Saskatoon Public Library  
     
  Saskatoon Through the Ages:
selected photographs from Local History Gallery Shows
 
     
 

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2009 - At the Movies: a Photographic Exhibition

Revisit the movie theatres and drive-ins of Saskatoon’s past through photographs and captions from the Local History Room. Photographic memories of theatres such as the Capitol, Daylight, Tivoli and Victoria remind us of an era that has almost completely vanished. Although sadly most of Saskatoon’s early theatres have disappeared, this photographic exhibition reminds us of a time when going to the movies was a special experience.

At the Movies was curated by Ron Jaremko, with the assistance of Local History Room staff: Kathy Snider, Dorothea Funk, Mary Ellen Schnitzler, Margaret Hendry, Elaine Kozakavich and Tanya Hudyma.



2009 - At the Movies: a Photographic Exhibition

The Empire Theatre adjoining the Empire Hotel at Second Avenue and Twentieth Street East was constructed as a large opera house and was decorated as such. Joseph Sutton had hired the Regina architectural firm of Storey and Van Egmond to design his theatre. Construction was completed in a record three months with the grand opening on December 29, 1910. Home to Saskatoon’s play-going and music loving public, the Empire Theatre played a vital part in the cultural life of the city. Renovations to the theatre in 1918 permitted more frequent showings of films.

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2009 - At the Movies: a Photographic Exhibition

A blizzard delayed the grand opening of the King Edward Theatre until February 8, 1911. The opening was postponed because of the non-arrival of the performers Halon Walsh, Halon & Company. The new theatre had been erected by Charles Rogers adjoining the King Edward Hotel on Twentieth Street West. It guaranteed the best vaudeville shows as well as the world’s latest pictures. The entrance and the theatre itself was brilliantly illuminated with electric lights. At night when lit up the King Edward Theatre was the most striking attraction on Twentieth Street West. After operating three months the King Edward closed and re-opened as the Orpheum. By mid-March 1912 the theatre disappears.

Date: 1911.

Note: Original is a tinted postcard. Image has been cropped from original.

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2009 - At the Movies: a Photographic Exhibition

Built in 1911 at a cost of ten thousand dollars, the Avenue Theatre was a single storey red brick structure immediately adjoining the King George Hotel on Second Avenue North. In addition to the theatre the building contained the offices of the Saskatchewan Investment and Trust Company. When it opened in 1912 it was managed by Wilfred Underhill with Harold and Lozar Underhill employed as ushers. By mid 1913 the theatre was under different management and its name had been changed to the Rex Theatre. Another management change would happen before the theatre’s demise in 1915.

Date: [ca. 1912]

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2009 - At the Movies: a Photographic Exhibition

The West Side Theatre opened in August 1912 at the corner of Avenue C and Twentieth Street. The theatre was described as a “clean, cozy, well ventilated amusement house.” Originally opened as a partnership between Thomas F. Cavanagh and Daniel J. Sandie, Cavanagh would run the theatre until 1915 when Lester Lozar became manager. By 1917 the West Side Theatre had closed.

Date: 1912.

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2009 - At the Movies: a Photographic Exhibition

The Sutherland Press described the Penant Theatre as “a nice cool place to spend an hour.” Ladies and children were especially welcome and no picture would be shown that could possibly offend. When Edward Kidd opened the Penant in 1912, it was Sutherland’s only public place of amusement. In addition to silent films other events were held there. Lyall Gustin staged an early piano recital there in 1914. Originally a barber, Edward Kidd would return to his trade when the Penant Theatre closed in 1918.

Date: [before 1913]

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2009 - At the Movies: a Photographic Exhibition

When it opened in 1912, the Daylight Picture Theatre at 231 Twenty-second Street East was the largest of Saskatoon’s early movie houses with seating for nine hundred eighty-seven people. Construction of the theatre was the result of a partnership between Newt Byers and James Butler whose real estate business was located nearby. The Daylight was managed by Frank Miley with William Overall as usher. To attract business they staged events such as an all female orchestra to accompany the pictures. In 1914 the largest program of pictures ever projected in Saskatoon happened when the Daylight ran an eight reel show.

Date: June 10, 1914.

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2009 - At the Movies: a Photographic Exhibition

On the evening of Wednesday, October 2, 1912 the Strand Theatre on Twentieth Street East near Third Avenue officially opened. Owned by Paul Sommerfeld, the seven hundred fifty seat theatre also had a top floor for business offices. The design of architect Frank P. Martin featured walls of variegated brown pressed brick and imitation marble Corinthian pillars. The balcony had four or five private boxes large enough to accommodate parties of six. French doors and handsome mosaic work made for an imposing structure. A tea and sandwich buffet as well as a candy store were novel features at the opening.

Date: 1913.

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2009 - At the Movies: a Photographic Exhibition

Joe Petrosino, the New York city police officer from the Italian squad battles organized crime in the silent film playing at the Victoria. In 1912 J.A. Robillard and H. Harris former owners of the Bijou leased land from Dr. P.D. Stewart to build a theatre on Second Avenue. Modeled on the style of the Orpheum in San Francisco, the twenty-five thousand dollar Victoria Theatre opened in 1913. The theatre was not equipped for vaudeville but prospered during the silent era.

Date: 1913.

