Arcadian Court

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The Toronto Symphony Orchestra broadcasting from Arcadian Court, 1929

The Arcadian Court is an Art Deco event space on the eighth floor of the flagship downtown Toronto location of the Canadian department store The Bay, whose wrought iron railings, arched windows and huge chandeliers made it one of Toronto's most exclusive dining spots for many years. Three skylights allow light to enter the white wash hall interior.

The facility first opened in 1929, when the store was part of the Simpson's chain. The Arcadian Court was intended to compete with the Royal York Hotel's Imperial Room, the Georgian Room at the main Eaton's store, and the Eaton's Seventh Floor on College Street (now called The Carlu) for downtown lunch business. The restaurant had both a main floor and a mezzanine (called the "The Men's Grill" from 1968–1969), which was men-only for many years. At its opening, it was the largest department store restaurant in the world, seating 1,300.[1]

The restaurant hosted many of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's first radio broadcasts, and in 1967, it hosted the first auction ever held outside Britain by Sotheby's.

In 1978, Simpson's was acquired by the Hudson's Bay Company, and subsequently became downtown Toronto's flagship Bay store in 1991. From 1988 to 1989, some of the mezzanine space was converted to gallery space, which displayed the Canadian art collection of Kenneth Thomson. Much of the second floor of the Arcadian Court is closed off or used for storage of chairs. A small pictorial display and a cast iron fountain is located outside the hall. This gallery space was closed in 2004, and the Thomson collection was transferred to the Art Gallery of Ontario.

The Arcadian Court also figures prominently in Margaret Atwood's novel The Blind Assassin, as the centre of Toronto's high society to which Iris Chase Griffen is introduced.

The "Arcadian Court" name has been carried on as a brand name for other restaurants operated in Bay stores, though none are as opulent or exclusive as the Toronto original.

As of May 2012, the Arcadian Court is now a part of a larger event complex (which now includes the neighbouring Arcadian Loft) called "Arcadian", which is operated by Oliver & Bonacini Events. The renovations carried out by architecture firm DeSignum Design have stripped back layers of walls and flooring that have been added over the years, reclaiming approximately five feet around the perimeter, and opened up eight of the 16 grand arches in the mezzanine that were closed off in past renovations and restored the squared off arches along with adding four feet to the remaining eight. The Court is now a revitalized 8086 square foot gem, featuring improved acoustics, beautiful chandeliers that are a deconstructed take on the original Lalique crystal chandeliers and an opened-up mezzanine spans offering a 360° view.

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References[edit]

  1. ^ [1] Filey, Mike "Toronto Sketches 9: 'The Way We Were' Columns from the Toronto Sunday Sun (No. 9)."Dundurn Press, 2006.ISBN 978-1550026139. Page 182. Retrieved June 8, 2010.

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Coordinates: 43°39′07″N 79°22′50″W / 43.65194°N 79.38056°W / 43.65194; -79.38056