Capitol Theatre

Orange Walk files past the
house Stuart Smart built
July 12, 1947

 


 

  from the Peterborough Examiner  Wednesday April 6, 1977
It was 1917, about the time First National Pictures was luring Mary Pickford away from Adolph Zukor and Paramount, when Stuart Smart put down $500 and went into partnership with John A Winfield. Together they would operate the Royal Opera House, a second-storey theatre attached to the St Lawrence Hotel on Port Hope's Walton Street. 
The Royal, with its uncomfortable seats on the flat floor and benches in the balcony, held 500 people. Mr Smart took charge of the advertising, while Mr Winfield, a pianist, and sometimes his three musical sons, supplied the background orchestra for the silent flicks and vaudeville acts.
The Royal Opera House sits empty. No music comes from the orchestra pit and the old vaudeville posters on the wall look lonely as they sadly recall more lively times.
But Stuart Smart is still here. At 82 he continues to manage a theatre, the Capitol, a few blocks down from the old Royal. On busy nights he is where he has always been: dressed in his three-piece suit he checks the line-up, keeps an eye on the ticket flow and wishes his patrons a good evening. During the day he deals with the advertising department of a local newspaper and frets over the haphazard booking methods of his employer, Famous Players.
For 60 years Stuart Smart has been a part of the motion picture industry - a part too quickly forgotten in the alchemic rush to change celluloid into gold.
"It was all family entertainment in the early days. I was just, oh, quite young at the time. Paramount were the leaders. We ran each picture only two days, and they were good pictures too. The admission price was 15 cents."
Mr Smart sits behind his desk in the theatre manager's office. He is reluctant about being interviewed. He can't imagine, he says, who might be interested in his 60 years in the movie business."We didn't book individual pictures at all," Mr Smart continues. "We booked a program for a year. Salesmen came round from the companies. There was Vitagraph, Paramount and later on United Artists.In those days we could get pictures pretty nearly on our terms. We used to rent a feature for $15 for two nights. If it was a smash hit, we would have to pay more. "Of course in those days we played travelling shows too. They were booked by Ambrose J Small, the man who disappeared after he had just sold a chain of theatres."
Some still expect Ambrose's body will turn up in London Ontario's Grand Theatre, where renovation work is being done. The Grand was a link in Ambrose's chain and people have already claimed to have seen his ghost there.
"I remember we had one show that played the Royal Alex in Toronto. It was called 'A Little Bit of Fluff' - an English farce and a  very bad show. But the fact that it had played the Royal Alex made it a big attraction here.''
There were more than shows from Toronto to thrill the small-town audience. Guy Brothers Ministrels put on a parade every day before the evening performance. There was Blackstone the Magician and Marks Brothers Stock Company, presenting a different play every night for a week. There was a play with a live horse in it (the horse had to be shoved and cajoled up the stairs to the second storey). And the Smart-Winfield operation, not to be outdone by the Toronto theatres, hired a full orchestra for D W Griffith's film classic 'The Birth of a Nation.' But of all the acts and shows which came to the Royal during those early years, there was one night which could be depended upon to fill the house: election night.
"On election nights we used to rent a wire from the telegraph company and give the returns all evening," Mr Smart remembers with a smile. "It was very popular, you see, because there was no other source for that information." "At the end of the evening the member-elect would appear on stage, much to the interest of the crowd. Oh, election nights were sellouts! We'd charge 25 cents."
One of those stage-struck young politicians was Vincent Massey, later to become Governor General of Canada.
In the early days of the Royal the motion picture equipment was crude. The partnership started out with one hand-cranked projector. As the movies were one-reelers, it meant the projectionist had to be strong and quick in order to rewind the film for the second show. Later, another projector was purchased and the projectionist rigged up a motor to each machine so when one was running he could rewind the other. The projection room was a tight six feet square.
In 1920, Famous Players acquired the lease on the Royal Opera House. But in 1929 the government suddenly condemned the theatre.
"For Port Hope it was the end of an era." says Mr Smart. "The end of the silent movies, the end of the old Royal and the end of the Smart-Winfield partnership."
It also looked like the end of the movies for a small Ontario town.
 

