Capitol Theatre

127 Second Avenue South,
Saskatoon, SK S7K

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 1, 2014 at 6:59 pm

The “Better Theatres” section of the July 5, 1930, issue of Exhibitors Herald World featured an article about recent Canadian theaters which included a few paragraphs about the Capitol at Saskatoon:

“Turning to the Canadian West for another example, the new Capitol theatre in Saskatoon, Sask., has a stage no less than 80 feet wide and proportionate in depth. It was built for talking pictures and has thick carpets to deaden the sound of tramping feet, but it has that big stage for come what may.

“The Saskatoon Capitol, designed by Murray Brown of Toronto, an outstanding Canadian theatre architect, is of the average size of 1,600 seats — 1,400 on what was once known as the orchestra floor, and 200 somewhat more luxurious chairs on a narrow balcony just under the glass-covered portholes of the projection room.

“The Capitol at Saskatoon has a Spanish interior with Spanish lounges, Spanish garden walls and blue sky overhead. It was the first atmospheric theatre in the ‘prairie provinces’ of the Dominion and created plenty of talk when Manager Frank Miley, local veteran showman, opened the doors. Miley had his first ‘opening’ at the old Daylight theatre in Saskatoon back in 1911 and this latest theatre creation is rated as a $400,000 enterprise.

“The incidental Spanish furnishings and wrought iron lamps in the new Capitol cost more than the first theatre. And you can walk around in different luxurious places in the Capitol, whereas the old Daylight just had seats, a projection "booth,” a screen and a few other essentials. The new Capitol has spotlights emitting their beams of light through the edge of the balcony when desired and the atmospheric skyline is considered worthy of the price of admission alone. The lofty entrance leads one up over a hidden intervening alley, away from the main street, until one enters the theatre proper beyond. This long lobby helps to absorb the crowds.“

this illustration depicts the Capitol Theatre’s auditorium. The entire article can be read online using this link. It features additional photos of the Capitol.

23skidoo
23skidoo on August 1, 2014 at 9:36 am

Some more memories: I remember that the theatre’s entrance was on 2nd Avenue, but that was just the lobby. You then followed a “bridge” over the alley behind and this took you into the actual theatre building. After the show, you had the option of exiting to 1st Avenue or backtracking to 2nd. There was balcony seating, and this was the only theater where I remember experiencing an “overture” where they played music as people entered that was actually part of the film. Wish I could remember the titles of all the movies I saw here. I recall seeing a re-release of The Jungle Book in the mid-70s, and (of all things) the Lee Majors B-movie The Norseman in 1978 or so. Possibly The Black Hole, too (which might be where my overture memory comes from).

23skidoo
23skidoo on July 25, 2014 at 7:24 am

^ Expanding on my comment, the Capitol 4 is listed separately under its final name, Empire. Surprised at how little is in the main write up for this theatre which was Calgary’s premiere movie house and when it was closed and demolished in the early 1980s to make way for the Scotia Centre there was huge controversy. This was a beautiful theatre. I remember hearing that many of the seats were salvaged and installed in Castle Theatre, a live theatre venue at Aden Bowman Collegiate.

23skidoo
23skidoo on July 21, 2014 at 8:38 am

There were actually 2 Capitol Theatres. In the 1980s after the original was torn down they built the Capitol 4 a block to the south on 1st Avenue. It operated until the early 2000s when the Galaxy opened and they decided they only needed one downtown theatre.

rivest266
rivest266 on February 22, 2014 at 12:28 pm

May 11th, 1929 grand opening ad can be found in the photo section.

DavidDymond
DavidDymond on February 3, 2013 at 11:13 am

This theatre was built in 1929 by the Daylight Theatre Company, Limited whose principals were Mr. Byers and Mr. Butler. The Daylight Theatre Company were Famous Players partners in the operation of the Capitol, The Daylight, the Broadway, and years later the Midtown A & B. In the late 60’s the Daylight Theatre was renamed Paramount at the suggestion of Famous Players Limited!

