Musings from Lynn O’Malley: It’s always seemed to me that a little movie house would do well in Lynn Valley; something that would bring in the kind of interesting flicks you usually have to travel over to the 5th Avenue or Park Theatre to see. (OK, I can’t guarantee it would do well, and I don’t know where it would go, but I can promise that I would be a loyal patron.)
Then it occurred to me that we’ve already had a little movie house here in the valley, one that was very popular indeed. If you’re lucky enough to be of the right age, and a long-enough resident of the neighbourhood, you’ll already know about the Cedar V. The rest of us young ’uns have no memory of it, or we have faint memories, or perhaps just memories we think we have, but that really belong to older brothers and sisters and have been listened to often enough that they feel like our own.
The Quonset Hut-style building was located at 1260 Lynn Valley Rd., near the site of the current PetroCan station. Built in 1953, its Saturday matinees became the highlight of the week for hundreds of local schoolkids. Here’s what former Valleyite Barbara Black had to say about the Cedar V from her current home in Victoria:
“I was just thinking about the old Cedar V Theatre, where I saw my first terrifying movie: Bambi. I think I was six. I remember they sold popcorn in little kiddie-sized paper bags and the butter soaked through the sides before you could finish it. Saturdays were the double-bill matinee. If it was your birthday you were called up on stage and given a prize. I also saw “The Three Lives of Thomasina” there, another heart-wrenching movie complete with witch and a cat funeral.”
And in this online essay, Vancouver writer Michael Hayward reminisces about the almost magical power the theatre cast upon him, his cousin and the other kids who were drawn to it “like moths to a fire.”
Unfortunately, the fire went out on October 31, 1971, when the theatre was demolished to make way for new development.
Would a small movie house today have the same allure for our kids, accustomed as they are to the more modern on-screen entertainment constantly at their fingertips? Hard to say. But there are some things that Playstations, HDTVs and iPads just can’t offer: Theatre popcorn. Getting together with dozens of friends. Having someone pull you up on stage because it’s your birthday.
Cedar V, you are missed.