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.
In our city’s early days, hotels existed in astounding abundance—you could find one on nearly every downtown block. Today, many of these historic structures have been converted to offices or residences. The Ramada building, however, is one of the few pre-WWI Vancouver hotel structures still serving its original function.
Like many of the structures on Vancouver’s Granville Street, the Ramada Hotel building dates back to the early 20th century. Built in 1909, it began life as the Granville Palace Hotel, a name befitting of its size which, at the time, would have seemed impressively large amidst the modest shops and dwellings of the West End neighbourhood that bordered Granville Street.
The total price tag for its construction was $90,000 (adjusted for inflation, that’s $2 million). The year after the building was erected, its owners, the Granville Land and Loan company decided to add another story to the building at a cost of $15,500. All in all, it was a big investment for the company’s director and manager of the hotel AJ Paterson, but it proved to be worth it, as records show Paterson enjoyed enough success to make his home in the prestigious Vancouver neighbourhood of Shaughnessy Heights.
The Granville Palace Hotel eventually became the Austin Hotel, the name that it bears in the above photo from 1928 and a name that would stick for well over half a century until it became the Ramada.
Our hotel as it appears today
Stay tuned to our blog for the next instalment of The History of Granville Street, a series exploring the colourful past of the street our hotel calls home.
Changing Vancouver, “Austin Hotel – Granville Street”
Vancouver Archives, “View of the 1200 Block of Granville”
You’d be pressed to find anyone who doesn’t have a cancer story to tell. Whether it’s a loved one, friend or co-worker, we all know someone who has had to wage a battle against the disease that claims more than 75,000 Canadian lives every year. But if the BC Cancer Foundation has its way, these hard-fought battles will one day be a thing of the past. They help fight cancer in the hopes that we won’t have to.
The foundation’s primary weapons in this fight are funds and awareness, both of which they aim to raise at special events happening throughout the year. Funds and awareness fuel research, enhance care and treatment and encourage every individual to do their part to support the cause.
The foundation’s success in its fundraising events is a testament to our province’s passion for the cause. Last Month’s Concrete Hero obstacle challenge event, the first of its kind, raised over $400,000 for life-saving cancer research. Earlier in the month, the Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer hit an even higher figure, raising more than $500,000.
The popularity of the foundation’s events no doubt has something to do with how much fun they add to the fundraising process. From the annual Underwear Affair run to the street hockey tournament to the urban obstacle course, their novel fundraising initiatives never fail to get people’s attention and attract thousands of participants of all ages.
Have a look at the BC Cancer Foundation’s list of upcoming events to find out where and how you can get involved in the next fundraiser. You may also consider signing up for a monthly donation program or organizing a fundraising event of your own.
The Ramada Downtown Vancouver Hotel is a proud supporter of the BC Cancer Foundation.
For those of you asking, “What is improv?” here’s a quick intro: it’s a style of comedic live performance that, as the name suggests, is completely improvised. There’s no script and no set storyline; instead, the performers use audience input and interaction to create a spontaneous and dynamic performance as they go.
“So they’re just making it up?” you ask. “Sounds like recipe for disaster”. In the hands of you or me, it would be, but in the hands of these overwhelmingly talented performers, it’s a recipe for one of the funniest and most enjoyable theatre experiences you’ve ever had.
Each night of the festival features two performances, one at 7:30 pm and one at 9:30 pm. Tickets are $15 a piece, but the best deal is to buy an evening pass, which gives you access to both shows for the incredible price of $21. With very limited numbers of tickets left, we encourage you to get yours online now before they’re gone.
The shows take place at Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island (1412 Cartwright Street). Take your first right after the entrance to Granville Island and you’ll see it right next to the Kid’s Market. Parking could be limited, but when you stay at the Ramada Downtown Vancouver Hotel, you won’t need to drive—Granville Island is just a 15-20 minute walk or very short cab ride away.
The Ramada Downtown Vancouver Hotel is proud to be an official sponsor of the 14th Annual Vancouver International Improv Festival. We hope to see you there!