1962.77 | Projector
Edison Manufacturing Company
1904, 20th century
152 x 66 cm
Gift of the Canadian Picture Pioneers
This artefact belongs to: © New Brunswick Museum
Keys to History
Canada boasts a rich motion picture history. Shortly after the first commercial exhibition of Thomas Edison's Kinetoscope in New York City in 1894, films were screened for audiences in Ottawa and Toronto. The exact date of the first screening of a motion picture in New Brunswick is unknown, but it was likely in the late 1890s. The growing popularity of films meant that the Bijou, Nickel, and Bennett theatres became important gathering spots for the people of Saint John in the early years of the new century.
At this early stage in their evolution, films were silent, often accompanied by live music. The lively tin-pan alley sounds of modern popular music were just coming to life in this period, especially in North America. While many of the early films were fun and lighthearted, not all were designed solely as entertainment. For example, motion pictures were used to help rally public opinion for the Boer War in South Africa, and the Canadian Pacific Railway produced films promoting western Canada and the irresistible opportunities there.
An early film projector, the 1904 Edison Projecting Kinetoscope Machine, Model B, brought to New Brunswick the magic of movies.
It was at the Venetian Gardens Theatre, formerly the Lyric Theatre on Charlotte Street, Saint John, where this projector showed D.W. Griffith's American classic film, The Birth of a Nation (1915).
The Edison film projector, illustrated here, had a long and celebrated life. It was used in popular New Brunswick theatres from 1904 to1917.
The Canadian Picture Pioneers (Maritimes), an organization dedicated to the preservation of Canadian cinematic history, donated this projector to the New Brunswick Museum.