The Toby

Driving through town the other day, I saw Mrs. Peters walking. I pulled over and thanked her for what her and her husband meant to Lisa and I and our family.

Ron and Elizabeth Peters owned and operated the movie theatre in Invermere. Toby Theatre was the hub of downtown. Its big neon sign and movie posters in glass cases mounted on the exterior were a constant pleasure for every kid and adult while growing up in the Valley.

Inside was a thing of beauty. Snack bar with the best popcorn and cold fountain drinks (I was once addicted to the Cherry, it froze my throat and gave me a headache if I drank it fast enough, and I always did), the aquarium in the lobby, the model planes flying high off to the side as not to interfere with the projected light from the film, and the films were always good.

That was our entertainment growing up. I went to every movie. If it was restricted, my Mom would write me a note saying it was ok to let me in. I saw bare breasts and gore. Mom and Dad were probably happy I was out of their hair. I saw True Grit with John Wayne, during the 70’s, countless times.

Toby Theatre showed films. Sometimes the films were not new releases, like you see in theatres today. Sometimes they were older, but always great.

Ron and Elizabeth didn’t put up with rowdy or rude customers, this was also their home after all. They invited you in, you toed the line and it was wonderful to see movies on a big screen.

My children were lucky enough to go there before The Toby shut down. They loved it as much as us.

By then they had also started renting VHS and DVD movies. We would often send the kids down to rent a movie on Friday nights. We would also tell them to pick us up some popcorn as well.

Small town theatres like Ron and Elizabeth’s don’t exist anymore. Back then it was an escape, an oasis in a place lacking in the kind of magic it provided.

Things are different now. I could watch any film shown at the Toby’s 45 year history on my phone. But it’s not the same.

They call what has happened gentrification, or progress.

After talking to Elizabeth on the street. Telling her what a wonderful place they had, how it meant so much to us, we bid farewell. I turned and was walking, thinking she may not remember me, I have a grey beard after all, when she said, give my best to Lisa, Kelsie, Madison and Hunter.

Photos of Kelsie taken at The Toby Theatre.

5 thoughts on “The Toby

  1. mountaincoward

    Kelsie is a very attractive young lady!

    I had to laugh at the note from your Mum saying you could watch the film. We used to go down town for half fare on the bus and then go into an X rated film (now an ’18’). I think we were probably about 14 or 15 at the time so we had to con the bus driver we were younger and the cinema we were older all in one evening!

    I was the projectionist at our local cinema in the 80s when I came out of the Army. It was a great job as it wasn’t multi-reel in those days – it was when you had to watch for the spot on the screen and change from one projector to the other on the second spot. Our projectors were old Kalee carbon-arc projectors – fascinating and iconic machines. Unfortunately, when the boss changed to multi-reel, he had the projectors scrapped – all the projectionists left in protest!


    1. underswansea

      Hi Carol, that is so interesting. I’ve always thought being a projectionist would have been a cool job. Your website is dedicated to hiking, but have you ever thought about writing about some of your other experiences. You are a fine writer and always interject humour into your posts. I would love to hear about some of your experiences. I have enjoyed the ones about the concerts you have gone to. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. underswansea

      It was really our only entertainment. We had two channels on the TV but they didn’t come in very often. The radio was good at night.

      The pictures of Kelsie were from when she was about 15 years old. Everyone has been saying how much she looks like her Mom, Lisa.

      Liked by 1 person

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