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Patricia Theatre (photo credit Madeline Green (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation))

Patricia Theatre

Powell River, British Columbia, Canada

First Opened: 1913

Reopened as an Atmospheric: 5th November 1928 (95 years ago)

Atmospheric Style: Semi-Atmospheric

Architect: Henry Holdsby Simmonds

Website: www.qathetfilm.ca Link opens in new window

Address: 5848 Ash Ave, Powell River, BC V8A 4R6, Canada Link opens in new window


The Patricia Theatre is the longest continuously running movie theatre in Canada, and the only movie theatre in Powell River. The theatre was named after Princess Patricia, granddaughter of Queen Victoria and daughter of Canada’s then Governor General, the Duke of Connaught and Strathearn.

The original Patricia Theatre opened in 1913 at a close-by location. The current theatre, which replaced the original, opened in late 1928.

The theatre was commissioned by Bobby Scanlon and Myron McLeod, designed by architect Henry Holdsby Simmonds, and was built by Smellie & Gallagher. Construction started in July 1928 and the theatre opened in early November 1928.

The theatre was originally equipped with a Robert Morton theatre organ. The hand-stenciled French Velvet main drape was created at the Shearer Studios in Seattle and transported to Powell River by Steamship for installation in October 1928.

The Patricia Theatre originally sat 450, the vast majority of 394 seats at main floor level with just 56 seats in the balcony accessible only by a separate entrance. According to the theatre’s web site Link opens in new window, in this way the theatre played a role in colonial oppression constructed to marginalize and segregate the indigenous people of the area. Tla’amin people were confined to the balcony, separated in lineups, and only admitted to the theatre after the settlers were seated. If the balcony was full, they were reused entry. The practice continued until about 1970.

The theatre’s iconic peacock murals are by John Girvan of Girvan Studios in Vancouver, British Columbia. Girvan stated that they were his personal tribute to his inspiration: John Eberson, founder of the Atmospheric movement. Although the original murals were painted over in the 1950’s to “modernize” the look of the auditorium, sufficient evidence survived of the originals under that paint and through archival photos to accurately recreate the Girvan murals. Muralist Whitney LaFortune led the volunteer artists in the project, which took nearly four months of scaffolding work to repair and prep the plaster, then actually paint each panel. The project was completed in 2004.

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