Since 1931 the Centennial Auditorium at A.E. Peacock Collegiate has been a staple within the community when it came to youth arts, concerts, music festivals, etc. 

Fast forward to 2023, the auditorium is still the same historic building, but with some minor changes, as it underwent some renovations in 2019.  

Prairie South School Division’s Superintendent of Operation, Dustin Swanson says this was the first major renovation since 1966, with many things changing and aging since that time.  

One of the major items that were rejuvenated was the seating, which according to Swanson needed some attention.   

“It was time for an upgrade to a modern comfortable stadium-style seat so it’s a great space for the audience to sit comfortably and watch a show.,” says Swanson. “There are just 600 seats in the auditorium. If anyone that’s been in the auditorium over the years remembers the old seats were a little narrow and the rows were closer together so now there’s a little more comfort and spacing, which means fewer seats.” 

Seat May 23.jpg The seats have been upgraded to a more comfortable stadium-style seat. Photo credit: Cory Knutt.

Prior to the renovation, the auditorium housed just under 800 seats, but Swanson says the facility is still a wonderful theatre space and more comfortable than ever. 

Those that attended a show at the theatre will always remember the orange, blue, and turquoise seats that covered the space. In memory of that, they left one behind.  

“We have one on display and beside it is an old hand winch. The hand winch is how you lowered the lights on the stage to change bulbs or change focus. Technology has changed and we’re happy to not have to climb up on ladders or winch down light standards.” 

Swanson adds the new seating wasn’t the only part of the theatre that saw a facelift.  

“All the lighting has been upgraded to modern LED standards and has some great technical features that weren’t available before. There’s a projection available, so backdrops can be shadowed and cast in a way that really adds to the performance. New fire-rated curtains have appeared, all new rigging, which is what supports the curtains and lighting aspects. And there’s been some sound upgrades that have happened so the quality throughout the theatre is absolutely great,” adds Swanson. 

One piece of the space that stayed intact was the balcony and some minor improvements were made.  

“When they were doing the renovation, they found some of the original flooring that was installed in 1931 so the hardwood floor you see in the balcony, is still the original flooring.  

“You’ll notice the edge of the balcony where the railing is, is oak wainscoting and that oak rail and padding is original as well from 1931.” 

In addition, the flooring in the main part of the theatre is completely new, along with acoustic tiles added to the walls to make sure the sound balances out. 

The journey began to upgrade the auditorium in 2018 when a small committee was formed that approached the Prairie South School Division (PSSD) to assist in the renovation costs financially, which took about a year.  

After help from the PSSD and the community of Moose Jaw, the committee was able to raise the funds needed to get construction underway.  

Renovations began in 2019 and then were completed in 2020.  

Swanson wasn’t able to say exactly how much the cost of the upgrade was but was able to confirm the community stepped up immensely to help out.  

“Fundraising efforts were in excess of $100,00 from individuals. I know there were several hundred thousand dollars that needed to be invested to redo all the seating and lighting and bring up everything to modern standards.” 

Swanson explains that the Moose Jaw Co-op was a major help with the renovations, making a significant donation. The balcony is now referred to as the Moose Jaw Co-op balcony.  

Another 10 or so platinum donors have their names around the theatre in areas such as the green room, several dressing rooms, and their drama room.  

The community has wasted no time utilizing the newly renovated auditorium since it opened in 2020.  

“This is a very busy theatre space. For example, Central Colliegate has its annual musical in the fall, Peacock uses it for their school’s fine arts performances. It’s frequently rented by dance groups that are here doing festivals or performances, and there have been guest speakers who would come here to do work. I can recall a time when the City of Moose Jaw would host forums here.” 

To celebrate the new look theatre, the school will be hosting an official re-opening event to present to the community all the renovations and the facelift it received tonight (June 6) at 7:00 p.m. 

Swanson is encouraging the community to come out and enjoy the event.  

“We’re going to have some performances from recent graduates, the Prairie South Jazz Band will play, and we have some dance performances by Dances Images and Doris Sitter School of Dance. It will be followed by some refreshments and an opportunity to tour the space.” 

Save the Date - Centennial Auditorium.jpg