Aug. 17: Can-View Drive-In, Fonthill ON

It’s Day 229 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey, and my fourth day in Ontario. It took another two hours to drive from London to the Can-View Drive-In, a few miles east of Fonthill. The Can-View is about 20 minutes west of Niagara Falls, an amazing sight which needs to be experienced in person to get its full benefit. But I digress.

According to the Welland Tribune, the Can-View was built in 1983, an odd time to erect a new drive-in. It was about when the Welland of Dain City and the Mustang of Fort Erie were closing. It’s got four screens and can accommodate about 2000 cars, so maybe this consolidated version on remote, relatively inexpensive land was a good idea. At any rate, the Can-View has survived to be the last active drive-in in the Niagara region and the “Largest Drive-In in Ontario”.

Information about the Can-View’s first couple of decades is difficult to find online, except for one legend. According to Snopes, a tornado swept through southern Ontario on May 20, 1996, and one of the things it damaged was a screen at the Can-View. Coincidentally, one of the movies on the marquee was Twister, which had been released 10 days earlier. Although the storm hit a couple of hours before sundown, some media reports jumped to the conclusion that the movie was playing as the screen fell. Which was probably why some people insist they were there watching as it happened, and why a local filmmaker was shooting a short about the legend in 2015.

In 2006, Niagara This Week mentioned that an official with “1066455 Ontario Inc., which owns the Can-View Drive-In,” was concerned that lights the new raised interchange on Highway 406 might disrupt patrons’ drive-in movie experience without mitigation.

The next year, Steve Forrest, “manager-projectionist for the last seven years at Can-View”, was a focus of the Tribune’s article. Rising land values were the reason for the demise of so many other drive-ins in the region, he said. “The land values are going up and up and up, and even if it was busy all the time, if someone made us an offer for so much money — we’d probably have to take it.”

NTW also ran an interview with Forrest in 2007. “Drive-ins have made a resurgence over the last 10 years, slowly,” he said. “They’re popular places on a Saturday night.” Forrest also said the company he works for had purchased the Can-View in 2002 and also owned drive-ins in Midland and Woodstock. But a similar NTW story in 2009 said the purchase was in 2001. Maybe it was during the winter off-season in between?

Most recently, in March 2016, the Therold Edition talked with Forrest, still the manager of the Can-View, about another season’s opening day. “Forrest has been managing it for 14 years, after buying it from Cineplex Odeon,” the Edition wrote. So if he owns it, I’ll bet that Forrest will manage the Can-View for years to come.

It had been much too long since I saw a good drone video of a drive-in. This one from YouTube shows the huge size of those four matching fields, as well as the concession / projection building in the complex’s center.

With four choices, mine was another movie I hadn’t seen yet, Kidnap. I’m not a big fan of taut psychological thrillers, but I always want to see more of Halle Berry.

Miles Today / Total: 114 / 27547 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Kidnap / 143

Nearby Restaurant: The Trap is next to the McDonalds in Fonthill, but it’s a lot different. Is it a bar-food restaurant with drinks, or a bar with food? One large pizza and a couple of drinks later, I couldn’t really tell much difference.

Where I Virtually Stayed: There aren’t any hotels really close to the Can-View, and not many nice chain places very nearby, and, oh, the heck with it. I returned to a hotel that I reviewed on TripAdvisor 10 years ago to the day – the Hilton Fallsview facing Niagara Falls. As I wrote then, “as we looked across at the observation towers that weren’t much higher than we were, then enjoyed the convenience of watching the night’s show from our room, it all felt worthwhile. Like the Maid of the Mist, it’s something to be experienced.”

Only in Fonthill: If you like Muffler Men, then you should be a fan of Roadside America. Just across Highway 20 from the Can-View, a repeatedly modified muffler man stands guard in front of Rosehill Plus, a branch of Ontario’s leading discount warehouse.

Next stop: Starlite Drive In Theatre, Stoney Creek ON.