From wartime RCAF Theatre to
the civilian “Globe”

The “moral of the troops” was extremely important in a place like Gander during the war years.  Gander was officially “overseas” with a high level of security and censorship of the mail, so it was even difficult to say much to loved ones at home.  Many considered Gander an isolation post, with no connection to the outside world except by rail or official flights. Unlike today, there was no television and even shortwave reception was pretty much out of the question because it required a pretty good receiver that generally would not be available.

Being able to go to the movies was therefore important in order to forget for a while the trials and tribulations of a busy but oft times lonely posting. There were three theatres in Gander, one being located on the Army side near the north-east corner of the parade square:

The USAAF also had one on the American side:

A third one, on what was known as the RCAF or Canadian side, was located fairly close to the Banting Memorial Hospital, north of the runways:

The photo below came from a little magazine published by the RCAF in 1943.  The magazine had little in the way of photos of Gander and contains mostly articles about RCAF personnel, who were generally doing work related in some way with ferry or anti-submarine operations. It did however have one item worth showing, namely the movie list for the RCAF theatre from 09 November to 09 December 1943.  Just looking the names of the actors and of the movies is a study not only of Hollywood history.  It is even more so a way to understand the mood of the times, the stereotypes that fashioned the modern democracies and the priorities of the moment. 

Names like Michele Morgan, Susan Hayward, Roy Rogers and Humphrey Bogart have a magical quality about them, while the movie titles such as “Mission to Moscow”,  “I escaped from the Gestapo” and “Action in the North Atlantic” describe well the torment of the world of the 40’s.


After the war, the Army side and Canadian side theatres were bought by WJ Lahey and were known respectively as the Star and the Globe.  The Globe theatre, in the capable hands of manager Conrad Mitchell, was considered by most to be the “real” theatre because it had proper seats, while the seats in the Star were basically like pews that even the kids who went to the Saturday matinee had trouble beating up. The sound system in the Globe was in fact quite good, based on two Bogen amplifiers and a series of 12-inch speakers.  The Globe had about 200 seats plus a gallery which apparently was often occupied by folks as interested in their partners as the actual movie.

In the late 40s and early 50s going to the movies, especially on Sundays, was akin to going to church, at least as far as fashion was concerned.  If a suit was not required, as can be seen below, a sports jacket was considered about right.

When the new town-site was built, the Globe was torn down and its contents recuperated for use in the Crescent Theatre under the same management.