In a series of short profiles, Capital Current introduces difference makers working hard to improve Ottawa.

Who is he?

Josh Stafford is the co-owner of the Mayfair Theatre in Ottawa, an independent, single-screen cinema that opened in 1932. The Mayfair screens a variety of independent, foreign and classic movies. He is also a comic book author and has penned titles such as Zomkeys and Damned, Cursed Children.

What’s his background? 

Stafford first became a Mayfair patron as a teenager at Canterbury High School in the visual arts stream. He attended Vancouver Film School and wrote and directed short films including 07:07:13 and Four-Wheeled Furies.

He then returned to Ottawa and said he “stumbled into helping the Mayfair” when it was on the verge of closure in 2009. He became the cinema’s co-owner that same year.

What is he known for in Ottawa?

Stafford is a strong advocate for the importance and preservation of independent cinema in Ottawa. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he spearheaded campaigns to sell seats and popcorn to ensure the cinema could remain open amid restrictions. He also runs the Mayfair’s social media accounts, sets up social events, co-ordinates advertising and hosts a weekly podcast.

He attends local events such as Ottawa Comiccon, selling his comics and connecting with the community. He said entering the comic book scene and interacting with local comic fans is “a nerd dream come true.”

What do people say about him?

According Lee Demarbre, the Mayfair’s other owner, Stafford’s work at the theatre comes from his passion for movies and connecting with the community. “No one loves the Mayfair more than Josh,” Demarbre wrote in an email. “He’s a lifetime fan of the cinema and he often expresses his involvement with the Mayfair as a dream come true.”

Mike Eakins, a comic book critic on Comic Watch, says Stafford and his Damned, Cursed Children writing partner Howard Wong are “two names to keep an eye on in the [horror comic book] genre.”

What is something people don’t know about him?

Stafford was written into a Star Wars comic by one of his friends, and his character was killed by antagonist Jango Fett. “That’s one of the big moments of pride in my life,” he said.