Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Lyric Theatre

By Ryan McGreal
Published January 26, 2010

Ranjit Sandhu of the eclectic RJBuffalo has lovingly compiled a comprehensive clearinghouse of historical information - newspaper articles, photographs, announcements, advertisements, and personnel - on the beautiful, doomed Lyric Theatre on Mary Street.

It starts: "Nobody in Hamilton remembers, or can remember. So here is a little reminder about the magnificent Lyric Theatre in downtown, hidden just off of King Street."

The story starts in 1910 with the first announcement that a new theatre would be built. It continues through the years, tracing the drama, competition, changes of technology, use, ownership and name, drama both on- and off-stage, and eventual decline and closure in 1989.

The author doesn't just post images of the old newspaper articles, but has taken the time to provide the text as well. There are some real gems:

Mayor [John] Allan opened the initial performance. With his usual suavity, he expressed great delight at the interior of the playhouse, and thought that the management was composed of such representative citizens as to insure that the performances would be of the right kind.

There's an awful lot of reading in here. The author declaims at the top of the essay that it's still in draft form, but his painstaking collection of historical documents is already a tremendous gift to public knowledge.

Sadly, we collectively ignored his plea for preservation until it was too late.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By jason (registered) | Posted January 26, 2010 at 13:29:20

awesome work, but as usual in this city, so depressing. Much thanks to Ranjit. This is extremely informative. I LOVE the art deco inspired reno in the final photo when it became a movie house.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted January 26, 2010 at 13:58:59

It is so sad, that the given the history of this building, that is now in ruins. Thank you Ranjit for the collection.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted January 26, 2010 at 15:04:11

Did anyone else read to the bottom, where Mr. Sandhu suggests that the roof collapse might have been overhyped in order to justify an unnecessary demolition?

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 26, 2010 at 16:52:24

^ where have we seen that before?
Tivoli, Balfour etc.....

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted January 26, 2010 at 18:39:16

Thanks for posting this Jason- this guy has been an incredible resource.

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted January 26, 2010 at 19:51:41

Oops- I meant Ryan! (Not to say you don't also deserve thanks, Jason.)

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