Comments from mortonbg

Showing 51 - 75 of 107 comments

mortonbg commented about Hippodrome Theatre on Apr 2, 2008 at 7:53 pm

This is absolutely appalling. I can not believe that laws designed to protect a listed building should be so blatantly ignored.

mortonbg commented about Starland Theatre on Apr 2, 2008 at 5:59 pm

Also there are current interior photos of the the soon to be demolished Starland here, about three pages in..

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By looking at the photos some of the interior ceiling/plasterwork seems to have survived intact.

Perhaps someone in Winnipeg will document the demolition in photos so that we can see what else of it survived.. No one ever takes pictures of the stage area/fly gallery…

mortonbg commented about Starland Theatre on Apr 2, 2008 at 5:53 pm

This is from the Winnipeg Free Press.. The Starland looks like it is toast. There is perhaps some chance for the Epic/Regent down the street which turns out to be one of the oldest surviving purpose built Cinemas in all of Canada.

Clear-cut streetscape

Robert Galston

Updated: March 26, 2008 at 02:15 AM CDT

A drawing was released this month of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s future offices at Logan Avenue and Main Street, which is part of Centre Venture Development Corporation’s “cluster developments” for downtown. A 200-car parkade will adjoin the building, and up the street close to Higgins Avenue, a new surface lot will join the cluster of parking spots.

Reviews of the design for the WRHA building from local architecture critics have so far ranged from bad (“pretty poor — standard office park architecture”), to very bad (“an affront to Inkster Industrial Park, never mind the most historic street in Western Canada”).

But the tragedy is not only what the fabled Main Street strip — which even in 1892 was called “Winnipeg’s Bowery”— will be stuck with, but what it will lose.

The Starland Theatre, a former vaudeville house built in 1909, and the Epic Theatre, a Grade 2 heritage structure which was one of Canada’s first movie theatres — once two of five theatres at Logan and Main. Then there is the Jack’s Place building at 652 Main (1912), and the Weir Hardware building up the street at 666 Main (1899). To allow for demolition, the Starland and Jack’s were removed from the Historical Buildings Inventory by the city’s heritage buildings committee on March 20. The fate of the Epic and Weir’s, meanwhile, will be decided at a later date.

For such a feat of perfidy and hypocrisy, the heritage buildings committee should congratulate themselves: Three historical buildings being approved for demolition in a single day probably hasn’t happened since the 1970s.

It doesn’t have much, but North Main does have historic vestiges of a distinctive streetscape of modest, narrow buildings. Only one block south, between Logan and Alexander Avenue, small-scale, private-led redevelopments are occurring in several of these buildings. At the Occidental Hotel, for example, the beer vendor and VLTs are out, and a multi-use venue and a newly opened restaurant is in.

The two theatres are indeed in a state of great disrepair, but the old Jack’s Place and Weir buildings appear to be in good shape, and could be home to the next art gallery, cafe or design firm to move to the strip. Offices or apartments could go upstairs. Instead, it looks like a giant parkade will replace Jack’s, and a surface parking lot will replace the Weir building.

Such an indiscriminate clear-cutting approach to development is nothing new in Winnipeg’s troubled downtown, where most large developments are publicly led, and the choice of scale and location are highly politicized matters. Usually, projects have been dropped down in locations where they can snuff out as much perceived blight as possible.

In the late 1950s, a new city hall was set to be built opposite the Legislative Building on Broadway. Premier Duff Roblin wanted it built instead on the industrial waterfront of South Point Douglas, but it was Mayor Stephen Juba who got his way. Juba’s plan was to rebuild on the site of the city’s famous “Gingerbread City Hall” as part of a giant civic centre. By the end of the decade, the civic centre would wipe away six of the most interesting and urban square blocks downtown.

As if there was nothing to learn from this and other failed attempts at wrecking ball renewal, the same sort of destruction looms over Main Street today. Perhaps to prove it is still able to deliver big projects like Red River College on Princess Avenue, or the condos on Waterfront Drive, CentreVenture seems to be stretching this development as far as possible. So far, however, there is none of the redeeming qualities those early CentreVenture projects had, and by its destructive nature will be unable to act as a catalyst for economic growth on North Main.

