Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Elgi

This week, I bought a copy of "A Theatre Near You: 150 Years of Going to the Show in Ottawa-Gatineau" by City of Ottawa Planner and heritage geek Alain Miguelez. The book was calling at me from the window of Perfect Books on Elgin near Somerset, and had been recommended to me for research into the Centretown Heritage Project. Well illustrated, it makes for a great coffee-table book, and goes all the way from the oldest vaudeville theatres to the multiplexes opened in 1999.

Miguelez discusses nearly a hundred stages, movie palaces and theatres in the book. He devotes 13 pages to the Elgin Theatre, which he defended in a passionate (yet ultimately unsuccessful) campaign to save from closure in 1994, at a time when Famous Players and other theatre chains wanted to get rid of such distractions from their suburban multiplexes (two screens no longer being enough). Originally opened in 1937, the addition of a second screen in 1948 made it the first multiple-screen theatre in Canada, if not the world.

After closing, the Elgin was converted to cafés and restaurants. The Teriyaki place next to Harvey's was recently replaced by a Quizno's, and I guess some of the lights weren't working. In this photo, it is simply the "Elgi".

A Theatre Near You is published by Manotick-based Penumbra Press, and is available at a bookstore near you.

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]


  1. I live across the street from The Elgin. It's kind of sad knowing what it once was, I have to say. Fast food seems like such a waste of the building, too.

  2. I am curious about what theatres used to be in downtown... There was one in the Glebe, the Rialto at Mcleod and Bank, the Elgin, the Elmdale.... What else?

  3. Nice plug for the book - Can I borrow it? ;-)

  4. Dave - it is, definitely. Though I get the feeling that the decor in the rear part of Johnny Farina is reminiscent of a theatre (intentionally or not).

    Chris B - LOTS, including many that closed decades ago (even before the Capitol). I recommend the book.

    Pilgrim - I was going to offer it to Chris B, but since you asked first... ;)

  5. This was the first neighbourhood I lived in upon moving to Ottawa. One of my great regrets has been not seeing even one movie there before they changed the place into its current format.

    But the building still stands, and while that's the case, there's still hope. However irrational that might be.