Harbourfront Centre

Coordinates: 43°38′20″N 79°22′55″W / 43.638834°N 79.3818785°W / 43.638834; -79.3818785
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Harbourfront Centre
Aerial shot of Harbourfront Centre site
Harbourfront Centre is located in Toronto
Harbourfront Centre
Location within Toronto
EstablishedJanuary 1, 1991 (1991-01-01)
Location235 Queens Quay West
Toronto, Ontario
M5J 2G8
Coordinates43°38′20″N 79°22′55″W / 43.638834°N 79.3818785°W / 43.638834; -79.3818785
Visitors12 million/year
DirectorMarah Braye
Public transit access509 Exhibition or 510 Spadina streetcar from Union Station

Harbourfront Centre is a key cultural organization on the waterfront of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, situated at 235 Queens Quay West. Established as a crown corporation in 1972[dubious ] by the Government of Canada 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 craft.[1] The development is governed by a 26-person community based volunteer Board of Directors, and is assisted by approximately 2,000 volunteers who generously contribute their efforts and time. Harbourfront Centre is patrolled by its own in-house security team, which works closely with police to ensure that the property is protected.


Queen's Quay Terminal was remodelled in 1982 in an effort to revitalize Harbourfront Centre.

The Government of Canada faced mounting criticism from the City of Toronto government due to the amount of money being spent for Montreal on both Expo 67 and the 1976 Summer Olympics. Hence, the Government of Canada decided that it would build Harbourfront Centre and the Government of Ontario would build nearby Ontario Place in order to revitalize Toronto's industrial harbour and increase tourism to the city. As a result, the Government of Canada committed to buying 100 hectares of land to be appropriated for public use.

In 1972 "Harbourfront Corporation" was established as a federal Crown Corporation. In 1975, the top portion of the CN Tower was housed at Harbourfront Centre, and schoolchildren were asked to sign it before it was installed. In the following decades, the area saw a number of uses, hosting children's summer day camps in 1978, and hosting the Cirque du Soleil which performed in the area in 1985. The first WOMAD festival in Canada was held at Harbourfront Centre in 1988.[2]

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).

The concert stage at Harbourfront Centre hosts performances for the public.

Since its inception, Harbourfront Centre has been introducing Toronto audiences to artists and art forms that would not normally be seen in commercial venues. Artists 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, Feist, Lillian Allen, and Gordon Lightfoot.[citation needed]

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 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.[citation needed] Each artist had a dedicated night where they received an award and delivered a talk. In 2004, Harbourfront Centre has hosted the Planet IndigenUS Festival, a multi-day celebration and global exploration of contemporary Indigenous civilizations.


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

Cultural programming[edit]

Main events:

Title Date Disciplines
Authors at Harbourfront Centre September to June Literary
International Festival of Authors October Literary
NextSteps September to June Dance
Summer Festivals May to October Multidisciplinary - Free multicultural festival series
World Stage February to May Theatre, dance, multidisciplinary performance

Educational programming[edit]

Main events:

Title Date Age group Details
School Visits September to June Grades K-12 Elementary and secondary programs
Camps March and July–August Ages 3–17 March Break and summer camps


A skating rink is located at Harbourfront Centre.
  • Harbourfront Centre Theatre (formerly known as the Enwave Theatre) — 420-seat theatre
  • Fleck Dance Theatre
  • The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery
  • Visual Arts galleries; exhibition space
  • Harbourfront Stage — outdoor concert venue (formerly Westjet Stage)
  • Natrel Rink — outdoor skating rink
  • Lakeview Market
  • World Café
  • 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
  • Craft & Design — studio for artists creating ceramic, glass, metal and textiles
  • Harbourfront Centre Shop

See also[edit]


  1. ^ ""Harbourfront Centre" 9 September 2010 Tourism Toronto.". Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
  2. ^ "Ancient cultures, new music", Michael Hollett, p. 19, 4 August 1988 Now Magazine.

External links[edit]