The Opening of the Marcus Lowe Capital Theatre


Richard VernonLost Ottawa


The gala opening of the Capitol was held on 8 November 1920. Marcus Loew, accompanied by more than a dozen screen and theatre stars, came for the big event, arriving in Ottawa just before noon by a special train from New York.

The picture is of Marcus Loew, Controller of the largest chain of theatres In the world

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada08 Nov 1920, Mon  •  Page 17

Novemeber 8, 1920.

With Marcus Loew as their host, biggest congregation of screen and theatrical celebrities ever assembled at one time, not only in Canada but on the North American continent, arrived in Ottawa this morning at 11.45 o’clock, to take part in the opening of Loew’s newest theater, which opened at one o’clock today. The entire party will remain in Ottawa two days, the stars making personal appearances at every show today and Tuesday. The two special cars were tacked on to the train due to reach this city at 11:45 in order to enable a maximum number of Ottawans to personally meet the stars and be filmed with them on their arrival at Central Station. Two special cameramen were included in the party and began filming every local proceeding at the station. They were delighted with visits from the Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs as they boarded the train to greet the visitors. By the time the stars were ready to leave the car, the cameramen were ready and waiting to “shoot” their first scene in Ottawa.

As is customary in all Loew theaters, the shows are continuous and a continual stream of visitors expected throughout the day. One is assured of seeing a complete performance and the stars at any time between 1 and 11 p.m. The dedication ceremonies will be held this evening when the Government House box party will include Lord Richard Nevill and Lady Alicia Cavendish.

Invitations have also been extended by Marcus Loew to Sir James Lougheed, the officials of the Rotarians and Kiwanians, Mayor Fisher of Ottawa, Mayor Louis Cousineau of Hull, Colonel Verrett, deputy postmaster, and others. Quite an elaborate program is being arranged for the stars for Tuesday with a shopping tour of the principal stores of Ottawa. At noon they will be the guests of the Kiwanis Club during a motor tour of the city and at one o’clock they will reach Hull, where Mayor Louis Cousineau of that city and various city attaches will await them at the city hall.

Dinners and other parties are being arranged for them. It is estimated, based on the tremendous seating capacity, that Loew’s can comfortably house 10,000 people daily. This fact is mentioned because of the impression that conditions will be so crowded that many would even forego the pleasure of seeing the stars during their two-days stay in the city. The prices to be charged during the stars’ stay in the city and for the opening are identically the same as the prices to be in vogue at Loew’s all the time. During the afternoon the balcony will be disposed of at 15 cents, which includes tax; the orchestra at 25 cents, also including the tax. In the evening the entire orchestra and balcony will be disposed of at forty cents, which includes tax. The box and loge seats during the afternoon session will be disposed of at thirty-five cents and in the evening at fifty-five cents.

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada08 Nov 1920, Mon  •  Page 17

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada08 Nov 1920, Mon  •  Page 17

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada08 Nov 1920, Mon  •  Page 17

Marcus Loew. The architect was the famed American cinema designer Thomas Lamb. He had a young Quebec-born associate on other projects, Louis-Joseph Théophile Décary, who also specialized in cinemas in Canada, the U.S. and France, and who was the chief designer of Ottawa Union Station for the Montreal firm of Ross & MacFarlane. It certainly also had a theatrical style! (See his name bottom right of the 1909 drawing). Décary also designed cinemas and the Quebec archives building on Place Viger in Montreal with similar styles.

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada07 Apr 1921, Thu  •  Page 9

Martha Mansfield died TWO years later

On November 29, 1923, while working on location in San Antonio, Texas on the film The Warrens of Virginia, Mansfield was severely burned when a tossed match ignited her Civil War costume of hoop skirts and flimsy ruffles. Mansfield was playing the role of Agatha Warren and had just finished her scenes and retired to a car when her clothing burst into flames. Her neck and face were saved when leading man Wilfred Lytell threw his heavy overcoat over her. The chauffeur of Mansfield’s car was burned badly on his hands while trying to remove the burning clothing from the actress. The fire was put out, but she sustained substantial burns to her body.

She was rushed to a hospital where she died the following day of “burns of all extremities, general toxemia and suppression of urine”. Mansfield was 24 years old.

