Tuesday, November 8, 2011

330 Garry Street - The Garrick Centre

© 2011, 2017, Christian Cassidy
Henderson Story
Place: The Garrick Centre
Address: 330 Garry Street (Map)
Opened: May 16, 1968
Cost: $900,000
Architect: Waismann Ross Blankstein Coop Gillmor Hanna
Contractors: Wallace and Akins

Top: ca. 1921, Winnipeg Free Press
Bottom: ca. early 1960s, Winnipeg Tribune

The first Garrick Theatre opened on this site in 1921. It was the flagship for the Winnipeg-based Garrick Cinema chain.

The $150,000, 1,500 seat theatre was built as a movie house but had a small stage to allow for limited use as a live venue. The lobby featured a
marble floor with a fireplace, there were separate men's and women's sitting rooms and the hall contained a pipe organ.

Walker Theatre

By 1930, the Garrick was owned by Henry and Louise Morton. In the mid 1940s, their Odeon Morton company purchased the nearby defunct Walker Theatre from the city and converted it into the single-screen Odeon Cinema. By the 1950s, they also owned a collection of neighbourhood cinemas such as the Park, Kings and Hyland.

The rise in popularity of television through the 1950s meant the end of many neighbourhood theatres and put in doubt the future of many of the aging downtown movie palaces.

The Odeon Morton chain fared better than most thanks to innovative company manager Paul Morton, Henry's son. Their collection of suburban theatres were renovated and programming changed to appeal to families. The Garrick is credited with showing the first 3D film in Winnipeg in the mid-1960s.

As for what to do with his two largest assets, the Garrick and Odeon, which sat just a block away from each other, Morton looked south for inspiration.

November 11, 1967, Winnipeg Free Press

The U.S. cinema industry was finding that it could compete with television by building
modern, custom-built cinemas with state-of-the-art sound and projection systems.

In 1967, Morton announced that the old Garrick would make way for Winnipeg's first "new era" cinema.

May 16, 1968, Winnipeg Tribune

Local firm Waismann Ross Blankstein Coop Gillmor Hanna, (now known as Number 10), was hired to design the 1,430 seat, $900,000 complex. It opened as the Garrick Cinema on May 16, 1968 as Winnipeg's first multiplex, featuring two cinemas under one roof.

The new Garrick boasted British-made convex screens, one being the largest in Western Canada. It housed the latest Italian projection equipment and a sound system imported from Japan. The seats were modern and plush with extra leg room between rows and featured a
bold purple, blue and orange colour scheme.

Outside, windows lined the main floor providing natural light to the lobby and concession area. Infrared heating lamps located under the overhang kept patrons warm while waiting in line on the sidewalk, though they proved no match against Winnipeg's winter months.

Cinema I had
619 seats and Cinema 2 had 810.

The day after it opened, A Free Press reviewer noted:

The dual cinema complex itself is a sumptuous and much-needed addition to downtown Winnipeg.... The new Garrick is a long way from the seedy popcorn palaces which predominated on the Winnipeg movie scene until the 1960s.

December 24, 1974, Winnipeg Free Press

A local pop-history note about the Garrick is the remarkable run of
Phantom of the Paradise.

Despite disappearing from the rest of North America's cinemas soon after opening, in Winnipeg it became a cult classic and ran in the Garrick 2 from Boxing Day 1974 to April 30, 1975, (it continued on for another month or so at other venues.)

December 15, 1979, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1979, Morton added two more cinemas to the complex, making it Winnipeg's first four-plex.

The addition was designed by
Dalton Engineering and Construction and built by Malcolm Construction to the north of the building where a parking lot and recently burned-out pool hall were located.The additional cinemas, each with 300 seats, opened December 21, 1979.

June 13, 1999, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1999, owner Cineplex Odeon announced that the small cinemas no longer fit into their corporate plans for larger venues and would sell the building.

The following year the Marlborough Hotel, located just across the back lane, purchased it and began a
multi-year, $1.5 m renovation of the building.

Initially rechristened the
Ramada Conference and Entertainment Centre, the Garrick Centre, which is connected to the hotel via a walkway, has three auditoriums: the Garrick One 600 seat theatre; the Garrick Two 550 seat live music venue; and the Garrick Four 250 seat lecture hall. The former Garrick Three is home to the hotel's pool and water slide.

The Garrick, Back Lane

The building, still owned by the owner of the Marlborough Hotel, was later rebranded The Garrick and has become a popular live music venue.


- 330 Garry Street Winnipeg Architecture Foundation
- Photos of the old Garrick Cinemas

- For more on Winnipeg's connection to Phantom and the two Phantompalooza reunions that have been held.


  1. The Garrick is sort of an underdog of a venue. It gets very little publicity, but it's not a bad place to see a show. I saw Robert Cray there this year, and a free concert featuring Keith & Renée and two other artists -- both of which I basically just stumbled upon.

  2. Fun fact: I was in high school when my teacher, Mr Warkentin, organized the first Phantompalooza, and my friends and I (students of his) helped him! We met Beef and it was amazing.

    PS nice meeting you today!

  3. Those are my photos of the Garrick on Film-Tech and I have hundreds more in better quality I've been planning to put online.

    It was a great movie theatre and was actually in pretty good shape in it's final days. I haven't come across another theatre that shares a similar ceiling with those Garrick 1 and 2 houses, but I'm glad the hotel kept the place mostly in tact.