Interactive Journey

Rural milieu (1897 – 1905)

-- Presentation
  The first film projection in Canada took place in Montreal on June 27, 1896, thanks to French projectionists Louis Minier and Louis Pupier. Their Lumière Cinematograph enabled the Canadian public to discover the magic of moving images. As for the viscount Henry de Grandsaigne d’Hauterives and his mother Marie de Kerstrat, they were among the first travelling projectionists in Quebec, particularly active from 1897 to 1906. Originally from France, the duo travelled across the province projecting films from French companies such as Lumière, Méliès and Pathé.

Charles Pathé
Marie de Kerstrat
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Source : Cinémathèque québécoise Source: Serge Duigou and Germain Lacasse,Marie de Kerstrat. L’aristocrate du cinématographe.Rennes: Ouest-France, 2002.
Charles Pathé and his brother Émile founded the French film production company Pathé in 1896.  

Frères Lumière
The Historiograph Team
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Source : Cinémathèque québécoise Source : Duigou, Serge et Germain Lacasse.Marie de Kerstrat. L’aristocrate du cinématographe . Rennes:Ouest-France, 2002.
Auguste and Louis Lumière, famous for the invention of the Lumière cinematograph, which functioned as both camera and projector, are among the few pioneers of cinema. Marie de Kerstrat and Henry d’Hauterives, accompanied by their employees, in front of their nickelodeon in St.Louis, Missouri in 1908. Henry d’Hauterives, fifth to the right, is dressed in a white shirt. Marie de Kerstrat is at the ticket counter.

Henry d’Hauterives
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Source: Serge Duigou and Germain Lacasse, Marie de Kerstrat. L’aristocrate du cinématographe(Rennes: Ouest-France, 2002).
Henry d’Hauterives was one of the first travelling projectionists and film lecturers in Quebec.
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-- Advertising
  Beginning in1896, projectionists in Quebec travelled from city to city with their projectors, which they christened with specific names in order to distinguish them from others, such as Henry d’Hauterives and his Historiographe.Screenings were held in public places, such as church halls, schools and parks. Young people often advertised these events by distributing programs on the street. The first animated views (they were not referred to as cinema yet)drew their inspiration from other kinds of live entertainment, such as magic lantern shows, theatre and magic acts.The most common films were short fictions and actualities of various events.

Sohmer Parc
West End Park
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Source : Cinémathèque québécoise Source : Cinémathèque québécoise
Montreal’s Sohmer Park offered film screenings to regular people between 1897 and 1915. This Ottawa Park was the site of the first Canadian showing of Edison’s new projector, the Vitascope,on July 21, 1896, just a few weeks after the first Lumière Cinematograph presentation in Montreal.The event’s promoters, brothers George and Andrew Holland, had presented the world premiere of Edison’s Kinetoscope in a New York arcade two years earlier.

Electric Theatre
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Source : Cinémathèque québécoise
Travelling presentations of films often accompanied fairground shows in the early days of cinema
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-- Programs

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-- Transportation
  During the period of Henry d’Hauterives, projectionists also undertook the role of lecturer and editor. The film reel was considered raw material that could be cut and edited according to the projectionist’s taste. In this sense, they contributed to the creative process by creating an entertainment from several pieces – from the purchase of the films to their assembly. Projectionists would also decide the order in which views were projected. Several years later, with the growth in the number of screening halls, known as nickelodeons, the majority of projectionists stopped moving from place to place. This obliged them to present new film programs on a regular basis. From then on, projectionists would have to rent films from distributors rather than buying them, which limited their ability to edit films.
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-- Exhibition site
  The travelling practice of Henry d’Hauterives and Marie de Kerstrat belongs to “ fairground cinema,” typical of the period. Touring from big cities to small ones, they made sure to schedule their visits according to times of agricultural fairs and popular celebrations. While animated views were the main attraction of these film shows, the accompanying music and lectures were also essential. Lecturers relied on their verbal and acting talents to arouse interest in the audience. Since live performances were part of the show, each projection was unique.

Sohmer Parc
Auditorium
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Source : Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec Source : Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec
The music pavilion in Montreal’s Sohmer Park accommodated film screenings beginning in 1902. Film screenings were often presented in community halls like this one, at Loyola College in Montreal.
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Working class milieu (1906-1914)

-- Presentation
  Léo-Ernest Ouimet was the most important Quebec personality of the silent era. He began his career as a projectionist and then moved on to becoming an exhibitor, director, distributor and producer. On January 1,1906, he became the manager of a movie theatre that carried his name, the Ouimetoscope.

A Caricature of Ouimet
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Source : GRAFICS
Léo-Ernest Ouimet was the official Canadian distributor of Pathé Company films. In this caricature by Jos Violin,published in the Canadian Moving Picture Digest on July 1,1921, Pathé’s emblem, the rooster, is perched on Ouimet’s tripod.
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-- Transportation
  Beginning in 1906, nickelodeons (“scopes” in French), the first places specifically devoted to cinema, began to grow in number – there were already thirty or so in Montreal by 1908. The Ouimetoscope was a notch above other Montreal nickelodeons because of the refined touches Ouimet gave his theatre. His nickelodeon was a precursor to the emergence of other more luxurious theatres, called “palaces”, several years later.
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-- Advertising
  Views projected in Canada were usually imported from the United States or France. For many years, Léo- Ernest Ouimet distributed films made by Pathé, a French production company with active operations in the United States. Ouimet and his camera operator Lactance Giroux also filmed local actualities which were then projected at the Ouimetoscope. Ouimet occasionally tried other cinema genres. In 1908, for example, he shot a short fiction film called Baptiste et son cochon (Baptiste and his Pig).

