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Record-Breaking Attendance: Cinema in Rouyn and Noranda

Black-and-white photograph of two buildings with boomtown-styled fronts. On one of them, there is a sign where it is written Regal Theatre. A crowd waits on the boardwalk in front of the building.

The Régal Theatre is a crowd puller!

It is still unclear whether the astounding attendance of Rouyn and Noranda theatres in the 1940s was due to scarcity of leisure, the remoteness or the difficult living conditions in the mining district. At the time, it was in the sister cities that you could find the highest number of theatres per capita in all of Quebec: one theatre per 3 346 inhabitants. In 1949, there was a record-breaking attendance with a total of 769 000 admissions: 2 100 admissions per day and nearly 35 admissions averaged per person each year.

Black-and-white photograph of a theatre with both fixed and moveable chairs. On the stage there is an altar on which lies a tabernacle.

Inside the Régal Theatre where we can see an altar on the stage.


Rouyn’s first movie theatre, the Régal Theatre, opened in 1926. It was managed by Ms. H.S. Carey and bore many names over the years (Le Lido, L’Odéon, and Rouyn). Many other theatres quickly began to pop up in the sister cities: The Noranda, the Capitol, the Princess, the Alexander (Olivato), the Paramount and the Montcalm.

Black-and-white photograph of a building with Noranda written on the front. Several movie posters are hung on the boardwalk.

Noranda Theatre: Noranda’s Theatre.

Black-and-white photograph of a four-story building with a theatre on the ground floor. You can see which movies were playing by reading the titles displayed at the entrance.

The building of the Alexander Theatre, formerly located on Principale St. in Rouyn.

As opposed to church halls that only screened documentaries and French movies, Rouyn and Noranda theatres showed predominantly American movies.

Ultimately, the advent of television in 1957 tolled the death knell for the golden age of cinema in Rouyn and Noranda

For more details :

Odette Vincent, dir., Histoire de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Québec, IQRC, p. 404 à 407.