Phoenix Theatre

413 Bank Street,
Ottawa, ON K2P

Unfavorite 2 people favorited this theater

Additional Info

Previous Names: Clarey Theatre, Fern Theatre, Rialto Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Phoenix Theatre

Opened as the Clarey Theatre in 1914, it became the Fern Theatre in 1919. It was renamed Rialto Theatre in 1931, with a seating capacity of 524. It closed in 1979, but reopened in 1980 as an art house named Phoenix Theatre that closed in 1991.

Contributed by Gerald A. DeLuca

Recent comments (view all 19 comments)

Finnegan9 on June 18, 2011 at 9:32 am

There seems to be some confusion. The Rialto (or “Rathole”, as we kids called it) was located near the corner of Lebreton and Somerset Streets…I know; I used to live on Raymond and Lebreton streets, which is now under the Queensway. The Rialto had a balcony where us kids could carryon and clap when Wild Bill Elliott, Gener Autry and Roy Rogers chased the crooks every Saturday matinee. The serials gave us something to look forward to at an affordable price. I don’t recall much about the Phoenix; I think it was more expensive, but down the street was the Imperial Theatre, which was nice, but I believe it only had the one floor, no balcony. 4Wheatens

robinco on June 18, 2011 at 10:54 am

Well it is possible the Rialto was at a different location at one point but it was definitely on Bank Street when I was a kid.

PeterinCrete on September 5, 2011 at 7:54 am

Hi, Finnegan9 –

Surely that was the Rex on Somerset & Lebreton – ? We lived further west (Elmdale)when I was a kid, but I remember going to the Rex a few times for golden oldies like MGM B-musicals on the bottom half of double bills.

The Rialto I remember well from when we lived nearby and then later, when I was at Carleton (old campus on First Avenue) – great triple bills and yes, it was sort of crummy, but the price was right.

robinco on October 26, 2011 at 7:03 pm

There’s a pretty good website about old Ottawa which has a photo of the Rialto (which became the Phoenix, which closed). It was at Bank and Waverly:

and this is what it looks like today, a vacant lot:

robinco on October 26, 2011 at 7:04 pm

(incidentally, the James St. Feed Company is on the opposite side of the street, so you need to rotate that google image if you see the pub/restaurant)

Hugger1 on March 11, 2013 at 6:43 am

Address was 415 Bank St.

DavidZornig on October 6, 2020 at 7:13 pm

Address was 413 Bank Street, as subsequent print ad links will show. Full history courtesy The Ottawa Jewish Archives:

The Rialto Theater, 1931-1979 – 413 Bank St “The New Rialto Theater Opens Tonight! – An attractive and cozy little theater, a home for the talking pictures, is the Rialto, which opens to the public tonight with "Silence”, a Paramount Picture. Modern to the last degree, tastefully decorated and perfectly ventilated it will quickly command a wide and loyal following.“ So says the opening paragraph to a lengthy article in the December 30, 1931 edition of the Ottawa Citizen which discusses in detail the soft lighting, the rich draperies, the plush seats and even the "unusually spacious” projection room of the new theater on Bank St. The first theater on that spot was The Clarey which opened in 1914. After that came The Fern in 1919. In 1931 Abraham Levinson and J. Polowin turned it into the Rialto, and it was a beautiful and very upscale theater. They ran it with pride and hard work before passing on the reigns on to Abraham’s son Martin Levinson in 1936. As with many of the old venues though, it fell on troubled times as the decades went by and the building began to show wear. Eventually by the 1970’s the neighbourhood gave it the nickname of the “The Rat Hole” due to, well, an unfortunate infestation, and it was known as quite the grindhouse theater. In 1979 the Rialto was closed after 48 years, but officially reopened the next year as The Phoenix, owned by Cineplex. The Phoenix lasted until June of 1991 before it too was closed and the building was demolished. Despite its later reputation, the Rialto is remembered with great fondness by those who wanted a cheap night out with a good gore flick. Today, 314 Bank St. is a parking lot in between Staples and The Book Bazaar at Bank and Frank St.

DavidZornig on October 6, 2020 at 7:13 pm

Grand opening print ad.

DavidZornig on October 6, 2020 at 7:14 pm

Link with Now & Then comparisons.

DavidZornig on October 8, 2020 at 7:21 am

Clarey Theatre and Fern Theatre need to be added to previous names prior to Rialto. Address was 413 Bank Street, per 12/29/31 newspaper link above.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater.