Miss Annie Abbott "The Little Georgia Magnet"
Dramatic 1904-1904 Toronto, York Albert Chevalier
Dramatic 1904-1904 Toronto, York Marie Dressler
Dramatic 1904-1904 Toronto, York Miss Vesta Tilley
Dramatic 1904-1904 Toronto, York Edna Wallace Hopper
Magic Show 1904-1905 Toronto, York Horace Goldin (magician)
Magic Show 1904-1905 Toronto, York Hermann the Great
Magic Show 1904-1905 Toronto, York Howard Thurson (magician)
Dramatic 1904-1905 Toronto, York Jerry Shea (6th season w/ Jessie Millward)
Magic Show 1904-1905 Toronto, York John T Fay and his wife Anna
Dramatic 1904-1904 Toronto, York Mary Hampton and company
Dramatic 1904-1904 Toronto, York Alice Lyndon Doll
Dramatic 1904-1904 Toronto, York The Great Fulgora (a transfigurator)
Dramatic 1904-1904 Toronto, York Miss McKinley
Dramatic 1904-1904 Toronto, York Mary Hampton
Exhibition 1904-1904 Toronto, York Ricabona's Horses
Dramatic 1905-1905 Toronto, York Albert Chevalier
Variety 1906-1906 Toronto, York Will Rogers
Dramatic 1906-1906 Toronto, York Albert Chevalier and French singer Yvette Guilbert
Concert 1907-1907 Toronto, York Maggie Cline
Lecture 1908-1908 Toronto, York W. C. Fields
Dramatic 1908-1908 Toronto, York The O'Connor Sisters and Wilbur
Concert 1908-1908 Toronto, York Harry Lauder
Dramatic 1914-1914 Toronto, York Flo Adler
Dramatic 1916-1916 Toronto, York Phyllis Neilson-Terry, Jeanne Engles and Marie Tempest