Ed Mirvish’s Name to be Written in Lights-.Again
Toronto’s landmark Honest Ed’s department store depicts Ed Mirvish’s moniker in enough bulbs to illuminate a small neighbourhood. Now, a second, though wholly appropriate, city landmark will don his name.
On Tuesday Mirvish’s son David announced that the Canon Theatre will be renamed the Ed Mirvish Theatre in honour of his father, who some call the most important figure in the history of Toronto theatre.
“When I became involved with the theatrical part of my family’s business, my admiration for my father grew even greater, because I understood more than ever how remarkable his theatrical work was,” David Mirvish said while making the announcement. “He gave opportunities to young Canadian artists to shine. He helped to build the Toronto theatre community, undoubtedly one of the finest in the world.”
The theatre itself was built in 1920 for the purposes of house both live entertainment and films. It was named the Pantages Theatre after Alexander Pantages, a Hollywood big-wig who’d acquired the naming rights from the builders. After a rape conviction took Pantages out of public favour, the theatre was renamed the Imperial in 1930. In 1976 it was renamed the Imperial 6 (for the number of cinemas it held) and in 1989 Garth Drabinsky took control and reinstated the Pantages name for the Canadian debut of The Phantom of the Opera. In 2001, with Drabinsky out the theatre’s sponsorship agreement allowed Canon to put their name on the marquee.
“While my father was alive, I tried many times to find ways to publicly honour him. But he wouldn’t have any of it,” Mirvish said. “He was just happy to be working at what he loved, and he loved the theatre and the people around it – the actors, playwrights, directors, technicians, musicians, ushers, front-of-house staff, and especially the audience.”