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10337 - 82 Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta, T6E, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1995/05/02

Princess Theatre, Edmonton (November 1999); Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management
Front facade
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Other Name(s)

Klondike Theatre
Klondike Cinema
Princess Cinema

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/03/19

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Princess Theatre is a three-storey building situated on a single lot along Whyte Avenue in Edmonton's historic Strathcona district. The building's design is broadly classical and features a symmetrical, marble-faced front facade, a roofline copper cornice surmounted by a parapet with twin gables. Above the second-storey windows are scrollwork sculptural elements reading "19 J. W. McKernan 14".

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the Princess Theatre lies in its identity as one of Alberta's pre-eminent historic theatres and its stately architectural style.

The Princess Theatre was constructed in 1914 by John W. McKernan, a member of one of south Edmonton's pioneer families and a highly successful entrepreneur. The building was an audacious undertaking: costing the then princely sum of $75,000 to construct, the theatre featured a seating capacity of 660 and possessed what was purported to be the largest stage in western Canada. The theatre opened in 1915 and offered a program of "high class moving pictures varied occasionally with high class musical vaudeville or musical concerts." Those who preferred more sporting fare could enjoy the billiards parlour in the theatre's basement. Between 1915 and 1940, the Princess Theatre was the only theatre in south Edmonton. It is one of only a handful of early theatres still standing in the province.

The Princess Theatre is one of several substantial Whyte Avenue buildings erected to serve the dual purposes of accommodating commercial activity and visually projecting the social prominence of its builder. The impressive style of the theatre and the scrollwork plaque with McKernan's name above the second-storey windows connect the theatre's elegance and solidity with the person of its builder. Designed by well-known local architects Wilson and Herrald - who also designed several other Whyte Avenue buildings - the Princess Theatre features a strongly classicist sensibility in its symmetry, its marble facade, copper cornice, and parapet with twin gables. At the time of its construction, the theatre was the only marble-fronted building west of Winnipeg. The interior continues the classicist theme, with plaster figures and friezes on the ceiling and a series of romantic oil tableau depicting nymphs and ships. Undoubtedly, this aesthetic helped to shape the identity of the building as a presenter of "high-class" entertainments. With its unique materials and majestic architecture, The Princess Theatre contributes to the rich and distinctive charms of Edmonton's historic Strathcona district.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 207)

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Princess Theatre include such features as:
- location;
- mass, form, scale, and style of the building;
- brick construction and marble facade;
- scrollwork sculptural elements above the second-storey windows, reading "19 J. W. McKernan 14";
- projecting marquee;
- copper-sheeted cornice and parapet with twin gables;
- two parapet gables with roundels featuring ceramic mosaics;
- fenestration pattern and style, including original timber window frames and double-hung six-over-one window sashes;
- mosaic tiling in front of entrance and other doors;
- marble elements in vestibule and lobby;
- arched ceiling adorned with plaster figures and friezes;
- original decorative pilasters and moulding details within the main theatre space.




Recognition Authority

Province of Alberta

Recognition Statute

Historical Resources Act

Recognition Type

Provincial Historic Resource

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Learning and the Arts
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type



Auditorium, Cinema or Nightclub

Architect / Designer

Wilson and Herrald


Brown and Hargreaves

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 207)

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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