Closure of the Royal Theatre
was announced on Monday
June 24, 1929
  from the Evening Guide Tuesday June 25, 1929
HEARD ON THE STREET
The fact that not more than half a dozen people had to reach the portal of the Royal Theatre last night to learn that the theatre was closed speaks volumes for the circulation of The Evening Guide, the only source through which the other thousands of the population could know that there would not be any show. It is proof, if proof is needed, that The Guide reaches all the people and especially all the right people.
*      *      *     
NOTICE
Anyone having an account against the Royal Theatre is asked to render the same at once, so that it will not have to be forwarded to the head office for payment.
J S Smart
25-ltd
*      *      *     
HEARD ON THE STREET
Ill wind without some good. With no movie in town 'Si' should do a bigger business when he opens the new pavilion.
*      *      *     
HEARD ON THE STREET
Our corner friend pointed out today that it was prohibition which closed the Royal Theatre, that is prohibition of pictures, and another friend instantly remarked that the theatre is now under government control.
*      *      *     
HEARD ON THE STREET
Now that the Royal is closed the young people are anxiously awaiting the opening of the pavilion.
 
    from the Evening Guide Tuesday June 28, 1929
HEARD ON THE STREET
The fact that the equipment of the Royal Theatre is being removed to the Regent should not be taken as an indication that the smaller theatre is to be reopened. At present there is no definite prospect of a theatre for Port Hope, and - as far as the Famous Players Canadian Corporation is concerned - there will be no decision until after J S Smart returns from the company's convention in Niagara Falls next week.
 
    from the Evening Guide  Tuesday October 1, 1929
COUNCIL PUTS PROVISO ON THEATRE COMPANY'S OFFER AND GIVES 30 DAYS OPTION
Insists that proposed laneway be twelve feet wide
Resolution receives unanimous support of members and passes without discussion
Large number of citizens present at brief session
At a brief special session of the Port Hope Town Council on Monday evening His Worship Mayor Edmunds read a letter from Mr J S Smart relative to the much discussed theatre question, Councillor Brickell and Reeve Rosevear introduced a resolution accepting Mr Smart's offer relative to the matter with a proviso and resolution was adopted unanimously, each member of the Council giving his yea to the question when he was polled. There was a large attendance of interested citizens in the 'gallery' and the deliberations were followed with close attention.
Mr Smart's Letter
The letter submitted by Mr Smart and read by Mayor Edmunds was as follows:
His worship the Mayor and Town Council, Port Hope.
Gentlemen:
In order to obtain the required space for a modern fireproof theatre on Queen street between Dr Hawkins' building and Croft's second hand shop, I hereby offer $500 for the yard behind the fire hall as outlined on the attached description and map. As I think you understand it will be necessary to close the right of way behind the livery stable, but we propose to replace this with a new right of way just south of Dr Hawkins' building. We would also move the metal shed at present on your property to another site to be selected by you, change the entrance to the Fire Hall tower from the south side to the west and build a bridge between the theatre and Fire Hall so that hay can be put into the loft. I might say that it has taken months to persuade the Famous Players Canadian Corporation to build a theatre here; the public certainly wants it and if the Council will help me to complete the site, the Company's architect will proceed at once with the plans. Though the land we want to acquire from the town has no marketable value I am making what I think you will agree is a generous offer to avoid any further delay and I trust you will see fit to make a favourable decision in the matter.
Your very truly,
J S Smart
THE RESOLUTION
The resolution by Councillor Brickell and Reeve Rosevear and which was carried unanimously was as follows: 'That the request of Mr J S Smart regarding the building on Queen street as per the plans and specifications submitted, be granted with the exception of the lane which is to be twelve feet, this option to be open for thirty days, also Mr Smart to submit an agreement to this council for its approval within thirty days.
 
