Soak Up Some Cinema – Relive History at Fort Edmonton’s Movie Night
By Shawna Dirksen
A summertime getaway can be a beautiful thing. However, with busy highways, long lines at the airport and tourist-packed destinations, taking a summer vacation doesn’t always mean an escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Luckily, in our city, we don’t have to go far to get away from it all. Instead of travelling to another place, we can travel to another time (no silver DeLorean required). That destination is Fort Edmonton Park, where movie night at the Capitol Theatre awaits you.
Few places bring history to life like Fort Edmonton does. Located in Edmonton’s river valley, this living-history museum offers visitors a taste of what life was like in Edmonton from the mid-1800s (when it was first settled) to the early 1900s.
From meticulously reconstructed/restored buildings and a railroad featuring a 1919 Baldwin Steam Train, to a 1920s midway (complete with a Ferris wheel), stepping into the park is a step backwards in time. Visitors love chatting with the park’s staff, many of whom are in character and costume, about Edmonton’s history and enjoy the attractions, such as taking a horse-drawn wagon ride down 1885 Street, cooling off with ice cream from Bill’s Confectionary and, of course, catching a film at the historic Capitol Theatre.
Built in 2011, Fort Edmonton’s Capitol Theatre is a recreation of Edmonton’s original Capitol Theatre, which was located on Jasper Avenue in 1929. Dana Andersen, Capitol Theatre’s artistic director, describes the 243-seat venue as “classically pristine yet modern in its construction.” The theatre runs daily and features live theatre productions, concerts and—you guessed it—movies. “It’s a beautiful theatre to visit,” notes Anderson. “And when you go in, it practically screams, ‘Show old movies!’”
The Cinema Series
Andersen is the man behind Fort Edmonton’s Cinema Series, which showcases a different movie at Capitol Theatre every Saturday night. The Cinema Series features movies from the past (like 1926’s The General and 1957’s Jailhouse Rock) as well as more recent movies that are set in the past (like 1994’s Forrest Gump and 2011’s Rango).
“I choose the movies based on what I feel people would want to see on the big screen again,” says Andersen. “It’s great to show these old classics because they are movies that don’t need special effects—they’re just really good stories. And because those films have been digitally remastered, it’s almost like seeing them for the first time.
According to Anderson, the Cinema Series is also a great way to introduce the next generation to the past. “I love to see people bring their kids to a movie they may have enjoyed when they were kids. It’s like passing the generational torch through movies.”
Although Anderson runs the Cinema Series year-round, attending during the summer is a special experience. “As summer approaches, it’s a beautiful time to visit the park. You can come early and watch the sun setting. At dusk the theatre lights come on and it’s magical. You can wander around the park before the show begins or go to Mahogany Bar in the Selkirk [Hotel] for a cocktail. Staff from the midway will come over before show time, singing old time ’20s classics in costume.”
A Picnic & a Movie
Summer also brings Fort Edmonton’s picnic-and-movie offer. “In July and August we offer a picnic and a movie package. You come to the park, pick up your basket and blanket, enjoy a picnic in the park, and then see the movie.” Andersen says to keep an eye on Fort Edmonton’s website for details on the offer and picnic menu choices.
Get Your Tickets
Tickets cost about $12 each and are available online through Fort Edmonton’s website or at the door. However, Andersen recommends buying your tickets in advance to secure your seats, “Our big-ticket summer shows like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Singing in the Rain always sell out.”
Visit www.fortedmontonpark.ca for a complete listing of featured movies, and don’t miss your chance to lose yourself in an old movie and magical place this summer!
Summer Day Camps
Your kids can spend the summer experiencing what Edmonton was like way back when. From life as a pioneer in the fur trade to the days of steam engines and streetcars, learning about Edmonton’s heritage has never been more fun. Fort Edmonton’s day camps are designed for ages four through fourteen. Choose between four- or five-day programs and a variety of themes.
Visit www.fortedmontonpark.ca for program descriptions and pricing.
Celebrate Canada’s 150th at Fort Edmonton
Steeped in Edmonton’s history, there is no better place to celebrate Canada’s 150th than Fort Edmonton Park. To mark our country’s milestone birthday, Fort Edmonton has introduced a special park admissions pass.
It includes unlimited admission for two adults and up to four children, youths or seniors between July 1 and September 4. The pass is $150 plus GST and is available for purchase until July 1.
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