Advertisement

The Business of ‘Wholesome Entertainment’: The Mascioli Film Circuit of Northeastern Ontario

  • Jessica L. Whitehead
Chapter
Part of the Global Cinema book series (GLOBALCINE)

Abstract

On the night of February 10, 1936, the opening of the Palace Theatre in Timmins, Ontario, attracted 1300 patrons, which was reported to be the largest single gathering in the region. The Palace Theatre was an impressive structure with 1248 seats and an elaborate design that rivalled movie palaces in major Canadian cities. This movie palace was one of many theatres built by Leo Mascioli, who had theatres throughout the resource communities of Northeastern Ontario. Mascioli’s theatres brought what was considered wholesome entertainment to the remote communities of the region. In Timmins, starting in the 1920s, film exhibition transformed the leisure culture in the town from a male-dominated homosocial culture to one that included women and children (Forestell, Bachelors, Boarding Houses and Blind Pigs: Gender Construction in a Multiethnic Mining Camp, 1909–1920. In F. Iacovetta, P. Draper, & R. Ventresca (Eds.), A Nation of Immigrants, Women, Workers and Communities in Canadian History, 1840s–1960s. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press, 1998). The entertainment options in Timmins originally revolved around illegal drinking establishments known as ‘blind pigs’, billiard halls, and brothels. By the 1930s, theatres replaced these other forms of amusement, and Timmins joined the modern entertainment industry with vertically integrated theatres that played the latest films from Hollywood. Shortly after the opening of the Palace Theatre, Mascioli signed a deal with the national chain in Canada, Paramount-controlled Famous Players Canadian Corporation. This chapter explores the evolution of movie-going in Timmins through an analysis of the theatres’ financial and programming records, newspaper reports, and interviews with the local population.

Notes

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank the people of Timmins and the members of the Mascioli family who spoke with me for this project. I would also like to thank Karina Douglas from the Timmins Library and Karen Bachmann from the Timmins Museum, who both provided invaluable research assistance. Most importantly, I would like to thank Greig Dymond for allowing me to use his brother David’s collection. This research was made possible through the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS) Doctoral Scholarship Award from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada as well as Research and Travel Awards from the Faculty of Graduate studies at York University.

