Garrick Centre

330 Garry Avenue,
Winnipeg, MB R3B 2G6

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 28, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Whatever is left of the former Garrick Cinemas is now called the Garrick Centre. It is a three-venue live performance facility. Click on the “Venues” link on the left side of their page to see photos of the three auditoriums, with links to seating charts. Venues 1 and 2 each feature stadium seating sections, and look as though they might have been carved from the original theater auditorium, but as I never saw the theater I don’t know that they were. It might be a radical reconfiguration within the original building shell.

If the auditorium survives, though, then the house should be listed as open under the name Garrick Centre. Maybe somebody who attended the Garrick Cinemas could check the photos on the Garrick Center web site and see if they look familiar in any way.

This page from the University of Manitoba’s Winnipeg Building Index gives the original construction date of the College Theatre as 1919. If that’s correct, then the 1928 opening event, described by sam_e in the comment of Feb 5, 2005 at 4:53pm, must have been a reopening following major alterations of some sort.

RHBUCK
RHBUCK on October 4, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Has PT created a booklet on Wicks organ ?

grandcameo
grandcameo on August 29, 2010 at 6:08 am

If anyone has any interior shots from over the years, please contact me. I’m trying to archive as much as I can about it.

Any photos in particular of the twin auditoriums or the round concession stand closer to #1 would be great!

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on January 23, 2010 at 8:32 am

Here is an October 1987 ad from the Winnipeg Free Press:
http://tinyurl.com/y93jca8

garr
garr on October 28, 2007 at 7:15 am

thanks a lot sam. i was able to google it, thanks to you. it’s nice to see that the garrick is being used for entertainment, like the old days, when i used to see movies there. guess there’s more entertainment coming to the garrick? i imagine they’re still using the place as a conferenc center as well?-garro

PGlenat
PGlenat on October 27, 2007 at 11:23 pm

garro: try Googling “Phantompalooza” (not Phantapalooza) for info on the extraordinary local popularity of “Phantom of the Paradise”. As recently as last year the Ramada/Garrick centre was used to host a get-together of cast, crew as well as fans of Phantom of the Paradise.

garr
garr on October 27, 2007 at 8:55 pm

thanks much for that news. could you please provide the exact website address? i haven’t been able to access it. thanks-g.

vic1964
vic1964 on October 27, 2007 at 7:17 pm

I just finished reading about the PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE run of 18 weeks at the Garrick 2!The film was a huge hit in Winnipeg but not the rest of the world.Check out the phantapalooza website!

garr
garr on August 26, 2007 at 7:16 am

i haven’t lived in wpg for a very long time, used to go to the garrick&the other theatres when i lived there. i knew that the ramada hotel had taken it over. i knew it was being used as a conference center. i see that there are live performances happening there. when did this start, is it a new thing? it’s nice, at least the place is being used for entertainment, though it’s not movies. will this be the use from now on? will it also be used as a conference center?

pataylor
pataylor on September 9, 2006 at 2:14 pm

organpage – The TPO that >was< in the Immaculate Conception hall was installed by the late Terry Harvey. Now there was a man who got things done. Organ installations, concert series, LPs of the Orpheum – on and on. I recall that the Seeburg/Smith went to Alberta but I wouldn’t bet my house on my recollection. The TPO onced owned by the late Reg Stone and then the late Frank Mankin went there for sure. That’s the problem – many persons connected with west coast TPOs have taken up the harp. The organ from the Pantages/Odeon Hasting/Majestic is (last I heard) in a South Delta residence by way of the late Chas. McKenzie. I’m hoping that my info stirs up some more-up-to-date contributions to this forum. J. Tarling still has his Capitol TPO and, as I understand, has the Organ Grinder hybrid in storage. Our Garrick Theatre organ is seldom played during the summer so that temperature fluctuations in the chamber can be kept at a minimum. A Conn 3 manual sparker fills in surprisingly well.
Rather than clutter this excellent forum – if you (or anyone else) wants more info, I’m at Console down.
PT

mmeade
mmeade on July 13, 2006 at 3:26 am

HMcK – I am a relative of Agnes Forsythe. Her brother Bob was my grandfather (he passed away almost 2 years ago). If you are family, I would be happy to help you on your search for information. You can email me at Please put Agnes' name in the subject line.

