THE VERY BEGINNING...
In 1905, during the early day of show business in
the Town of Forest, the Rumford family consisting of Floyd, Marty,
and Tommy showed the first moving pictures. This was done at the old
town hall, which was beside the Carnegie building on Main Street
North and was projected from a metal booth within the town hall
gallery. The building was located beside the town bakery, which was
also owned by the Rumfords. George A. Lundy, who was a Rumford
friend, originally started out with Floyd Rumford but sold his share
out to the others a few years later.
The Kineto Theatre Circa 1917
A FORD DROVE THE PROJECTOR...
Floyd, who was known as ‘Toby’ to his friends, hooked up a generator
to the back wheel of an old Ford car to a ‘Kineto’ brand all brass
motion picture projector which had been imported from England. The
wheel of the car was rigged up in such a way that the car was slid
backwards where the wheel touched a steel pulley and this in turn
caused the generator to operate. With this in place he was able to
show silent moving picture films at the town hall gallery, and at
the old curling rink which was located near where the United Church
stands today. He was also known to show some movies out near the
lake. On April 13, 1917 the Rumford brothers purchased a piece of
property in Forest on what was then known as Front Street, which is
now 24 King Street West, The Kiwanis Kineto Theatre.
24 KING...QUITE THE HISTORY...
To give you an idea as to what this building has been
used for, lets start at the beginning. On May 26, 1836 the Crown
surrendered to surveyor Timothy Resseguie the land in which the
theatre now stands upon. On March 8, 1859 Resseguie sold the land to
William Bradley who built a frame building on the land and started
a harness shop. On September 10, 1870 Bradley sold the
building to William and Charles Munroe for $155, who were merchants
from Parkhill. The Munroes tore down Bradley’s building and built a
two story brick building instead. In the downstairs they had a
feed shop and on the second floor they had a men’s clothing
store. In 1890 William Munroe died and as a result, his estate
and Charles Munroe sold the building to Bosanquet School teacher
Robert Boal for $146 on May 29, 1891. Boal in turn put a third story
onto the building and used the first floor as a feed, clothing
and general store. He then used the second floor as a shoe
store. It is believed that he used the third floor as an
apartment as he installed a walnut spiral staircase from the second
to the third floor. Boal of course sold the building to the Rumfords
in 1917 for $2100. The price increase at that time was due to the
First World War and its effects. The Rumfords converted the building
into the first permanent movie house for the town of Forest.
They called it The Kineto Theatre and played black and white shows
there every night except Sunday nights and with Saturday nights
drawing the largest crowds. Marty and Floyd were the projectionists
while Tommy was the musician and played the drums. A foot pedal
powered projector was used with a carbon arc for the light.
There were usually two shows on Saturday nights to accommodate the
large crowds, which packed the theatre seats. These were silent
movies which later had words enscripted across the bottom. Tom
Rumford with the assistance of some of the Rumford friends performed
some musical background for these shows. Some of these friends were
Jack Burk, Miller McPherson, and Dave Livingston who were all
pianists. Sounds such as horse’s hooves, incoming trains and
crashes were played out by these musicians to add to the
excitement of the film.
Silent Movies Played at The Kineto Theatre
THE EARLY YEARS...
Since first moving to this location and on into the late 1930’s the
shows consisted of three main parts. The first part was the main
show, which lasted for about one hour. This consisted of the
beginning, the story, and its ending with no continuation or sequel.
