1905 – Walker Theatre (Burton Cummings), Winnipeg, Manitoba
The Walker Theatre, now known as the Burton Cummings, is the city’s oldest surviving grand theatre and was built in 1905 with 2030 seats. It has been designated a National Historic site. The other surviving theatres are the Pantages (1914), and Metropolitan (1919). The Walker was modelled on the famous Auditorium Theatre in Chicago (erected in 1889; designed by Adler and Sullivan) which is surrounded by a commercial complex. Unlike the Auditorium, however, the Walker was never wrapped with its intended skin of fenestrated offices, leaving its blank main volumes exposed and only a relatively small finished facade fronting the street.
Non-theatrical events have contributed to its distinguished history, including a 1918 political meeting of the Winnipeg Trades and Labour Council and the fledgling Socialist Party of Canada, which led to the Winnipeg General Strike. The theatre also hosted debates and a mock parliament in which Nellie MCcClung took part and which advanced the cause of women’s suffrage.
Never a financial success, the City took over it as a tax payment in the 1930s. For many years it operated as a cinema.