Orpheum Theatre circa 1946
At the time of its completion in 1927, the Orpheum was the biggest theatre in Canada, with 3000 seats. $1.25 million was spent on its construction ($17 million in today’s dollars), which funded not only its size but also its opulent interior.
In its early days, the Orpheum was a vaudeville house, hosting live theatrical shows in an era before the widespread popularity of motion pictures. By the mid-30s, however, vaudeville was quickly being outgunned by the movie industry and by the end of that decade the Orpheum was being used primarily as a movie theatre under the ownership of the Famous Players company.
The Orpheum remained a single-screen movie house until 1973 when Famous Players tabled a plan to convert the structure into a multiplex cinema. The plan was met with widespread backlash from citizens who wished to see the heritage theatre preserved. A “Save the Orpheum” campaign was launched which, with the help of celebrity endorsement from the likes of Jack Benny, convinced the City of Vancouver to purchase the Orpheum at a cost of $7.1 million.
An extensive 2-year restoration effort followed, which restored the threadbare theatre to the glory of its early days thanks, in part, to assistance from the theatre’s original interior designer. In 1977, the newly restored Orpheum opened to much fanfare and has since been used primarily as a live performance venue and home of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
Orpheum Theatre as it appears today
To learn more about the fascinating history of the street our hotel calls home, stay tuned to the Ramada Downtown Vancouver Hotel blog.
Wikipedia. “Orpheum (Vancouver”
City of Vancouver Archives “Exterior View of the Orpheum Theatre”
The new projection system features six digital video projectors which create a stunningly detailed 4k image across the full dome of the planetarium. This replaces their slide-based 35mm system that, while much loved, was a bit behind the times.
Other new additions to the planetarium experience include iPad integration, which allows audiences to interact with, and even direct, the presentation that unfolds before them on the dome.
Along with the projector upgrade comes two new planetarium shows, designed to take full advantage of the new equipment. IBEX: Search for the Edge of the Solar System, which plays nightly at 7:30 pm, offers a look at our planet and its surrounding celestial bodies from never-before-seen perspectives. The Searcher, which plays nightly at 9:00 pm, takes the perspective of a hypothetical extra terrestrial life form searching for a home in the vast and mysterious universe.
In addition to the planetarium, the Space Centre is home to a variety of interactive exhibits and unique items from the history of space travel.
Daytime admission to the Space Centre, which includes one show planetarium show, is $18 for adults, $15 for youth and $13 for children. Evening admission, starting at 7:30 pm, is a bit cheaper at $13 for adults, $10 for youth and $8 for children.
The H.R. Macmillan Space Centre is located in Vanier Park, also home to the Museum of Vancouver and the Vancouver Maritime Museum. It makes for a great day trip when you stay at the Ramada Downtown Vancouver Hotel, just a 5-minute drive away.