Big Sisters Luminary Soiree

Archives Photos of the Day: Theatres

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012 — 9:59am PDT
Comments 15

Vancouver is only going on 126 years old but despite its infancy compared to most other world-class cities, it had a community that supported the arts right off the bat. I dug around the Vancouver Archives to find evidence of everything from Vancouver’s vibrant vaudeville days to its fanatical film-going culture, in neighbourhood theatres to Theatre Row.

1911 – Avenue Theatre. Archives item# CVA 99-121. Photographer: Stuart Thomson.

Status: Closed.

1919 – The Rex Theatre. Archives item# CVA 99-240. Photographer: Stuart Thomson.

Status: Closed. When it opened in 1912, it was described as “the most modern movie house in the world.”

1920 – Columbia Theatre on Hastings. Archives item# CVA 99 – 3293. Photographer: Stuart Thomson.

Status: Demolished.

1920s – Princess Theatre at 55 East Hastings. Archives item# CVA 371-867.

Status: Closed.

1924 – Strand Theatre on Seymour. Archives item# Str N201.1. Photographer: WJ Moore.

Status: Demolished.

1927 – Kerrisdale Theatre building at 2136 West 41st. Archives item# Bu N331. Photographer: WJ Moore.

Status: Closed. The building is still there.

1927 – Alma Theatre at 3707 W 9th. Archives item# Bu N333. Photographer: WJ Moore.

Status: Closed.

1935 – Lyric Theatre on Granville. Archives item# Bu N439.5. Photographer: WJ Moore.

Status: Demolished. It opened in 1891 as an opera house and later showed movies in the 1930s. Another Lyric theatre (building still intact) is at Pender and Hamilton.

1937 – Dunbar Theatre. Archives item# CVA 99-2889. Photographer: Stuart Thomson.

Status: Open.

1940 – Empress Theatre. Archives item# Bu N134. Photographer: WJ Moore.

Status: Closed.

1948 – Stanley Theatre, South Granville. Archives item# CVA 1184-2324. Photographer: Jack Lindsay.

Status: Open.

1946 – Orpheum and “Theatre Row” on Granville. Archives item# CVA 1184-2290. Photographer: Jack Lindsay.

Status: Orpheum: Open. The Lyric Theatre on Granville had an incarnation as “The Orpheum” prior to this location so that’s why the building that we know was called the “New” Orpheum when it opened.

1967 – Studio Theatre on Granville. Archives item# CVA 780-53.

Status: Closed. Tonic nightclub now occupies the space.

Over the last few weeks, with theatre and movie house closures, the future might not be looking so bright. You can support the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance in many ways. Check out their weekly listings and find out what they have prepared for World Theatre Day on March 27th.

Current contests on


  1. The Rex Theatre on Hastings Street listed above as ‘demolished’, is actually still there. It’s been gutted, and the facade probably compromised, but still stands behind blue metal siding and part of the Army & Navy. Perhaps one day it’ll see the light of day again…

  2. Terry Rea says:

    Thanks for lthe memories(Bob Hope) I went to movies at many of these theatres. I also remember the Beacon at Carral and Hastings which extende from Hastings to Pender. The tram/interurban depot was at the corner.

  3. Trish Everett says:

    You forgot the Pantages on Hastings which was recently demolished. ๐Ÿ™ There are some neat pics here though of the interior before it was torn down. I just wish I was alive to enjoy the glory day of variety entertainment and vaudeville in Vancouver. What an incredible age. I will be researching into this more as part of my dissertation at UBC. If anyone reads this and would be willing to be interviewed about memories or perhaps stories from parents of early Vaudeville (pre WWI) I would love to speak with you in the coming year. please email if you are interested.

  4. Daman Beatty says:

    Amazing photos. Thanks for a great post. i love the old pictures and they are so clear.

  5. ThosGee says:

    Hi – Regarding the Windsor Theatre at 25th & Main

    The STATUS says that it was aka the Kerrisdale Theatre and still standing on 41st Ave.

    I can see this is the same style as the Kerrisdale Theatre BUT I don’t understand how it can be the same structure. How did a masonry building get moved 6 km south west from 25th & Main to 41st & West Blvd AND be at two location in the same year 1927??
    See this 1927 photo at the CVA Ref:AM54-S4-: Bu N331

  6. ThosGee says:

    The answer to my question regarding the Windsor Theatre being aka the Kerrisdale is that it is not. They are two separate theatres built to one of Famous Player’s standard theatre architectural plans.

  7. @ThosGee – The photo simply had the wrong caption. The image and caption now match for Kerrisdale.

  8. ThosGee says:

    OK. FYI – Both the Windor and the Kerrisdale as well as the Alma were built through the office of architect William Marshall DODD (1870-1948) in 1925.

    PS: It is a shame that you took pics out just to shorten an interesting post – it does the post a disservice and you might as well not have it in at all. ๐Ÿ™

  9. @ThosGee – I often search the archives for photos and then I search around to find information to match (or vice versa). If I can’t pair up the data, I need to remove images. As you can see, when images and information don’t match there is confusion.

  10. Tony Negrin says:

    A nice list, but why don’t you include the addresses and name changes as well?

  11. @ Tony – It seems like everyone wanted more information in this post ๐Ÿ™‚ These “Archives Photos of the Day” posts are usually only photos, no captions or additional information. For this one, I thought I would provide updates but that’s as far as I went since this is supposed to only be a photography series, not a history series. Given the interest I might do an update in the future.



  12. Bill Lee says:

    Avenue theatre was at 711 Main, next to Georgia Street (Viaduct entrance in those days.)

  13. Bill Lee says:

    Alma theatre 1929-1955, then a club for a few years, now demolished was
    at 3707 West 9th Avenue (to many an extension of Broadway at Alma)

  14. Alan Dawson says:

    I have a set of plans for a theatre at Main and 25th. The architect is W.M. Dodd & Co. . Dated June 1st 1925 for the owner J. Flanger Esq. of Shaughnessy heights.

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