Harbourfront Centre

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Harbourfront Centre

Harbourfront Centre is a key cultural organization on Toronto, Ontario’s waterfront, situated at 235 Queens Quay West. Established as a crown corporation in 1972 by the federal government to create a waterfront park, it became a non-profit organization in 1991. Funding comes from corporate sponsors, government grants, individual donors and entrepreneurial activities. Harbourfront Centre has a seating capacity of 2,000.

Harbourfront Centre works with over 450 community organizations, and hosts more than 4,000 events a year in many disciplines such as theatre, dance, literature, music, film, visual arts and fine craft.[1]


The federal government faced mounting criticism from the City of Toronto due to the amount of money being spent for Montreal on both Expo 67 and the 1976 Summer Olympics. Hence, the city decided that it would build Harbourfront Centre and the province would build nearby Ontario Place in order to revitalize Toronto’s industrial harbour and increase tourism to the city with help from the federal government. As a result, The federal government committed to buying 100 hectares of land to be appropriated for public use. In 1972 “Harbourfront Corporation” was established as a federal Crown Corporation.

Harbourfront Centre was formed on January 1, 1991 as a non-profit charitable organization with a mandate to organize and present public events and to operate a 10-acre (40,000 m2) site encompassing York Quay and John Quay (south of Queens Quay West).

In 1982, Queen’s Quay Terminal was remodelled by Zeidler Partnership Architects (the same firm that designed the Toronto Eaton Centre). The project transformed the industrial space into a mixed-use building that included shops, restaurants, offices, and exclusive residential condos (it once was the home for Premier Mike Harris).

Since its inception, Harbourfront Centre has been introducing Toronto audiences to artists and art forms that would not normally be seen in commercial venues.


Enwave Theatre ó 420-seat theatre
Fleck Dance Theatre
The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery
York Quay Centre Visual Arts ó exhibition space
The WestJet stage (formerly known as the Sirius Satellite Radio Stage) ó outdoor concert venue
The Natrel Rink ó outdoor skating rink
International Marketplace
World Cafe
Toronto Music Garden ó designed by Yo Yo Ma and Julie Moir Messervy
Studio Theatre
Brigantine Room
Marilyn Brewer Community Space
Lakeside Terrace
Miss Lou’s Room
The Craft Studio ó studio for artists creating ceramic, glass, metal and textiles
The Centre Shop (formerly known as Bounty: Contemporary Canadian Craft Shop)

First children’s summer day camps at Harbourfront Centre was in 1978.
Cirque du Soleil performed at Harbourfront Centre in 1985 when they were just starting out.
First WOMAD festival in Canada was held at Harbourfront Centre in 1988.[2]
Some of the “big” names who have performed at Harbourfront Centre: Celine Dion, Oscar Peterson, Robert Lepage, STOMP, Julio Iglesias, Spalding Gray, Philip Glass, Ann Murray, k.d. lang, Jim Carrey.
The top piece of the CN Tower was at Harbourfront Centre where school kids were asked to sign it in 1975 before being installed.
In 2001, Harbourfront Centre organized “World Leaders: A Festival of Creative Genius,” to pay homage to 14 renowned global cultural leaders. The participating artists included Issey Miyake, Guy LalibertÈ, Philippe Starck, Frank Gehry, Lily Tomlin, Stephen Sondheim, Bernardo Bertolucci, Robert Rauschenberg, Harold Pinter, Joni Mitchell, Robert Lepage, Peter Gabriel, Quincy Jones and Pina Bausch. Each artist had a dedicated night where they received an award and delivered a talk.

Info provided by Wikipedia.