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  • A drive down memory lane

    Son of Paul Hansen reminisced about what it was like to work at the Lakeshore Drive-in in 1952

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    Paul Hansen envisioned Chestermere as a resort-style community. During the time of the Lakeshore Drive-In Theatre, cabins around the lake were being built, and Hansen wanted residents to have activities to do within the summer community. However, it wasn’t soon after the introduction of television caused Hansen to shut down the Lakeshore Drive-In Theatre. Photo submitted by Gayle Carter
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    Son of Paul Hansen, Keith Hansen spent his teenage years working at the Lakeshore Drive-In Theatre once it was built in 1952. Keith and his brother worked on the grounds collecting trays, trash, cleaning up after the shows, and helping their father. Photo by Emily Rogers

    During one rainy-day afternoon, Calgarian Keith Hansen took a drive into Chestermere, where he worked as a teen.
    Hansen grew up working with his stepfather, Paul Hansen, and siblings Gayle Carter, and Trevor Hansen, at the Lakeshore Drive-in Theatre.
    On the weekends, Keith and Trevor worked on the grounds, collecting trays, trash, cleaning up after shows and helping their father. 
    While Carter worked with her mother in the concession booth, selling hot dogs and drinks before the show.
    Paul had to build a step stool for Carter for her to be tall enough to serve customers over the concession booth counter.
    “My stepdad made sure we worked,” Keith said.
    “I remember once something went a little hairy with the picture, and I had to climb onto the top to see what to do, and my brother took the ladder away,” he said.
    He added, “I got caught there for just about an hour. I was ready to kill him if I ever got down, but I got over it when I got down thank goodness.”

    Keith would often reminisce with his younger sister about getting stuck at the top of the Ferris wheel in the dark with Trevor at the controls taking his own time letting his brother down.

     To attract customers, the Lakeshore Drive-in Theatre held a wrestling match, bingo games, and had a Ferris wheel on the grounds one year.
    A young woman named Janet began working at the Lakeshore Drive-in Theatre selling film tickets during her second year of university, and eventually her and Keith married.  

     Janet recalls, her and Keith had a lot of fun together while working at the Drive-in Theatre.

    While the Drive-in Theatre was thriving, the summer village of Chestermere was booming with cabins around the lake.
    Paul envisioned a resort-type community and wanted vacationers to have activities to do to keep them in Chestermere, Keith said.
    “People were excited about it,” he said.
    He added cartoons would start every movie, followed by a black and white newsreel.
    Although Keith would often work at the Lakeshore Drive-in Theatre, he was also expected to work at the North Hill Drive-in as well.
    “That one I looked after more than my father did,” Keith said.
    He added, the films shown on the North Hill didn’t impact the downtown movie theatres.
    Before the customers would drive in, Keith and his siblings would be told by Paul to be as polite and as helpful as they possibly could.
    “We had very many characters who would come,” Keith said.
    “Some of them wanted to talk, very often they would tell me where they came from because they came from east, south, west, and north,” he said.

    The Hansen’s struggled to keep the Lakeshore Drive-in Theatre open following the introduction of television.

    “Dad was making hand over fist. At the end of the year, it was the time when television came in, and a year later, we couldn’t even pay our bills,” Keith said.

    Although Paul was unable to keep the Lakeshore Drive-in Theatre open, the drive-in at the North Hill remained.
    “He still kept the in-town theatre, so I worked there afterward, but it didn’t last very long,” Keith said.
    Keith would overhear Paul and the man who delivered the films get into arguments about the showtimes.
    The man who delivered the films wanted to have the same showtimes as the downtown movie theaters. However, it was impossible, as Paul had to wait until it was dark enough outside to see the projections.
    Currently, Keith no longer goes to the movie theatre, because he can watch everything he wants on the television.
    “I get a nice little taster, but it’s not often popcorn,” Keith said.