Thursday, May 31, 2012

Toronto - Billiard Tourism North of the Border

From NYC, I rode the Greyhound to Toronto.

I visited two poolrooms in Toronto.

Le Spot Billiard Lounge

From the website :  (anything in purple is directly from the website)

A BRIEF HISTORY of the Academy of Spherical Arts and the building that houses it reads like an outline for a short story.
In 1890 the 38 Hanna Avenue (now #1 Snooker Street) address was assigned to the original four-story building. Over the years, space was added and in 1905 the Brunswick Balke Collender Company bought the building and began manufacturing billiard tables, cues, balls and all manner of accessories (can you see it coming?).
In 1910 the company bought Canada's oldest and largest manufacturer of billiard tables, the Samuel May Company, making them the undisputed king of Canadian billiards. In 1959 the company moved its operations to Cooksville, Ontario, and the building lay fallow until its rescue in the late 1980's.
Serious collection of whisky
In September of 1991, the Academy of Spherical Arts opened with what is now the Samuel May Room. The facility was expanded in 1995 with the John Brunswick Room, and again in 1997 with the Georges Chenier Room. As a millennium project, in the fall of 1999, the Academy undertook the construction of our newest addition, La Belle Époque. Today, the Academy occupies 20,000 square feet, approximately one sixth of the old factory.
It is a poetic and comforting thought to know that many of the billiard tables, cues, balls and scoreboards that were handcrafted here decades ago have returned at long last to their place of birth.
All's right with the world.

The Samuel May Room :

Part of the Samuel May room
Our current bar, built in 1998, is fashioned from steel, copper and wood. This bar was custom designed by Rick using British Columbia fir shipped to Ontario in the 1920's. It was stored in a barn near Glen Williams, Ontario for some seventy years before being used to hold the vast array of Academy libations.
One of the Samuel May tables
Four of the billiard tables you see in this room are original Samuel May and Co. tables; they range in age from 100 - 130 years old. They are fine examples of Samuel May's Manufacturing excellence and keep Canada's billiard heritage alive.

The room features Kind Edward's personal snooker table, on which I played for free thanks to Foursquare :

King Edward's personal snooker table

Woodwork worthy of a King's table

The John Brunswick Room :

The billiard tables and accessories found in this room were all manufactured in the building. They have returned home. The bar was built in France at the end of the 19th century, and the stained glass lamps that light the bar are early 20th century.

The George Chenier Room :

zOMG mustard felt
As a billiard factory this area of the building would have been the busiest. It was the loading dock. All finished products came to this area to be shipped across Canada. The external windows in this room were loading doors and under the carpet you will find quarter inch steel plate floors necessary for the movement of slate and heavy table frames.
This room was opened in 1996. The idea was to provide space for smaller groups and create an intimate warm atmosphere. The large interior windows give the room an airy feel and also represent a significant part of Toronto's history. These windows were part of the now demolished Massey Harris factory on King Street at Strachan. Massey Harris was the largest manufacturer of farm tractors and implements in the first half of the 20th century. So in a small way we've brought together work and leisure under one loading dock roof.
Since the first two rooms of the Academy were named after the foremost Canadian manufacturers of billiard tables, it was only appropriate to recognize one of Canada's greatest players, George Chenier.

 There was also a last room called La Belle Epoque, but it was off-limits as they were in the process of renovating it :(

 I leave you with a few more shots from the Academy. The employees at this establishment were very happy to show me around and tell me history and anecdotes about the building, its furniture, and its tables. I highly recommend going to take a tour, shoot on some antique tables, sample some scotch, and have a delicious juicy ribeye with asparagus and gnocchi as I did!