Victoria Theatre

320 Victoria Avenue,
Thunder Bay, ON P7C 1A2

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Odeon Theatre - 320 Victoria Ave. (Fort William) - photo from 1968

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One of the “final five” theatres of Thunder Bay before the Famous Players Silver City opened around 1999, dooming them all. This one was built and operated by the British owned Rank Organisation, through their subsidiary Odeon Theatres Canada.

The Odeon opened on November 5, 1948 with “Blanche Fury” starring Valerie Hobson & Stewart Granger. The opening was one day after the Odeon Port Arthur, Thunder Bay opened. Around 1965, it was re-named Victoria Theatre and was twinned with seating for 403 & 386.

This theatre had the dubious distinction of being located across from the city’s homeless shelter. After it closed, it was reopened as an all-ages rave club called the Oasis. It currently houses a pawn shop in auditorium one, while auditorium two, the large one with the balcony, as well as the lobby, is vacant.

Contributed by K. Patola

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on June 29, 2009 at 10:14 am

I am not sure that this theatre was the Capitol, based on information from other sources.

Thunder Bay in Ontario was formed by a merger of the cities of Fort William and Port Arthur sometime around 1969-1970. Prior to the merger, Odeon operated theatres in both cities; both theatres were operated under the Odeon name and apparently opened within a day of each other in 1950 or 1951. After the creation of Thunder Bay, probably to avoid confusion, Odeon renamed its theatre in the former Port Arthur section of the city the Court (it was located on the corner of Court and Park Streets) and its theater in the Fort William section, the Victoria, no doubt in view of the fact that it was on Victoria street. (In a similar way, Odeon renamed its original Odeon Toronto the Odeon Carlton to avoid confusion with an older Pdeon Theatre in Toronto which was never owned by the Odeon Corporation).

The Capitol (which was owned by Famous Players) appears to have remained the Capito1, until its closure sometime around 1999-2000. This article indicates that medieval theatre production moved into the former Capitol theatre space in 2001:
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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 18, 2014 at 8:44 pm

While the Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada 1800-1950 lists this house among the works of architect Jay English, the Odeon Theatre in Fort William did not open for more than a year after the architect’s death in a drowning accident in August, 1947. It is likely that this house, like th eOdeon in Port Arthur, was among the many designs left uncompleted upon his death.

The design of the Odeon Port Arthur, which opened the day before this house, was completed by the firm of Kaplan & Sprachman, but the Odeon in Fort William is not on the list of that firm’s works on the Dictionary’s web site.

Several of English’s unfinished designs were completed by architect Leslie Kemp. Unfortunately, while the Dictionary has a brief biography of Kemp, it does not provide a list of his works, so we can’t be certain that he completed this house. I can’t find it on any other page of the Dictionary, either. Kemp was the architect most likely to have completed this project, but it might be difficult to find documentation proving that he did.

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