    from the Evening Guide  Tuesday October 1, 1929
HEARD ON THE STREET
The interest which the theatre question had awakened among citizens was emphasized by the large attendance at last night's meeting of Council. It is a long time since the 'gallery' held such a representative gathering as it did last night.
 
    from the Evening Guide  Wednesday October 30, 1929
OPTION SITE FOR CAPITOL THEATRE
Famous Players Considering New Location - Will Be In Advantageous Place
Owing to the complications that have arisen in connection with the proposed theatre site on Queen Street, Mr J S Smart, acting for the Famous Players Corporation, has obtained options on the building formerly occupied by 'The Daily Times' and the Orange Refreshment Stand, also the present office of the Gas Company and the Water Commision. If the lease originally held by the Amalgamated Publishers Limited can be terminated, as is likely, the entire property will be available and it is altogether probable that the theatre will be located there. The site has a width of fifty-seven feet, allowing room for a store on either side of the lobby; one of these may be occupied by the Gas and Water office, while the other, no doubt, will be in immediate demand. The depth of the lot is one hundred and forty-seven feet, permiting a capacity of at least six hundred seats, with exits leading to the lane at the rear.
In addition to being situated in the section with which theatre goers are most familiar, right next to the old Royal Theatre and convenient to the principal hotel and the shopping district. The John Street location is entirely, out of the flood district and far enough from the railway to avoid vibration and noise. Though there is general regret that Famous Players have been prevented from improving the appearance of Queen Street as they would have done, everybody will be glad to learn that sponsors of the theatre have not allowed themselves to be discouraged by the obstacles which they have encountered. Time has been lost but the theatre is assured.
 
    from the Evening Guide  Wednesday February 5, 1930
THEATRE MATTER IS ADVANCED ANOTHER STEP
Successful Tenderers Will Confer With Architect Tomorrow - Site Deal Closed
How about the new theatre? That question is still being asked, but now it can be answered.Yesterday the title to the site was approved by the lawyers and the property was bought and paid for. Today the successful tenderers are being notified and tomorrow they will confer with the architect in Toronto, after which construction should start almost immediately. The building, which will be absolutely fireproof, will introduce a unique decorative scheme and will include all the latest ideas in theatre equipment. A full description of it will appear in an early issue of The Guide.
 
    from the Evening Guide  Friday February 7, 1930
LOCAL FIRM SECURES CONTRACT TO BUILD THE CAPITOL THEATRE
Port Hope's new amusement centre to be erected by Thomas Garnett & Sons - will start work at once and have five months to finish - Beauty, comfort and safety features of house
Today the good news is announced by J S Smart, on behalf of the Famous Players Canadian Corporation, that contracts have been let for erection of the long-awaited Capitol Theatre. For the past three months, following the acquisition of options on a satisfactory site, architects and lawyers have been arranging the many details necessary to the carrying out of this important project; now the preliminary work is completed and actual construction is about to begin. The general contract, which includes excavation, concrete work, masonry, steel, carpentry, painting and several allied trades, has been awarded to Thomas Garnett & Sons of this town, and the plumbing and heating systems will be installed by Miller and Libbey of Oshawa. The electrical contractor has not been appointed but it is understood that no local tenders were received. However, the fact that the main contract has been secured by a local firm means that Port Hope labour will be employed almost exclusively.
The theatre, as probably everyone knows, will be located behind the Stevenson block on the west side of Queen street, with the entrance where Roach's fish store is now situated. The front will be of stucco with two pairs of double doors, a large marquee or canopy over the sidewalk, illuminated windows of leaded glass, an imposing electric sign of the new 'neon tube' type and a coloured tile roof rising to the same height as the adjoining structure to the north. The doorway will be set back somewhat from the side walk and the available wall space used for ornamental display frames in keeping with the attractiveness of the exterior design and finish. The floor of the long lobby will be of terrazzo in modernistic pattern, the walls and ceiling rough textured plaster, while the decoration will include electric fixtures of special style, plate glass mirrors and tastefully arranged photo displays. The box office will be on the left at the far end, just outside another pair of double doors, which will open on the foyer, a beautiful little room heavily carpeted and attractively furnished, from which four easy steps will lead to a wide cross-aisle at the rear of the auditorium.
Turning to either the right or the left, past a curtained railing which will keep the foyer light from reaching the screen, one comes to the head of a long aisle and obtains his first view of the house itself - and what a vision of beauty it is! The impression received is that of being outdoors again, but in a picturesque garden flanked by high stone walls over which stately trees are seen. Above is a clear blue sky and opposite the broad expanse of the stage prosecenium opening, twice that of the Royal Theatre. The aisles are illuminated with shaded lights and covered with soft carpet while the seating is of the most comfortable type, with long curving rows of upholstered opera chairs.
On leaving the theatre one will have more time to notice the many facilities for comfort and convenience, including ladies and gentlemen's rest-rooms, public telephone and other items of equipment, while a visit to the second floor - if that were permissible - would reveal the completeness and intricacy of the apparatus for the projection of talking pictures, the Capitol being one of the first theatres in Canada planned especially for their presentation.
The entire building will be absolutely fireproof - walls, floors and ceilings being of concrete, hollow tile and brick with a framework of steel, meeting the strictest requirements of the government regulations and eliminating the slightest possibility of danger to the public. The heating system will be low-pressure steam supplied by an oil-burning boiler automatically maintaining the proper temperature, while fresh air will be supplied by large ventilating fans. The contractors were in Toronto yesterday conferring with the architect and on their return announced an early start at clearing the site and excavating for the foundations as the building has to be finished within a time limit of five months.
 
