The   Garrick   Theatre   in   Bonavista   opened   to   the   public   on   Christmas   Day,   1945.   Built   by   21   year- old   John   Bradley   with   the   assistance   of   his   father,   F.   Gordon   Bradley,   the   Garrick   has   been   a popular   entertainment   venue   and   social   centre   for   generations   of   area   residents.   John   had   been showing   films   at   the   Anglican   Parish   Hall   on   Church   Street   since   July,   1944   but,   in   this   era   of relative   prosperity   for   the   local   economy,   he   soon   realized   there   was   enough   potential   to   merit constructing a proper theatre. Construction    began    in    September,    1945    with    a    crew    of    some    of    Bonavista's    best    known carpenters   in   that   period:   Jack   Russell,   Gus   Russell,   Max   Russell,   Ralph   Hicks,   Don   Miles   and Harry   Etsell,   with   Cyril   Miles   as   foreman.   The   building   was   completed   in   time   for   the   Christmas Day   afternoon   opening   which   featured   a   double   bill   -   Here   Comes   Kelly   starring   Eddie   Quillan and Joan Warbury, and Dillinger with Lawrence Tierney, Ann Jeffreys and Edmund Lowe. Named   after   David   Garrick,   an   18th   century   pioneer   of   English   theatre   -   and   thus   sharing   the name   with   several   other   theatres   in   English   speaking   countries,   including   the   famous   Garrick   in London   -   this   facility   was   built   with   a   traditional   stage   and   proscenium.   The   original   intention   had been   to   use   the   facility   for   both   live   performance   and   film.   However   the   immense   popularity   of   film, especially in the early years, left little room for other events. For   the   first   three   decades   the   Garrick,   often   filled   to   capacity,   was   open   seven   nights   a   week with   one   or   two   matinees   on   Saturday.   It   was   not   unusual   for   people   to   come   in   carloads   from   as far   away   as   Open   Hall   or Trinity   to   see   the   latest   "movies." The   Garrick   was   also   a   social   centre. Older   boys   and   men   would   gather   in   the   small   lobby   for   conversation.   People   enjoyed   being there   and   many   helped   out   with   taking   tickets   and   cleaning   up,   making   it   difficult   at   times   to distinguish between paid employees and volunteers. Saturday   matinees   were   a   local   cultural   experience   in   their   own   right.   It   was   the   domain   of   the young   where   no   adults   ventured.   Children   of   all   ages   crowded   around   the   entrance   before opening   time   and   when   the   doors   finally   opened,   there   was   a   great   rush   inside. There   was   more action   in   the   auditorium   than   on   the   screen;   movies   merely   provided   background   noise   and colour   for   the   main   event. Attention   reverted   to   the   screen   only   when   the   old   Simplex   carbon-arc lamp   projectors   gave   trouble.   The   carbons   frequently   burned   out   (or   sometimes   the   film   broke) causing   the   picture   to   disappear   from   the   screen.   Invariably   this   was   instantly   followed   by   a great   chorus   of   foot-stomping   in   the   auditorium   that   persisted   until   the   projectionist   was   able   to replace the carbons, repair the film, or make whatever other repairs were required. Apart    from    those    sporadic    interludes,    both boys    and    girls    were    in    constant    motion,    a perpetual   parade   around   the   perimeter   of   the   auditorium   that   did   not   cease   until   the   movie   was over   and   the   lights   came   on.   It   was   a   form   of   social   activity   where   young   people   moved   from   seat to   seat,   talking   with   friends,   looking   for   new   ones,   or   engaging   in   the   heavy   trade   of   comics   that was   prevalent   at   every   Saturday   matinee.   Despite   the   bedlam,   vandalism   rarely   occurred.   In   an era    where    children    of    school    age    were    separated    not    only    by    community    but    also    by denominational   schools,   and,   in   Bonavista,   by   neighbourhood   schools,   the   Garrick   was   a   great "melting   pot"   where   all   could   meet   without   having   to   endure   the   strict   supervision   of   teachers   or clergy. In   the   1980s   and   1990s,   the   business   waned   as   it   did   for   most   independent   movie   theatres throughout   North   America.   There   were   no   more   Saturday   matinees.   The   Garrick   finally   closed   in 2000   and   John   Bradley   and   family   donated   the   property   to   the   Bonavista   Historical   Society   in 2003. It is one of the oldest surviving theatres in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
© 2017 Bonavista Historic Townscape Foundation, Bonavista, Newfoundland, Canada
Waiting for Saturday Matinee at the Garrick, ca, 1955. (Roy Carpenter photo - Gordon Bradley collection)
Bonavista Mutual Traders Building, ca. 1938, before the Garrick was built (and attached to it) in 1945 (F. Gordon Bradley photo - Gordon Bradley collection)
Old Garrick sign in storage, 2003 Bonavista Historic Townscape Foundation photo
The History of the Garrick
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FULL DIGITAL CINEMA and LIVE THEATRE
