Fredericton Movie Theatres

Gaiety Theatre Fredericton

Fredericton Movie Theatres

Fredericton boasts a rich history of movie theatres, a tradition that began in 1907 with the inception of the “Wonderland” and the “Nickel”, and continued with the “Palace”, the “Carleton”, and the “Bijou”.

In 1908, Whittier Fenety launched the “Unique” cinema in the Masonic Hall on Carleton Street. Later, in 1913, he partnered with his son William (Bill) to establish the “Gaiety” theatre on the ground level of the adjacent Anglican Church hall. The “Unique” and the “Gaiety” combined in 1917, reopening as the “New Gaiety” inside a freshly constructed building on Queen Street. 

After a devastating fire in 1939, the third iteration of the “Gaiety” resumed operations in a new theatre with 900 seats, located on the same Queen Street spot.

The GEM Theatre in Fredericton

The “GEM” Theatre, founded by David M. Richards in a refurbished tenement building in May 1910, offered silent-screen films accompanied by a local orchestra.

In 1917, Fred G. Spencer of Saint John took over the “GEM” lease, making significant renovations to transform it into a modern theatre capable of seating 451 people. 

GEM Theatre in Saint John
GEM Theatre in Saint John. Credit: Provincial Archives of NB

Saint John also had a Gem movie theatre that opened in 1915 and was in operation until 1920. It was located on Waterloo Street, in the north of the city. The Gem was one of Saint John’s many venues for movies, a popular local pastime. 

1969 photo of the Gaiety Theatre concession counter Mrs Boone (PANB)
1969 photo of the Gaiety Theatre concession counter Mrs Boone (PANB)

Following a catastrophic fire in December 1919, Spencer constructed a substantially larger theatre, the “Capitol”, on the same location. It opened its doors in 1922 and was later purchased by Witter Fenety in 1930, remaining in operation until 1973.

Capitol Theatre in Fredericton

Over the decades, Fredericton was home to numerous theatres, including The Nashwaaksis Twins, Plaza Cinemas, and the Empire Theatres.

The city also had a selection of Drive-In Theatres, such as the “Brookside Drive-In”, the “Sunset Drive-In”, and the “Valley Drive-In”.

Click here for a list of movie theatres around New Brunswick 

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2 thoughts on “Fredericton Movie Theatres

  1. The Capitol retained its original stage and change rooms after Spencer reconstructed it as a cinema. Initials carved in those change rooms included some famous names like George Burns. None of this was visible to the public after movie screens were installed.

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