The Oxbow Moving Picture Show

Play episode
Hosted by
CraigBaird
Harry Wylie and his wife
Support the podcast and page for as little as $1 a month: https://www.patreon.com/bairdo
Join the Canadian history chat on Discord: https://discord.gg/zVFe36E
Subscribe on iTunes to the podcast (many bonus features) right here

Like many communities, the novelty of moving pictures quickly caught on and it was not long before many had their own movie theatre. The Oxbow Moving Picture Show was the first theatre to appear in the community. Opened in 1914, it was the first modern theatre that Oxbow could call its own. Prior to this, lantern slides were the most common form of visual entertainment in Oxbow, being a main attraction at the King Edward Hall.

The building that the theatre occupied had been built in 1882 for the purpose of a school. In 1900, as the size of the community grew and a larger school was needed, the building was bought by A.L. Beamer to serve as a woodworking shop. He moved it from its original location on Tupper and Boscurvis to a new location on Main and Peters. He would eventually sell it to A.H. Harrison, who used it as a furniture shop. In 1909, Harry Wylie purchased it and also used it as a furniture shop. When he decided to start a theatre there, he actually intended to have a furniture store on the main floor still.
The theatre officially opened on May 5, 1914 with R.H. Johnson serving as the first operator. Johnson had come from Norway, and had about five years experience running a theatre.
Movies were shown on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays in the evening, along with one show on Saturday at 3p.m. Admission was 20 cents and 10 cents.
By November of that year, news reels were being shown and Mrs. Flack was provided the piano music for the movie reels.
The theatre was a huge success and before long, Wylie was looking to increase the space available to those who wanted to watch movies. He purchased 150 opera chairs and a new screen for that reason. Since this left little room for his furniture store, he built a warehouse at the end of his building to house his furniture.
Wylie then joined the Estevan circuit, allowing him to receive his movies directly from the east. BY October, he was showing four-reel films and by October of 1917, he was showing serials.
For advertising, Wylie hired a boy to go up and down the street yelling “Picture show tonight” to those walking by. He would also put up a large sign in a big window to advertise the show of the week.
In 1919, Wylie increased the cost of admission to 25 cents and 15 cents, and the theatre continued to be an immense success for him.

In 1922, Wylie decided to sell his theatre, as well as his furniture store, undertaking business and home to Archibald Pither. Wylie moved to the West Coast and Pither took over the theatre and renamed it the Palladium. Eight years later, Wylie would come back and purchase the theatre back, keeping the name that Pither had chosen. 
Liked it? Take a second to support CraigBaird on Patreon!

Leave a Reply

More from this show

Canadian History Ehx

Recent posts

%d bloggers like this: