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Chilliwack's Re-purposed Vaudeville Theatre

posted by: The Royal Hotel Chilliwack on: April 03, 2020 02:18:05 PM
Address:      46130 Yale Road
Original Owner: Unknown
Date of Construction: 1913
On October 22, 1913 the two-story Imperial Theatre building celebrated its grand opening with tenor Harold Jarvis performing with Miss Mary Lyon, entertainer and pianist.

Located on the south side of Yale Road near Five Corners, The Imperial provided a venue for vaudeville acts, or live variety shows like singing, dancing, comedy and live animal tricks with still photo plays shown to the captive audience as “added attractions” between acts.
The theatre’s concrete construction was in response to the City’s new fire zone bylaw that covered new buildings and was established after a 1908 fire destroyed many downtown commercial buildings. The theatre was deemed “fireproof” and suffered very little damage during an August 1920 fire that destroyed many surrounding businesses.
As was typical with vaudeville theatres, the Imperial Theatre was used for meetings, community gatherings and conventions as well as a venue for live entertainment.

Chilliwack suffragettes met in 1915 at the Imperial Theatre; in August 1916 the Imperial hosted a meeting in support of alcohol prohibition. During the First World War footage of the war effort as well as news reels kept Chilliwack’s residents informed of current events.

Chilliwack Progress, Feb. 11. 1915

The Imperial Theatre was remodeled in March 1926 to accommodate motion picture viewing with improved and increased seating. The renovations however did not help the Imperial Theatre and the theatre ceased operations in May 1927. Copp’s Shoes then occupied the bottom floor of the Imperial Theatre building from 1928 until the 1970’s.

The historic Imperial Theatre building will be included in Algra Brothers’ revitalization project.
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