New beginnings with old roots
Photo by Kyle West
By: Natalie Clark
When the quaint and beloved Westdale Theatre closed down in early 2017, residents of the Westdale community and many McMaster students were especially upset. Although fairly run down, the Westdale had been the community’s hot spot for Friday night dates, Hollywood’s must-see films and the best popcorn in town for as long as anyone could remember.
On Feb. 14, the Westdale community celebrated the long-awaited re-opening of the Westdale Theatre. Guests were told to dress in period attire for a special event accompanied by cocktails and a screening of the 1942 classic, Casablanca. The event also featured a silent auction, where guests could explore the new and improved venue while admiring local Hamilton art.
With searchlights lighting up the night sky and a red carpet gracing the floor of the doors of the theatre, the Westdale certainly dressed to impress for their grand re-opening. The 350 ticket event sold out in two weeks.
For the past 30 years, the Westdale was owned by an elderly man in Toronto. It wasn’t until he passed away that his family put the theatre up for sale, allowing new owners to claim the theatre, known as the Westdale Cinema Group.
“An enormous amount of changes were made… the theatre was in terrible condition, we spent 2.5 million dollars restoring it,” mentioned Fred Fuchs, chairperson of the Westdale Cinema Group.
“Besides equipping it with state-of-the-art projection, screens, new seats, new sound, new acoustic panelling, we also had to completely redo the air conditioning and the heating, the electrical system, the roof, the bathrooms — it was a complete overhaul of the entire theatre,” said Fuchs.
About two years later, the Westdale Theatre is back open for business, and the community is thrilled. Westdale resident and Silhouette alumnus, David Simpson, had one word to describe the re-opening event, “fabulous”.
“I think that the re-opening will be great for Westdale and for McMaster too, creating a hub for the community,” said Simpson.
Members of the Westdale community are thrilled about the re-opening of the theatre but are also admiring the other advantages that the theatre welcomes to the community.
“It’s wonderful to see it revitalized, and to see hundreds of people in the theatre is great,” said Vivian Lewis, a member of the Westdale community.
“I think that the theatre is going to bring a diversity of films to the community,” mentioned Lewis. “Right now in Hamilton we just have lots of box theatres that are showing the same thing on every screen, and so this theatre will be our chance to see more art films and more alternative films that aren’t currently available in Hamilton.”
Aside from standard film movies, the Westdale Theatre will also be hosting frequent live music shows, talks, performances and other special events.
“I’m excited about the idea that it’s not just a movie theatre anymore and that it’s also performance based,” said Sue Trerise-Adamson, another Westdale resident.
“I think that is a really good idea, and it expands all the possibilities of the theatre… I think it’s a real anchor for the whole community of Westdale,” mentioned Trerise-Adamson.
Westdale locals have already begun visiting the theatre for their regular screenings and are grateful to have the theatre back in the community.
Experience the new and improved Westdale Theatre on your own and check out all available screenings and shows on their website: https://www.thewestdale.ca/now-playing/