CLIPPED FROMThe Philadelphia InquirerPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania30 Dec 1923, Sun  •  Page 66

Katherine Perry — Husband Died too Soon

She made her film debut in Sooner or Later (1920). She next appeared in minor roles in The Chicken in the Case (1921) and Why Girls Leave Home (1921), in which she was billed as Mrs. Owen Moore. Her first starring role was in Fools and Riches (1923), starring alongside Herbert Rawlinson. Afterwards, she appeared in several short films before starring in Early to Wed (1926) with Matt Moore and Albert Gran and Blood Will Tell (1927).

In the 1930s, she was reduced to acting in uncredited roles. She played Clara Bow‘s maid in Call Her Savage (1932), and made her final screen appearance in 15 Maiden Lane (1936).

She was the second wife of Owen Moore and he passed away in 1939 and she never married again.

Audrey Maple — She was a Naught Girl!

Maple’s personal life involved enough gossip, scandal, and legal entanglements to prompt commentary in newspapers: “What again! It’s perfectly terrible the way wives pick on poor little Audrey Maple, the pretty musical comedy star, and try to make out that she is a naughty girl.” In 1928 she survived a car accident in Chicago that killed one of her co-stars, dancer Rosalie Claire.

In 1940, Audrey Maple married engineer and inventor Ernest A. Zadig, and retired from the stage. She died in New York in 1971, aged 72 years.

CLIPPED FROMThe Pittsburgh PressPittsburgh, Pennsylvania26 Apr 1925, Sun  •  Page 115

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa JournalOttawa, Ontario, Canada26 Nov 1921, Sat  •  Page 14

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa JournalOttawa, Ontario, Canada26 Nov 1921, Sat  •  Page 14

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa JournalOttawa, Ontario, Canada26 Nov 1921, Sat  •  Page 14

Lost Ottawa


Last Days of the Capitol Theatre. Before: a nice shot of the Capitol Theatre at Bank and Queen in 1970-71, just before it was demolished. There is no movie showing, and a sign in one of the stores says “Moved to Westgate.”

The Capitol was a movie palace of the old school — emphasis on the palace — opened in 1924 closed in 1970 and demolished after that. Not only movies but rock bands like the Who and Jimi Hendrix Experience played there.

(Photo: Elizabeth Amey, courtesy Brian Stants).

Manos Emmanuel Orphanos

What a special place that was special at their lobby with the circular stairs and the huge cendalier. Show bolshoi ballet there and Nana Mouskouri, harry Belafonte, barbara Straisand, Johny Mathis, the late Morris Chevalier, petula Clark, Charles Aznavour and with the late prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau waited in line to buy a drink. Good old days were safe but no in ourdays.

Dennis Lloyd

Manos Emmanuel Orphanos, I am glad that you mentioned the Bolshoi Ballet – everyone else has been talking of movies, so I thought I was not remembering correctly. There were many live shows at the Capitol, as well. In grade 7 and 8, Mrs. Evelyn Pook taught us English at Pinecrest Public School (1967-1969). She began with playing an LP vinyl recordiing of Hamlet, while we read along in our books. Then she assigned roles, and we “acted out” the story by reading from the books. Then she loaded us onto a bus and took us to the Capitol Theatre to see Hamlet acted live on stage by professionals. Thank you, Mrs. Pook. Thank you, Capitol Theatre.

Heather Wilcox

And the Monkeys. Don’t forget that Jimmy Hendrix opened for them and was booed by the Monkey fans.

Lorne Arnold

Does anyone remember the pool hall and slot car racing track,located on Queen St. at the back of the theatre upstairs,I can can remember climbing that long staircase.

tacey Kirkpatrick

My grandmother worked there and when my mom got kicked out of kindergarden she would go to work with my grandmother. She could have all the free popcorn she wanted, but only one chocolate bar a day. Popcorn is still her favourite snack! I believe this is also where Paul Anka would play in his early days and my gradmother was the one to give him his paycheque.

Ted Gale

If I recall correctly, those grand Loew’s movie palaces were designed and manufactured in the US. You could order standard internal design elements such as the pillars and other decorative elements. The Capitol had an Adam Brothers motif

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About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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