Around Town

Palais Royale, now and then

The original Art Deco with its hipped roof entry pavilion and flanking symmetrical wings was designated as a historic site by the City in 1974.Designed by Chapman, Oxley & Bishop Architects and originally built as a boat works in 1922, Palais Royale on Lake Shore Boulevard soon became a notable night club in the former Sunnyside Amusement Park.


This Saturday I attended a function there, one of the many that the Hall is now used for.

Like all good architecture, the scale and ambiance of the interior spaces are all respectful towards human scale and social interaction.

From feel to food, to people, it was the perfect night out. A pleasant entertaining venue where I will surely return.

Between 1930’s and late 1960’s it underwent successive renovations and as a result, much of the building’s early Art Deco architectural character has been obscured. I must say though that as it looks today, it is a well-balanced piece of architecture. The surrounding landscape could use a bit of improvement.


 The popular days of Palais Royale were in the 30’s when hosting prominent ‘big band’ jazz bands. Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Paul Whiteman they all played there.

From 1933 to 1950, Bert Niosi’s orchestra was the house band.

He was a bandleader, clarinetist, saxophonist, composer and arranger, born in London, Ont.  In 1931 he formed a nine-piece band to play at the Embassy Club in Toronto.

In 1932 he expanded the band and moved to the Palais Royale where, in an 18-year residence, he became an institution in Canadian pop music and became known as

‘Canada’s King of Swing’.




If you wondered what a menu could have been those days ,here is an excerpt from Edward Bok’s Ladies’ Home Journal, in August 1932:
Sunday Dinner: Chilled Tomato Cocktails, Corn soup, Fricasseed Chicken with Brown Rice, Broiled tomatoes, Avocado-and-Lettuce Salad, Blueberry Pudding, Cream or hard sauce, Iced Tea or Black Coffee.

As the 1930s was a decade with extremes of poverty and wealth, with the Wall Street stock market crash of 1929 and the following Great Depression, many people escaped to the cinema. The glamorous film stars greatly influenced fashion and beauty companies, and they revolutionized cosmetics as makeup became more sophisticated and more widely available to the public.

Beauty creams became the norm among women of the 30s when  Germaine Monteil introduced women to a modern beauty routine with her ‘Preview Combination Set,’ which included cleansing cream, day cream, night cream, powder, and  the infamous CHINESE RED lipstick.

“Beauty is not a gift, it is a habit”

Categories: Around Town

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