While an architectural design better suited to North Main — even saving the Starland’s facade — has been discussed positively by Centre Venture, it seems unlikely that they will risk slowing down or adding cost to the North Main development by putting pressure on the WRHA or the builders to come up with something better.

In publicly led real estate development (dubious enough to begin with), agencies like CentreVenture must serve the public good with the projects they facilitate. The thought that “any development is good development,” especially when it is out of scale, destroys several heritage buildings, and could ultimately thwart the northward thrust of private-led development downtown, is blind, self-serving, and not worth the loss of so much of North Main’s remaining historic streetscape.

Robert Galston is a Winnipeg writer who blogs at

  • Winnipeg Free Press
mortonbg commented about Capitol Theatre on Mar 24, 2008 at 11:33 pm

There is a photo of this theatre on page 156 of A Guide to Canadian Architectural Styles By Shannon Ricketts, Leslie Maitland, Jacqueline Hucker. According to this the architects were W. Dodd and Company and that it was in Spanish Colonial style suggesting that this cinema was an atmospheric.

It closed in 1981 and was converted into a mall/retail.

There are more photos at the National Libray of Canada, refernence ACCESSION: 1973-402
REPRODUCTION: PA-095059 (copy negative number);

mortonbg commented about Vogue Theatre on Mar 23, 2008 at 6:21 pm

There was news feature today on CTV about this fine old theatre, it has been bought and looks like it is within a week of Demolition.

A sad end to a fine old Theatre. More info here…

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mortonbg on Mar 22, 2008 at 9:05 pm

This theatre was the Hume, then the Roxy and finally the Odeon until its closing in 1981. The remember seeing DAMNATION ALLEY here about 1978/79. The building is not demolished just gutted for retail use.

Correct address is 2013 Lakeshore Ave. This has a double listing as /theaters/1873/ which should now be deleted

There is a photo of the outside as the Hume at the Ontario Archives Visual database.

This info came from here
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Hume Theatre

The Hume was built by Rex Hume. It faced Lakeshore was considered fireproof and was 45 feet wide and 145 deep.The opening of the new theatre, named the Hume theatre took place on Thursday November 27th 1930. The feature picture was the fast stepping, singing, talking spectacle “Putting on the Ritz” Portions of it were in colours! On the same program was a Hal Roach comedy “Doctor"s Orders,” also a talkie. This theatre with a seating capacity of over 450 played two and sometimes three shows each week. Burlington’s population was still under 4000.

It closed in November 1981 under the ownership of Canadian Odeon Theatres

mortonbg commented about Starland Theatre on Mar 21, 2008 at 7:42 pm

Well Winnipeg does have the Walker and the Pantages alive and well, so we can’t hate them too much ;–)

I see that the city owns both the Regent and the Starland from tax arrears.

It is unfortunate that there is no listing or gazetter of these buildings, I am sure that arts groups in Winnipeg , might have been interested in saving them if they could be shown as viable performance venues

mortonbg commented about Starland Theatre on Mar 21, 2008 at 7:07 pm

Some info on the Regent is here.

mortonbg commented about Starland Theatre on Mar 21, 2008 at 6:53 pm

More pictures here

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Also does anyone know more about the history of the Regent Theatre on Main Street in Winnipeg about to also be demolished..

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It appears to be next door to the Starland

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mortonbg commented about Starland Theatre on Mar 21, 2008 at 6:40 pm

Any idea of what the interior might be like today?

Did it have a very large balcony? Normally there would be a fire escape on the outside of the building.

Is there any interest in saving this theatre or is the medical centre a done deal?

mortonbg commented about Grand Theatre on Mar 21, 2008 at 6:33 pm

I have been doing some research on this theatre.

First off its address is 28 Elgin Street, Sudbury. It is still there although vacant and under threat.

The Theatre that was recently a bingo hall was the Capitol Theatre, it was demolished in 2006.

The Grand Theatre was built in 1908 at the rear of the Balmoral Hotel on Elm Street. Pictures of this can be seen at Sudbury Library website if you search the catalog. Also at the Ont Archives here.
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It was run as part of the Grand circuit owned by Ambrose Small, who disappeared in 1919 without a trace. Small also ran/leased theatres in London, Toronto, Hamilton, Peterborough and Guelph.

