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Orpheum Theatre

Crowsnest Pass

Other Names:
Orpheum Theatre

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Orpheum Theatre is a two-storey building with a flat roof, located on 20th Avenue (formerly Victoria Street) in the community of Blairmore along what was also formerly Highway 3 through the Crowsnest Pass. The front of the building is faced in brick with four windows, currently covered with paintings, on the second floor, each with plain lintels and plain lug sills of sandstone. Above the windows, the plain parapet has a single line of corbelling with entablature of brick below the corbel and above the window lintels. The façade boasts a marquis, decorative arch, and a projecting perpendicular sign with “ORPHEUM THEATRE” in stacked bands of neon. Both buildings that flank the Orpheum exhibit design similar characteristics providing the street scape with a row massing of non-related (but similar) styles.

Heritage Value
The Heritage value of the Orpheum Theatre lies in its association with at least three Significance Criteria: 1) Theme/Activity/Cultural Practice/Event, 2) Institution/Person and 3) Information Potential.

Built in 1921, and still in use as a cinema, the Orpheum is the sole operating theatre with the Municipality the Orpheum meets the first and second Significance Criteria. It has been and is valued by the community as an important social hub, civic gathering place, and entertainment venue. Over a span of more than ninety years, it has seen many activities including but not limited to various gala affairs, political meetings, visits from Santa, Remembrance Day parades and meetings, recitals, sporting events and innumerable films. In 1933, the theatre played host to miner meetings when they were not allowed to openly congregate out of doors during the strikes that occurred during this period. The theatre opened during the area of silent movies with orchestration, transitioned to films with sound tracks and has moved into the 21st century with the advent of more modern technologies. As such it has been an integral part of the cultural fabric of Blairmore since it close to its formation and more recently with the amalgamation of the surrounding communities to form the Municipality.

Of particular interest to the history of the Orpheum is its association with Enrico Pozzi. Mr. Pozzi was an early contractor who built the theatre. In addition, many of remaining mine management buildings in the area were also built by him. Of interest to the theatre was his use of materials from the failed Frank Zinc Smelter in its construction, an early example or reuse.

Finally, the history of the Orpheum allows us to more fully understand the historic and cultural events that characterize the previous 90 years of the Crowsnest Pass. Whilethey do not stand alone, they form a part of the fabric of the area that allows us to understand the history of the area including the immigrants who came to the area, often as miners, and who successfully transitioned themselves to different occupations and lifestyles.

Character-Defining Elements
• Location, relationship to the street, size, form, and mass of the building;
• Massing of the theatre with adjacent buildings as portion of the street scape
• Materials such as brick (which may include some reused bricks and other materials from the Frank Zinc Smelter);
• Sandstone that defines the façade and its relationship to the street;
• Fenestration pattern and window openings;
• four windows openings on the second floor, each with plain lintels and plain lug sills of sandstone;
• Upper portion of the front façade that is original as part of the street scape,
the plain parapet with a single line of corbelling with entablature of brick below the corbel and above the window lintels;
• marquis, decorative arch, and a projecting perpendicular sign with “ORPHEUM THEATRE” in stacked bands of neon.


Street Address: 13125 - 20 Avenue
Community: Crowsnest Pass
Boundaries: Portion of Lots 4 to 6, Block 5, Plan 3319I
Contributing Resources: Building

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
4, 5, 6

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
49.607849 -114.435667 NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Local Governments (AB)
Designation Status: Municipal Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2011/07/05

Historical Information

Built: 1921/08/10
Period of Significance: 1921-present
Theme(s): Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life : Learning and the Arts
Historic Function(s):
Current Function(s): Leisure : Auditorium, Cinema or Nightclub
Builder: Enrico Pozzi

Additional Information

Object Number: 4664-0251
Designation File:
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 29154
Website Link:
Data Source: Municipality of the Crowsnest Pass Mailing Address: Box 600, Crowsnest Pass, AB T0K 0E0 Civic Address: 8502 - 19 Avenue Coleman
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