    from the Evening Guide  Friday February 7, 1930
PORT HOPE WILL BE PROUD
The accompanying announcement marks the completion of several months' negotiations and assures the realization of a dream which began more than ten years ago - the ambition to provide this town with a theatre which would be a source of pleasure and pride to every Port Hoper.
Ten years is a long time to wait but it has been worth while, for the Capitol will be an immeasurably better house than could have been built even one year ago. The introduction of talking pictures has suggested many improvements structurally and in equipment, all of which are being included, and the result will be a theatre more up-to-date than most of those in the cities.
'I know that Port Hope will be proud of the Capitol and I hope that its opening will inaugurate a new era of progress and prosperity here - that the enthusiasm which it cannot fail to inspire will find expression in a re-awakening of community spirit and a determination to secure other good things for our town.' J S SMART
 
    from the Evening Guide  Saturday February 8, 1930
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Announcement is made that the work of constructing a new Capitol Theatre in Port Hope will commence at once. This is more important than almost any other recent announcement, because it brings more than the news of entertainment for the community; it is an evidence of the confidence and faith which a great corporation has in Port Hope.
Paramount Theatres are spending a large sum of money in Port Hope and will have to do a large and steady business to get the interest on their money which they are investing in the project.
We already realize the importance of a theatre, having in many ways felt the loss of being without for some time past. Now, realizing this, we should strive to keep it here by doing our part in making the town grow and by telling tourists what a fine town we have to induce them to stop here to enjoy our beaches and other natural advantages, as well as be entertained in our new Capitol Theatre, which will be the best in any town this size and even better than many of the city theatres because it is being especially built for the new, modern type of talking pictures.
The town owes much to Mr J S Smart for has work in getting the new theatre, for it is quite unlikely that the project would have gone through without his effort. We are in a position to know Mr Smart has been untiring in his search for a location to place this building, which will be a great asset to Port Hope. We therefore say very advisedly that we owe him a debt of gratitude and our hearty support in making this undertaking an outstanding success.
 