References

  1. Abel, K. M. (2006). Changing Places: History, Community, and Identity in Northeastern Ontario. Montreal, QC: McGill-Queen’s Press-MQUP.Google Scholar
  2. Accountant Report, July 18, 1940, Leo and Antonio Mascioli file, pages 256–257, RG series 117–A-3. Volume/box number: 642. File number: 2835, Library and Archives Canada.Google Scholar
  3. An Event of Importance. The Porcupine Advance (1936, February 10), p. 4.Google Scholar
  4. Auspicious Opening of Beautiful Palace Theatre. The Porcupine Advance (1936, February 13), p. 1.Google Scholar
  5. Bay Theatre Plan. (1936, November). RG Series 56–10 Container B308194, Ontario Archives, Toronto, ON.Google Scholar
  6. Bowles, K. (2007). “All the Evidence Is that Cobargo Is Slipping”: An Ecological Approach to Rural Cinema-Going. Film Studies, 10(1), 87–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Campbell, L. A. (2000). A Slub in the Cloth: R. v. St. Clair and the Pursuit of a “Clean Theatre” in Toronto, 1912–13. Canadian Journal of Law and Society, 15(1), 187–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Canning, G. (2009). Moving Pictures at the Opera House: The Introduction of Motion Pictures to the Town of Truro, Nova Scotia, 1897–1914. In D. Varga (Ed.), Rain/Drizzle/Fog: Film and Television in Atlantic Canada (pp. 47–66). Calgary, AB: University of Calgary Press.Google Scholar
  9. Contract Agreement Between Famous Players, Hanson Theatres, and Timmins Theatres, January 30, 1937, Leo and Antonio Mascioli file, pages 536–546, RG series 117–A-3. Volume/box number: 642. File number: 2835, Library and Archives Canada.Google Scholar
  10. Cox, K. (1975). Hollywood’s Empire in Canada: The Majors and the Mandarins Through the Years. Cinema Canada, 22, 18–22.Google Scholar
  11. Cox, K. (1979). Canada’s Theatrical Wars-The Indies vs. the Chains. Cinema Canada, 56, 47–53.Google Scholar
  12. DiGiacomo, J. L. (1982). They Live in the Moneta: An Overview of the History and Changes in Social Organization of Italians in Timmins, Ontario. Toronto, ON: Institute for Behavioural Research.Google Scholar
  13. Empire Theatre Coming Attractions. Porcupine Advance (1915, December 23), p. 2.Google Scholar
  14. Forestell, N. M. (1998). Bachelors, Boarding Houses and Blind Pigs: Gender Construction in a Multiethnic Mining Camp, 1909–1920. In F. Iacovetta, P. Draper, & R. Ventresca (Eds.), A Nation of Immigrants, Women, Workers and Communities in Canadian History, 1840s–1960s (pp. 251–290). Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  15. Forestell, N. M. (1999). The Miner’s Wife: Working-Class Femininity in a Masculine Context, 1920–1950. In K. McPherson, C. Morgan, & N. M. Forestell (Eds.), Gendered Pasts: Historical Essays in Femininity and Masculinity in Canada (pp. 139–157). Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  16. Four Dollars Receipts at First Movies Here; Used Renovated Store. Timmins Daily Press (1939, March 27), p. 1.Google Scholar
  17. Granada Theatre Plans. (1936, October). RG Series 56–10 Container B308194, Ontario Archives, Toronto, ON.Google Scholar
  18. Hanson’s Total Now 24. Motion Picture Daily (1937, March 23).Google Scholar
  19. Interview with Timmins resident, interviewed by author, July 19, 2015.Google Scholar
  20. Interview with Timmins resident, interviewed by author, July 20, 2015.Google Scholar
  21. Interview with Timmins resident, interviewed by author, July 23, 2015.Google Scholar
  22. Jarvie, I. (1992). Hollywood’s Overseas Campaign: The North Atlantic Movie Trade, 1920–1950. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Levine, A. M. (2004). Projections of Rural Life: The Agricultural Film Initiative in France, 1919–39. Cinema Journal, 43(4), 76–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. McCann, L. D. (1982). Heartland and Hinterland: A Geography of Canada. Toronto, ON: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  25. Moore, P. S. (2003). Nathan L. Nathanson Introduces Canadian Odeon: Producing National Competition in Film Exhibition. Canadian Journal of Film Studies, 12(2), 22–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Moore, P. S. (2004). Movie Palaces on Canadian Downtown Main Streets: Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. Urban History Review, 32(2), 3–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Nelles, H. V. (2014). The Politics of Development: Forests, Mines and Hydro-Electric Power in Ontario 1849–1941. Montréal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Pendakur, M. (1990). Canadian Dreams and American Control: The Political Economy of the Canadian Film Industry. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Polese, M., & Shearmur, R. (2006). Why Some Regions Will Decline: A Canadian Case Study with Thoughts on Local Development Strategies. Papers in Regional Science, 85(1), 23–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Radforth, I. W. (1987). Bushworkers and Bosses: Logging in Northern Ontario, 1900–1980. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  31. Saarinen, O. (1986). Single-Sector Communities in Northern Ontario: The Creation and Planning of Dependent Towns. In G. A. Stelter & A. F. Artibise (Eds.), Power and Place: Canadian Urban Development in the North American Context (pp. 219–264). Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.Google Scholar
  32. Seiler, R. M. (2006). Nathanson, Zukor, and Famous Players: Movie Exhibition in Canada, 1920–1941. American Review of Canadian Studies, 36(1), 59–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Temperature Last Night Was 22 Below. The Porcupine Advance (1936, February 13), p. 1.Google Scholar
  34. Tepperman, C. (2008). Digging the Finest Potatoes from Their Acre: Government Film Exhibition in Rural Ontario. In K. Fuller-Seeley (Ed.), Hollywood in the Neighborhood: Historical Case Studies of Local Moviegoing (pp. 130–148). Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  35. Timmins Population 3,839. The Porcupine Advance (1922, January 16), p. 7.Google Scholar
  36. Timmins Population Down Over 4,000 From Last Year. The Porcupine Advance (1943, October 21), Second section p. 1.Google Scholar
  37. Timmins Theatres 1938 letter, Palace Theatre File, RG series 56–9 container B247531, Ontario Archives.Google Scholar
  38. To Accommodate Picture Enthusiasts. The Porcupine Advance (1921, April 6), p. 1.Google Scholar
  39. Vasiliadis, P. (1989). Dangerous Truth: Interethnic Competition in a Northeastern Ontario Goldmining Centre. New York: AMS Press.Google Scholar
  40. Véronneau, P. (2013). When Cinema Faces Social Values: One Hundred Years of Film Censorship in Canada. In D. Biltereyst & R. Vande Winkel (Eds.), Silencing Cinema (pp. 49–62). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Visits to the Great Studios: A Personally Conducted Tour of the Paramount Lot. (1930, October). The New Movie Magazine, 2(4), 86–89.Google Scholar
  42. Waller, G. A. (2005). Imagining and Promoting the Small-Town Theater. Cinema Journal, 44(3), 3–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Yeates, M. (1975). Main Street: Windsor to Quebec City. Toronto: ON: Macmillan of Canada.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica L. Whitehead
    • 1
  1. 1.Ryerson UniversityTorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations