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Livin’ In A Small Town 1

I thought you might be interested in reading about some of the small town living realities – hence the birth of Thursday’s “Livin’ in A Small Town” post.  I grew up in the Toronto area and besides living in Germany for a year and Slovakia for three years, most of my days have been lived in relatively big cities. Beaverton is definitely not Toronto… and we just love the speed of life here!

My husband and I live in Beaverton, Ontario, a sleepy little town about two hours north/east of Toronto. It’s mostly a retirement town and it’s home to a community of 2500 people. It has a small strip of stores punctuating the main street, Smallmart being my personal favourite. The local economy is based on the provision of services to the surrounding area, supplemented by some manufacturing. Tourism also plays a role; the Trent-Severn Waterway connects with Lake Simcoe a few kilometres north of Beaverton and the area attracts cottagers, boaters, anglers and watersport enthusiasts from other regions of the Province.

Beaverton is the home of The Strand Theatre, our local cinema. Most of the year, it is open on Friday and Saturday nights only but during the winter months, it is totally unpredictable. You might go weeks without a new billing on the marquee.

The Strand 1944

The Strand 1944

The Strand 2011

The Strand 2011

There are usually two friendly, older women who greet you – one sits in the ticket booth outside of the movie theatre and the other woman collects your ticket just inside the door. There is a tiny snack bar in the theatre lobby, where you can buy popcorn in those small, cardboard boxes with the picture of an elephant (Jumbo) on the outside – remember those? Also in the lobby, you can find a wonderful collection of fascinating historical pictures and stories of the theatre, as well as the actual projector that was first used in 1944 (the picture above also shows a giant replica of the projector on its roof).

When you first enter the actual theatre, there is an undeniable and very distinct smell. It never seems to be bright enough to actually see what those blotches on the walls truly are but we suspect they are a mixture of mold and water stains.

Movies are advertised to begin at 8:00 p.m. but there is an unspoken rule that the movie doesn’t start until every one has their popcorn and snacks and have settled in their antique seats. There are usually about ten people in the theatre…including us. (in summer months it can get busier, depending on the movie shown that weekend)    Our favourite part of this whole experience is watching the “Coming Soon” and the “Feature” clips, which were probably created in the early 60’s, complete with bad organ music and mod graphics.

When you think of modern venues these days, imagine what it’s like when you walk into their vast cathedral-like foyers. You are inundated with noise, music, film preview dialogue, arcade game sirens and all sorts of bright lights.  But we hardly notice it.  We are only concerned with finding the right movie on one of many schedule screens, some as large as billboards, finding the shortest lineup for popcorn and snacks that must have been hand-crafted by the great chefs of Europe for what you pay. Then try to imagine The Strand. Only one set of doors so when you step in and are greeted by the ticket taker, you quickly move in to get warm and it feels more like arriving at your aunt’s house.

Chris and I love everything about this theatre…the delightful ambiance,the price (was $5 but went to $7 this past summer), the personal touch of those who work there, the bathroom fixtures that cannot be found in public washrooms any more and the fact that we can help support our own community in small ways.

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