    from the Evening Guide  Tuesday February 11, 1930
TOWN COUNCIL MEETING - THEATRE QUESTION
Mr J S Smart sent a communication to the council regarding the new theatre question on Queen street and after some discussion, the matter was referred to the Street and Bridges Committee. The communication is as follows:
'As our plans (for the new theatre) include an attractive marquee or canopy over the sidewalk and we are anxious to provide protection from rain for patrons who motor, I am sure that the public would appreciate it if the council could see its way clear to elimate the boulevard in front of our entrance and widen the road so that cars can be driven up to the sidewalk.
'For the sake of appearance, I would suggest that the widening should extend from the Post Office drive way to Walton street, or at least to the alley at the north side of Strong's store. As you know, the boulevard is unsightly, always being bare of grass, while the street is none too wide for the present traffic, to say nothing of the increase which is soon to be attracted by the new theatre.
'Though this may seem to be somewhat premature, I should be glad if you would let me have your decision soon, so that I may know what to advise the architect. 'In closing let me say that we hope to make the Capitol a tremendous asset to the town and shall always be glad to co-operate in any movement for the benefit of the community.'
 
    from the Evening Guide  Monday February 24, 1930
GOOD PROGRESS ON NEW THEATRE
Concrete Work To Start, Followed By Steel and Brick - Opening Date Scheduled For Summer
Murray Brown, of Toronto, architect for the Famous Players Canadian Corporation, was here on Saturday to inspect the progress being made on the Capitol Theatre, and expressed himself as well pleased with the result of the first two weeks work. The excavation, except for the boiler pit, is practically completed and ready for the pouring of the concrete which the contractors expect to start in a day or two after the exact size of the building has been determined by a surveyor who is now on the job. The store recently occupied by V L Roach, and vacated only a week ago, has been completely demolished and the basement is being filled in with earth excavated from the site of the auditorium, while forms have been erected for the foundation of a fireproof wall which will separate the lobby from the office of Thomas Long & Son. This wall will be built before the roof is removed and the rest of the building wrecked, so that brick-layers can work indoors on stormy days.
Pneumatic tools have assisted greatly by breaking up the frozen surface of the ground and are being used also for drilling holes in the rock under the stage, where heating equipment will be located. Owing to the presence of limestone only four feet underground, considerable blasting is necessary for the foundation.
As soon as the concrete has has set, the structural steel will be erected and bricklaying begun. The sixty-foot width of the building necessitates very heavy roof girders and these will rest on columns built into the walls, which will be of hollow tile faced with brick.
The contract calls for completion of the building by July 15th, after which the decoration has to be done and the equipment installed, so the opening date probably will be about the first of August.
 
    from the Evening Guide  Wednesday April 23, 1930
HURT IN FALL AT NEW THEATRE
J Jamieson Sustained Head Injuries While Working At Capitol Theatre
J Jamieson, Toronto Road, an em­ployee of Messrs Thos Garnett and Sons, local contractors, who are erect­ing the New Capitol Theatre on Queen Street, sustained rather severe head injuries this morning when he fell six or seven feet to the ground. He received a heavy blow on the side of the head as well as sustaining a cut lip. Mr Jamieson was taken to the Port Hope Hospital where an ex­amination was conducted. His injuries are not considered serious, and he is resting quite comfortably.
 