The second part was known as the short show, which was a comedy with
actors such as Charlie Chaplan and Fatty Arbuckle. The third part
was known as the serial part, which kept moviegoers coming back week
after week as it ended with cliffhangers for 3-4 weeks in a row. An
example of these cliffhangers would consist of the last scene
showing a woman tied to a set of railroad tracks with the train
coming or someone actually hanging from a cliff. Between each one of
these segments would be a short period of advertising. These shows
usually lasted about two hours each. Some of the famous actors and
actresses then were John Wayne and Pearl White. These shows cost
moviegoers under the age of sixteen, 15 cents per show. Those over
sixteen were charged 25 cents. Another 10 cents would usually cover
the cost of a drink and some chips. The theatre was also a location
used by travelling bands. A stage, which has since been replaced,
was at the front of the theatre and travelling shows were put on
there during the week. There were even barbershop quartets
performing there from time to time. In 1938 the Rumfords doubled the
seating capacity of the theatre by extending the building to the
north and building into the vacant land that was situated there. At
this time they also added on the balcony which is still in place
The Kineto Theatre in the 1940s
WARTIME AND RESIDENTS...
During the 1940’s silent movies began to be phased out
and replaced with movies with sound. Famous actors of the day were
Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and Randolph Scott. The Rumfords were the
first people in Forest to have air conditioning installed for their
patrons. They would have a block of ice situated near the theatres
ventilation system and have a fan blowing the cold air throughout
the system. They would get the ice from the lake during the winter
and store it in barns under heavy layers of sawdust to keep it
during the summer. This was still prior to even Television days.
During the war years the local moviegoers would be kept up to date
on the status of the second world war as there would be 5-10 minutes
of film footage every Saturday night on the wars status. At the end
of each movie the National Anthem was played. That being God save
the King prior to the war and then ‘O Canada’ after the war. The
three floors of the building were all actively being used during
this time period. The main floor of course was used as the theatre.
The second floor was used by Doctor Walter who was the local dentist
and had his office there. Then that brings us to the third floor. It
was here during the later 1920’s to the early 1930’s that a man by
the name of George ‘Bum’ Harvey was alleged to have lived. Not much
was known about him but it has been said that he was a well-educated
man, very artistic and thought to have been a lawyer’s assistant. He
was fluent in many languages and believed to have been of European
descent. He is responsible for painting the sailboat picture which
hangs in the theatre today while Tommy Rumford is responsible for
painting the picture across from it. Harvey was also known to keep
the patrons in line if any disturbances were to occur. The theatre
was also used by the Forest High School for their commencement
exercises. A young girl by the name of Winnie McColl became well
known throughout the area for her singing on the stage of the Kineto
Theatre. She is alleged to have sung numerous times during
intermissions of shows and at special events.
On to 'NOW'
TRANSITION TO THE KIWANIS CLUB...
The Rumfords operated the projector themselves for several years and
also employed the help of local resident Ed McKellar who performed
his duties for approximately 30 years. After Floyd Rumford’s passing
away in 1966 the theatres operation was taken over by his son Grant.
Grant operated the theatre until 1976 when he sold it on February 1,
1977 to the Kiwanis Club of Forest for $18,000 who still own and
operate it as a non profit venture. At the time of its sale in 1977
it was believed to be only 1 of 20 small town independently owned
theatres left in Canada. The shows were held on the weekends only
and they started at 8:30 p.m. Due to falling ticket sales in 1981
the 27-member club at that time decided to make several major
renovations to upgrade and enhance the theatres appearance. They
decided to shut down the theatre at the beginning of April 1981 to
carry out the renovations. The members at that time were Charlie
Woodward, William (Bill) Kelly, Ted Boomer, Ernest (Jr.) Butt, Dick
Vankodeuberg, Jerry Elder, Virgil Cooper, Bill Kelly Jr., Mike
Baker, Robert Woodward, Harvey Collins, Garry McLeish, Ronn Dodge,
Ross Steadman, Gary Zimmerman, Marvin McGregor, Ron Johnson, Junior
Rogers, Steve Crowe, John Voytko, Eugene Butt, Larry Mansfield,
Roger Woods, Gilbert Deschutter, Rick Lean, Carman Butler and Larry
Street View of the Theatre
A total of $65,000 cash was raised through club-sponsored
fundraisers, other service clubs, private donations, and other
community groups. A Wintario grant of $18,000 was also received and
used to cover the cost of the renovations. A value of approximately
$15,000 was received in materials from companies in Forest and
Sarnia. Wellington Brothers Construction were hired as the main
contractors and started work on May 11, 1981. These renovations
included new wiring, seats, ceiling, plumbing, washroom, furnace,
heating, ticket booth, and concession booth. Much of the work was
done by the members themselves as they were responsible for
installing the seats, installing a new layer of cement for the
seats, digging out the basement, painting, drywalling, and numerous
The renovations were completed ahead of schedule and the
re-opening show on June 25, 1981 was Ordinary People starring Mary
Tyler Moore. Tickets at that time sold for $3 for adults. Local
politicians conducted the official opening on November 22 1981. On
hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony were Lambton MPP Lorne
Henderson, Forest Mayor Ronn Dodge and Middlesex MPP Ralph Ferguson.
