Sept. 8: Cine-Parc Orford, Sherbrooke QC

Cars at the drive-in, with a screen in the distance

Photo from the Ciné-Parc Orford Facebook page

It’s Day 251 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey and my fifth day in Quebec. It took me about an hour and a half to drive from Mont-Saint-Hilaire to the Cine-Parc Orford, just a little northeast of Sherbrooke.

The Orford opened in 1972 and survived until the end of the 2012 season. The following March, owner André Monette announced that it would not reopen for the 2013 season. One year later, three investors bought the drive-in and purchased everything that would be needed to convert both of its screens to digital projection. According to EstriePlus.com, those three were David Hurtubise, president of HB Pictures Productions, Jean-Yves Martel, a special effects producer in Montreal and Toronto, and René Gazaille, a general contractor.

Digital projection also allowed the Orford to introduce a wonderful innovation on Screen One. It shows English-language movies on two radio channels, one with the original dialogue and one dubbed in French. That’s such a great solution that should be used more often in other bilingual drive-in situations. Screen Two, by the way, is French only.

The CBC ran a nice little video, which I wish I could embed, in July 2015. It interviews Martel and provides a nice glimpse of the rejuvenated Orford. “C’est une clientèle qui était disparue et qui revient avec les nouveaux projecteurs et les films d’animation pour enfants,” Martel said. Google Translate thinks that might mean “It’s a clientele that was missing and comes back with the new projectors and the children’s animation films,” but that sounds pretty clunky to me.

In April 2016, as the Orford was preparing to open for another season, Martel told Le Reflet du Lac that business really took off in 2015. “C’est assez incroyable ce qu’on a vécu l’année passée, admet l’un des actionnaires,” he said. “Jurassic Park et Les Mignons ont vraiment attiré beaucoup de gens, au point tel que certains soirs, ça créait un bouchon près de l’autoroute!” Which might translate to “It’s pretty incredible what we lived last year. Jurassic Park and Minions really attracted a lot of people, to the point that some evenings created a cork near the highway!” Or traffic jam, you get the idea. The article also mentioned that Hurtubise had left “l’aventure.”

A note on the regional (local? I’m so confused) chamber of commerce site said that there are plenty of activities to keep patrons busy before each night’s show, including a makeup artist, inflatable games, and a volleyball court. “Attendre les films n’aura jamais été aussi plaisant!” or “Waiting for movies has never been so pleasant!” What a great slogan!

Thanks to the bilingual screen one, I watched the 2013 remake of Carrie as the start of a “weekend de l’horreur” horror movie weekend at the Orford. This was my last night in Quebec, and I never watched a movie in French. C’est la vie.

Miles Today / Total: 73 / 28750 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Carrie / 161

Nearby Restaurant: My recent inexpensive meals and lodging built up enough surplus for me to try one that’s pricier than I usually prefer, but I simply couldn’t pass up any restaurant called the Antidote FoodLab. My shepherd’s pie was made with “horse cheek” (please tell me that’s a bad translation on the English menu), and my crackerjack dessert was made with popcorn ice cream and peanut butter powder. Adventurous and amazing!

Where I Virtually Stayed: The occasion called for another less expensive, non-chain place to stay, and I got lucky with the Motel Lennoxville. The room included a full kitchenette, and everything was clean and comfortable. It was easy walking distance to a humble breakfast at McDonalds, and I was ready to say au revoir to la belle province.

Only in Sherbrooke: On a rainy sort of day like this one, it’s a great time to visit Musee De La Nature Et Des Sciences, what I would call the Museum of Nature and Sciences. Its Terra Mutantes interactive exhibit lets visitors witness the birth of the Appalachian Mountains, cross the lava fields, feel the continents shift and watch the glaciers. All in less than half an hour!

Next stop: Skylite Drive-In, Madawaska ME.

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