Community mourning loss of former owner of the Strand Theatre

The Beaverton community is mourning the former owner of a local landmark.

Vernon Flaherty – owner and operator of The Strand Theatre on Mara Road from its launch in 1955 until the building was sold in 2018 – recently passed away on Jan. 20. He was 93.

Flaherty got his start in the business in 1948, alongside his brother Brian, at a previously existing theatre on Simcoe Street in Beaverton.

“The business was successful enough to allow the construction of the ‘new’ Strand Theatre in 1955,” reads his obituary.

“It was his life’s work and he maintained the building with loving care and took on many challenges presented over the years, including Hurricane Hazel which occurred during construction and involved some clean up and back to work.”

It notes that many in Beaverton will remember him collecting tickets at the front doors before zipping up to the projection room and getting the show on the road, usually with a few cartoons to warm things up. His loving wife, Gladys, was a mainstay at the theatre as well.

Flaherty served in the Royal Canadian Air Force Marine Squadrons in Nova Scotia during the Second World War and served as a member of the RCAF Association 429 Wing, as well as the Beaverton Legion.

He was also a member of the National Geographic Society and a devoted world traveller.

“In the late fifties Vernon and Gladys took a Volkswagen from Beaverton to Mexico City on a little tour. His mom and aunt were in the back seat. On the return he thought they should have a look at Los Angeles to see how things were going in the film business. That was quite a drive,” the obituary reads.

“He enjoyed any adventure that involved sailing and spent many enjoyable hours on the water in various parts of the world. The high seas on a tall ship in the Caribbean, a sail voyage in Tahiti and a New Zealand trip come to mind. Lake Simcoe also saw several of Vernon and Gladys’ boats over the years.”

Due to COVID restrictions, a private service will be held with interment at the Stone Church Cemetery in Beaverton.

Check out the video below for a recap on the history of the Strand Theatre.

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