Many local residents have fond memories of the old Sarnia Armoury, located where our city hall sits today. But fewer would remember when it was a movie theatre, and even fewer could recall its original purpose.
The Boys’ Brigade was an organization founded by William A. Smith in Glasgow, Scotland in 1883, and it was a precursor to the Boy Scouts.
Robert Baden-Powell became its vice-president in 1903 and the Boy Scouts evolved from his work with the Boys’ Brigade.
The first Sarnia company of the Brigade – and just the second in the Dominion – was formed in 1890 by Thomas W. Nisbet, who was soon raising money to build a Brigade Hall.
The organization was open to all boys between the ages of 12 to 17 years.
On June 1, 1894, the Hall was opened for public inspection, with the dedication service held June 3rd. The following year William Smith himself visited the Hall in Sarnia and gave it his highest praise.
In 1903 the Boy’s Brigade Hall was incorporated into a company with a capital of $12,000. By 1911 the building was being used as a Gospel Hall and Victoria Opera House, and by 1916 it housed the Star Laundry and The Auditorium.
Around the end of the First World War it was converted into the Temple movie theatre, which occupied the building until 1926-27.
On Feb. 24, 1928 Brig-Gen Armstrong of London opened the new Armoury in the old Brigade Hall. It remained the Armoury until the early 1960’s when the property was purchased to make room for the new city hall.