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It was a popular meeting place in Fort Coulonge, Que. for almost 70 years.

Frank Doyle remembers.

“Father decided to open the theater after showing movies at city halls, not just in Fort Coulonge but in other small towns in the Pontiac,” Doyle said.

“In 1953 he opened the Lyn Theatre, named after my sister Lyn.”

“It was very, very popular back then.”

The Doyles eventually sold the theater and about nine years ago the Pontiac’s only movie theater closed its doors.

Enter Jane Toller.

As a young girl, Toller spent summers at Fort Coulonge. She is a descendant of the Bryson family who started white pine forestry in Pontiac and Lumberman’s Bank, which eventually became Scotiabank.

“I wondered if everyone had a very special family like mine and I knew the answer was ‘no.’ So, as the saying goes, you have to know where you’re coming from in order to know where you’re going,” said Toller.

Toller, a former Toronto mayoral candidate and now the supervisor of the Pontiac, eventually moved back to the area and decided to stay.

“By 2016, I realized this was going to be my permanent home,” she said.

Jane Toller walks down Main Street in Fort Coulonge, Que. (Joel Haslam/CTV News Ottawa)Toller bought the family home, which also serves as the Spruceholme Inn. She opened a restaurant using beams from her great-great-grandfather’s barn and built a convention center for events of 400 people. She also owns a local clothing store.

“All of these things are meant to move the Pontiac forward, create jobs, and draw more people here,” she said.

That’s why Toller made the 135-seat cinema her next purchase.

“It’s a cultural center and a lot of people seem excited when it reopens,” said Toller.

“There are many memories and many young children who have never had the opportunity to experience this until now.”

Toller has extensively renovated the tired space. She built a stage that can also be used for live theater. She bought a state-of-the-art digital projector and sound system.

Even the popcorn is made using the Doyle family recipe

And Toller makes sure her fans of Fort Coulonge movies always have access to the latest Hollywood releases.

“I am very proud that this is a cinema from the very beginning. So if a new film plays in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, it will also play in Fort Coulonge,” she said with a smile.

The theater and Jane’s efforts to breathe new life into this community receive rave reviews.

Guests pack the restored Cinema Lyn theater to enjoy a showing of Top Gun: Maverick. (Joel Haslam/CTV News Ottawa)

Andre Gervais drove out of Pembroke to watch Top Gun: Maverick.

“It’s so good for the city,” said Gervais.

“I think it’s pretty important that the youth here experience what we did when we were younger,” he said.

“I moved away for 40 years and retired here,” said Harvey Levesque. “My wife is a movie buff, so this is perfect for us,” he said, laughing.

The Lyn cinema is open Friday to Monday and operates from May to the end of October. It may open for Christmas movies in December.

Like the movies on screen, the story unfolding in this community is exciting to watch.

“When the lights come on, that’s a sign of life,” said Toller. “It tells people there’s something going on at Fort Coulonge.”

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