Tivoli Theatre

110 James Street N,
Hamilton, ON L8R

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Showing 1 - 25 of 75 comments

MSC77 on August 26, 2023 at 4:06 pm

This venue’s 70mm presentations history is included in the recently-published article “70mm Presentations in Hamilton: A Chronology of 70mm Large Format Exhibition, 1969-Present”.

DavidZornig on June 29, 2023 at 8:52 pm

Facebook post with additional history and photos in the comments.


Brian Morton
Brian Morton on October 19, 2021 at 10:06 pm

The Tivoli Theatre is certainly not open! It was last used in the spring of 2004, as a live performance venue. Since then, other then brief opportunities to tour the building, the public has had no access to it.

DavidZornig on October 17, 2018 at 10:28 pm

August 1954 photo added credit Superior Engravers, courtesy of Randy Watts.

DavidZornig on October 17, 2018 at 10:02 pm

2014 related article.


Belcoron on February 13, 2018 at 2:34 pm

I wonder if anyone remembers a man by the name of Johnny Claus, he used to put up the posters for the theatre in the 50’s. His wife’s name was Grace and they lived on George St.

Chief_Brody on June 30, 2017 at 9:47 pm

Saw so many great movies at the Tivoli during the 80s — Raiders (6 times during the summer of ‘81), Star Wars/Empire double bill in early '83, Jedi a few months later, Never Cry Wolf, Aliens…too many to list. Loved the huge screen and great surround sound. I did see the last movie ever shown there (Last Crusade) sometime before the theater closed in Sept of '89. Great memories, like the Century and Avon, but the Tivoli was my favourite.

Coate on August 16, 2016 at 12:46 pm

BrockKing13… Regarding your “Gone with the Wind” comment from July 15th, 2013, it would appear you’re confusing the original run with the film’s 1941 general release or a later re-release. While I was researching the original release of “GWTW” for this retrospective article I found the first run in Hamilton was actually at the Capitol in February 1940. And it was a roadshow (reserved seats) and so the cost of admission was more than the 35 cents you’re recalling (much closer to a dollar). It ran for two weeks followed by a one-week moveover run at the Savoy.

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on November 18, 2014 at 12:48 pm

The auditorium still stands and is being restored for use by the Canadian Ballet Youth Ensemble.


BrockKing13 on August 3, 2013 at 11:06 pm

This theatre and the Century were my two favorites of all time. When I worked there I did a lot of exploring. All the history and ‘ghosts’ never leave my memory. Thanks Joe, I will check out the page.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 15, 2013 at 4:53 pm

BrockKing13: The Colonial/Wonderland/Princess has a its own page at Cinema Treasures.

DavidDymond on July 15, 2013 at 4:31 pm

Good information Brock — the original owners of the Tivoli property would NOT sell to Famous Players Canadian Corporation and so Famous created a “fake” company to acquire it and they sold to this “fake” company!!

BrockKing13 on July 15, 2013 at 4:14 pm

I was employed as ass’t mgr and did some maintenance at the Tivoli in the early 70’s. I amazes me the historical misinformation that exists about this place. The theatre was built in 1908 and went by several names (Wonderland, Colonial etc.) It was a vaudville theatre until the 1920’s. During these years many of the biggest stars of the day performed here. Many went on to great sucess in Hollywood. In 1925 Famous Players built the large auditorium on the back, and the front of the theatre became the long lobby.The entire theatre was done in Italian Renaissance style with frescos,tapestries and roman statues in the auditorium wall recesses. A massive pipe organ was installed with pipe lofts inthe front recesses on either side.In 1954 the theatre was remodelled again and many of the 1925 fixtures were either removed or hidden behind walls and curtains. Her heydays were over by the early 1970’s and she was reduced to soft core sex movies until Famous Players let her go. Most of my information comes from old files, photos and first hand accounts by those who worked here during the golden years of this fine old lady. One of the biggest movies ever to show here was Gone With The Wind in 1939. According to receipt books I found, the show sold out every performance from 9am till late night every day for weeks. The adult admission price was 35 cents.

TivFan on February 16, 2013 at 7:48 am

The Hamilton Spectator (our city newspaper) reported on Friday, February 15 that Bella Diamante has finally found a developer to buy the Tivoli…HER HUSBAND!! More details later…

TivFan on February 7, 2013 at 9:49 am

If you are interested in other comments about the Tivoli Theatre project, see the “Skyscraper” forum. There are comments as current as early February 2013. (A direct address to the forum would not work for me.) Do a Google search for “Tivoli Theatre Hamilton”/go to page 2 of “web results”/and select “Tivoli Theatre [Archive]-Skyscraper Page Forum…”. It is the 8th item on the list on page 2. There are many comments, including some from somebody who made an offer to develop the property/project.