organpage
organpage on June 14, 2006 at 8:20 am

I worked for/with Agnes Forsythe for many years at her WurliTzer dealership in Burnaby when I was working the Vancouver area as an organ tech and we became good friends. Yes, her second husband was Mike Chisholm, but he was not involved with the business. The man you met in the store was probably her brother Bob Forsythe who was the accountant for the store as well as a full time accountant for WCB. He was also a fairly successful actor and appeared on most of the vancouver based productions such as MacGyver, Beachcombers and lots of commercials. Agnes' first husband was before my time, I believe she called him Jack but I’m not sure of this one. I don’t rememeber her metioning a last name. Anges had no children and she only had the one brother, but I remember she had several cousins both in the vancouver area and back east. The burnaby store closed about 20 years ago after she fell victim to cancer as did both her husbands before her.
I was always under the impression that the old Garrick organ was installed in the parish hall of the Immaculate Conception church in Delta BC where I used to attend a series of theatre organ music concerts, but I remember that was a Seaburg organ of about 5 ranks. I thought I rememberd Agnes mentioning she had been asked to play a concert in the series because of her connection with the organ but never got around to it. Obviously I got mixed up. If anyone has any information about that organ I would appreciate hearing it.

JCampbell
JCampbell on April 1, 2006 at 12:58 pm

HMcK I apologise for the tardiness in relying. I have been without internet access for almost a month and recently, the site seems to have been having some problems.

Unfortunately, there is no more that I can add. Agnes always used her maiden name and I never knew her married name. She seemed to keep her private life very private. I never heard mention of children or any relatives. I did meet her husband once when he came to the store. He managed the books and may possibly have been an accountant (speculation). It’s not very helpful, but I do hope you will be able to piece together the informstion you are looking for.

HMcK
HMcK on March 2, 2006 at 9:50 am

John_c, Thank you very much for your post regarding Agnes. Was her surname Chisholm when you knew her? Also do you know if she had any children or mention other family? I know this was a long time ago but I am thrilled you took the time to post.

JCampbell
JCampbell on February 27, 2006 at 3:06 pm

I happened on this site somewhat accidentally and saw the discussion regarding Agnes Forsythe. I met Agnes in around 1970 just after she had moved to Vancouver with her husband and long time friend Eileen Wedlake. Agnes managed a music store at Seymour and Dunsmuir at the time and I went there to take organ lessons. Two or three years later, she opened her own store on Kingsway, a couple of blocks north of Edmonds and was a principal retailer for Wurlitzer. She also had a music school with maybe four to six teachers. The timing was right and I think she did well in the organ and piano revival of the 70s. There were concerts in the Playhouse Theatre and visits to pizza house Wurlitzers and a memorable re-opening of the restored Orpheum Theatre wurlitzer by Reginald Foort in those days.

She spoke rarely of her days in Winnipeg but I do remember her ‘complaining’ how physically demanding it was to play a theatre pipe organ. She is a small person, petite and with small hands, so I can imagine how hard she had to work at a full size console. I never heard her perform or saw her teach, though she would play a few bars as a demonstration in support of a sale. She was awarded the Freedom of the City of Winnipeg in the mid 70s and I also remember her saying that the Garrick had offered her the organ for free. She was flattered but had no way to do anything useful with it and regretfully declined the offer. (Good luck for PT!)

I lost touch in around 1980 and have had no contact or news since. I did notice that the store closed in around 1985 or so.

PGlenat
PGlenat on September 21, 2005 at 8:11 am

As a single screen theatre the Garrick was updated in the early 50’s. The updating was primarily to the marquee, lobby and concession areas, while the auditorium received a new paint job and new seating (see previous posts re flamingo pink and teal blue color scheme). I don’t recall if lighting was updated then or not. The organ console was ‘remodelled’ by being sandwiched between two triangular boxes with ripple glass fronts containing multi colored lights inside. Within days after reopening a section of the ceiling plaster gave way and came crashing down. I don’t recall any mention of injuries so this may have taken place during hours when the theatre was closed. In any event repairs were carried out and the theatre reopened without further incident. Since there was at least a 20 year gap from the time that updating took place, quite possibly the theatre was in a bad state of repair by the time it was twinned. Also, downtown theatres were beginning to feel the pinch of failing attendance and Odeon decided that a twin screen venue would be more profitable.

grandcameo
grandcameo on September 21, 2005 at 7:50 am

I read from some vertical files at the Centennial Library that the Garrick was remodelled and expanded into a twin because it was in such a bad state of dis-repair. Can anyone further this?

And what was this about the ceiling caving in?

