More Lido stuff:
We often receive emails form patrons and here we would like to acknowledge one from Karen W., she wrote:
Dear Lido Theatre,
We had the pleasure of visiting The Pas recently and found the LIdo to be a pleasant surprise. We hope that it remains for many years to come as a reminder of a more elegant and cultured movie going era.
Keep up the great work! We will certainly be taking in a "picture show" at the Lido every time we are in The Pas.
Thanks Karen, we are proud of our Lido and we love hearing from appreciative customers such as yourself. See you soon :)
In 1928 "Irish" August & Louisa (née Barrass) Rivalin led a group of 11 business people and together they formed The Northern Theatre Co. Ltd which would build the Lido Theatre in The Pas, Manitoba, Canada.
The building was imaginatively designed by Winnipeg
architect Max Blankstein who was the first registered Jewish architect in western Canada.
The "Atmospheric" design of the Lido's auditorium is representative of a style popularized in the 1920s
which created the illusion for the patrons of an open-air cinema.
The Lido was built specifically as a movie theatre and particularly for "Talkies" (movies with a synchronized
soundtrack). Talkies were a new technology at the time and some people of the day felt like "talkies" may just be a passing fad.
The beautiful auditorium prompts one to see the Lido as a landmark example of Art-Deco era architecture.
The interior is officially considered to be of
Mediterranean design, more precisely to give the impression of a Spanish courtyard.
The auditorium was secondarily designed to accommodate the travelling stage performances of the era and was occasionally used to host live productions.
The original stage, half orchestra pit, below grade dressing rooms, stage wings, chain hoists, three story
drapery, stage lighting, and much more are all still present behind the large flown screen.
The auditorium is acoustically tuned and remains a functional indoor amphitheatre to this day. The ceiling still features the original small lights which represent twinkling stars.
Back in 1930 the clouds of the sky were projected onto the ceiling with a special projector known as a Brenograph Junior which created a moving cloud effect. Brenograph projectors were likely situated in one or both of the faux balcony's that are still part of the interior's facade.
The plaster work, faux balconies, wrought iron light fixtures, cast iron seat frames, curtain walls, hand rails, hard wood floors, french doors, and much more, are all still original.
The only modern fixtures are the surround sound speakers carefully installed by Irish's great grandsons, August and Brian Rivalin.
Construction took place from 1928 - 1929.
Irish & Louisa would be the principle investors
and later primary financiers of the project. Together with their 10 partners they would pool their resources and spend $105000 dollars ($1.7 Million in 2022) to complete construction.
During construction there were many delays. Firstly, the amount of tradespeople that were necessary was a struggle to source locally and secondly the steel needed would cost more if it were to arrive on time.
Irish solved the labour situation in part with a controversial (at least back then) and forward-thinking solution. He would direct the employment and fair pay of many First Nations people. Irish had already built a reputation for fairly treating First Nations people through his other enterprise Rivalin Transfer Co.. The steel would be secured through one of many loans from Irish to the company.
The storied property opened to the public in early 1930. At the time dubbed the “Finest House in the West” by the western Canadian newspapers and a true celebration of The Pas as the "Gateway to the North".
Shortly after opening the economy took a turn for the worse and the Great Depression began to take hold. After more loans from Irish & Louisa to keep the doors open the partners would have a difficult choice to make. Since Irish could not justify loaning the operation any more money their choice was either to close it down or sell their portions.
The partners decided to keep it open and to sell their
portion(s) of the company to their majority investor and
largest creditor, Irish.
In the 1940s, after his service in the Air Force of WWII, Irish's son Paul Rivalin together with the support of his wife Margaret (née Raven) began operating the Lido. They would formally purchase the Lido from Irish & Louisa in the 60’s.
Paul & Margaret ensured the survival of the Lido throughout the “TV Age” and "Drive-in" age of the 1950’s & 1960’s. They would fully embrace the idea of selling treats to customers with a renovation of the lobby by the engineering department of the T. Eaton & Company out of Toronto in the mid 1960s (a very big deal at the time).
The renovation to the lobby would permanently incorporate a concession area into the operation and remove two rental units visible in original photos (one on the north side and one on the south side of the lobby).
In the late early 60s, Paul's son "Gus" August Rivalin began working at the theatre. In the early 1970s Gus would become the manager. Gus Managed the business as a partner and later purchased the business from his parents in the 1974.
Throughout the 70s, 80’s and 90’s Gus nurtured the Lido Theatre through Cable TV, Movie Channels, and Home Video. His success was due in part by his up-grade to the newest automated 35mm projection
equipment and soon thereafter as a result of his choice to embrace the home video rental business.
Gus began the Lido Video in the lobby of the Lido Theatre in 1983. Expanding the Lido Video with the purchase of the building next door which was once the Bank of Toronto and later the Dominion Bank of Canada. At the time, nearly all other movie theatre owner's were categorically against home video rental stores. Gus attempted to encourage other theatre owners to embrace the future of home video as he was earning enough money to subsidize the movie theatre through those lean years. Unfortunately, Gus was met with disdain for his efforts, in some circles even branded a traitor for supporting the home video business. Yet, the home video rental business would prove to support and compliment the theatre business.
Gus eventually grew his home video rental business into 3 locations over the next 17 years which was due in no small part to the help of his trusted "right-hand-man" Mr. Chuck Lewis.
Gus's video store businesses would eventually open the largest video store in Manitoba outside of Winnipeg. Saturn Video opened in Flin Flon, MB. in 1997.
Gus’s son August began helping out in the 1990s and received his first official job at the Lido Theatre in August of 1994.
Gus's younger son Brian would join the family business in 1999 and work with his father and brother to operate the businesses.
August would purchase the properties from his father in late 2003.
From 2003 to 2019 August and his team helped the Lido survive the “Internet Age” in part with the upgrade to state-of-the-art digital sound and projection equipment.
A heartfelt thank you together with an immense amount of gratitude and credit must be paid to all the people who have helped to keep the Lido Theatre a vibrant business along the way.
There have been thousands of people who have worked diligently for the Lido over the generations. Many of them ought to know that they played a roll in helping the Lido survive and prosper.
Millions of people have chosen to support the Lido through the years with their patronage and they too deserve a massive thank you.
The government's choice to close down movie theatres in Manitoba for the majority of the Covid-19 pandemic together with the government's utterly inadequate support would place the Lido in it's most precarious crisis to date. A business which survived the great depression and many other near bankruptcies since 1930 was perhaps finally done in by government mandate.
As of 2022 the Lido's future remains uncertain, yet the buildings and equipment remain waiting for the next person (people) to see the opportunity and nurture the Lido into it's future.
If you have a question, concern or something you'd like to add please email August@LIdoTheatre.ca