Skip To Content

Good news from the ByTowne Cinema

By Apartment613 on April 4, 2020

Guest post by Bruce White, owner of the ByTowne Cinema.

This is going to take a while…

Hello again, film fans. To respect society’s new need to keep people apart, the ByTowne closed on March 15. At the time, I had no idea how long the closures and distancing measures would last.

And I still don’t. But it’s becoming apparent that, to keep the number of COVID-19 infections to a minimum, we’re all going to have to stay home for longer than we first thought. It’s clear to me that none of the ByTowne’s April screenings can go ahead.

Even re-opening in May is, to borrow a word from the U.S.A.’s narcissist-in-chief, “aspirational” at best. Even if our collective good behaviour can flatten the coronavirus curve by the end of April, getting businesses back to pre-pandemic status will take several more weeks. Some authorities, including Toronto Public Health, are now mooting June 30 as a possible end date for restrictions on public gatherings.

Plus, logic tells me that large public venues (cinemas, concert halls, live theatres) could well be among the very last institutions to be allowed to return to normal.

Don’t worry: the ByTowne will be back.

But there’s good news, too. In my new-found ‘spare time,’ I’ve done what most small-business owners have been doing: I’ve crunched some numbers.

With the announced relief programs provided by the government, and a rainy-day fund that we haven’t had to dip into in recent years, the ByTowne will weather the storm.

Don’t worry: the ByTowne will be back.

A word of thanks

Almost every day since closing, we’ve received e-mails and tweets from loyal fans who want to help us through this. It’s touching and uplifting to hear how important the ByTowne is to you. But, as I’ve explained above, this coronavirus is not going to end our beautiful friendship.

I encourage anyone who has the resources to help those in more dire straits. Donate to your local food bank, a homeless shelter, or to the special fund set up at the Ottawa Community Foundation.

If you’ve already done your bit for charities and still want to help the ByTowne, I recommend buying some pre-paid Vouchers. An $8 Voucher acts as admission for a Member (when sunnier times prevail) and a $12 Voucher will let a non-Member friend of yours sail right in with you. Bringing someone new to the cinema is doubly valuable to us!

Vouchers are easy to buy: Send funds via an Interac e-transfer to, and we’ll mail the vouchers to you. Tell us how many $8 and how many $12 vouchers you want, and add $2 for postage.

Thank you. Thank you.

While we wait to get movies back on the screen again, I’m discovering the joys of streaming multi-episode tv shows. I can highly recommend Westworld (Crave) for sci-fi fans, and I totally enjoyed re-watching Season 1 of The Wire (Netflix). For laughter of a certain age, there’s The Kominsky Method (Netflix), starring Michael Douglas and the brilliant Alan Arkin. My most recent fixation is a John LeCarré adaptation, The Night Manager (Amazon Prime). I’ve just begun watching, but it’s showing a lot of promise.

Good luck with your own entertainment choices. Take some chances: ‘wasting your time’ isn’t as awful as it used to be.

Stay home, stay safe and stay tuned for better times.