The       Garrick       Theatre       in Bonavista   opened   to   the   public on   Christmas   Day,   1945.   Built by    21    year-old    John    Bradley with     the     assistance     of     his father,   F.   Gordon   Bradley,   the Garrick    has    been    a    popular entertainment   venue   and   social centre   for   generations   of   area residents.      John      had      been showing    films    at    the   Anglican Parish    Hall    on    Church    Street since   July,   1944   but,   in   this   era   of   relative   prosperity   for   the   local economy,   he   soon   realized   there   was   enough   potential   to   merit constructing a proper theatre. Construction   began   in   September,   1945   with   a   crew   of   some   of Bonavista's   best   known   carpenters   in   that   period:   Jack   Russell, Gus    Russell,    Max    Russell,    Ralph    Hicks,    Don    Miles    and    Harry Etsell,   with   Cyril   Miles   as   foreman.   The   building   was   completed   in time   for   the   Christmas   Day   afternoon   opening   which   featured   a double   bill   -   Here   Comes   Kelly   starring   Eddie   Quillan   and   Joan Warbury,   and   Dillinger   with   Lawrence   Tierney,   Ann   Jeffreys   and Edmund Lowe. Named   after   David   Garrick,   an   18th   century   pioneer   of   English theatre   -   and   thus   sharing   the   name   with   several   other   theatres   in English   speaking   countries,   including   the   famous   Garrick   in   London -   this   facility   was   built   with   a   traditional   stage   and   proscenium.   The original    intention    had    been    to    use    the    facility    for    both    live performance   and   film.   However   the   immense   popularity   of   film, especially in the early years, left little room for other events. For   the   first   three   decades   the Garrick,   often   filled   to   capacity, was   open   seven   nights   a   week with   one   or   two   matinees   on Saturday.    It    was    not    unusual for   people   to   come   in   carloads from   as   far   away   as   Open   Hall or    Trinity    to    see    the    latest "movies." The   Garrick   was   also a   social   centre.   Older   boys   and men   would   gather   in   the   small lobby   for   conversation.   People enjoyed   being   there   and   many helped   out   with   taking   tickets and   cleaning   up,   making   it   difficult   at   times   to   distinguish   between paid employees and volunteers. Saturday   matinees   were   a   local   cultural   experience   in   their   own right.   It   was   the   domain   of   the   young   where   no   adults   ventured. Children   of   all   ages   crowded   around   the   entrance   before   opening time   and   when   the   doors   finally   opened,   there   was   a   great   rush inside. There   was   more   action   in   the   auditorium   than   on   the   screen; movies   merely   provided   background   noise   and   colour   for   the   main event.   Attention   reverted   to   the   screen   only   when   the   old   Simplex carbon-arc   lamp   projectors   gave   trouble.   The   carbons   frequently burned   out   (or   sometimes   the   film   broke)   causing   the   picture   to disappear   from   the   screen.   Invariably   this   was   instantly   followed   by a   great   chorus   of   foot-stomping   in   the   auditorium   that   persisted   until the   projectionist   was   able   to   replace   the   carbons,   repair   the   film,   or make whatever other repairs were required. Apart   from   those   sporadic   interludes,   both   boys   and   girls   were   in constant   motion,   a   perpetual   parade   around   the   perimeter   of   the auditorium   that   did   not   cease   until   the   movie   was   over   and   the lights   came   on.   It   was   a   form   of   social   activity   where   young   people moved   from   seat   to   seat,   talking   with   friends,   looking   for   new   ones, or   engaging   in   the   heavy   trade   of   comics   that   was   prevalent   at every    Saturday    matinee.    Despite    the    bedlam,    vandalism    rarely occurred.   In   an   era   where   children   of   school   age   were   separated not   only   by   community   but   also   by   denominational   schools,   and,   in Bonavista,    by    neighbourhood    schools,    the    Garrick    was    a    great "melting   pot"   where   all   could   meet   without   having   to   endure   the strict supervision of teachers or clergy. In    the    1980s    and    1990s,    the business    waned    as    it    did    for most        independent        movie theatres       throughout       North America.   There   were   no   more Saturday         matinees.         The Garrick    finally    closed    in    2000 and    John    Bradley    and    family donated    the    property    to    the Bonavista   Historical   Society   in 2003.    It    is    one    of    the    oldest surviving theatres in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Waiting for Saturday Matinee at the Garrick, ca, 1955. (Roy Carpenter photo - Gordon Bradley collection)
Bonavista Mutual Traders Building, ca. 1938, before the Garrick was built (and attached to it) in 1945 (F. Gordon Bradley photo - Gordon Bradley collection)
Old Garrick sign in storage, 2003 Bonavista Historic Townscape Foundation photo
© 2017 Bonavista Historic Townscape Foundation Bonavista, Newfoundland, Canada
History of The Garrick