Capitol Centre

North Bay’s Home for Arts & Entertainment

The Capitol Centre is North Bay’s historic home for arts and entertainment since 1929. It has enjoyed strong community support for 90 years and has outlasted four other theatres in the area. 

The Capitol Centre includes the Betty Speers Theatre, the WKP Kennedy Gallery, Martini’s Lounge and the Galaxy Circle Lounge. 

A home to many

Throughout the 20th century, the Capitol has housed many performances and many businesses.

The first OPP detachment in North Bay had its headquarters upstairs. Dominion Life Assurance, Mutual Life of Canada, and the Children’s Aid Society all held offices up there too. A dentist rented the room overlooking the Main Street marquis sign until he retired in 1973.

The A&K Pierce Furniture Company and an 8-lane 10-pin bowling alley operated by the Salidas brothers shared the basement through the 1930s to the 1950s. The lane markers are still visible on the workshop walls today.

Famous Players

In 1927, a businessman from Sturgeon Falls purchased the property at 150 Main Street East in North Bay to build a theatre. During construction he went bankrupt and sold his interests to the Famous Players of Canada Corporation.

Famous Players opened the doors to the new Capitol Theatre on June 1, 1929, for the screening of In Old Arizona, the first Fox Pictures “talkie” motion picture (movies with sound) of its kind.

This theatre had 1455 seats, state-of-the-art technology, elaborate decorative touches, and was referred to as a “palace of splendour.” It wasn’t the only theatre downtown, but the Capitol was the grandest of them all and is the only one left open today.

The Betty Spears Theatre

'See it, Hear it, and Live it Live' at the Capitol Centre.

Restored and renovated in 1986, the Betty Spears Theatre has been the auditorium for numerous events and attractions including the North Bay Symphony, local and visiting music and dance productions, Broadway-style theatrical productions, films, and civic presentations. 

The arts community comes together

In the 1970s, an organization called North Bay Theatre and Arts Community Centre (TACC) was formed with the goal of establishing an art centre to house all arts-related endeavours within the city and surrounding district.

On Thursday, December 19, 1985, a cheque made out to Famous Players was signed by the founder of TACC, Betty Spears, to purchase the Capitol Theatre for the City of North Bay. It is for her leadership that the concert hall is now called the Betty Speers Theatre.

Two years later, a newly renovated facility was opened and dubbed the Arts Centre. The theatre seating was cut down from 1455 to 998 in favour of better seating and views of the stage. Rebranding in 1997 saw the centre renamed in honour of its history as the Capitol Centre.

Further renovations in the 2000s added more accessible seating and cut the seating down again to 932 seats. Through all renovations however, the theatre has retained its original beauty and design with minimal changes other than modern technology.

WKP Gallery

The WKP Kennedy Gallery, located immediately off the main entrance of the Capitol Centre, is a public art gallery that exhibits the finest in historical and contemporary Northern, Canadian and International visual artists.

This public art gallery was established in 1987 and is named for a prominent businessman in North Bay’s early history and for the Kennedy family’s investment and involvement with the TACC cause.  

The WKP Kennedy Gallery showcases art of all forms and media in two gallery spaces, through public arts activities, in programming with the Capitol Centre and in touring exhibition projects.

Francophone Artists

The Capitol Centre plays host to performers ranging from international artists to Canadian rock royalty, dance companies, Broadway shows, symphony performances, comedy acts as well as many Francophone artists including the likes of Andre Philippe Gagnon and Rock Voisine. 

EXTERNAL LINKS

Discover a few of our local artists:

 DAYV Poulin

Shawn Sasyniuk

Break The Trend



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