Editor’s note: We take a break from our usual diet of Hogtown Hard-tops and head north to Timmins, Ontario.
Growing up in Northern Ontario, where there wasn’t much to do, I would often rush home after school on a Thursday, grab the Timmins Daily Press and see what films were premiering the next day at the Victory, a Famous Players house built in the 1940s.
Once a vibrant city with several large movie theatres, the Victory was all Timmins had to offer by the mid-1980s. My family went to the drive-in more often than the cinema, but my earliest movie-going memories reside within the Victory, where my father took me to see re-releases of Pete’s Dragon and The Fox and the Hound when I was just a little dude. It closed in late 1992.
In 1988, a new theatre opened at the corner of Cedar Street and First Avenue, and it was to be Timmins’ first multiplex cinema: The Cinema 6. This might seem like small potatoes now, but at the time, knowing you had six choices when going to the movies was better than hitting a grand slam at the Little League finals. Well, at least it was to me.
Although the Cinema 6 is now owned by Lakeshore Cinemas, it was until recently owned and operated by Stinson Theatres, an independent chain that started out in 1971 with a drive-in theatre in Barrie, and did a major expansion in the North throughout the 1980s.
Fast forward a few decades, and I am talking to my friend Mike about that opening weekend of the Cinema Six. For years, we maintained a friendly argument over what films premiered there; I always maintained Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and he always maintained Gorillas in the Mist — although I was sure that film had already played at the neighbouring Victory. It was sort of a late-night discussion that never really went anywhere, until one day, after enough speculation, I contacted Henry Stinson, whose family still operates over 30 screens in Ontario — including two drive-ins!
Stinson had no clue (and was probably confused by the minutiae of my request). Undeterred, I then set my sights on the Public Library, who holds microfilm prints of the paper. “Is this for research?” asked the librarian over the phone. By the time it was revealed I’d gone to high school with said librarian, all bets were off. “No, it’s not research per se. You see, my friend and I have had this friendly bet…”
A week or so later, a printout of the ad shows up; memories of that week in October, 1988 come flooding back, and a friendly argument is finally put to rest. For the record, Mike was right on a bunch of them, but neither of us ever suspected Moon Over Parador.