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2009 - At the Movies: a Photographic Exhibition

“Prudence the Pirate” opened the new Daylight Theatre at 136 Second Avenue South at one o’clock New Year’s Day, January 1, 1917. J. Lester Kauffman of the Regal Film Corporation, one of a number of prominent men in the motion picture business in town to inspect the new theatre, declared the Daylight the finest strictly motion picture theatre in Canada. The theatre was constructed for the Daylight Theatre Company Ltd. at a cost of approximately $50,000.

Date: February, 1940.

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2009 - At the Movies: a Photographic Exhibition

The interior of the Daylight Theatre was originally likely designed by the architectural firm of Thompson, Daniels and Colthurst. In the fall of 1929 the Daylight closed, and reopened October 23 with its auditorium, stage and screen equipped for sound. A fire in the Daylight Apartments in 1931 resulted in additional interior renovations.

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2009 - At the Movies: a Photographic Exhibition

Beatrice Wood in the summer sailor uniform worn by Roxy Theatre usherettes stands in front of the theatre with assistant manager Elliott Brown. Beatrice Wood worked as an usherette at the Roxy from 1932 until 1939.

Date: Mid 1930's.

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2009 - At the Movies: a Photographic Exhibition

Winnipeg theatre owner Nate Rothstein would hire a Winnipeg architect, Fred Le Maistre, to design the Saskatoon Roxy Theatre at 320 Twentieth Street West. Built in 1930, the Roxy was Saskatoon’s second atmospheric theatre built in the Spanish villa style. It resembled the Yorkton Roxy Theatre building built by Rothstein in 1928. With its blue sky and twinkling stars, the Roxy Theatre was a magical landmark on Saskatoon’s west side.

Date: 1930's.

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2009 - At the Movies: a Photographic Exhibition

The new Tivoli Theatre under the ownership of H.A Morton opened August 1, 1930. Rebuilt out of the old Victoria Theatre, the renovated theatre was a “talkie house”, equipped with the last word in sound screens and a ventilation system to make the building one of the city’s coolest. The architect in charge of the changes was David Webster. He designed the theatre’s attractive Moorish front and marquee with decorative iron balconies manufactured by the John East Iron Works. As the original Tivoli motto said “spell it backwards.”

Date: [ca. 1945]

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2009 - At the Movies: a Photographic Exhibition

May 11, 1929, opening night at the Capitol Theatre, featured Saskatoon’s first sound film with Nancy Carroll and Buddy Rogers in “Close Harmony.” Toronto architect Murray Brown had designed the building and its Spanish architecture, with Saskatoon architect David Webster responsible for carrying out his plans and specifications. The Capitol was Saskatoon’s first atmospheric theatre. Described as “a $400,000 palace of splendor,” its high standard of elegance and luxuriousness made the Capitol Saskatoon’s most beautiful theatre.

Date: [194-]

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2009 - At the Movies: a Photographic Exhibition

The front of the Capitol Theatre on Second Avenue gave little hint of the splendour within. The long hall and the stairway that led to the spacious anteroom that bridged the Second Avenue alley across to the auditorium were grand. The elaborate arches, velvet hangings, chandeliers, decorative ironwork, in fact all the decoration was supervised or executed by the artist Emmanuel Briffa.

Date: June 1950.

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2009 - At the Movies: a Photographic Exhibition

Resembling a vast square somewhere in Spain with quaint houses furnished with awnings hung on brackets of iron spear points, the auditorium of the Capitol Theatre could comfortably seat sixteen hundred people in upholstered leather seats, two hundred of which were in the balcony. This war-time audience fills the theatre to capacity. Visible behind the window of the little Spanish house at the back of the balcony is projectionist Alan Arnold.

Date: [ca. 1940]

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2009 - At the Movies: a Photographic Exhibition

Capitol Theatre staff are posed at the First Avenue door to the theatre in their uniforms. When the Capitol opened in 1929 the theatre manager was Frank Miley and the assistant manager was Reginald Plumb. The head usher was H. Carlyle Yule. Alexander “Scottie” McKay and Art Howard are two of the other ushers identified. The other usher and the two young ladies are unidentified but may be cashiers Ruby Naylor and Marjorie Littlejohn.

Date: [ca. 1929]

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2009 - At the Movies: a Photographic Exhibition

A poster advertising Cecil B. DeMilles?s 1938 film ?The Buccaneer? is displayed on this hoarding located near the Technical Collegiate. This adventure romance starring Fredric March and Franciska Gaal played at the Roxy Theatre. Saskatoon movie theatres frequently advertised their films on various billboards and hoardings in the city.

Date: [between 1938 and 1939]

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2009 - At the Movies: a Photographic Exhibition

With every one of the seven hundred seats occupied and the standing room at the back filled the new Nutana Broadway was officially opened on December 5, 1946. The fireproof, reinforced concrete and steel modernistic building was designed by George Forrester with the Webster and Gilbert architectural firm. When it opened the Broadway Theatre boasted one of the largest neon marquees on the prairies.

Date: June 21, 1949.

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2009 - At the Movies: a Photographic Exhibition

Otto Preminger’s detective drama “Where the Sidewalk Ends” was playing at the Daylight Theatre in 1950. Essentially unchanged since its opening in 1917, the front of the building including doors and the marquee would be remodeled by Famous Players in 1966. With the facelift would come a name change – the Daylight Theatre became the Paramount Theatre.

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