This piano was once used by customers in a restaurant. People could drop a quarter in the front panel, and listen to a one-man-band variation of a player piano song. These instruments were the predecessors of the jukebox, as stated from The Canadian Encyclopedia. The restoration of these instruments is difficult and expensive. Most stopped working during the 40s and 50s. The Nickelodeons, one seen here, were an off-shoot of piano players, and popular in Canada. Although there may have been numerous Nickelodeons playing around the country at one point, there are at most 15 in Canada that are worth noting today.
Looking through the glass, one can see instruments which would accompany the piano standards programmed in the Nickelodeon. The stained glass provided a warm feel, mellowing the atmosphere. The word “Mother’s” on the bottom panel was a trademark, for a Canada wide chain called Mother’s Pizza. It also had locations in the United States and the United Kingdom. Little Caesar’s bought the chain in 1989, and the Mother’s side completely closed down around year 2000. The food was not the problem, as poor management is credited for Mother’s Pizza’s demise. The chain has re-established, 2013, and is trying to mimic the very essence of the original restaurants.
The top panel contains one of each: a triangle, block, and cymbal. The quarter insert can be seen in the top left corner, where there is a brass plating. This piano would have been a significant attraction (along with the food) for the pizza parlour, located in Medicine Hat at the time. This piano was donated to us by a family from Carr’s Landing.
Please come experience more of Lake Country’s history, here at the Lake Country Museum and Archives.
Sources: Wikipedia, The Canadian Encyclopedia
By Jacob Semenuik