    from the Evening Guide  Tuesday June 24, 1930
ANNIVERSARY OF 'ROYAL' CLOSING
Lapse of Year Sees New Theatre Nearing Completion: To Be Modern And Beautiful
Exactly a year ago Monday it was announced that the Royal Theatre had been ordered closed because of its failure to conform with government regulations, and since then Port Hope has been entirely without motion picture entertainment. But now a new and incomparably better place of amusement has arisen to take the place of the antiquated one which served the town so long is rapidly nearing completion and within six weeks should be ready to receive the eagerly waiting public.
The many difficulties which were encountered during months of negotiations are too well known to need recounting; many sites were considered and many arrangements were tried, but it was not until November that the location on Queen Street finally chosen for the new house was secured through the co-operartion of the owner and the neighbouring businessmen. Then about two months more elapsed before plans could be drawn and estimates obtained and one month later the contracts were let, actual construction beginning on February 10th.
The building has now reached a stage where the plastering, except in the lobby and the lower part of of the auditorium, is finished and only the ornamental work in that line remains to be done. The biggest other item is the floor, which has to be left until the walls are completed and the scaffolding removed; by the time it is laid the carpenters and painters should be through with their work and the plumbers and electricians will install their fixtures, the last operation under the present contracts. In the meantime, arrangements will be made for the decoration of the theatre by artists and others experienced in this line, while orders are placed for the upholstered chairs, the carpets, the drapes and other furnishings, the projection machines, the talking-picture apparatus and the many other pieces of equipment necessary for the operation of an up-to-date theatre. While the decoration is being carried out according to the design of the architect, all these items will be installed, the work taking about a month. As the contractors expect to vacate the building by the end of next week, it is hoped to set the opening date for very early in August, before Civic Holiday if at all possible.
The lack of a theatre, in addition to depriving most Port Hopers of their favourite form of entertainment, undoubtedly has cost local businessmen thousands of dollars through trade being diverted to other places, where many have motored regularly for amusement. The stringent government regulations and the requirements of 'talkie' presentation have made building very costly, and Port Hope is indeed fortunate in having been on the Famous Players circuit, as otherwise, that important company probably would not have been interested, and it is very doubtful whether anyone else would have made the necessary investment in a town of this size. Certainly no one could have erected a theatre to compare with the Capitol - the completeness, the comfort and the beauty of which will make it the talk of the entire district.
Owing to the desirability of eliminating wasted time in order to hasten the opening date, 'No Trespassing' signs have been posted and the public is asked to refrain from seeking admittance to view the progress of construction. Everyone is anxious to see the theatre open as soon as possible, and co-operation in this regard will help. The rule applies to all and exceptions should not be sought.
 
  from the Evening Guide  Saturday August 16, 1930
CITIZENS DELIGHTED WITH NEW CAPITOL THEATRE
Filled To Entire Capacity, Many Turned Away on Opening Night
Port Hope's New Home of Entertainment Surpassed Everyone's Expectations
Building of Most Exquisite Finishings Marvelous Lighting Effects Set off Beauty of lnterior Decorations
First Talking Picture in Port Hope is Enthusiastically Received
The opening of the new Capitol Theatre was one of the real events in the history of Port Hope. It showed the faith of the great Famous Players Corporation in the growth and worth of this town when they invested the vast sum required to build such a magnificent edifice. Port Hope showed most enthusiastically that the citizens are proud to have so fine a talking picture house. It is only on very rare occasions that citizens show enthusiasm such as was shown on the opening night of the Capitol Theatre. It was just irresistable, they had to cheer when they viewed the masterly work.
His Worship the Mayor [James Rosevear] appeared to give the town's official welcome to this marvellous new asset to Port Hope. He said that he felt that it was a great privilege as well as a great honour to be present to extend the official welcome. He expressed his delight upon finding the theatre such a matchless piece of work and hoped it would be a successful enterprise for Famous Players as well as a great pleasure to Port Hope. Before retiring he introduced Mr Harry Sedgwick, Eastern Theatre Division Manager.
Mr Sedgwick told the packed house that they had hated to turn the key on the old Royal, which had proved such a fine home of entertainment to Port Hope and profit to the company. He frankly stated that the company did not intend to build a new theatre because they felt that the tremendous cost would hardly be likely to bring adequate returns, but Mr Smart camped on their doorstep so much they were afraid he might become a permanent fixture, so to avoid that they went ahead to build the New Theatre.
"Thanks ever so much for the welcome", said Manager J S Smart. He then pointed out some of the men who had made it possible to place the theatre in the present location by giving up valuable property rights. These gentlmen he asked to stand; they were, Messrs Charles Stephenson, George V Strong, W G Gibson and Bruce Gibson, also Mr Fred Oke who gave up his lane. Thunderous applause and cheers showed that his audience was delighted and will be with him in making the enterprise a success. 
THE PROGRAMME
The talking pictures opened with a newsreel, the scenes of which were explained by Graham McNamee, ace of radio announcers whose comments caused much laughter. The old comedy favourites, Laurel and Hardy, followed in their first audible film to be shown here, and after that came a 'Mickey Mouse' cartoon with all the animals of a farm rendering an operatic overture in side-splitting style.
The feature photoplay, 'Queen High' [Charlie Ruggles, Frank Morgan and Ginger Rogers], started quietly, and at first the audience seemed disinclined to laugh, presumably fearing that they would miss some of the dialogue. But soon the complications came so thick and fast that roars of laughter greeted every new mix-up and witty remark. Many who had seen the dialogue play, 'A Pair of Sixes' enjoyed the screen production just as much, while those to whom the story was entirely new had the element of surprise added to their pleasure.
It was great evening's entertainment in a wonderful setting of beauty and comfort, the delight of the audience presaging many a return visit from those who saw the opening of Port Hope's new amusement centre - unquestionably the finest in any town in Canada. Port Hope is proud of the Capitol.
 
