Behind the Scenes by Mia Skelling …

I hope you enjoy this article on the history of the Champlain Theatre!

I chose this subject because I am very interested in the history of the film industry and, since we have our own small theatre in town, I thought that it would be interesting to go over the history of how it came to be. Also, with COVID-19 closing down everything, including all theatres, it made me realise how much times have changed and how important these theatres were, and still are, to small communities.

The History of the Champlain Theatre

The Champlain Theatre is a big source of entertainment for our small town. Whenever it’s open and has an interesting or popular movie playing, you can be sure to see lots of familiar faces gathering to watch the film. It was built by two brothers 71 years ago and this is its story.

According to various rumours, brothers Max and Lou Consky were passing through Mattawa one day and noticed how busy the town was. This sparked an idea that this town would be a great place to house a theatre. It is said that they then approached the Hydro Dam and proposed that they would build a theatre for the town of Mattawa on one condition, that the Hydro Dam would supply the concrete. It would appear that they agreed and the construction of the theatre would be completed in 1949.

Lou and Max Consky were well known for building and opening theatres in small towns across Ontario. Lou spent most of his life running the Molou Theatre in Haliburton and Max ran the Champlain Theatre in town.

While the entrance and the lobby of the theatre is made of sticks and stones, the auditorium is made of a Quonset hut. Quonset huts were created during the beginning of World War II for the U.S. Navy who required lightweight all-purpose buildings that could support the military. These huts could be shipped anywhere and could be easily and quickly assembled without skilled labor. The design of these buildings would later be used in Canada to serve the First Nation Reserves, loggers, fishers and farmers. They are typically made of curved pieces of steel that are bolted together but can also be made of tin or aluminum as well.

Various Images of the Champlain Theatre through the years

Remi Gravelle-3

Did you know that in total the theatre houses 225 seats for its patrons?

The first film to be viewed in the Champlain Theatre was “Family Honeymoon” starring Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert in 1949.

During the 50s and 60s, 3 movies would be shown each week, twice a night with a matinee on Saturday afternoons. The matinee consisted of a 15-minute serial that was usually The Lone Ranger by Republic Pictures.

It is said that the place was typically packed during showings. At the time, it costed 25¢ to see the show and another 25¢ for a pop and chip. An interesting tidbit that people remember very clearly is that people used to line up for chips from Turcotte’s Chip Stand before lining up to see the show.

From 1960 to 1987, Roy and Shirley Parizeau would operate the theatre along with Conrad Belanger and Remi Gravelle who would fill in as projectionists when needed.

The RCA 35mm film projector …

In 1971, Remi would begin operating the theatre for the Consky family after Roy fell ill and he would later purchase the theatre on March 11th, 1994. During that time, he would operate his barber shop in the lobby during the day.

Remi Gravelle-1
Remi Gravelle-2
Remi Gravelle-5
Champlain Theatre

In 2004, Tim Smith and Michel Royer would purchase the theatre and performed its first major renovation since 1949.

In November of 2007, Denis and Claudine Janveaux would purchase the theatre and operate it under the business name “Mariette Productions”. This was a tribute to Denis mother, Mariette Janveaux.

NOT Clydes

The building has housed various events over the years such as the Cinéfest Champlain Film Festival in 2005, Not Clyde’s fashion shows, an episode of CBC’s Still Standing, local band concerts, birthday parties, etc.

Some of the CBC Still Standing episode for you to enjoy…

Kissing a Canoe – Most Awkward Kiss Ever? – Still Standing

At the moment, the theatre is closed due to COVID-19, but there are still plenty of ways to see movies. Many people had been using Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, etc. before the pandemic hit and it seems that the usage has gone up since the lockdown had begun.

Stay tuned for when your local Champlain Theatre might reopen…

What was the first movie you saw at the Champlain Theatre and when?

The original projector from the Champlain Theatre is an artifact at the Mattawa Museum. We encourage you to visit when we are open next season to take a look at it!

Behind the Scenes by Judy Toupin …

Collections Management

If you’ve been following our blogs over the season, you’ve heard about the huge task of Collections Management.  Logging thirty-five years’ worth of accession cards into the computer system is just a beginning.  Then we will need to reconcile our collections inventory with what is recorded. This means, literally, searching through the museum to find the object (not as simple as it sounds in some cases)! Once it is located, it is photographed so that we can make a condition report.  ALL of this information will eventually be entered into the Past Perfect system.  And voilà!

One day in the not too distant future, we will have an online, searchable archive.

If you have any pictures and/or documents you feel might be of historical interest to us, please Contact Us.  Now we are able to scan, using an LED scanner, the photograph or document directly into the archive.  You can keep your original photo while providing a piece of history for others to enjoy.

This type of information also becomes quite helpful for people doing family ancestry searches, people doing academic research and it becomes part of building our education programming.

One of our new exhibit areas is Community

We are adding technology to the Museum!

We will now have an interactive exhibit with pictures,  videos, live streaming and presentations.

You can help build the interactive/visual part of the Community exhibit!

