Gabrielle Swan
View from The Pas


A theater revival project in Northern Manitoba leaves town members excited at the prospect of what’s to come in the culture sector of The Town of The Pas. The historic Lido Theatre located on Edwards Avenue in The Pas was built in 1929 by architect Max Zev Blankstein. The project was commissioned by Auguste ‘Irish’ Rivalin and his family ran the venue for four generations.

Theresa Cruz, the great granddaughter of the founder, recalls the love her grandmother and second-generation owner, Mrs. Margarette Rivalin, had for the theater. “She was an opera singer who landed herself in The Pas and was always very involved in the arts community of the day,” says Margaret.

Repairs to The Lido Theatre Sign on Fisher Avenue, Town of The Pas.

On what must have been a memorable evening in 1929, in a town of 3,000 people, 500 of The Pas’ community members gathered for the opening night of what would become one of Manitoba’s finest atmospheric theaters. The yellow velvet curtains pulled back framing either side of the screen and the owner, Irish Rivlan, would start the projector for what would soon become the most popular place in town. That first evening the show was a talkie called The Hollywood Revue, and in the years that followed that same screen would bring to life films like One Night at Susies, starring Billie Dove; The Bad Man, with Walter Huston and James Rennie: and A Lady’s Morals with Grace Moore.

This was the first theater in Western Canada to play movies with sound and it was independently run for almost 100 years. In 2019, after countless performances of film, live theater, and music, with the orchestra pit and bright red stage still intact, the theater closed its doors and the heart of the town slowed down a few beats.

Since the day it closed, the Lido has been a hot topic. Phyllis Scott, a local woman born just one year before the theater opened, shared with me what it was like to step foot in the magical room for the very first time. “It was 1936 and I was eight years old. A family friend had come by the farm and picked us kids up to go to town. It was the first time I’d ever left the farm to go anywhere other than church. The film was about quintuplets born in Quebec, but I could hardly pay attention to the film because I was enthralled with the room. It was very ornate, and I remember the walls inside were a dark blue colour and had wrought iron railings that made it look like the inside of an opera house. It was very dark and mysterious, and I always expected to see a ghost!”

The Lido Theater Schedule for September 16 to 29th 1960.

Now, after five long years with the Lido closed, Mayor Andre Murphy and his council acquired the building from the Swan River Credit Union. It is with great pride and enthusiasm that community groups have come together under the leadership of Mayor Murphy to restore this lost gem at the heart of our town. He announced that the town will be working on an evaluation of the space in the coming months and has pledged the financial resources to get the initial phase of the restoration off the ground.

The town’s Community Development Corporation, along with the organization I co-founded, The Pas Guest List Inc., are working on a collaborative effort to renovate the theater and turn it into a thriving community space that will be available for all to enjoy.

The Lido Theater will provide its own programming to the community and additionally be available to rent for our local organizations, like the The Pas Arts Council and Theater 53, as well as for private groups for parties, weddings and corporate events.

A three piece band performs during an early Trapper’s Festival Event circa 1950’s.

We are looking to model others like the Ellen Theater in Bozeman, Montana and The Park Theater in Winnipeg, that have successfully undertaken similar restoration projects and are thriving in their respective communities. With the financial support of grants and donations from our local business owners and Manitobans at large, we hope to complete the renovations and have the building open to the public within the next three years. We are excited and energized to finally have the type of space available to showcase the arts in The Pas in a respectful way that enhances the viewer’s overall experience.

To get more information about the project or to provide support please contact [email protected].

Gabrielle Swan moved to The Town of The Pas 18-months ago after spending a decade in New York City. She holds a Bachelor of Design from Toronto Metropolitan University with a major in communications and a minor in marketing. Swan brings her love of art and non-profit experience to a community who is most welcoming to an outsider. Swan serves as the Chair of the Destination Marketing Committee, the Treasurer of The Pas Guest List Inc, is a board member of The Pas Arts Council and is a committee member of Imaginorthern.

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