When the Capitol was eventually closed,
the seats were removed so it couldn't be
reopened as competition for the Park
Theatre in Cobourg. It remained
dark for several years.



  from the Evening Guide  January 30, 1986  by Barry Ellsworth
THREE AREA THEATRES SOLD
Port Hope's Capitol Theatre, Cobourg's Park Theatre, and the Midway Drive-in have been sold to Iranian interests.
The deal, worth about $250,000, was confirmed yesterday by Barry Allen, president of Premier Theatres. The company owns about 60 theatres across the province. "It will be two months before it (the deal) closes," Allen said during a telephone interview from his Toronto office. Allen said he hated to part with the two town shows, but they were losing money. "There isn't enough business for (competing) theatres in the two towns," he said. It broke my heart to sell (the) Cobourg (theatre)," the Cobourg native confessed.
He said he treasures the historical value of the Capitol in Port Hope and understands some town residents would be concerned for its future. "I know the people of Port Hope will scream and holler and yell (but) nobody could make a nickel (showing movies) in Port Hope.''
Allen said he is not sure what plans the three men who purchased the theatres have in mind. But describing them as 'very reliable people', Allen said he feels they will be interested in an idea he has for the theatres. Allen said he wants to see the Capitol turned from a movie theatre into a theatre featuring live performances by various touring groups.
Federal and provincial funding could ensure the heritage of the theatre was perserved, he said. At Cobourg's Park Theatre Allen said he would cut the theatre down the middle and put in two screens. The two projects would cost about $1 million, he estimated. Allen said he was not concerned with the future of the drive-in.
The new theatre owners are are currently living in Seattle, Washington, he said.
 
  JOHN STUART SMART was born May 18, 1895 in Port Hope, a descendent of the Smarts, Smiths and Sopers, families prominent in the history of this area. He was the son of John Elias Smart (1854-1932), of Port Hope, and Harriet 'Hattie' Johnstone (1861-1940) of Cornwall, Ontario. His sister, Helen Mary (Dec 7, 1898-Sept 28, 1985) lived in the old family home, 'Midalta', on Bedford Street; she never married. In 1933 Stuart Smart married Gertrude Tempest Robarts (1899-Aug 10, 1977) of Waterloo, Ontario; they had no children. He died in Port Hope on Jan 11, 1990 and is buried in St John's Anglican Cemetery.
I particularly enjoyed Mr Smart's letters to the Guide, among the best I've seen in any newspaper, intelligent, precise and elegant. I wished they'd been longer and more frequent. He was a true gentleman and a great credit to Port Hope. For me Stuart Smart is synonymous with the Capitol Theatre, which wouldn't have been the same, and may not have been at all, without him. Two others who were there at the beginning, and for years after, were:
MIKE FREEMAN (1894-1977), projectionist, and,
HAROLD THOMAS CONNORS (1897-June 29, 1972), the Capitol's first ticket-taker.

Thanks to Donna (Groome) Strong for the photo of Mr Smart by Frank Geofreda from the Guide of January 30, 1986.

 

You can use the form below to comment on this article. A name is required, an email address is optional. Email addresses will not be revealed.