HMcK
HMcK on August 3, 2005 at 7:51 pm

PT, I have just visited with Agnes Forsythe’s cousin Elliott in London and he confirms that she would have been a cinema/theatre organist. Also that when he met her in 1960’s she was married to Chisholm, but always performed under her maiden name. I would be ever so pleased to have any contact and information regarding her and her family. Thanks,
Heather

HMcK
HMcK on February 6, 2005 at 2:37 pm

PT and Sam_e, Thank you for your replies. I only know that the Agnes Forsythe I am looking for was likely born in 1920s to RM Forsythe and his wife May. He came from Ireland. They also had a son Bobby. I have a newspaper picture of Agnes marrying J R Harrod at Trinity Baptist Church. The paper title reads Winnipeg, Tuesday April 9, 1946. I had also been told that she was an accomplished musician – which is how I came across this web page. She would have been a cousin to my grandfather. Any information you can get would be greatly appreciated.Thanks.
HMcK

PGlenat
PGlenat on February 5, 2005 at 9:00 pm

The Walker/Odeon/Walker/Burton Cummings theater is listed on Cinema Treasures under Burton Cummings Performing Arts Center. See that listing for further comments on that theater.

pataylor
pataylor on February 5, 2005 at 5:19 pm

Regarding the Garrick Theatre Pipe Organ:
The numbers from the book are bang on. There was no “CONSIDERABLE” pipe damage from the move. Just a fair amount of minor damage. HOWEVER, the pipes were stored planted on the (2) chests under plastic with the treble (small) pipes right outside the door to the Walker orchestra pit. Someone came thru' that door and just walked on the pipes. A “map” of the chests and damaged pipes shows a clear “footprint” pattern of damage. Most of it has been repairable, so far. Only 7 ranks have been restored. At the price we paid, I got no complaints.

As to “..its power ..” – a huge scale Tibia Plena, a fat, smooth Diapason and a Brass Trumpet no doubt helped give that impression.
The Tibia Plena has not been planted as we have enough “power” for our studio. The Brass Trumpet is the only rank badly robbed – missing 13 pipes below middle C. So it won’t be planted for a while, yet.

Any stories of the Garrick theatre before twinning are highly prized and appreciated.

The interior of the Walker was shown on TV recently but I forget the context. I do remember being VERY immpressed and the next time I visit Winnipeg, I will try to get a glimpse. My wife will be visiting her mom in Winnipeg this week but I’m not too anxious to spend $500 to see the interior of a Winnipeg theatre in the middle of winter. (Being a west coast weather wimp.) More to come, later.

Regards, PT

PGlenat
PGlenat on February 5, 2005 at 2:53 pm

Thanks for the update PT. Any additional information would be welcome.
The following info was gleaned from a book on pipe organs in the province, with a brief section on theater organs.
The Garrick opened Sept 8, 1928, with an address by the mayor which was broadcast on a local radio station. The Wicks organ was reported as having 3 manuals and 150 stops (actually 12 ranks with a lot of unification) plus percussion and chimes. It took 3 months to build at the factory and another six weeks to install in the Garrick. Extensive structural changes to the theater were necessary to accomodate the organ.The console was finished in ivory, decorated in gold and shaded with brown. Visiting organist Margaret Earl accompanied the premiere film ‘Passion’ starring Emil Jannings and Pola Negri. It then goes on claiming “no conception of it’s powers is possible from the previous hearing of organs in this city as nothing like it has been installed before….” Finally it says that the organ was dismantled by inexperienced people in 1953, suffering considerable pipe damage and then placed in storage. It makes sense that the organ was stored at the Walker as there was far more room under that stage than at the Garrick and they were both owned by Odeon. Also the theater was about to be divided and they would have needed the room.
Any additonal info is much appreciated.
I’ll have to check on the theater organ broadcasts from Australia on the internet. There is nothing on the air locally. Occasionally ‘Pipe Dreams’ features theater organs on their program, but I can only get that off the net, since we’re too far away from any NPR station here… unless I want to hike it to Minneapolis, about 450 miles away.

pataylor
pataylor on February 5, 2005 at 1:34 pm

sam_e and others
The Garrick (before twinning) had 3 aisles from screen to back wall.
Source: The seat diagram from the ticket booth counter. (vintage unknown).
The Garrick Theatre Organ was stored under the stage of the Walker (Odeon) where we retrieved it after purchase. (For a pittance, I might add)
If HMcK will confirm that the Agnes Forsythe that we have referred to is the one s/he is seeking info on, I will check to see if her local friend is still around and has anything to contribute.

For theatre pipe organ nuts (er, fans), be aware of a weekly broadcast from Australia on the net. Fridays 6 PM PST. Search for RTRFM. You will need Windows Media Player and you can save the music with Windows Movie Maker. All vintages presented from mono records to the latest CDs.

If anyone wants the (long) story of the Garrick’s pipe organ’s rebirth posted – just say so, here. I plan to make a completely new colour pamphlet one of these days with a brief history, the restoration story and specs.
‘Nuff ramblings for now,
Regards, PT

grandcameo
grandcameo on February 5, 2005 at 11:02 am

Wow! I missed the golden days.

Anyone (sam_e) know the architects of the original, twin and addition?