Looking Back


Movie Night at the Hall in Onoway


A visit to Onoway Museum will take you to the days when families went to the movies. Like many people living in rural communities in the mid-1900s, Onoway area residents took great pleasure in going to the movies on Saturday night. Television was only becoming popular so this weekly family outing was still a highlight of the week. These movie shows were held in the Onoway Community Hall (not today's hall - an earlier building with an annex used for high school classes) which was replaced by the current community hall built as a centennial project in 1967.


Harry Birkett had purchased the 16 mm projector and necessary equipment and started the weekly Saturday night "picture shows" after WWII. Otto Raesler took over and families continued to enjoy the movies until the 1960s. There was a small admission fee and for many years, the lucky viewers had the opportunity to purchase fresh popcorn prepared by members of the CGIT (Canadian Girls in Training). Raesler initiated a draw prize (free movie the following week) by setting out a draw box and asking attendees to write their names and drop them in the box.


The Onoway Community Hall was one of the facilities run by the Onoway Community Association. Their fee for showing movies varied but was $8.00 for a long while. (If Raesler charged 25 per person, it easily became a profitable business.) An annual license fee (for in-house) entertainment was paid to the province. The hall was a busy place used by organizations, churches, individuals, the school for meetings, dances, weddings, courses, teas, blood donor clinics you name it!


If you remember movie night at the Community Hall in Onoway, please call the museum (780.967.1015) or stop by and tell us about it!

                                Bookings 1951
Film Reel

Hall bookings 1951

This record book of the Onoway Community Association shows bookings
for 1951-52. "Movie shows" were a weekly event but additional shows (often sponsored by local businesses) were also shown. (Seeing the list of bookings,
e.g. weddings, showers, dance bands, etc. is fascinating!)

Film Reel

The projector reel (13 inches in diameter) was attached to a larger
rim (22 inches). Raesler attached a voltage regulator between the
projector and power outlet to ensure that the power supply
did not fluctuate and slow down the movie.

Ticket Draw
Poster for Movie

Ticket Draw box

The person whose name was drawn from this box after the show got free entrance
to next week's show. This box was discovered 50 years after its last use.
Most of the slips of paper had been chewed up by mice but three names
are still intact Helen Waldowski, Mrs. Stiles and Jane Cooper.

Poster for Movie

Occasionally "outsiders" would offer to show a movie as a fundraiser
for an organization for a portion of the ticket fee charged.


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Last updated: August 2, 2021