The Ouimetoscope Premiere
Red Mill
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Source : Cinémathèque québécoise Source : Cinémathèque québécoise
In an old theatre on January 1, 1906, Léo-Ernest Ouimet opened the first Montreal venue dedicated to animated views: the Ouimetoscope. It was demolished in summer 1907 to make place for a new, larger and more spacious Ouimetoscope. The Theatorium, inaugurated in March 1906, was Toronto’s first venue for animated views. When this picture was taken in 1914, it had already been several years since the theatre was renamed the Red Mill.

The Princess
Storefront
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Source : Cinémathèque québécoise Source : Cinémathèque québécoise
The Princess cinema in Edmonton, Alberta, around 1915. This Ontario cinema (1914) is typical of the first nickelodeons that were installed in shops. The flashiness of the advertisement displayed on the theatre’s façade hints at a hasty conversion.
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-- Programs
  Nickelodeons usually had a working-class clientele. However, Ouimet attempted to attract a more varied audience, both from middle and working classes. With this goal in mind, Ouimet raised the price of admission slightly and established a schedule for his screenings. While the screenings of most other nickelodeons were less than an hour and presented a continuous show of repeated films over the course of the day, the Ouimetoscope offered shows that could last as long as two and a half hours.

 
 
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Source : Cinémathèque québécoise Source : Cinémathèque québécoise

 
 
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Source : Cinémathèque québécoise Source : Cinémathèque québécoise

 
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Source : Cinémathèque québécoise
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-- Exhibition site
  As with travelling projections, movie shows were not limited only to projecting films. Shows were generally accompanied by music and often by a lecturer. In Quebec, the practice of lecturing remained widespread up until the arrival of talking pictures. During reel changes, variety numbers and illustrated songs were presented. The lyrics to the songs were usually published later on in periodicals like Passe-temps and Montréal qui chante. The Ouimetoscope came out with its own series of illustrated songs around 1910.

Hollywood Filming
Hollywood Filming
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Source : Cinémathèque québécoise Source : Cinémathèque québécoise
During the 1910s, the distributor Léo-Ernest Ouimet imported many Pathé films to Canada,including those of Harold Lloyd. This photograph was taken during a visit Ouimet made to the set of one of Lloyd’s films. Harold Lloyd, renowned actor of American slapstick cinema in the 1920s, photographed in action during the filming of one of his comedies.
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Middle class milieu (1915-1930)

-- Presentation
  Rae Levinsky, better known as Ray Lewis, came from a Jewish family that immigrated to Canada in the 1880s. From 1918 to 1954, she was the editor-in-chief of the Canadian Moving Picture Digest, the first journal addressed to Canadian producers, distributors and exhibitors. Ray Lewis started her career as a theatre and vaudeville performer. Within the film milieu, she worked as a screenwriter in the 1910s and as a distributor and exhibitor in the 1930s and 40s.

Ray Lewis
Caricature by Ray Lewis
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Source : GRAFICS Source : GRAFICS
This portrait of Ray Lewis, published in the Canadian Moving Picture Digest on December 24,1927, is the work of Joshua Smith, the British painter Lewis married in 1920. Cartoon published on the front page of Canadian Moving Picture Digest on October 4, 1930. The editor-in-chief of the magazine, Ray Lewis,campaigning at the time for both more British films a greater presence of British cinema on Canadian screens and the holding of an investigation into the monopolistic practices of the American film industry.
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-- Advertising
  In the 1920s, the Famous Players Canadian movie theatre chain began to exercise more and more influence on the Canadian film industry. In Digest editorials, Lewis defended independent movie theatre owners by denouncing the monopolizing practices of Famous Players Canadian. Lewis also argued for the greater presence of British and Canadian films on national screens.
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-- Programs
  In the 1910s, cinema became a true mass medium, attracting both the middle class and the working class. This expansion of film’s public sphere was facilitated by daily newspapers, which at the time were regularly publishing advertisements for new palaces. Newspapers specifically oriented to movie fans also appeared during this time, such as the Panorama in Montreal in 1919. As for members of the film industry, other magazines, such as Lewis’ Canadian Moving Picture Digest, addressed their needs. All of these publications contributed to making film a part of popular culture and the economic lives of Canadians.
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-- Transportation

Strand
Isis
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Source : Cinémathèque québécoise Source : Cinémathèque québécoise
The Strand, the first movie palace in Montreal, was erected in 1912. This Calgary cinema’s façade is covered by a surprisingly large number of posters. During the 1920s, palace posters were more subdued, in keeping with tastes in period.

Capitol
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Source : Cinémathèque québécoise
Like many theatres belonging to the renowned Famous Players Canadian chain, this Saskatchewan movie theatre was named the Capitol.
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-- Exhibition site
  By the 1910s and 1920s, even with neighbourhood theatres continuing to offer venues similar to those of nickelodeons, a new kind of theatre began to emerge: the palace. These large theatres were more luxurious and comfortable. The architecture of palaces was partially inspired by 19th century opera houses and theatres. The façades, walls and ceilings were elaborately decorated, a sign of wealth and elegance that clearly emphasised the exhibitor’s desire to attract a middle class and more refined audience.

The Rialto
Regent interior
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Source : Cinémathèque québécoise Source : Cinémathèque québécoise
Visible in this picture of the Rialto auditorium are the different sections available to spectators: floor seats, a “standing room” space in the back, and the balcony. The lavish decoration of the Regent truly recalls that of a church. The frescos and mouldings of movie palaces and places of worship were in fact often made by the same craftsmen.
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