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Repository
City of Burnaby Archives
Date
[between 1937 and 1936]
Collection/Fonds
Digney Family fonds
Description Level
Item
Physical Description
1 film clip (9 min., 26 sec.) : digital, col., si.
Item No.
562-002-1
Scope and Content
Item is a digitized copy of a silent colour film segment with footage of the construction of the Oak Theatre in 1936, the opening of the theatre held on August 4, 1937, the theatre with snow in the winter and the Digney family home and neighborhood . Andy Digney moved with his family from Manitoba …
  1 Video  
Repository
City of Burnaby Archives
Date
[between 1937 and 1936]
Collection/Fonds
Digney Family fonds
Description Level
Item
Item No.
562-002-1
Accession Number
2012-15
Physical Description
1 film clip (9 min., 26 sec.) : digital, col., si.
Media Type
Moving Images
Access Restriction
No restrictions
Reproduction Restriction
May be restricted by third party rights
Scope and Content
Item is a digitized copy of a silent colour film segment with footage of the construction of the Oak Theatre in 1936, the opening of the theatre held on August 4, 1937, the theatre with snow in the winter and the Digney family home and neighborhood . Andy Digney moved with his family from Manitoba to Burnaby in 1936 and purchased 2 acres of land where he settled with his family and built the Oak Theatre which was located at 5000 Kingsway (Marlborough & Kingsway). The theatre was located on a 2 acre parcel of land and had a 350 seat capacity and offered valet parking. Construction crews with men and horses can be seen laying the foundation and erecting the walls of the theatre and crowds of people and cars are seen arriving outside the theatre on opening day.
Notes
Title based on contents of film
Film clip originates from digitized version of original 16 mm film footage (item 562-001). This segment was part of digitized portion titled 'Oak Theatre'
Creator
Andy Digney
Subjects
Events - Openings
Buildings - Commercial - Theatres
Recreational Activities - Theatre
Animals - Horses
Names
Oak Theatre
Digney, Andy
Geographic Access
Burnaby - 5000 Block Kingsway
Historic Neighbourhood
Central Park (Historic Neighbourhood)
Planning Study Area
Sussex-Nelson Area
Video Tracks
Less detail
Repository
City of Burnaby Archives
Date
1936-1959
Collection/Fonds
Digney Family fonds
Description Level
Fonds
Physical Description
1 photograph : b&w + 1 film reel : col. ; 16mm + 7 optical discs (DVDs) + 1 portable drive
Storage Location
Photo/MI catalogue 562
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of a reel of film (digitized into four segments) created by Andy Digney; a panorama photograph of the Digney Pee-Wee Bowling League from 1958 or 1959 and 18 film segments on DVD that were originally created by Andy Digney between 1934-1961 and digitized by his grandson Paul Digney in…
Repository
City of Burnaby Archives
Date
1936-1959
Collection/Fonds
Digney Family fonds
Description Level
Fonds
Storage Location
Photo/MI catalogue 562
Physical Description
1 photograph : b&w + 1 film reel : col. ; 16mm + 7 optical discs (DVDs) + 1 portable drive
Media Type
Moving Images
Access Restriction
Open access
Reproduction Restriction
May be restricted by third party rights
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of a reel of film (digitized into four segments) created by Andy Digney; a panorama photograph of the Digney Pee-Wee Bowling League from 1958 or 1959 and 18 film segments on DVD that were originally created by Andy Digney between 1934-1961 and digitized by his grandson Paul Digney in 2012. The 16 mm film is divided into the following segments; the Oak Theatre in 1936 (construction and opening), the Royal Visit ( from the King and Queen in 1939), Burnaby Sports and May Day events (ca. 1937) and the Labour parade ( ca. 1935). The 18 film segments contain footage of the Digney family at their home in Brandon Manitoba and Burnaby, views of the Oak Theatre and Digney Speedway in operation and their travels throughout British Columbia and abroad. The 18 film segments are described at item level and titled; Andy's first film; Brandon,Manitoba; Burnaby and Digney recreational events; Trip to Kamloops; Burnaby; Burnaby, Vancouver and the north shore; Galiano Island, Oak Theatre and Calgary; Travels to Ontario, Quebec and England; Travels to England #2 ; Travels to England #3; Parades; Digney family in Burnaby; Paul Digney and family; Digney family and the Oak Theatre gardens; Digney family at Bonsor Avenue and family outings; Building and opening the Digney Speedway; Digney family travel the praries; San Francisco Trip.
