Happy 40th Birthday to the Elora Gorge Cinema!

When most people think of a night out at the movies, it usually means going to one of the many multiplexes found coast to coast in Canada (about 75% of which are now owned by Cineplex Odeon).

However, it wasn’t always this way. Theatres used to be large, single screen affairs in big cities and long, narrow structures found on the main street of small towns. In addition to first run houses, there were also repertory theatres. Smaller, more intimate affairs, rep houses ran movies that had already finished their time in first run theatres, as well as movies that were often quite old, but ripe for revival.

Rep houses were a pretty common sight in big cities and some small towns, but have grown increasingly scarce in recent years, particularly with the switch over to digital, an expense that not all independent cinemas could manage.

One that has managed to weather all of the changes that have occurred in the industry during the past four decades is the Elora Gorge Cinema. Located in the lovely small town of the same name and now in its 40th year, the Gorge served as both a small town cinema and a rep house, running new-ish movies alongside classics from other eras.

Nowadays, the Gorge rarely runs older movies (though Roman Polanski’s CHINATOWN from 1974 is on the schedule this month), offering instead films that have run their course at Cineplex as well as indie and foreign movies that would not be booked at multiplexes. It’s a nice mix that serves both cinephiles and casual moviegoers.

Admission price is comparable to the chain theatres, though a bit less if you buy a membership. The theatre itself is nice and cozy, with a good quality digital projector and sound system. The stone walls provide a different kind of ambiance from your generic corporate theatre and are very appropriate given the close proximity of the gorge. It’s a great place to see a movie and another reason to stop by this lovely town when in the area.

Hillside Festival: A Guelph Tradition

If you live in or near Guelph, Ontario, you are no doubt familiar with the Hillside Festival. The yearly get together attracts many people from the city and surrounding area, as well as neighboring cities like Toronto.

Hillside debuted in June 1984 as a one day, 11-hour music festival. Admission was free! The festival gradually grew in size, moving to Guelph Lake Island in 1987. The festival continued to grow in popularity, with its artistic and cultural value recognized via Ontario Arts Council and City of Guelph grants. The following year, Hillside had its first sold out Saturday night.

The festival is now a major Guelph event that attracts many well-established and upcoming acts. This year’s dates for Hillside are July 14-16 at the Guelph Lake Conservation area, as per usual. The act list is now up and includes some very talented performers, including Sarah Harmer, The Jerry Cans, Lisa LeBlanc, Common Deer, and Chastity.

If you haven’t done Hillside before, it’s not just sitting and listening to music and spoken word performances. You go for the day or for all three days, camping on the site. The event is family friendly and even includes a kids’ stage, so you don’t have to worry that the kids will get bored. There are also vendors and workshops you can participate in, if you don’t feel like listening to the acts performing at that time.

You can book your campsite space either over the phone or online. As of this writing, we are getting very close to the start dates, so you may only be able to go on a daily basis at this point. Regardless, while camping is fun, it’s not a necessity: you can still have a great time at Hillside if you just come for the day.

Check out the official Hillside site here.