From Motiograph to Digital Projection in Waterton
The Waterton Opera House, known to some as the Waterton Theatre, was opened in 1935. It was operated by Gordon Brewerton and his family until it was sold in 1976. When it was purchased from the Brewerton family in 1976, it came with a 35 mm Motiograph motion picture projector. Larry Becker said the projector, “Was very well-designed, and quality equipment, when it was new… in the late 40s or early 50s when the motion picture industry was in an absolute hey-day; so huge investments were made in developing high quality equipment for motion picture exhibitions.”
The projector was cared for and repeatedly repaired until 2011 when the film industry moved from reel to digital projection for all new movies. Said Andrea Becker of learning that the 35 mm film technology had come to an end, “When we went down [to Waterton] in April of 2011, [Larry] needed to get a piece to fix part of the projector, and that’s when [he] phoned King Cinemas, and the fellow at King Cinemas said ‘You know, by the end of this year, they’re not going to be distributing film anymore.’ So, it was April, and our end of season was October, and so Larry got on the phone… and made some calls around, and, sure enough, that was it. They had finally, after years of hinting that this was coming, they suddenly threw it at us, and pulled the rug under our feet very quickly.” Added Larry, “If we wanted to continue showing motion pictures, we had to get rid of this [projector].”
Donor Al Anctil acquired the projector in late 2011 from Larry and Andrea Becker, and within a year decided to donate it to the Galt Museum & Archives. You can learn more about the artefacts stored in the Galt’s collections on our online database at https://collections.galtmuseum.com.