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LOOK BACK: Port Alberni’s first movie theatre

The Port Theatre was destroyed by a fire in 1952
Port Alberni’s first movie theatre, started before 1920, was originally located on First Avenue, across from Alberni Hardware. This photo is one of 24,000 included in the Alberni Valley Museum’s online archives, available for public viewing at (PHOTO PN09360 COURTESY ALBERNI VALLEY MUSEUM)

The Port Alberni Theatre, also known as the Port Theatre, was Port Alberni’s first movie theatre.

The theatre was opened in the early 1900s by Jack Warren and was located on First Avenue, across from Alberni Hardware, with seating for about 300 people. According to the Portal Players Dramatic Society, shows were first offered every Wednesday and Saturday night. An Edison cylinder gramophone supplied the music for these first movies, which were silent pictures.

This picture of the Port Theatre is dated July 1936. Walter Hamly, the man on the right, oversaw the theatre’s day-to-day operations and his wife (first woman on the left) took care of the company’s books. This image is one of 539 negatives and prints donated to the Alberni Valley Museum from the collection of Patrick Power, a local photographer.

The theatre was destroyed in 1952 by a fire that also took out most of that side of the block. The Paramount Theatre, located on Argyle Street, was opened in the same year and is still operating to this day.

READ MORE: Port Alberni’s Paramount Theatre offers new and improved movie experience

This photo is one of nearly 24,000 in the Alberni Valley Museum’s collection. See more at