Dominion Theatre

812 Yates Street,
Victoria, BC V8V 3M2

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Dominion Theatre

The Dominion Theatre opened in May 1913 and continued under Famous Players until 1955. It was closed in 1961 and was demolished in December 1966-January 1967.

Contributed by Mark

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 26, 2012 at 10:34 am

There is an ad for the Dominion Theatre on this page of a brochure for the Empress Hotel published in 1916. Dominion Theatres also operated houses in Vancouver and Nanaimo.

In a 1916 lawsuit, Dominion Theatres won a judgment against an express company which had delivered a box of films to their Victoria house a day late. The law digest item on the case said that the theater company had been using the express company to ship boxes of movies from their Vancouver theater to their Victoria theater at 11:00 PM every Wednesday and Saturday night for three years, so the Dominion Theatre in Victoria must have been in operation since at least 1913.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on November 26, 2012 at 6:41 pm

This photograph, from the Puget Sound Theatre Organ Society, shows the Dominion, Plaza (later the Haida), and Capitol theatres as they were in 1946.

ScreenClassic
ScreenClassic on November 26, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Here’s another shot of the Dominion, along with the Haida (as the Plaza), taken probably around the early 1950s.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 1, 2013 at 1:10 pm

John Ritchie Muir was the original operator of the Dominion Theatre. He joined the Dominion Theatre Company of Vancouver in 1906, and later became its president, managing director, and principal stockholder. He built the Dominion Theatre in Victoria several years later. Later, he opened a third house of the same name at Nanaimo, B.C.

A brief notice in the October, 1912 issue of The Pacific Coast Architect said that Edwin W. Houghton had prepared plans for a theater at Victoria for a company promoted by J. A.[sic] Muir. A recent article in the Victoria Times Colonist about events in the city in 1913 has a few paragraphs about entertainment, and one says that the Dominion Theatre opened in May, 1913.

DavidDymond
DavidDymond on June 1, 2013 at 4:04 pm

This theatre was operated by Famous Players Canadian Corporation for most of it’s life — and veteran Famous Players Manager Ivan Ackery managed it for a while as a young man before being brought back to Vancouver to manager the Orpheum Theatre!!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 1, 2013 at 7:48 pm

It’s likely that the Dominion Theatres were part of the original group of houses operated by Famous Players when the company was chartered in 1920. This 1945 article from the Montreal Gazette lists among the 18 theaters the circuit began with two houses in Vancouver, one in Victoria, and one in Nanaimo.

Manjunath Pendakur’s Canadian Dreams and American Control: The Political Economy of the Canadian Film Industry mentions J. R. Muir twice, once as managing director of Famous Players subsidiary B.C. Paramount Theatres in 1926, and once as district manager of Famous Players in British Columbia in 1929. Muir might well have been one of N. L. Nathanson’s original associates in the circuit.

DavidDymond
DavidDymond on June 1, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Mr. Muir was the Division Director of Western Canada Theatre Operations for Famous Players. He was an employee only BUT did work closely with the founding president N. L. Nathanson!!

Splashcat66
Splashcat66 on June 12, 2020 at 1:11 pm

Lease with Famous Players ended in 1955, closed in 1961, demolished December 1966-January 1967 (Victoria Daily Times, 14 December 1966)

elaineclay
elaineclay on August 22, 2020 at 3:34 pm

Harry Irving Bickerdike owned the property and the building ‘till the day it was demolished. His father before him operated the Bickerdike Steam Laundry in the very same location. …and that’s fact!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 25, 2020 at 3:27 pm

An item in the March 17, 2013 Victoria Times-Colonist says that the Dominion Theatre opened in May 1913. The archives of the City of Victoria indicate that an application by H. Bickerdike to connect a theatre at 814 Yates Street to the city sewer system is dated March 6, 1913.

The Dominion Theatre was designed by architect Edwin W. Houghton, per an item in the October, 1912 issue of The Pacific Coast Architect.

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