5110 50 Street
A rural, wood frame “Boomtown” style of theatre, Bashaw’s Majestic Theatre was not the first of its kind to be built in Alberta but is now believed to be the last remaining theatre of its kind in western Canada. Not a “grand theatre” by any means, the Majestic is nonetheless of historical and architectural significance as part of the overall history of theatre development in Alberta. Built in 1915, the Majestic serves as one indicator of Alberta’s early settlement history and has been home to magic lantern shows, local theatre productions, silent movies, and early “talkies.” After serving as Bashaw’s first Catholic Church for a time, the theatre resumed its role as a modern movie theatre in the 1940’s when it was renamed the ‘Dixie.’
The exterior of the building, now restored to its ca. 1930 façade, replicates a photograph from the same time period and – with the possible exception of white paint – is how the theatre would have looked in 1915. Likely built by Eugene Bashaw, founder of the Town of Bashaw, at the request of Mrs. Ella Wing of Ponoka who acquired the property in 1913, local theatrical productions, ‘concerts’ and other social events were held in the buildings as were traveling ‘magic lantern’ shows which pre-dated ‘silent film’ era technology. Purchased by a local projectionist, the building opened its doors as the Majestic Theatre in June of 1921. The first known silent film shown in the theatre was a Paramount Art Craft film starring Ethel Claymore in ‘More Deadly Than the Male,’ accompanied by a Max Sennett comedy film. The very next week, the first movie version of ‘Last of the Mohicans’ was entrancing local audiences.
Founded in 1998, the Friends of the Majestic Theatre Society is a registered non profit organization whose goal is to preserve and restore the old Majestic Theatre as a self-sustaining working theatre and museum. As part of this endeavor, the Majestic Players, an amateur theatre group came into being to assist in fundraising efforts. Acquired from the Town of Bashaw in 1998, by the year 2000 the Majestic was designated an Alberta Registered Historical Resource as well as a Government of Canada Millennium Bureau of Canada Project. Working in partnership with dozens of local and non local volunteers as well as corporate provincial and federal supporters, the Majestic Theatre Restoration Project is now in its final phase, which involves interior restoration and development. Restored and re-integrated back into the community as a working live theatre and museum, the Majestic will once again serve its original function, which was to bring rural and urban people of all ages, backgrounds, and genders together in pursuit of a richer cultural and social community life.
If you would like to help the Majestic Theatre resume its rightful and historic place in this community and within the province of Alberta, please contact the Friends of the Majestic Theatre Society in Bashaw, Alberta. Membership in the society is open to everyone. Through your assistance and involvement, the Majestic Theatre Project will continue to play a role in the community and in economic and tourism development, promoting Bashaw to the world outside our boundaries.
You can learn more about the building and its history at hermis.alberta.ca.
The Majestic Theatre hosts a musical jam and dance on the first Sunday of each month from 1-4 pm.
The Friends of the Majestic Theatre Society holds its meeting on the fourth Thursday of each month @ 7:30 pm.
You can rent the Majetic Theatre for your own events by contacting Wayne Kinsella @ 780.372.4341.