History/Biography
Andy Digney was born in London, England on July 27, 1886. His given names were Andrew Charles and in 1905, he immigrated with his elder brother to Raymore Saskatchewan and worked on a farm. In 1914, he met and married Alice Swan and in 1920 they had their one and only child, Ernest ('Dig'). The young family lived in Beatty Saskatchewan where they ran a small general store with a pool hall over the top. Andy sold the store and they moved to Carberry Manitoba where Andy worked selling lightening rods and hanging wallpaper. At this time he met and formed a partnership with someone who owned a hand cranked move projector and in the evenings, he and his wife, traveled to church halls in neighbouring towns showing movies. Eventually, he purchased his own movie projector and opened a small theatre in Carberry. He worked odd jobs during the daytime and projected movies in his small theatre at night. Eventually he made enough money to move to Brandon, Manitoba where he purchased a restaurant which he turned into a theatre with living quarters above. Andy called the theatre 'The Oak' since the mighty oak was strong and stood forever. After starting the first Oak Theatre in Brandon, Manitoba when talking pictures came along, Andy Digney, his wife Alice and son Ernest ('Dig') moved to Burnaby in 1935 and chose the site of their new theatre and home at the corner of Kingsway and Marlborough. The Oak Theatre - which opened on August 4, 1937 - was hailed as an artistic masterpiece for its ultra modern white stucco exterior, floodlights and pink-and-green neon marquee. The interior featured a mirrored ceiling, fireplace, and aquarium and had a colour scheme of orchid, royal blue, silver and black. Andy was a very involved member of the Burnaby community becoming the founding president of the Lion's club and the chairman of the committee raising money for war bonds during World War II. In 1944, Andy suffered a severe heart attack, forcing him to retire, so in 1945 he sold the theatre to Odeon Theatres of Canada who continued to operate at this location until 1968 when competition forced its closure and demolition. Andy and his family relocated to a home on Bonsor Avenue on 3/4 acres where he spent much of his time cultivating a lovely garden. In about 1946, Andy was approached by the B.C. Midget Auto Racing Association, who were looking for a good location to race the smaller, racing cars, popular at the time. Andy was interested and purchased 10 acres of property located near the corner of Irmin Street and MacPherson Avenue and built a race track. The Digney Speedway opened on July 8, 1948 with stands that had capacity of holding 4500 people. In 1949, when the popularity of midget racing declined, Digney started racing roadsters. However, he struggled to find local drivers, and it was expensive to bring in drivers from elsewhere. In 1951 Digney found a winner: jalopy racing. Local men would buy 1930s cars and strip them down, remove the glass, and weld the doors shut. By early 1952 over forty cars were showing up for jalopy races. By the early 1950s the Speedway was well established, with coverage in the sports pages and on radio. Andy's son Ernest Digney (also known as Dig) worked at the race track but moved away with his wife in 1951 to work in Seattle. Andy and his wife Joyce, along with their two young sons, Paul and Bruce returned to Burnaby in 1953 moving into a 550 square foot apartment located above the Digney Speedway restrooms. In 1954 Simpson Sears built a large store on Kingsway and their parking lot came up to the back garden of the family home on Bonsor Avenue. Andy thought of building small stores on his property but in the end decided to build a bowling alley, clearing out his beautiful garden. The Digney Bowl opened on August 19,1955 and Andy Digney, his wife Alice, son 'Dig' and daughter in law Joyce all worked at both the Speedway and the bowling alley. In 1956 Andy decided to finally retire and sold the bowling alley and home to his son 'Dig' which he paid for over time. 'Dig' and his family moved into the house on Bonsor Avenue and ran the bowling alley until their son Bruce took over in 1980. Andy Digney died in 1964 while travelling with his wife in England. His wife Alice died on June 3, 1982 and their son, Ernest ('Dig') died November 27, 2009.
Notes
Title based on contents of fonds
Less detail

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