It was renovated after ww2 and became the Empire Theatre.
In the 1990’s it was renovated again and became a nightclub/dance hall until closing last year.

The building is currently up for sale. An article about this is here.
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The nightclubs website is still up there are recent interior pictures there

mortonbg commented about Victory Theatre on Mar 17, 2008 at 7:49 pm

Nope. Those pictures are of a theatre with the same name in Toronto, Australia.

There is an interior picture of this theatre in John Lindsey’s book TURN OUT THE STARS BEFORE LEAVING.It was originally known in the 1920’s as the Standard Theatre, and was home to Yiddish Vaudeville, as Spadina was the garment district of TO.

In the 40’s it became the Victory Theatre, and then later on the Victory Burlesque – which was quite the landmark in 1950’s Toronto, as it was the only legal place in the city where one could see (mostly) naked females.

In the 70’s it was subdevided, the balcony became the Golden Harvest Cinema, while the mainfloor and old stage house became restaurants and retail.

mortonbg commented about Century Theatre on Mar 9, 2008 at 8:08 pm

If anyone else gets into this theatre again would they please grab some pictures of the former backstage area on the east side of the building? Particularly the paint frame and the fly gallary/railings

You may have to brings some lights with you – this area likely doesn’t have any illumination at all…


mortonbg commented about Delta Theatre on Mar 8, 2008 at 8:37 pm

Excellent! Thanks very much for this… Do you also have pictures of other Hamilton theatres? Been looking for pics of the Galt Capitol too.I would be most grateful to see some pictures of the Delta Theatre’s interior.

The listing from Ontario Archives says the pictures are from the 1940’s, and I haven’t seen them myself. I am going to make the pilgrimage to the archives myself very soon.

BTW I have a theatrical connection to the old Delta, in a rather oblique way. I wrote a stage adaptation of a book called MY FATHER’S HOUSE by Sylvia Fraser. One of the scenes in the play takes place in the auditorium of the old Delta… We have staged it four times now, and each time I have taken the actors to the outside of the apartments and showed them where the marquee once was, and the location of the former Main Street fire exit, now bricked up.

mortonbg commented about National Theatre on Mar 6, 2008 at 11:06 pm

I found some more pictures here

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mortonbg commented about Le Parisien on Mar 6, 2008 at 9:46 pm

Info on the Houdini connection is here

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Also a nice picture of the exterior from the 1920’s is here

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mortonbg commented about Capitol Theatre on Mar 6, 2008 at 6:19 pm

I have no idea alas who owns the building. I live in Hamilton, ONT which is about 90 minutes away. I would see this building every time I drove up to Owen Sound or Blyth… So I was looking for it in the Cinema Treasures listings… and when I didn’t find it I added the info myself. There have been a number of historic theatre’s knocked down in Ontario this past five years (Uptown in Toronto, Lyric in Kitchener, Grand Opera Houses in Barrie and St Catherines, Capitol in and Century in London)….

There are also many under real threat – Century in Hamilton, Heritage in Brampton and this one.. So I was hoping that someone might read this and start to care…

mortonbg commented about Tivoli Theatre on Mar 5, 2008 at 10:09 pm

There is also an exterior photo of the Tivoli Theatre and its neighbor the Grand Opera House from 1923 at this site here

Picture is the black and white one second down

mortonbg commented about Downtown Theatre on Mar 5, 2008 at 10:08 pm

There is also an exterior photo of the Grand Theatre and its neighbor the Tivoli Theatre from 1923 at this site here

Picture is the black and white one second down

mortonbg commented about Downtown Theatre on Mar 5, 2008 at 10:01 pm

Here is the listing from the Julius Chan Guide (1902) about this theatre.

