Whittle Big Man

A celebration of Al Whittle’s 60th anniversary as theatre manager at Wolfville’s Acadia Cinema

It was a very young Al Whittle who first stepped off the train in 1953 into his “first adventure in Wolfville…I was amazed.” Whittle began a lifelong career that day that lasted until his retirement in 2000. In celebration of Al’s contribution to the cultural life of the Annapolis Valley, he is being honoured with a gala event of live performance and film on Friday, April 26.

Al Whittle was hired in 1953 by the Spencer family of Saint John, at the time making him the youngest theatre manager in Canada. The Spencers had rebuilt Wolfville’s wooden Orpheum Theatre (1923) into the modern, well-equipped Acadia Theatre (1947).

When Whittle arrived “[Wolfville] was a booming town with four gas stations, four grocery stores – anything you wanted, it was in Wolfville. There were no bars or lounges, so the place for entertainment was the theatre.”

Built with steel and bricks, the theatre Al began managing in 1953 was not only “fire proof” but also had the first radiant heating system in a Canadian theatre, using “two miles of piping under the concrete floor.” The theatre was capable of holding approximately 700 people. A “Sweets Show-case” tempted customers as they passed and the interior boasted “velour curtains in wine, edged with gold”, matching “beautifully upholstered spring seated chairs.” Whittle supervised later renovations that saw the main theatre divided into two, and later three/separate cinemas to counter the advent of competing multiplexes.

Whittle, now an honorary board member of the Acadia Cinema Co-op, is still a fixture at events., As a founding and honorary board member of the Fundy Film Society, Al can be found most taking tickets for their Sunday matinee screenings.“It was an interesting career. I wish it was still going, because I still miss it.

Tickets for the gala celebration are $15, $12 for students, and on sale now at the Box of Delights 902-542-9511

For more information please contact:

Mary Harwell, Al Whittle Theatre, 542-3344 or manager@alwhittletheatre.ca