Harbourfront Centre in Toronto

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Harbourfront Centre is a key cultural organization on Toronto, Ontario's waterfront, situated at 235 Queen's 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 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.


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 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.


Harbourfront Centre runs year around programming, a combination of indoor and outdoor events. In the winter months more emphasis is put on theatre shows.

Cultural programming

Main events:

Title Date Disciplines Details
Authors at Harbourfront Centre September to June Literary
International Festival of Authors October Literary About
NextSteps September to May Dance Lisitng
World Routes May to October Multi-disciplinary - Free multi-cultural festival series Listing
World Stage October to May Theatre, dance and performance About, Listing

Educational programming

Main events:

Title Date Age group Details
School Visits October to May Grades K-12 Elementary and secondary programmes
Camps March and July-August Ages 3-17 March break and summer camps
Courses & Workshops February to May Adult Contemporary culture and art


  • Enwave Theatre — 420-seat theatre
  • Fleck Dance Theatre
  • The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery
  • York Quay Centre Visual Arts — exhibition space
  • Sirius Satellite Radio Stage — outdoor concert venue
  • The Natrel Rink — outdoor skating rink
  • International Marketplace
  • World Cafe
  • Toronto Music Garden — 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 — studio for artists creating ceramic, glass, metal and textiles
  • 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.
  • 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 fourteen renowned global cultural leaders. The participating artists included Issey Miyake, Guy Laliberté, 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 for the homage with them being present for receiving an award and to deliver a talk.

See also

  • Harbourfront - the neighbourhood surrounding the Centre
  • Toronto waterfront
  • HTO Park
  • Amsterdam Bridge, Toronto
  • Authors at Harbourfront Centre

External links

Source en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harbourfront_Centre