A Bluegrass Country and Western Concert was put on for those
attending. With the theatre being the largest project ever
undertaken by the Kiwanis Club of Forest it was deemed to be used as
a non profit venture but as a service to the community and a place
where parents could take their children to still see family shows.
It is still operated to this day with that idea in place. Ticket
prices are still less that they are in the larger cinemas and it is
still operated by people who volunteer their time to ensure that it
2012 DIGITAL UPGRADE...
It was announced by the studio distributors that 35mm film would no
longer be available for the distribution of major motion pictures.
This posed a legitimate threat to the Kineto’s continued operation
as a non-profit. In 2011 the club undertook a significant
fundraising campaign to replace the projection equipment which had
served us so well over the years. We reached out to the community
and were happily surprised by the outpour of financial support. We
also received a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation as part
of this project. Together our community was able to achieve amazing
results and the renovations included a new screen, new acoustic
tiling, updated sound equipment, an aluminum roof on the awning, a
digital marquee, as well as a digital projection unit with 3D
capabilities. A plaque now hangs in the theatre recognizing the
donations of some of the many individuals and corporations which
helped our community achieve this goal. The Kineto is now setup to
live on for future generations to enjoy.
Theatre Supporters Kiwanis Members
THE KIWANIS CLUB OF FOREST...
The Kiwanis Club of Forest offsets the cost of operating
the theatre through other community fund raisers such as Bingos,
Calendar Draw Sales, Pancake Breakfasts, Advertising Sales,
Strawberry Social, Christmas Tree sales, and various other events.
The Club is also responsible for other service projects that are
brought to you every year. Those being the maintenance of Whyte
Park, Children’s Bicycle Safety Rodeo, Santa Claus Parade, Kiwanis
Express Train Float, Delivery of free birthday cakes to seniors,
Provide Funding to Children’s Hospital, Co-sponsor of Forest Contact
House, Forest Juvenile Hockey, Forest Minor Hockey Atom ‘A’ team,
North Lambton S.S. Reach for the Top Team, Babysitting course,
School Awards, Kite Festival, Girls Bantam Ball Team and the club
donates funding to local youth groups and other worthwhile causes.
Pictures of current Kiwanis Members are on display in the lobby of
the Theatre. These are members of the Forest community responsible
for the continuing success of the Kiwanis Club of Forest. They are
current members in good standing and some will be your floorwalkers
for the show when you attend. These are the ones who are responsible
for ensuring that you and your family enjoy a pleasant evening at
the show and they are proud to serve your community. The club
utilizes the basement of this facility for its meetings and the
Theatre and meeting room are available for rentals to other groups.
We hope this article has informed you of the history of one of the
oldest standing buildings in the town of Forest. If you are
interested in a tour of this building or have any other questions
about its success, please feel free to contact any one of the
members of the Kiwanis Club of Forest and they will be happy to
discuss the theatre with you.
The Kineto Theatre Today
The Kineto Theatre is located at 24 King St. W., Forest, Ontario
519 786 2303 | email@example.com
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