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Visiting Massey Hall, Toronto, Ontario: neo-Classical concert venue by Sidney Badgley, dating from 1894

Updated on March 23, 2012
Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
Massey Hall, illuminated by reflections from the windows across the street.
Massey Hall, illuminated by reflections from the windows across the street. | Source
Shuter Street entrance to Massey Hall. Toronto, Canada.
Shuter Street entrance to Massey Hall. Toronto, Canada. | Source
Map location of Toronto, Ontario
Map location of Toronto, Ontario | Source

Prime musical hub for Torontonians

The architect responsible for Massey Hall, in Toronto, Ontario, was Sidney Badgley (1850-1917)(1), who completed the work in 1894. The building's prominent Shuter Street frontage of the building is in neo-Classical style; Gothic Revival elements are also discernible.

The building, which seats nearly 3000, is named for Hart Massey (1823-1896) or more strictly speaking, his Massey Foundation which financed the project. Hart Massey was a noted industrialist, whose philanthropy benefited various important works of public value; the University of Toronto was particularly prominent as a recipient of Massey Foundation grants.

Massey Hall has long been regarded as among the most sought after venues for concerts and sometimes other, large public meetings in the city of Toronto. Many of the great figures of late 19th and 20th century history appeared at Massey Hall, including members of the Royal Family, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, William Booth, Luciano Pavarotti, Maria Callas, Glen Gould and Arturo Toscanini, and many others. The building was for many decades the venue for concerts by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

In 1975 the building was named a heritage property under the Ontario Heritage Act, followed by designation as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1981. The building celebrated its centenary in 1994, and in that year underwent a large program of renovation. While the building is principally known as a secular concert and meeting venue, it has also sometimes been made available for gatherings of a religious nature.

While Massey Hall is often spoken of as being at 178 Victoria Street, the building's main entrance is actually situated on Shuter Street, between Yonge and Victoria Streets. The venue is thus very centrally located in Downtown Toronto, a closely neighbouring building being St. Michael's Hospital.


(1) Other work for which Architect Badgley was responsible included many church buildings, especially in the United States; in fact, Massey Hall was one of the relatively few secular buildings for which he is known, although he also designed the public library at St. Catherines, Ontario.

Also worth seeing

Among the numerous, Historic buildings in Downtown Toronto are: Osgoode Hall, Campbell House, United Metropolitan Church, St. Michael's Cathedral, St James's Cathedral, the Ontario Parliament's Legislative Building, Union Station, and many others.

Ashbridge's Estate (distance: approx. 6.5 kilometres), at 1444 Queen Street, East, has been associated since the 1790s with an old Ontario family.


How to get there: Air Canada, flies to Toronto Pearson Airport, with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. However, many sights of Downtown Toronto are easily walkable. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. For any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities, you are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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