There’s a woman in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce who has been moving heaven and earth to breathe new life into what has been a wasted architectural treasure for years, The Empress Theatre, aka Cinema V on Sherbrooke St. West. Her name is Elaine Ethier.

An NDG girl herself, Ms. Ethier has spent her professional life in the movie industry. Her expertise lies equally in production and management. Throughout her career, she has been adamant about developing, recognizing and celebrating our professional television and cinema talent.

facade-du-theatreSince January 2013, she has devoted herself to turn the vacant Empress Theatre into a true beating heart of the community by making it a modern local movie theater and thus contribute significantly to its quality of life.

The magnificent Art Deco building was built in 1927 by Joseph Alcide Chaussé. Inspired by the discovery of the amazing Tutankamon tomb, the architect graced it with a unique Egytian style. It had a tumultuous life as a vaudeville, then a burlesque theatre and finally a théatre de répertoire which even hosted the Rocky Horror Picture Show back in the day! It officially closed in the early 90’s after an unfortunate chain of events. Since then, the unique edifice has been in desperate need of a champion to, not only be restored to its just beauty, but once again find its purpose at the centre of the community.

 » Sherbrooke Street needs a place that will bring people together, a place to see movies and performances and to share. The business owners of the area support our project because they know that those who would come to the theatre would generate a flow beneficial to all, and contribute to people really setting their roots in this neighbourhood  » says Ms. Ethier. The borough of NDG-Côte des Neiges owns the Empress. And it had clearly defined its requirements before they would hand it to anyone willing to revive it.

Ms. Ethier has been trying to put together the ingredients to achieve that purpose.  » I must admit that with the constant changes in government policies and so forth, it’s not been easy. And although we have not met the demands set for last June, we are about to reach our goal, having revised our project for it to fit better with the vision held by officials, artists and the community.  »

The Summer outdoor cinema has been a wonderful way to bring attention to and raise funds for the project. This cinema’s success, attracting more than 2300 spectators for 8 presentations this summer, and their enthusiastic response to our special features and guests, proves there’s a place for this cultural offer. Learn more and don’t be afraid to get involved by visiting their website at or follow them on Facebook at Empress Theatre.

Breathing new life in the Empress may require a magic touch… or simply practical faith.