Seeking Info on the Capitol Theatre in Welland Ontario

posted by Bullfrog on March 11, 2004 at 3:01 pm

I am doing research on the old Capitol theatre in Welland Ontario.

My father was a relief projectionist in 1965. I still have vivid memories of the booth as a twelve year old child. It was my job to start the motor generator set and the old amplifier first by turning on the filaments and then the plate switch. The recifier tubes used to glow blue. The machines were Super Simplex and their was a small snail horn above machine number two.

Unfortunately, I never got to see the speakers behind the screen. I am looking for any info on this theater, as well as any info about the sound systems and speakers used in that era.

Steve Racey

Comments (32)

edward on March 11, 2004 at 4:52 pm

There seems to be very little info on this theater, however another reliable site has this listing for the Welland Capitol:

Opened about 1935 and closed about 1965
Famous Players owned the Capitol, which had 1303 seats.

You may try contacting the Chamber of Commerce or the Historical Museum in the area to see what has happened to the theatre.

Good luck!

JimRankin on March 11, 2004 at 5:16 pm

Mr. Racey, I envy you your years experiencing the CAPITOL. You give some wonderful memories of the theatre which could make for a fine story at the CAPITOL’s listing here, and for the printed record in the MARQUEE magazine of the Theatre Historical Society. You might also consider their MEMORIES page on their site, given below.

There are two other premiere sites which may have information you seek:
The Theatre Historical Soc. of America also has files/photos on many Canadian theatres, and you would do well to contact them via their web site: by E-mailing the Executive Director, Richard Sklenar, as to what they might have about the CAPITOL. Go to their ARCHIVE link on the sidebar to learn more about their services.

Information about the sound system will no doubt be available at: They have hundreds of pages on their site of not only operating manuals, and photos of theatres, but also books on the subject, and a galaxy of experts in the field to answer any question you might have.

You might want to round out your research by reading such books as: “Palaces of the Night: Canada’s Grand Theatres” by John Lindsay; and that landmark book: “The Best Remaining Seats: The Story of the Golden Age of the Movie Palace” by the late Ben M. Hall. Both books are available from and also via Inter-Library loan at your local public or school library.

Best Wishes, Jim Rankin (

lilsusy68 on September 16, 2004 at 4:27 am

Dear steve, I believe this is the theatre I’ve been looking at to buy. I’ve been looking for info about it and this is the first I’ve found. If it is the same theatre. It does say cineplex/odeon on it but that is it except ‘for sale’.

If it was running in 1935 then the original black and whites were played there – am I right? would you remember something like that?

How incredible – the area is just beginning to rejuvenate itself – with the new city hall being built and many new restaurants opening.
I believe it is time for it to be reborn – It would be so amazing to know what the first movie screened was! I will have to check out the other sites mentioned.

Thanks Rae

IVYFOUNDATION on January 20, 2005 at 1:18 am

We are across the Street from where the Capitol Theatre was, It has been demolished years ago.The Park theatre is still standing and we are in the process of securing the premises.any information or pictures one may have of either of these theatres, we would like copies,See Mail:268 Hellems Ave.Welland, Ontario,Canada.L3B-3B7. we have an offer that has been accepted, any one that wants information our The Park Theatre contact us!

Jon Lidolt
Jon Lidolt on April 15, 2005 at 10:24 pm

My mother loved the movies and I remember being taken to the Capitol at around 4 years of age to see “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” We were sitting in the balcony, a location my mother preferred because you never had a head in front of you to block the view. Not to mention that the theatre looked spectacular from that vantage point.

The color scheme then consisted of various shades of pastel blues with ivory accents on the ornamental plaster work. This changed in 1955 when the theatre underwent an extensive renovation. The revised color scheme emphasized the warmer end of the spectrum and again with ivory accents. The new seats in the downstairs section were the pushback type so that when someone wanted to get past you, you didn’t have to get up.

There was a new chadelier in the balcony, an up-to-date candy counter was installed on the ground floor, the entire theatre was re-carpeted, a new marquee was erected, new stage curtains were put in and the place was finally air-conditioned. Although this feature didn’t work when the theatre had its grand re-opening – the place was packed and it was really uncomfortable inside.

The Capitol had been equipped with 4-track magnetic stereophonic sound when the wide-screen CinemaScope process was installed in the winter of 1954. The Capitol was always the first with every new innovation. In 1953 the theatre hosted Welland’s first showing of a 3-D film. And contrary to what most of you may have heard, no one in the early 50’s watched 3-D films through red and blue glasses.

The 3-D system in the 50’s used two projectors to show the left and right eye views and the images were projected onto a screen with a silver surface. Polaroid lenses were used to separate the left and right eye views. I remember seeing Welland’s first 3-D movie “House of Wax” the day the Queen was crowned. The matinee that day was jammed with every kid in the city. And you should have heard the screams when one of the actors threw a chair and it flew right out of the screen at us.

The longest running movie ever shown at the Capitol was “The Ten Commandments” with Charlton Heston in 1956. It played for 3 full weeks. Most films only ran 3 days then and there were no Sunday movies. On the opening night of “Ten Commandments,” the 1200 theatre was sold out a half hour before showtime.

On thing I forgot to mention is that the Capitol was a combo vaudeville and movie theatre. It had a stage, a stage house for scenery and an orchestra pit. And being located in the middle of the Niagara Peninsula, it would have made a great performing arts centre.

IVYFOUNDATION on April 17, 2005 at 10:01 am

please contact me!

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