Odeon Port Arthur

28 Court Street South,
Thunder Bay, ON P7B 2W5

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The fairly large Odeon and Paramount theatres dominated this stretch of Court Street across from Eatons department store and the Post Office in downtown Port Arthur, now the northern half of the city of Thunder Bay. The Odeon is located on the corner of Court Street South and Park Avenue.

The Odeon Port Arthur opened on November 4, 1948 with “Jassy” starring Margaret Lockwood. It was built by the British owned Rank Organisation, under their subsidiary Odeon Theatres Canada. The following day, they opened the Odeon Fort William, Thunder Bay.

In around 1965, it had a name change to Court Theatre. The Odeon was still in use in the 1980’s, but has most recently housed a nightclub, known as the Odeon Court, the 807 Club, and said in 2008 it could be re-named Flaminco Club.

Contributed by Pete N

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

neko870 on May 25, 2005 at 9:53 am

I haven’t been to Thunder Bay in a while, but have fond childhood memories of this theater. I’ve heard that Eatons dept. store across the street has closed and is up for sale as of 2005. Hopefully someone out there has more info on this theatre and it’s current function(s).

lbadanai on December 29, 2005 at 8:46 pm

The Odeon Theatre on Court Street currently houses a nightclub called “Warp 9” It has switched names many times over the years and types of clubs in side but the general structure never changed besides building up from the slanted floors with wooden risers and the dance floor being centre of the room on the original concret floor. The Paramount Theatre down the street is a childrens play centre called wiggles and giggles. The main floor has a large childrens play centre and upstairs on the closed off balcony ius still a small theatre for childrens movies during birthday parties. As per the old Eatons dept store is now a call centre…. (go figure)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 18, 2014 at 11:07 pm

While the Odeon Port Arthur is on this list of the works of Jay English, it also appears on this list of works by the firm of Kaplan & Sprachman from the same source (the Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada 1800-1950.) It is listed as a 1947 project on both pages, so the Odeon, which did not open until November, 1948, must have been one of the design projects left unfinished by Jay English when he died in a drowning accident in August, 1947. A number of his unfinished projects were completed by architect Leslie Kemp, but this house, at least, was completed by Kaplan & Sprachman.

northernparade on June 15, 2015 at 6:21 am

Joe Vogel: I’m not sure if you’ll see this post, but I’m trying to gather information about Jay English and this specific theatre in Thunder Bay for an article I’m writing for the local museum here. Can you tell me anything about Jay English and his theatre design career, or direct me to any information about him and Odeon theatres? Thank you, if you see this!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 15, 2015 at 2:56 pm

northernparade: Just about everything I know about Jay English (and it isn’t much) is already in comments I’ve made on the Cinema Treasures pages for various theaters he designed (list here.) He was born in 1903 and died in 1947. He was for some time the chief designer for Odeon Theatres Canada, but had designed a few theater projects for other chains. The earliest projects listed on his page at the Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada (see the first link in my previous comment) is dated 1937, and the first theaters are dated 1938. I’ve found nothing online about his earlier career, though I would imagine that he spent a decade or more as a draftsman or associate in some firm, perhaps even Kaplan & Sprachman.

Obituaries of English were undoubtedly published in newspapers (and probably in professional journals) in 1947, but I’ve found none online. There might be some behind paywalls at sites to which I don’t have access. An obituary would most likely give some details about his background and career, including the schools where he had studied and the firms where he had worked.

The best history of Odeon Theatres Canada that I’ve found online is an extensive article by Paul S. Moore in the Fall, 2003, issue of the Canadian Journal of Film Studies, which you can read in this PDF.

At the time English died he had about twenty unfinished theater projects on the boards. When Canadian Odeon’s parent company, the J. Arthur Rank Organization, sent Leslie Kemp to Toronto to oversee their completion by English’s staff (which was probably quite large) the amount of work left to be done on each of them would have varied quite a bit. The fact that the Odeon Port Arthur was given to Kaplan & Sprachman to complete, rather than Kemp and English’s staff, suggests that it might have been in a very early stage, and if so then Kaplan & Sprachman might have had a lot more to do with the finished design than English did. It’s a possibility that you might want to look into, though I can’t tell you where the information might be available. At this late date it might be impossible to find out.

northernparade on June 15, 2015 at 6:34 pm

Joe Vogel: Thank you so much! This does help me quite a bit. I appreciate it. I managed to pull up more than I thought about the opening of this Odeon in Port Arthur in local newspapers from 1948, so that along with this should be enough for my article. Thanks again.

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