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The Metro: From ‘Ewww!’ to ‘Woo-hoo!’

20090708-Metro-Theatre from blogto.com

This week, I had the opportunity to meet with Matthew Languay, owner of Basecamp Climbing Inc., a rock-climbing facility which will open this fall in central Toronto, in the space that has been occupied by the former porn-focused Metro Theatre lo these many decades. There has been a lot of favourable media coverage about him taking this project on, the links to which can be found here.

Although I cannot participate in the sport myself, my interest is in the building because my grandfather, Carol C. Wells, had a significant interest in the property a hundred years ago when he was running Wells Bros. Amusements (see the introductory post about the blog’s name for more information.) Matthew was kind enough to share info with me about what he has discovered so far about the structure and what he has planned for it. We met over coffee in mid-town.

An avid climber with a mechanical engineering and climbing-wall building background, Matthew has been part of the interior demolition, so we shared photos and facts and put some visuals to the parts of my grandpa’s written memoirs that deal with the Metro. We will bring you his images and follow up as the building is renovated.

In the fall of 1913, Carol Wells met Mr.s Sher and Zimmerman, who were interested in converting a large store they had at Clinton and Bloor St.s into a movie theatre but were having trouble securing a permit. Grandpa Wells had experience in this, having established a successful business in projection engineering, supplies, repairs and installations. For his help, he negotiated a host of responsibilities but also perks, including working six days a week as the theatre’s projectionist.

Unfortunately, they opened on a very cold January 14th of 1914, and business did not boom: Carol felt it was due to Sher and Zimmerman only having one projector, while other theatres were now running continuous shows with two projectors. He convinced them to keep up with the times’s demands, and business picked up. Eventually, he transferred his permit to Mr. Sher amidst various negotiations. One condition was that Grandpa acquired part of the basement to partition off for a workshop and storage area, about 15 ft. sq., which Matthew photographed by chance, not knowing the background of it. While I don’t have the details about how this involvement at the Metro cinema concluded, it seems he may have left the arrangement as his business expanded in Toronto and across southern Ontario.

It is frustrating that I cannot find more details about my family connection to the theatre, not even its name at that time. It is also unclear why media often report that it was built in 1938, when it is unlikely another cinema was extant at the same intersection and its history started some twenty-four years earlier. If anyone can direct me to evidence about this, please contact me via this site.

basecamp8Photograph of the owner of Basecamp Climbing by Maxwell Summerlee

Matthew and I will share more info as his new venture develops! Personally, I’d like to have the marquee sign, with the ‘girl’ on the front, as a memento of the Wells Bros.’s connection to the cinema’s history. I’ll put a bug in the entrepreneur’s ear….


Interview: YA Fantasy Author Scarlett Van Dijk

Guardian Core pic

WRE: You have a medical career but you’re writing fantasy. What’s the pull?

SVD: Being a radiographer in a medical world, I am confronted with reality every day. I suppose part of why I read and write mainly in the fantasy genre is to escape reality.[pullquote]I read and write mainly in the fantasy genre to escape reality.[/pullquote] In my head, I have created new lands and worlds in which my characters face challenges that ‘normal’ people would never face in a ‘normal’ world.

WRE: How did your writing career start?

SVD: I began writing my first novel at the age of 13… but that was a flunk and a half. Even though that was a failure and writers block hit me hard, I would call that the beginning of my love for writing.

I began my first novel Sky Stone at the age of 15; this was when I first truly believed myself to be a writer. It all began with me listening to music, creating daydreams which gradually became a story begging to be written. I couldn’t refuse it.

WRE: The protagonist in your series, Skyla, is a strong role model for young women. What kinds of pressures do you think can be addressed with the lessons in your series?

SVD: Skyla is loosely based on myself during my teens. She portrays the ups and downs of teenage life for girls. Skyla, like myself, never believed that she belonged in this world, but then she discovered a land where she didn’t just belong but was needed. One lesson that I feel could be taught to other young girls who wonder about their place in the world is that sometimes your purpose finds you. You do belong and there are people that need you; just believe and give it time.

[pullquote]Sometimes your purpose finds you…[/pullquote]

Another lesson that I believe is important is to allow yourself to share the burden. Young people all experience stress as they transition from childhood to adulthood. Skyla suddenly finds herself with the fate of a land upon her shoulders, with the stresses and expectations weighing her down. She finds that she requires the help of the people around her, and that it is all right to let others help and guide her. Carrying the burden alone will only cause you more pain when there are others around who are willing to listen, give advice, and help where they can.

WRE: Do you have a sense yet of how many books there will be or are you going to wing it and let your Muse direct you?

SVD: Well, let’s just say that when I wrote Sky Stone I wasn’t intending for there to be a series at all! It was supposed to stand alone…and then here came Guardian Core. I have some vague plans for a third book in the Sky Stone series; however, I have decided to take a short break from this series and will work on a new novel which stands alone.

WRE: It’s a saturated market with lots of authors vying for readers. What advice would you share with writers, who are just starting out, about motivation and tenacity?

SVD: I believe it is important not to lose sight of why you began writing in the beginning. I began writing for the love of it and as a release. Don’t let criticism or a lack of sales discourage you from what you love to do. Just keep writing.

WRE: Your website has several concept images which informed your novels’ settings. Do you see your storylines as needing to be in the past or are the stories essentially timeless?

SVD: These stories are set in a land similar to that of the English/European medieval period. Branzia, the land in which the Sky Stone series is set, is cut off from the modern world and hence has not been able to progress at the same rate. Technically, it is therefore set in the present day but the technology of Branzia has not advanced.

My stories are not all set in a past-like setting, however: my latest work in progress, which has the working title of Nexus, is actually set in a future Earth.

WRE: Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?

SVD: Guardian Core, Book 2 of the Sky Stone series, will be released on August 2.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Sky Stone series, please head over to my website:

Sky Stone is currently available on,, and other retailers. Please check it out here.

WRE:  Thank you for chatting with me and I wish you much success with your launch!