Sept. 9: Skylite Drive-In, Madawaska ME

Skylite Drive-In movie poster "marquee"

Photo from the Skylite Drive-In Facebook page

It’s Day 252 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. As much as I dislike border crossings these days, it only made sense to stop over on my way from Mont-Saint-Hilaire QC to New Brunswick at the only drive-in within walking distance of the Canadian border, the Skylite Drive-In in Madawaska ME. The drive took a solid five hours, not counting time at the border.

Once upon a time, there was the Madawaska Drive-In. It opened in 1952 or so and survived until at least 1969. Then in mid-1970s, there’s no trace of it. In 1978, a different owner either took over the old Madawaska or built a new one. In either case, that drive-in was on Highway 1 southwest of town. It operated at least until 1988, and the site was redeveloped between 1999 and 2007.

And actually, that whole story has very little to do with the Skylite, which opened in 1973 by a Mr. Pelletier. It was a little larger than the Madawaska, if that still existed when the Skylite opened, and the two were definitely competitors into the 1980s. Some sources were getting the two a little confused, which is why I brought it up.

The Skylite’s history, in contrast, is both clear and straightforward. As documented last year by the local newspaper, the Fiddlehead Focus, “Since 1983, Donna and Gary Pelletier have owned and operated the Skylite Drive-In on 11th Avenue in Madawaska. The couple purchased the business from his father, and the traditional summer entertainment venue is now in its fifth generation, with the Pelletiers’ 5-year old granddaughter Kaitlyn Ferree handing out cool-pops to patrons during the warm weather months.”

The Skylite waited until the last minute, early 2016, to install digital projection but that worked out well. The drive-in is open seven days a week, perhaps helped by the relatively early sunsets at the eastern edge of the Eastern time zone; on this night the one movie started before 7:30. That sounds doable even on a weeknight.

So I kicked back with the Skylite’s signature fried Oreo, enjoyed watching The House for the first time in a couple of months, and felt as northeastern as I could get. Until I cross the border and get even more northeastern next week.

Miles Today / Total: 334 / 29084 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: The House / 162

Nearby Restaurant: Everyone told me that I had to try Dolly’s Restaurant, and they were right. The special was chicken stew and ployes, and they were amazing. Apparently there’s a French Canadian way to make that stew, and I had just dodged it somehow during my week in Quebec. And it turned out that Dolly’s is named for Odette Pelletier, who bought it in 1987.

Where I Virtually Stayed: There aren’t a lot of choices on this side of the border, though I was quite happy with the Inn of Acadia. My room had a mini-fridge and a Keurig, the wifi was solid, and the continental breakfast included ployes. I’d call them wheatcakes, but I guess they’re darker on one side like a crepe. I love local, tasty treats!

Only in Madawaska: Motorcyclists from across the US visit the granite monument in Four Corners Park marking it as the northeast corner of the country. The Four Corners Tour of the Southern California Motorcycle Club includes stops at San Ysidro CA, Blaine WA, and Key West FL.

Next stop: Cine-Parc Satellite, Paquetville NB.