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824 seats would seem about right as I recall. It wasn’t a huge house and I don’t recall if it had a balcony. I don’t believe it did. Local info says it closed in ‘58 and the organ was removed at that time and sold to a local baptist church, where it is still in use. The organ was unique in that it was built by a company not known as a theater organ builder (Casavant), although they are widely recognized for their church pipe organs. It probably makes sense that it was reinstalled in a church (with the chimes, but minus percussions apparently). The theater interior was never remodelled, although some changes were made to the front of the building (new marquee, sign, entrance doors and ticket booth and a stucco wash was applied over the brick front below the marquee). A new entrance was cut into the side of the building from the parking lot after the conversion to a food market.
Originally the Walker was to be part of a much larger hotel, retail and office complex, a plan that was never realized. For many years the Walker was operated by Odeon/Morton theaters as a movies only house and the name on the theater was changed to Odeon. Morton had offices in the building. Odeon/Morton’s renovations included extending and altering the layout of the box office area, remodelling the front facade and adding a new marquee. A concession stand was added just inside the foyer. Other alterations included lowering the auditorium ceiling to install air conditioning and the removal of the 2nd balcony, the outline of where it had been still faintly visible in the plasterwork of the side walls. The logo and artwork that Odeon had painted on the exterior brickwork, as well as the neon lettering “Always the best” is still there, minus the Odeon name now.
Oops, I forgot to add that with the conversion to six screens, the name was changed from Imperial to Imperial Six. Also, I’m not sure when the Yonge St entrance was added. It might have been early in the Famous Players years. Someone once suggested that there had been another theater separate from the Pantages running along Yonge St. That theater was converted into stores on Yonge St while the entry and lobby space were retained and connected through to the Pantages. Anyone know anything about that possibility?
When I moved to Toronto in the mid 60’s the theater was known as the Imperial operated by Famous Players and was still a single screen venue. Sometime after that it was closed and converted into a multi screen complex. It was a totally horrendous alteration. I recall going there afterward and entering one of the balcony level screening rooms. One wall & ceiling still bore traces of the original elaborate decoration while the screen occupied one portion of the proscenium arch which ended abruptly against a plain plasterboard partition wall dividing it from the theatre next to it. Even that was crudely finished. Seeing the proscenium disappearing into a wall made absolutely no sense whatsoever. There were two more smallish screening rooms hacked out of the original backstage area only accessible from the Victoria St entrance or possibly through the original backstage scenery doors. As far as I know, the original Pantages theatre had only the Victoria St entrance. The Yonge St entry was a later addition.
I lived diagonally across from the Senate theater for several years. It was (and probably still is) home to the Senate Gun Club. Other than repainting the marquee all brown, including the Senate name, there was seldom any activity around the building although it could be a bit disconcerting to come home at times and find the street lined with police cruisers. They were just using the club’s facilities to practice marksmanship. As far as I know the Senate closed as a theater in the late 50’s.
The Capitol was one of a few theatres in Canada that boasted two separate entrances. It was designed by Thomas Lamb, noted theatre architect. Originally there was an orchestra pit and a theatre organ. The organ was removed c1947. The grand entrance and foyer was located on Portage Avenue and theatregoers accessed the theatre via an inclined ramp and staircase. This entrance served strictly as a very grand, elaborately decorated, damask & mirror covered foyer hung with crystal chandeliers and wall sconces. It was connected to the theatre proper at the balcony level by an enclosed bridge spanning the alley behind Portage Avenue. Patrons wishing to sit on the main floor had to descend via another staircase. In the conversion to two screens, this entrance was sacrificed and the connecting link to the theatre was demolished. The secondary entrance on Donald St, much less grand, was maintained as the sole entry to the theatre. The theatre itself was demolished in the summer of 2003.
Ramada Marlborough has no plans to reinstate the Garrick as a movie house. It is to be converted into a conference center. As a side note, the organ which was very much a part of the original theatre before being converted to multi screen was dismantled in 1953 but stored in the theatre until 1975 when it was sold and removed. At last report the organ was owned by the BC Theatre Organ Trust with plans to install it in a civic theatre in a Vancouver suburb.