How Jews brought the movies to Val-d’Or, Que.—and how the city is celebrating them today

The three Kaplan siblings (from left: Judy Wineberg, Stephen Kaplan and Cheryl Kaplan Hughes), whose father founded the Capitol Theatre in Val-d'Or, Que., with a memorial plaque commemorating their father's contribution to the community. (Photo courtesy Stephen Kaplan/Facebook)

There’s one movie theatre in the city of Val-d’Or, Quebec—a city of about 32,000, about a five-hour drive north of Ottawa. The Capitol Theatre opened in 1937 with more than 600 seats, an orchestra pit and a snack bar. Its founder, Abe Kaplan, was one of the pioneering Jewish residents who set up businesses in the region to capitalize on the burgeoning gold rush of the time.

Kaplan and his wife raised two daughters and a son in an apartment right above the Capitol, and—despite being one of a handful of Jewish families in the mining town—managed to lead an observant Jewish life.

Now, 85 years after the theatre first opened its doors—and a few decades since the Kaplans sold it in 1986—the city of Val-d’Or held a commemorative ceremony to honour the multicultural families that helped build it, including the Kaplans. On today’s episode of The CJN Daily, the Kaplan kids will explain what the honour means to them, and why they wanted to make sure their family’s contribution to Val-d’Or’s history is not forgotten.

What we talked about:


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