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Empress Theatre is ‘Jewel of Main Street’

empress theatre

The Empress Theatre continues a century-old tradition of providing quality live entertainment in Fort Macleod.
The Empress Theatre was built in 1912 by original owner T.B. Martin as the first opera
house in western Canada.
“The Empress was built to entertain the town’s citizens at a time when fortune and great
enterprise was within their grasp, when economic triumph was
something on which a man would bet the farm,” author Peter Scott wrote in his book Reign
of the Empress.
“But forces unforeseen were still at play,” Scott added. “The industrial
picture of southern Alberta had yet to gel, and the volatile vagaries
of commerce ultimately deigned the bounty would settle elsewhere.”
“At that point, the Empress could have proven to be a fair weather friend, opened for a dollar and closed
on a dime,” Scott noted.
“Instead, the theatre has been a steadfast pillar
of the town, sometimes down at heel, often neglected, rarely forgotten. Today, the Empress plays a vibrant role in the community, both as a house of entertainment, as an attraction for tourists, and as keeper of community memories.”
In the early 1980s the Empress was accepted into Heritage Canada Foundation’s Main Street program, which focused on reviving historic downtowns.
The theatre was refurbished and the non-profit Empress Theatre Society, which leases the building
from the Town of Fort Macleod, was formed. The
society and Empress Theatre staff work hard to bring award-winning performers to the stage through the Centre Stage Series, stand-alone productions and private rentals.
While the shows on the stage are spectacular, the theatre itself is also a marvel. From the neon tulips on the ceiling to the paintings by famed artist Neil Boyle on the walls, to the beautiful interior, the historic Empress Theatre is indeed the “Jewel of Main Street.”
The Empress Theatre screens current movies most nights at 7 p.m., and many special performances and community events are held throughout the year at the Empress Theatre.
Visit for updates oncoming attractions.

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