The building at 385 Henderson Hwy. which today houses Roxy Lanes began its life as a movie theatre called the Roxy Theatre back on Christmas Eve, 1929.
The original prices for evening performance were 35 cents for adults, 25 cents for children and 50 cents for loge seats. Matinee shows on Saturdays and holidays cost just 15 cents for children until 5 p.m.
When it was built, it was one of the most modern suburban theatres in Canada at the time; it contained Simplex Projectors and an elaborate sound system for the era that allowed for the sound to be heard equally in all parts of the theatre. Like the Uptown Theatre on Academy Road, it was built by local architect Max Blankstein and owned by Jacob Miles.
The main floor sat 800 people, including 100 people in whicker loge seats. Yhe balcony contained 400 seats. There was a small stage that was used on occasion for concerts and fundraising events. The stage was draped with a Spanish-style draw curtain. The ceiling consisted of a blue-sky image with lights in the ceiling creating an image of twinkling stars and slowly drifting stars. The inside walls were decorated in the style of Spanish Moorish houses with sloping tile roofs and windows which were curtained and lighted. The lobby contained a stone fireplace built from Manitoba Tyndall stone
The outside of the theatre was constructed in dark red bricks with a 10-foot neon sign. There was a parking lot next to the theatre with electric plugs for block heaters for patrons coming by car.
During the 1930s and especially during the Second World War, the theatre would shut down as a movie theatre for fundraising events for local community groups and for the sale of Victory Bonds. These events consisted of speakers mixed with musical performances.
At evening shows well into the 1950s, there was a regular giveaway of kitchen plate to encourage attendance.
The coming of television to Winnipeg in May 1954 and the larger and more modern theatres in downtown Winnipeg contributed to a decline in admissions. In May 1960, the Roxy closed as a theatre and was then renovated and turned into Roxy Lanes, with 20 bowling lanes which opened in October 1960. Some of the original Spanish Moorish decoration are still on location, stored in the basement.
Jim Smith is a community correspondent for Elmwood, East Kildonan and North Kildonan. Email him at email@example.com