Historic Sites of Manitoba: Strand Theatre / Strand Theatre No. 1 / Beacon Theatre (557 Main Street, Winnipeg)
Located immediately south of the Strathcona Hotel, along the east side of Main Street near the corner of Rupert Avenue in Winnipeg, the Strand Theatre was commissioned for the Strand Picture Company in 1912 as a showcase venue for Vaudeville shows. The brick structure featured 70 feet along Main, a depth of 100 feet, and was both designed and built by the firm of Carter-Halls-Aldinger at a cost of $40,000. Construction began in late 1912 with the theatre opening around 7 January 1913. By the years end, a $100,000 expansion was in the works which called for a increase seating to 2,000 and structural enlargement to include the adjacent Business Block. Execution of said plans appears to have been canceled, and under the management of Allard Strand, the company instead expanded to The Victoria Theatre on Fort Street. This site then became known as Strand Theatre No. 1, and the former Victoria was rebranded as Strand Theatre No. 2, the latter being reopened on Victoria Day (25 May) 1914.
This theatre was acquired by Henry A. Morton around 1930 and the structure was gutted completely. The interior was replaced, redecorated, and newly plastered, along with a new projection booth and equipment from the Northern Electric System. Designs were provided by Charles Saunders Bridgman and labour was overseen by contractor William James Lailey. The revamp cost $50,000 and the establishment was reopened as the Beacon Theatre by Mayor Ralph H. Webb on 7 November 1930. It was operated by Beacon Theatre Limited, itself established by Order-in-Council on 24 September 1930 with William Verner Tobias (Director), Lillian Rusen, Jacob Morris Bert Ratner, Diana Rusen (Director), and Frederick Arthur Freedman (Director) as equal shareholders. Notable improvements to the seating, ventilation, and lighting systems were finished in 1934. The theatre hosted film and stage acts, including the Manitoba Theatre Centre during the 1959-1960 season, and continued operations into 1962. It closed shortly thereafter. The site was subsequently in 1965 by the provincial government as part of the planned development of arts and culture facilities for the surrounding block. Tenders for its demolition were posted by December 1965 and the building was torn down in 1966 to make way for Manitoba Museum.
Photos & Coordinates
“Another theatre for Main Street,” Winnipeg Tribune, 4 October 1912, page 1.
“The new Strand Theatre,” Manitoba Free Press, 4 January 1913, page 8.
“New Strand Theatre,” Winnipeg Tribune, 10 January 1913, page 8.
“Strand Theatre,” Winnipeg Tribune, 30 January 1913, page 11.
“Strand Theatre - Winnipeg’s musical specialty theatre,” Winnipeg Tribune, 30 January 1913, page 6.
“Strand Theatre - closed for decorating,” Manitoba Free Press, 21 June 1913, page 36.
“Business Block to make way for Strand Theatre,” Winnipeg Tribune, 3 November 1913, page 1.
“The city today [New theatre],” Winnipeg Tribune, 13 May 1914, page 6.
“At the theatres [Strand Theatre No. 1 & Strand Theatre No. 2],” Manitoba Free Press, 16 May 1914, page 47.
“Music and drama [The Allardt vaudeville shows ...],” Manitoba Free Press, 25 May 1914, page 8.
“Paramount Films for the Strand screen,” Manitoba Free Press, 5 February 1916, page 56.
Companies Office corporation documents (CCA 0059), 529B - Beacon Theatre Limited, Archives of Manitoba.
Beacon Theatre posters collection, Archives of Manitoba.
“Stage [Beacon],” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 7 November 1930, page 18.
“New Beacon is now opened as picture house,” Winnipeg Tribune, 8 November 1930, page 22.
“Beautiful new Beacon Threare opens,” Manitoba Free Press, 8 November 1930, page 22.
“College story at the Beacon,” Winnipeg Tribune, 29 November 1930, page 32.
“Beacon House all ready for new regime,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 17 November 1934, page 25.
“Renovations at Beacon Theatre,” Winnipeg Free Press, 17 November 1934, page 29.
“Vaudeville dropped by Beacon Theatre,” Winnipeg Free Press, 15 April 1944, page 6.
“Buying extra land,” Winnipeg Free Press, 18 November 1964, pages 1 & 5.
“Second block for arts centre,” Winnipeg Free Press, 12 January 1965, page 3.
“Veteran show manager leaving for U.S.A.” Winnipeg Free Press, 6 October 1965, page 38.
“Province of Manitoba demolition tenders,” Winnipeg Free Press, 18 December 1965, page 52.
“The MTC fiasco,” Winnipeg Free Press, 8 October 1968, page 31.
Production History, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre.
We thank Jordan Makichuk for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.
Page revised: 17 November 2022