Edmond
Edmond on January 23, 2011 at 4:20 pm

How ironic. I worked for Ken Achs and am aware of his Capitol Theater work. A friend gave me 6 Capitol Theater seats “to get rid of” and I did a web search. I have joined this group. I attended the last event at the Capitol in ‘79. It was Sneezy Waters playing Hank Williams in “The Show Hank Never Gave.” It was awesome, but most amazing was the theater. The screen was gone and everyone realized that this was once, and for one last time, a theater, not just a cinema. So, what to do with the seats? Suggestions? Do you have pictures? They are in great shape and they have stories to tell. My email is

rivest266
rivest266 on November 23, 2010 at 5:34 pm

May 11th, 1929 grand opening ad is at View link

GREGMCKEE
GREGMCKEE on August 13, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Hey all…been a while since I was on this site…some really good pix of the demolition…and yes, it made my stomach churn to see that gaping hole again…I am glad to hear the marquee is being restored…I cant wait to see the results…I was concerned about its whereabouts after I went to the compound where it was and it was missing! I am glad it is in good hands…I hope Midwest is keeping lots of photos of the process. I agree with Elissa, I would love to go on a mission to see the Capitol artifacts in the Cook Bldg…I think the city is still embarassed at the brutal job of not keeping the Capitol theater alive….I still consider it to be a major loss to the city’s history. If anyone wants to chat about it email me at

Tumbles
Tumbles on May 6, 2010 at 9:37 am

Midwest Group is doing a wonderful thing. I have been in contact with Midwest, there’s was long, hard and arduous road to get the marquee relinquished to them, and I – am so grateful to them. I don’t believe that the marquee will be attached to “an ugly condo”, all their work would be in vain. Mr. Ken Achs reputation seems to proceed him and Colleen Wilson will have great plans for the unveiling in a most prestigous manner and building. Kudos to the whole Midwest Team!

MJ (aka RubyRed)

Azzaelea
Azzaelea on April 17, 2010 at 10:04 am

I would like to see the Midwest Group also attempt to salvage the other articles from the Capitol (ie. who owns the discarded items in the Arthur Cook building, as mentioned in the Star Phoenix?) If Midwest could preserve as many Capitol artifacts as possible, in one location, that would be great.

I personally think the marquee would suit a diner or cafe. I’m scared they’re gonna use it for some ugly condominium unit. A theatre-themed diner, with artifacts, would allow patrons to learn about the former Capitol. It would attract a larger demographic.

clw
clw on April 17, 2010 at 9:50 am

Thanks everyone for all your emails. Yes, the Midwest Group has the original Saskatoon Capital Theatre marquee now. It is no longer in its sad state od decay. It is redau for paint but we have still not paintied it, so anyone with knowledge of it original colors is welcome to send us that info to add to our research. We do have the paint chips from the under layers and have been researching theatres of that era to take it back to its original colors which were many as shown in the old paint buried beneath the newer paint layers. We are just waiting to find a building in our portfolio to best showcase the marquee. Award winning heritage property developer Ken Achs will over see the restoration. We will update at midwestgroup.ca and we will also post on this website when we find a location for it. Meanwhile know that is is no longer decaying and is safe and any of you who know Ken’s work will know it will be a first class restoration.

Tumbles
Tumbles on April 12, 2010 at 7:12 pm

OMG……..OMG….thanks so much for keeping me posted. I cant believe this happening. What great, great news!! I am returning home to Saskatoon in July and Sept. and I will check it out. I hope that I am available to return home when they resurrect the marquee so I can get some great photos. Thanks again, I sure enjoy hearing about my theatre.
Regards to you Elissa.
THANKS, from Ruby

Azzaelea
Azzaelea on April 12, 2010 at 11:57 am

Some good news about the Capitol’s grand marquee:
‘The Mid-West design team peeled away deteriorating outer paint to discover the original multi-coloured paint scheme. Paint chips were kept so that it can be restored as closely as possible to its original colour scheme. The marquee was then sandblasted and prepared for re-painting and intricate electrical re-wiring. The restoration project is expected to cost about $80,000 and will be completed once the Mid-West Group has identified an appropriate building in its property portfolio on which to showcase it.“
Go here—> http://www.midwestgroup.ca/diversity/heritage/

Tumbles
Tumbles on January 17, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Thanks for the email. I too recently discovered the images from the Saskatoon History Room Library. It was so wonderful and nostalgic to the see pics. One of the shots in the lower level at the far end, which was the west exit to the street, I see myself and the other ushrettes standing there chatting. All the pictures came back with flooding memory and clarity and it was sad, sad yet to know that this absolutely beautiful masterpiece has disappeared. It wud be 81 years old this year.
Ruby

Azzaelea
Azzaelea on January 13, 2010 at 9:47 am

34 new images of Capitol, some colour, taken the year before its destruction have surfaced. They make my heart hurt. What a loss! Click here—>
View link

Tumbles
Tumbles on December 19, 2009 at 9:01 pm

Elissa – Yes I will.
All the best of the season to you.
Ruby

Azzaelea
Azzaelea on December 18, 2009 at 2:12 am

RubyRed – No, I haven’t seen the marquee. I live in Montreal, which makes anything related to Saskatoon sort of difficult.

