British Columbia

Historic theatre in Grand Forks damaged by floods

It's one of the oldest theatres in Western Canada, and last week, it was hit by the flooding in the West Kootenay region of B.C.

Maureen and Marius Paquet are keen to restore the theatre but are looking for someone to take over the Gem

Maureen and Marius Paquet have run the Gem Theatre for the past 30 years. This week it was hit by the flooding that's affecting the West Kootenay region. (The Gem Theatre/Facebook)

It's one of the oldest theatres in Western Canada, and last week, it was hit by the flooding in the West Kootenay region of B.C.

Maureen Paquet and her husband Marius have owned and run the Gem Theatre in Grand Forks for the past 30 years and now they're assessing the damage and trying to figure out their next steps.

The theatre was built in 1913 and held the name Empress until it was renamed the Gem in the 1950s.

The couple praise their customers and feel that they're a special part of the community.

"According to everybody else, it is a big part of Grand Forks … We always said we do have the best patrons anywhere … we don't even need clean up staff. That's how fabulous our patrons are," Paquet told Daybreak South's Chris Walker.

"It was a bittersweet moment for Maureen and Marius. After 30 years of film entertainment on the projectors, it's time to upgrade to Digital 3D and allow Marius a semi-retirement!" read a Facebook post from 2010 when the theatre underwent renovations. (The Gem Theatre/Facebook)

Paquet said they offer a little bit of something for everyone and regularly held events at the space like live music, contests and giveaways.

Despite their efforts to prevent damage with sandbags at the entrance to the theatre, the water started pouring in Thursday from the city sewer lines and flooded their basement and theatre seating area.

The Gem Theatre underwent renovations and upgrades in 2010 to allow screenings of 3D movies. The 280 seats in the theatre will have to be replaced due to flooding damage. (The Gem Theatre/Facebook)

All 280 of the old cast iron and steel seats will need to be replaced along with the carpeting, but they're still waiting for news on the full extent of the damage.

"There is hope. We're not dead and gone," she said.

She said that they're ready to retire and pass the Gem onto new, younger owners but are committed to cleaning up the beloved community hub.

"It would take somebody with a little vision and excitement for it, but if we were younger, we'd go ahead and proceed with that.

"We're hoping that we can just clean up, sit back and relax and watch somebody else do it."

With some help from the community to unscrew and move the old seats, Paquet says she's optimistic that they'll be open again soon.

To hear the full interview listen to media below:

With files from Daybreak South