TivFan on February 7, 2013 at 9:39 am

There is still no word on any development at the Tivoli Theatre. As mentioned in my December 27 comment, the finalization of the deal has not been announced. If you are interested in the saving and restoration of old theatres (or any kind of building) see “The Cost of History” on this site. Go to the home page and see “Latest Movie Theater Videos”. It is short, but there is a lot of information about what goes along with the restoration and the upkeep of a building.

TivFan on December 27, 2012 at 10:14 am

Finally, some action at the Tivoli. The Hamilton Spectator reported (Wednesday, December 26) that a buyer is interested in developing the vacant portion of the Tivoli property. The end of January is the target for the finalization of the deal. You can see the article at thespec.com: Tivoli shall rise again, Ballet pledges.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 6, 2012 at 2:47 am

The page for architect B. Kingston Hall at the Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada lists the Tivoli Theatre in Hamilton as a 1924 project of the firm of Hall & Duerr. The page lists a total of five theater projects for the firm.

After the firm was dissolved in 1926, partner Herbert George Duerr established his own practice and went on to design at least twenty more theaters.

CSWalczak on December 4, 2012 at 5:13 pm

According the information at the IMDb for “Rated X”, filming took place in Hamilton, at the Tivoli, in Toronto, and in Uxbridge, Ontario. Portions of the also made-for-TV film, “Laughter on the 23rd Floor” based on the play by (and really about) Neil Simon, made the year after “Rated X,” were also filmed at the Tivoli.

TivFan on December 4, 2012 at 11:09 am

The Tivoli marquee is shown in all its glory…lots of lights…chaser lights and flashing lights. The Tivoli name is covered to read: “The Mitchell Brothers' O'Farrell Theater”. The marquee and the theater entrance are shown a number of times, throughout the movie. The interior of the second floor was used as the brothers' office. The arched windows can be seen, as well as the TIVOLI sign letters (in reverse, from behind, outside of the windows). The shots of the audience in the theater, watching the films, were not filmed in the Tivoli auditorium. There is a scene later in the movie (at 1:38:00) that was shot on the steps that descend from the exit doors of the Tivoli auditorium. (They can be seen on the street view.)
There is no credit given for the Tivoli or Hamilton as a shooting location. There is no mention in the commentary or on-screen in the credits. The end credits state: Filmed on location in Toronto, Ontario. I don’t know how much of the movie was actually filmed in Toronto. It’s a fairly good movie and a very interesting story. I haven’t seen “Behind the Green Door”, but I’ve seen the Tivoli. I saw “Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS” at the Tivoli. Does that count?

TivFan on December 4, 2012 at 10:39 am

If you would like to see the former Tivoli marquee “in action”, see the Showtime movie “Rated X”. The theater was used to represent the O'Farrell Theater in San Francisco (in the 1970’s). “Rated X” is the true story of the Mitchell brothers (Jim & Artie) who created a porn empire. It was Jim’s idea to make their own films and show them in their own theater. It stars Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez, and was directed by Estevez.

TivFan on December 4, 2012 at 12:17 am

Just to clarify my Dec. 3/9:04 comment: The ceiling in the “lounge” was added during the 1924 remodelling, when the Tivoli auditorium was built.

TivFan on December 4, 2012 at 12:04 am

So here we are, over six years later. There is nothing we can do about past and people are going to have their opinions about the failure of former owners or tenants. What we have left is pretty fantastic, even in its current state. This is the last theater we have in this city, that is as old or beautifully designed. Unfortunately, there are many stages in town, and this could be a stumbling block against support for this type of building. Also, we don’t have a complete building. And if you restore it, you have to use it. It’s a delicate building and a delicate situation. Here’s hoping!

TivFan on December 3, 2012 at 11:26 pm

This remaining “lounge” portion shares the same address as the demolished building (110 James Street on this site, and I’ve seen 108 in the ads). The auditorium added in 1924 has a separate Hughson Street address.
When the James Street building had to be demolished, city council had to vote on demolition permits. Originally, the owner wanted to demolish the entire theater, but many wanted the auditorium saved. The city council meeting on this issue was agonizing and frustrating (I attended). If they voted for permits for demolition of the James Street address, this would have included the collapsed/damaged building and the “lounge” addition. There were council members voting on this issue, and they didn’t know the particulars of the situation at the Tivoli. Some members were very impassive, disinterested or bored. I observed some dozing or sleeping, doodling…frustrating, to say the least. And on a matter this important!

TivFan on December 3, 2012 at 11:04 pm

The “foyer lounge” remains, along with the 1924 auditorium. Behind the wood (as seen on the street view) is the arched opening to the lounge as seen in the “Box Office” photos. There is a concession stand on the right, and the stairs lead to the theater auditorium. The ceiling you see in the photos was added during the remodelling (and this is what it looks like at present). This area was originally the added silent movie auditorium. Above this ceiling is the original ceiling of the silent movie theater. It was discovered by a former tenant investigating a leak in the roof. This is a great piece of surviving history.