Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Walk Along the Fraser River

This week a walk along the banks of the Fraser River near Chilliwack, B.C. Canada provided me with several moments of beauty. The yellow eye of an eagle took in my hike with suspicion.  The bare trees of a river island glowed brightly for a brief moment against the deep blue of the Coast Mountains and finally a sunset reflected warmly at days end in the Fraser River itself.  

Friday, February 8, 2013

Chilliwack Paramount Theatre - Beauty in the Ruins

Those that entered the Chilliwack Paramount Theatre was on November 3rd 2010 had no idea that this would be the last time the theatre would be open.  Since then a storm has raged around the preservation of this landmark, it has come and gone to no avail.  The theatre's landmark neon Paramount sign has been removed and a pile of debris gets larger and larger to the side of the theatre. Still there is a fine beauty in the ruins and I hoped that I could capture some of it yesterday on an assignment of nostalgia.

The theatre was built, as were all the Famous Player Theatres at the time, on a theme - the Paramount was supposed to look like a cruise ship. The ripples in the concrete on the exterior reminisce of waves on the ocean, the steps in the foyer curved as entering a ship's ballroom, the circular "porthole" lighting scones in the theatre which at one time had fake fish in them to add to movie goers cruise ship experience. Wonderful details... The building has a sad expression now - no more coming attractions - just rubble and the future - an empty parking lot.


The Paramount Theatre was remembered in my former post called The Paramount Theatre Chilliwack The Final Curtain and is reprinted below.

Paramount Theatre Chilliwack B.C. © Ian Meissner
On November 3, 2010 the Paramount Theatre in Chilliwack, British Columbia, closed its doors for the last time.  Beset by competitive factors including the construction of an 8-plex Galaxy Theatre, underway in Chilliwack's new Eagles Landing, the decision to close early was made this week when the Paramount's boiler gave its last gasp.  A new $20,000 boiler wasn't in the cards so after 61 years this fine building is shut. 

The Paramount Theatre opened June 9, 1949 and was billed as being "completely ultra-modern in every respect" including the modern miracle of air conditioning, soft restful spring chairs, sound installation and a popcorn and candy bar in the lobby.  "Six hundred and eight people will be accommodated on the first floor and 292 on the balcony of the new theatre."  Because the floor is curved and the screen mounted high it was boasted that "even the shortest customer will be able to see over the tall lady with the high featured hat".

P2573 © Chilliwack Museum

The theatre was built, as were all the Famous Player Theatres at the time, on a theme  - the Paramount was supposed to look like a cruise ship.  That's why the steps in the foyer are curved like that and why there are circular "porthole" lighting scones in the theatre.  These wall lights used to have fake fish in them to complete the look.  

An immense outdoor sign extending the full height of the building boldly proclaimed the word "Paramount" accented by blinking lights running down the side.  This sign has become a landmark in Chilliwack adding a splash of needed colour to the downtown core.  It will be sorely missed by many.

Solidly built the Paramount featured laminated firewalls, 800 yards of reinforced concrete in the main walls and 60 tons of structural steel. The largest of the cantilevered steel guiders being 24-inch I-beams equal in size to any single steel beam in the Pattulo bridge.  

Note circular "Porthole" Wall Scone

In 1977 a second screen was added converting the former balcony section into a new theatre.

The movie is over please leave through the exits provided.