The Capitol Theatre

The Capitol Theatre in downtown Halifax was a popular spot for entertainment, enchanting film-goers with its castle-like interior.

The Capitol Theatre was located on Barrington Street at the foot of Spring Garden Road in downtown Halifax. The Capitol wasn’t the first entertainment venue to occupy that spot. Its predecessor was a music hall, which opened in 1877, originally called the Academy of Music but renamed the Majestic in 1918. The hall was demolished in 1929 to make way for the Capitol Theatre. Completed in 1930, the Capitol building also contained the offices of the Maritime Telephone and Telegraph Company as well as a shoe store. The theatre, however, was the focal point. It featured state-of-the-art lighting, rigging, and projection equipment, and its extravagant interior was designed in the style of an ancient English castle. One of the most the most impressive features was the entrance, which guided guests across a drawbridge over a moat. The theatre itself could house up to two thousand guests. Many Haligonians flocked to the Capitol for their source of entertainment no matter the weather conditions.

While the Capitol had many live performances, the most common type of showings were films including The Terrible Halifax Explosion, Gone with the Wind, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and The Great Dictator. The Capitol hosted everything from propaganda films to graduation ceremonies and ballets. In addition to its attractive entrance, the Capitol also had bragging rights for the best popcorn in the city. The Capitol spent its fair share of time in newspaper headlines, too, most notably with a series of safe robberies. In 1942, over five thousand dollars was stolen, and in 1943, the theatre lost ninety-five dollars to theft. 

As the years went on, the Capitol faced competition from theatres that opened nearby such as the Paramount and Neptune. After 44 years of entertaining Haligonians, the Capitol Theatre had its final curtain call. It did not go down without a fight, however. Haligonians wrote letters to the editors of local newspapers describing their frustrations over the loss of their beloved theatre. The “Save the Capitol Society” was created in an attempt to preserve the building, but to no avail. For its final send-off, the Capitol showed the movie Super Dad and then closed its castle doors for the last time. The theatre was demolished in 1974 to make way for the Maritime Centre. Now all that remains of the Capitol Theatre are a handful of images and fading memories.