It’s Day 230 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey, and my fifth day in Ontario. Taking Highway 20 all the way, it took me less than an hour to drive from the Can-View Drive-In near Fonthill to the Starlite Drive In Theatre in Stoney Creek, just outside of Hamilton.
It appears that the Starlite began its life as the Scenic Drive-In in 1955. That was an aside in a short note in The Hamilton Spectator. It had a single screen backed by a wide tower and could hold about 600 cars. Reference books suggest that it was owned by the Rosenberg family when it opened and the Dydzak family by the early 1960s. It was probably the Dydzaks who changed the name later that decade.
Premier Theatres bought the Starlite in 2004 and added two more screens within three years, bringing its total capacity to at least 780. They installed in April 2012.
In a different Spectator story from 2012, Brian Allen, head of Premier Theatres, said business was great. “When you’re doing something no one else is doing they always think you’re nuts, but our business has been going up every year,” he said. “The demand for drive-ins never disappeared, but supply has fallen off because of the demands of real estate.”
Today’s Starlite is so dog-friendly that it has a Woof’n Park dog roaming area next to the parking lot. And for some wonderful photos of this amazingly colorful place, check the recent post in The Inlet blog.
There are a plethora of Starlite videos available on YouTube. I chose the 2012 local news segment from CHCH, Hamilton’s News Leader, because it had the best night shots of the glorious marquee. I could have instead chosen a 2003 music video shot there, showing how it looked before Premiere took it over, or a 2009 tour by Toronto Landscape TV on a bright windy day. Enjoy!
For the first time in months, I drove in for the second show, the new release Logan Lucky. There was another early-evening event in town that I just couldn’t miss (see below).
Miles Today / Total: 39 / 27586 (rounded to the nearest mile)
Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Logan Lucky / 144
Nearby Restaurant: On the east side of Highway 20, just before reaching the Starlite, there was Tim Hortons. And on the west side of the highway, there was another Tim Hortons, embedded in the Esso gas station. It’s sort of a regional chain, even if that region is all of Canada and some northeast US. At any rate, since I was near the birthplace of the coffee and donut chain, I stopped for one of each. Just don’t order a “regular” coffee unless you want a cup loaded with sugar and cream.
Where I Virtually Stayed: I drove a short way to stay at another Homewood Suites in the heart of downtown Hamilton. Again my room had an embarrassment of amenities with a full kitchen and a full-sized fridge, pleasant overkill for a one-night stay. Breakfast the next morning got me ready to get back on the highways of Ontario.
Only in Stoney Creek: For the first time in months, I caught the second show at the drive-in because the Hamilton Tiger-Cats played a home game. They’re my favorite Canadian Football League team even though they’re often one of the worst, such as this year when they finished this night’s game with an 0-8 record. They play at Tim Hortons Field, which opened in September 2014. (Tim Hortons was also founded in Hamilton.)
Next stop: 5 Drive-in Theatre, Oakville ON.