This week we bid good bye to a beloved place we frequented, the Westdale Theatre.
|“Of all the arts, movies are the most powerful aid to empathy, and good ones make us into better people.”
― Roger Ebert
Last night we said good bye to a dear old friend. Well, actually a few old friends, but one old girl in particular that we will hold close to our heart for all time.
We said good bye to Westdale Theatre as we know and love it. She was purchased recently by the Westdale Cinema Group, whose hope it is to give her a face lift and breathe new life into her bones.
The day the theatre was listed for sale, after operating since 1935, our city was at risk of losing its last operating movie theatre of its kind. One by one, over the years, the theatres of our youth, and my parents’ youth have closed and turned into other businesses or torn down completely. The chance that this gem would turn into a restaurant or retail outlet or worse, bull-dozed, was enough to make us feel sick at the very thought.
As thankful as we are for the new life she will see, and the fact that she will still be showing some great independent films in her next life, we are faced with saying good bye to her past in order to say hello to her future.
This wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.
The Westdale Theatre is in walking distance of our home. We have enjoyed movies there for about 20 years; ever since we moved into the area. Showing mostly independent films, we were exposed to so many that we would not have known about if it hadn’t been for the theatre screening them. Checking to see the latest screen offerings for the week is a ritual that will be missed. Sometimes, well, most times, we didn’t even know what the movie was about, we would just pick a night and go see it. More often than not, we would walk home from the theatre flooded with a gamete of emotions. The films we viewed there moved us, elated us, saddened us, and got us talking.
I like to think that the impact these movies had on us, wasn’t just from the films themselves, but because of where we were when we saw them.
We saw two movies this last week. Maudie, with Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke, which was a sweet, heartwarming movie about Maude Lewis, the folk artist from Nova Scotia, and Le Havre, a French film from 2011, for the final film of the Westdale Theatre’s life this time around. At first I wondered why Le Havre was picked as their final film, and for whatever the real reason is, I like to think it encompassed all of what we loved about the Westdale Theatre. It was quirky, weird, independent and made you smile. Exactly how you would describe the old girl.
So they say change is inevitable. They also say change is good. I am hopeful the new keepers of this somewhat sacred place will not venture too far from her purpose as a place to screen movies to those who love independent film.
To the Theatre, you are forever etched into our memories as one of our most cherished places in Hamilton. Thank you for showing us life in so many different genres.
I would be horribly remiss if I didn’t say how incredibly thankful we are for the staff that kept the old girl going all these years. We will truly miss you all and wish all staff, past and present, a wonderful future.