HAMILTON Pop., 65,000. Grand
Opera House. C. J. Whitney and A. J.
Small, lessees and mgrs. A. R. Loudon,
local representative. S. c., 1,144. Ilium.,
elec. no direct, 104 alt. E. Lavis, stage
carp. Width proscenium opening, 30 ft.
Height, 27 ft. Depth, footlights to back
wall, 36 ft. Dist. curtain line to foot-
lights, 2 ft. Dist. bet. side walls, 55 ft.
Dist. bet. fly girders, 46 ft. Stage to fly
gallery, 23 ft. Stage to rigging loft, 6V
ft. No grooves. Depth under stage, 8
ft. 4 traps, i bridge, in 3 sections, locat-
ed back of 4. Scene room. Theatre on
ground floor. I. A. Lomas, leader of or-
chestra. 7 in orchestra. Printing re-
quired, 12 stands, 60 3-sheets, 400 lithos,
heralds, etc. Dates read, Grand Opera
House. Culhane Bill-Posting Co.

Newspapers “Spectator,” daily, even-
ing, Mr. Mitchell. “Herald,” daily, even-
ing, Mr. Pasmore. “Times,” daily, even-
ing, Mr. Davis.

Hotels St. Nicholas, $1.25 and $i.
Royal, $2. Commercial, $i. New Wal-
dorff, $1.50.

Railroads G. T. R., C. E. Morgan,
agt. Can. Pac., W. J. Grant, agt. Cana-
dian Transfer Co.

mortonbg commented about Capitol Theatre on Mar 5, 2008 at 5:25 pm

Its use a cinema is likely gone. There is a multiplex in the area.

This however was live theatre long before the coming of motion pictures. I would hope that it could be restored to form some kind of summer stock theatre/performing arts venue. It has a full fly gallery although long abandoned.

mortonbg commented about Tivoli Theatre on Mar 2, 2008 at 10:20 pm

According to the SPEC, they say they need $12 to restore the auditorium and to build an entirely new structure to replace what was lost in 2004. I have heard rumblings that the paperwork/feasibility studies are being done in order to access the funding.

I am hopeful! But I haven’t really heard much in a while.. That’s why I was pleased to see the recent (january 2008) pictures.

Perhaps someone else would know more?

mortonbg commented about Tivoli Theatre on Mar 2, 2008 at 11:14 am

We formed a non profit theatre company called the Tivoli Theatre Foundation, and lasted about 14 months before we went broke.

A church group Crossfire moved in after us (covering up the statues!), they lasted until 1994. Then in 1995 Loren Lieberman moved in with the Tivoli Renaissance Project, later merged with Creative Arts Inc. They were running the building until the disaster with the front wall collapsing in 2004.

I wrote an impassioned article in the HAMILTON SPECTATOR arguing for the theatre’s preservation at the time. And I was absolutely delighted when the Ballet bought the theatre for $1 from the Sniderman Family, Because they want it to survive as a theatre venue.There is a wonderful TV series called SLINGS AND ARROWS that filmed at the Tivoli in 2003. There are great images of the theatre in it.

mortonbg commented about Tivoli Theatre on Mar 2, 2008 at 11:05 am

oops that should read NOT allowed in because of the adult films.. ;–)

In 1990 I was part of the group that reopened the Tivoli as a live venue for theatre productions and concerts. I literally got to take down the movie screen, which was on scaffolding and clear away a giant set of “voice of the theatre” speakers..

I re-rigged the 1924 hemp fly gallery with fresh rope, built a 16 foot fore-stage over what used to be the orchestra pit, and with plywood and Masonite covered over the footlight troughs. I hung lighting pipes in the auditorium being very careful not to damage the plasterwork… In short we proved that it could be a viable space for performance.

I produced a play by Douglas Rodger called HOW COULD YOU MRS DICK about the Evelyn Dick Murder case of the 1946. 30,000 people came to see the play over the next 3 months.

We opened the play 53 years to the night that Evelyn attended the Tivoli to see a film with her boyfiend Bill Bohozek

mortonbg commented about Tivoli Theatre on Mar 2, 2008 at 10:55 am


I was really excited to see these myself. Because it shows that the auditorium has survived and is in one piece barring some water damage to the plasterwork.I have a real history with this theatre myself.

First film I saw here was MESSAGE FROM SPACE a japanese version of STAR WARS in the spring of 1978. Before that it showed “adult” films, so I was allowed in.

This was the theatre when I was a kid where all of the big blockbusters… EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, STAR TREK 1, 2, 3, 2010: ODDESSY CONTINUES, BLADERUNNER, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, THE WALL.

I have really strong memories of attending to see movies. Often on the night the film premiered.