Invermere BC V0A 1K0
HISTORY OF THE TOBY THEATRE
By Elizabeth Peters
A few weeks ago my path crossed with that of Ron Ede editor of the Pioneer and he asked if I was interested in having an article
published in our newest valley newspaper and I responded in the affirmative.My husband Ron Peters and I moved to Invermere
in December 1971 at which time we became the new owners of the Toby Theatre. We moved into the theatre which had
a small unheated and unfinished apartment above it next to the projection room. For a few months the theatre auditorium
was our bedroom because it was the warmest room in the building and we didn't wake up with frost on the blankets as long
as Ron kept the coal furnace going. On occasion I would complain about not having a window and Ron would remind with a
smile that we had the biggest bedroom in Invermere and that always brought a smile to my face. However many challenges
we have faced in keeping the Toby operating for over 33 years Ron's sense of humor has been the greatest asset. He has
proven over and over again that "Where there is a will, there is a way.".Ron and I moved here from Calgary, Alberta only six
months after we were married and there are four people who stand out as being friendly to us those first days.
It is ironic that Florence and Dave Raven parents of Lisa Ede were two of those people, along with Charley Osterloh and Joyce Nixon.
Charley owned Link Hardware. Joyce and Florence worked there and we got to know them well as we began necessary maintenance
to the theatre. Dave worked at Selkirk T.V.We have never forgotten their kindness and helpfulness to us during those early
years. Charley Osterloh (sadly-deceased) quietly assisted many in this community and never required recognition-he simply
helped where and whenever he could-that was Charley Osterloh.It occurred to me while writing this article that it would be
interesting to find out a little more about the history of the Toby Theatre.After a few inquiries and a phone call to Harry Hogan
an IGA employee and stepson to Morley Hogan one of the first names I was to discover in my search for Toby Theatre history I
was able to continue this article.I spoke by telephone to Morley Hogan and his wife Irene (Hemmelgarn) Hogan who currently are
retired in Parksville, B.C. It seems that while Morley Hogan and Clint Morgan were visiting the town of Golden they noticed how busy
the local movie house , The Yoho Theatre was. Morley and Clint were involved in building the Robinson Store in Golden just down
the street from the Yoho. It occurred to them that a movie theatre would be a good thing for Invermere as T.V. had not yet arrived
in the valley.Unfortunately before their dream could be realized Clint Morgan died in a drowning accident at Cartwright Lake.
Clint's wife Billie Morgan (also Morley's sister) decided to follow through with the dream and she and Morley had the theatre
built. Ronacher's Mill in Athalmer delivered 75,000 board feet of planed lumber to the theatre's present location and with
thousands of nails and many hundreds of man hours the theatre was completed. The design was very similar to the Yoho
Theatre in Golden with some improvements (a bigger lobby for the Toby). The projection equipment was purchased second hand
from the Lux Theatre in Banff who were upgrading their equipment and the TOBY THEATRE opened its doors for the first time in
The theatre changed movies three times a week. It was a pretty busy place just as Morley and Clint had predicted. They drew
people from as far away as Canal Flats and Edgewater in those days. Morley and Billie operated the Toby until the mid 1960's.
Morley said that to his best recollection it was sold to Steve and Kay Capowski of Radium sometime between 1966 and 1967.
Steve and Kay Capoowski built on to the Toby in 1969-1970. Steve and Kay operated the theatre until Ron and I purchased it and
took over in December 1971.Together we have worked hard to keep the Toby operational. In addition to running the theatre
business we have raised two daughters, Tammy and Nicole, who were born in the valley. They currently make their homes in
Calgary and Vancouver. When people ask them where they were raised, they respond "in a theatre" which is always a topic
for conversation. We continued to run three movies a week for seventeen years until such time as it no longer proved cost effective.
We ran one movie Monday to Wednesday, another movie Thursday to Saturday and a horror movie on Sunday nights. Times and
tastes changed and so we have evolved to our present schedule. In those early days entertainment was scant and many did not have
televisions so a night out at the movies was a pretty special thing. We diversified into Video Rental for about fifteen years to stay
alive when interest in going to the movies died. We are happy to say that people eventually decided that they still wanted a night out
to see a movie so are out of the video business and into Big Screen movie entertainment only, once again. Ron and I have
experienced many lean and tough years with one or both of us holding down part time and /or full time jobs during the 33 years
we have been here. We have repainted the outside of the Toby numerous times-I personally conquered my fear of heights by doing
just that (it's a tall building when you're standing at the top of the ladder with a paint tray and roller). Together Ron and I refinished
the lower half of the building with a new brick product which has made it more maintenance friendly-what a job that was! We also
built our own scaffolding a couple of years ago and repainted and gave the auditorium interior a new look. We've learned many
new skills since moving here as Ron was previously a telephone installer/technican and I a legal secretary. We'd have loved to hire
the work done but it wasn't in the budget so we became the home renovators and repair team. We've been told by many we
have a unique and warm welcoming feel about our small town theatre and we are proud of what we have accomplished. We will
continue to do our best to keep the Toby Theatre open but it does require the support of local citizens as well as the many visitors
and part-time residents of the Windermere Valley. We would like to sincerely thank all of you who have been there over the years.
We would also like you all to know that had it not been for the generosity of Charley Osterloh some 33 years ago in extending to us,
Ron & Elizabeth Peters credit with no interest ever charged the Toby Theatre would not have survived so extensive were the
necessary repairs. We believe that in all likelihood Ron and myself will be the last owners of the Toby Theatre as many small town
theatres have closed down because of their inability to complete with the multiplexes in larger cities and we unfortunately feel
that we will also fall victim to this trend in the not so distant future.
Our concession area has 150 square feet space with over 50 kinds of chocolate bars and some 15 flavours of drinks to choose from.
According to our customer survey we also at the top for having the best Popcorn in Canada. We carry the Nestle bottled water for those
who wish to avoid sugar products. The concession stand items are also available for take-out.
The Toby Theatre closed September 7, 2014 due to the shortage of 35mm film in favor of the digital format !
The cost of conversion to digital format was too great for a small market like Invermere.
Original Owner Charles Morley Hogan Obituary