The Monarch Theatre of Medicine Hat was built in 1911.  The grand opening was December 21, 1911, as reported in the Medicine Hat News.  Although there were other theatres built and opened prior to this one, most opened as vaudeville theatres and did not show films until later. The Monarch showed films on opening night and therefore can lay claim to being one of the first, if not the first, movie theatre in the country that started life as a film theatre from day one.

1910                Morton Fuller begins construction

1911                Grand opening in December under the proprietorship of W.B. Finlay and T.V. Ready.
                        There were 560 seats and there was a four piece orchestra.

(Click on any photo to enlarge.)

Monarch Theatre 1912

Monarch Theatre in 1912
On 45th Anniversary of Confederation
Photo courtesy of Esplanade Archives.


Monarch Theatre 1914.
Compare this original entrance to the one below after enclosing it and changing the exterior design to Art Deco.
Year of change is unknown.
Photo courtesy of Esplanade Archives – extensively altered.

Exterior of Monarch Theatre extensively modified
Monarch Theatre ca. 1948

Monarch Theatre ca. 1948.
This facade remains essentially unchanged to this day.
Photo courtesy Esplanade Archives.

1950.s (mid) Approximate time when Donnacona fibreboard panels were installed on interior walls.
1982               Landmark Theatre leases the Monarch from Famous Players for one year.
1983               Landmark Theatre purchases the Monarch from Famous Players.
1980’s (mid) At the request of the Fire Department a fire-retardant spray was applied
                        to the Donnacona walls.  This process altered the sound absorption characteristic of the walls.
1988               The Art Deco (square) sconces were removed and the walls covered
                        with burlap curtains.
1993               Handicap bathrooms installed
1993               New movie screen installed by King Cinema.
1999               Plywood sheets were glued to the sanded hardwood floors and new seats
                       were installed.  With more legroom, seating was reduced to 410 from 644.
1999              The facade of the building was painted, the marque refurbished and painted
                       as well.  The concession area was reconfigured with new arborite countertop.
2007             The last movie was shown under the ownership of Landmark Cinemas.
2008             February – Monarch is put up for sale.
2008             October 2 – Sale of Monarch to CCDA concluded.

The Monarch Theatre as it was photographed in 2012.

Tony Botter
Sylvio Talarico (for about 25 years)

(Please, if you have any further information contact me.)   Earl Morris