Garneau Theatre – Edmonton, Alberta - Atlas Obscura

Garneau Theatre

This is one of the last remaining theatres in Canada to feature an Art Moderne architectural style.  

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This is one of the last remaining theaters in Alberta designed in an Art Moderne style, a more American spinoff of Art Deco style. The theatre was the brainchild of William Blaikie, an Edmonton architect and was completed around 1940.  

The theatre was originally comprised of 780 seats including red leather “two’s company” seats which were a unique design for the time. The “mezzanine” level was not a true balcony but instead a raised portion of the theatre floor. The ticket booth was encased in vitrolite, a type of pigmented structural glass. Bill Wilson managed the theatre until 1971 and retained ownership until his death in 1985. 

In 1991, the Garneau Theatre was re-imagined as a discount theatre to draw on the students at the nearby University of Alberta. This plan reinvigorated the theatre, and in 1996, it once again switched to showing first-run films. 

After a number of failed plans to transform the theatre into a more modern space, in 2009, the city of Edmonton paid $547,00 in return for an agreement to restore the original 1940s exterior. It was then designated as a Municipal Historic Resource.

In 2011, Edmonton’s Metro Cinema Society took over operations of the Garneau. The non-profit organization plays classical, cult, art, and documentary films that without this space might not find an audience.

Know Before You Go

Two showings a night on one screen so the theatre can fill up. It's a cozy way to go back in time to see a film.