The Empire Theatre, July 1919

Empire Theatre, C.R. Banks, in Overland car, with children, early 1920s.jpg

The Empire Theatre, 224 Charlotte Street, July 1919: out front, Charles Banks, in his Overland car with children (including Marlow Banks). Trent Valley Archives.

At the left is a partial view of the next building, housing the Livery business (and “taxicabs”?) of the Empire’s owner, Dr. Fred L. Robinson.

The Empire Theatre was established by veterinarian Fred Robinson towards the end of July 1914, just before the beginning of the First World War. It closed on April 28, 1921.

As an Examiner reporter reminisced in 1947: “The east end, north end gangs rarely got down that far, but the south-enders and the gang from Patterson St. were loyal and regular customers.”

The Empire’s spot on Charlotte was soon taken over by McBride and Franks, furniture and house furnishings; in 1947 it was the site of the Firestone store; in 1984 the buildings on the site were destroyed by a fire.

Charles Banks had a store in the Braund block nearby, at no. 212–216, where in 1914 he offered automobile and bicycle accessories, and gasoline, among other things. The Banks family lived on 314 Maitland Ave. (Earlier on they had a shop in Galt, Ont.)

A personal note: in the mid-1950s I got my first new bike from the Banks Bicycle Shop run by Marlow Banks at 338 Alymer Street N., on the east side north of Charlotte.

Robert Clarke