Calgary has a horrible track record with old theatres. It’s not an arts city; but an epicentre for conservative oil executives, who don’t give a damn. That makes people like you, that much more necessary.

Since you’re there, I say savour what few theatres there are left, ie. The Plaza, The Uptown. Do keep me up to speed, though.

Azzaelea
Azzaelea on December 18, 2009 at 2:01 am

RubyRed – My father was one of the many who fought like hell to try and save the Capitol. Its loss embitters him to this day.

The only real reason Roxy survived was because of the neighbourhood she’s in (read: lower income, less desirable). Had she had the misfortune of being built downtown like Capitol, Empire, Tivoli, and Daylight, she’d be gone.

The very fact that 30yrs have passed, and the city STILL can’t decide what to do with these artifacts is sickening. Somebody needs to push them hard.

Tumbles
Tumbles on December 17, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Elissa – my sentiments exactly. I was speaking with my cousin in saskatoon this morning and we were discussing the building and the Capitol artifacts. He said he was going to do some investigating of his own on the A. Cook bldg., etc. I said the very same thing, that they should be in a museum for all to see. Cities, do some very funny things, as in Calgary too. Maybe a call to the City or the newspaper may prompt something – who knows. I trust that you have not seen the marquee in real life either? If found the write up in the paper as well, that you quoted….interesting.
Thanks. If I hear anything more, would you like to know?
Ruby

Tumbles
Tumbles on December 16, 2009 at 6:57 pm

Thanks for the little information above that you have supplied Elissa
I am wondering if Elissa or anyone knows exactly what city compound location the marquee is sitting at.
I will return home in the summer next year and I am hoping to hunt down that marquee. Also Elissa are you saying that the discarded items are behind locked doors in the Authur Cook Building?
Would like to know. Thanks
RubyRed
Calgary

Azzaelea
Azzaelea on December 16, 2009 at 11:19 am

Certain items from the Capitol can be found on display at the Hose & Hydrant Pub, off Broadway. Among them, a ticket kiosk, wall sconces, and chandeliers.

You can see some pictures here—>
http://www.hoseandhydrant.com/gallery.html

Read my previous comment on where other items are being hidden.

Azzaelea
Azzaelea on December 16, 2009 at 11:15 am

A Star Phoenix article dated December 7th, ‘09 covers the revitalizing going on in Saskatoon’s warehouse district, specifically to the Authur Cook building.

It says: “Discarded items from the demolished Capitol Theatre collect dust behind locked doors on the upper floors”.

If someone from Saskatoon could somehow get permission to see those items and take pictures to post here, that would be very cool.

Tumbles
Tumbles on November 26, 2009 at 6:29 pm

Reading Greg McKee’s comments was very nostalgic. I was born & raised in Saskatoon. In 1972 I moved to Calgary, but still came home to visit family & friends.
I worked at the CAPITOL THEATRE during 1968-69 as an ushrette and at the candy bar as a “candy girl”, during my high school years. Mr. Sutherland was the boss and was often found sitting in his favorite chair in the candy bar foyer watching the crowd as they entered the theatre to get their goodies & watch the movie. I loved my job there & it was the 1st job I had. I can smell the smell of the theatre as if it was yesterday and I remember the decor & the carpets well, the whole theatre was light up like a GOLD PALACE. The balcony was spectacular, the theatre was like no other. The small photos from Elissa Hamilton was very nice to see – I wish that there was more.
I was absolutely devasted and mortified when I come home to visit & thinking I wud go to the theatre & see a movie that my family told me the city destroyed it. What were they thinking – such a beautiful building should have been preserved for our generation to see today.
I wonder if that Marquee is still sitting in the compound? If Greg McKee has an email address or if anyone else in Sasktoon knows where it is, please let me know at my email address as I am interested in obtaining a photo too.

Azzaelea
Azzaelea on October 14, 2009 at 2:31 am

I’ve comprised an album on Facebook devoted to Capitol.
It contains photographs and articles I’ve collected on
her. Please come see and leave comments—>
View link