The Regent Theatre on Mount Pleasant Road is an old neighbourhood cinema that first opened its doors as The Belsize Theatre in 1927. Along with the economic boom of the 1920s, as the city expanded northward, the empty fields and dirt roads of Mount Pleasant quickly made way for the residential neighbourhoods of Leaside, to the east, and Davisville, to the west. Named for the Belsize Park neighbourhood in London, England; the word ‘belsize‘ is derived from the french term bel assis, which translates to well situated. The building was designed by architect Murray Brown, a Scotsman, who moved to Toronto to open his practice in 1914. Living up to its namesake, The Belsize was built with an opulent façade, which opened to an impressive lobby with decorative arches, leading a large classical auditorium with ornate plaster trim and small Venetian-style box seats. The stage was built to accommodate live stage productions as well as moving pictures. The original configuration fit 726 leatherette seats on the ground floor and an additional 205 in the balcony.
In 1953, the Belsize underwent a lengthy renovation to become The Crest Theatre, operating exclusively as a stage theatre for an interim of nearly thirty years. The only other venue in the city for live performances being The Royal Alexandra, which mostly featured plays and musicals from the American touring companies, many felt that a theatre for Canadian talent was needed, and so it was that the Crest interceded to fulfill this position. During the 1960s it was well known for its annual satirical review — the “Spring Thaw.”
In March of 1971, the theatre began screening films once again. In 1988, it was again extensively renovated and reopened as The Regent Theatre.