We are looking for pictures and video of the two major events our community has experienced – the flooding of 2019 and this year’s crisis – COVID-19.

For COVID, pictures/videos of the nightly car parades that celebrated our front-line workers, graduation and birthday drive by celebrations. Check out the information that has already been compiled on this website for COVID-19.

Do you have a story you would like to share?

What would you like people to know about our Community?

We encourage you to read the Stories… that we have added to the website thus far.

October is Women’s History Month in Canada

We invite you to share stories that celebrate the women and girls from our past, and our present, who have made, and continue to make, a lasting impact on Mattawa and area.

Before the season officially closes, wanted to let everyone know about a new feature we are adding to the website. A Suggestion Box!

This is a place for you to let us know what you would like to see at the Museum.

Who or what would you like to learn more about?

Watch for this to be added to the website!

We will also be updating our online Museum Gift Shop in time for some Holiday Shopping. Online order forms will be available.

  • We have a great selection of books.
  • T-shirts will be available with your choice of colour and imprint.
  • Face masks are also still available, but we have added the new style of facemask with ear loops (only available in black & white).

Again, I wanted to take this time to thank all of you for your support and encouragement through our Reset Season.  I know that COVID has taken its toll on each of us in different ways, but our Community continues to pull together to stay safe.  I am so proud to be a part of it.


Stay well, stay in touch and stay connected.

Behind the Scenes by Judy Toupin …

Time has flown by for us at the Museum.  We’re almost at the end of what we’ve dubbed our Reset Season.  Thank you for following our intrepid team!  Your support and encouragement, both in person, emails and messages  means so much and is truly appreciated.  Thank you for your participation in our fundraisers and for sharing through our FB posts and website.

Thank you to our Board of Directors for keeping our health and safety at the forefront and giving us the opportunity to take this time to refurbish and renovate exhibits, as well as getting our Collections Management in order! It has been a gift of time.  Thank you to wonderful volunteers who have helped us with various projects along the way. Many things could not have been completed without your help.

Most of all, I would like to thank our team of young women, Alex Guscott, Mariah Lejambe and Mia Skelling for their enthusiasm and great work ethic.  It was important for us to take all the necessary precautions around COVID, to keep our work bubble safe. We did that and accomplished so much.  I know that some of what you did won’t be ‘visible’ to the public, but without that behind the scenes work, what our visitors will see wouldn’t have been possible.  What you did behind the scenes will matter to future curators and staff.

One of my personal goals as curator this season was to reach out to this amazing community, to hear your stories, to share your stories, to gather more knowledge and history as we sorted  through our extensive in-house collection.  I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with more than a few of you, so thank you. We will continue to do that.  Everyone’s voice matters.  It isn’t about the politics of who is speaking, it is about our collective history.  It is about sharing that history for our future generations in this community.  And when it is safe to do so, we want to share those stories with visitors.

October is Women’s History Month, so stay tuned next week for an exciting sneak peek of upcoming projects and additions to our website.  In the meantime, continue to practice all of our health safety protocols as we continue to keep our community safe.

Behind the Scenes by Alex Guscott …

This week …

I worked on a few display cases. I finished taking inventory of all the items in the cases and then worked on their design.

We have a few very old ledgers and journals from past businesses in Mattawa (dating back as far as 1862) that we want to display, but we had no book cradles too support them while they are open. Laying a book flat and open can cause damage to the books over time.

So, I made some. I started by making a sort of prototype out of white foam core to see if it would even work as I wanted it too. When I realized it would work, I started making custom cradles for each book we wanted to display. I did my best to support the books spines and create natural angles for the books to open to. As a finishing touch (and to cover up the very obvious tape holding the cradles together), I covered the cradles in black felt.

My very rough prototype…

A few of the book cradles I made.

They aren’t quite finished in this photo! I forgot to take a photo of the finished cradles before I left on Thursday.

As well, I selected many of the items that would be put back on display in the display cases. We wanted to select items that help tell Mattawa history best. For instance, we chose items from our collection for our Indigenous and Metis exhibits that reflect the groups in the Mattawa area best. Then, we researched and created concise labels to name the objects and explain their significance. We have done our best to reach out to people from Indigenous and Metis communities to gain better knowledge and understanding of their culture.

Moreover, I did some more painting to update a display case. I thought I was not going to have to paint again this season (I was a bit done with it after already painting multiple display cases and part of the ceiling in prior weeks), but I was wrong. All complaining aside, I thought it was something that had to be done and Judy did not force me to do it. The fresh coats of paint really did help the overall look of the case and I am happy I did it.


The murder mystery is coming to a close soon, however, participants can take their time to complete it. For those who read the answer when it is released on Tuesday, please do not spoil it for others in the group. Thank you!

We will have a draw for all participants on Tuesday and subsequently announce the winner. The prize is a Mattawa Museum logo t-shirt and face mask!

We also finished a few projects!

We finished organizing the lower level cabinet and the installation of the new LED lights. We still have a lot left to do before the end of the season (even more than we will even get to complete!) but we will do our best to get it done.

Our hope is to open next season so you can see all our work!