Massey Hall



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Massey Hall on Wikipedia
Massey Hall
Massey Hall sign of snow.jpgMassey Hall in February 2011
(showing entrance on Shuter Street)
Address178 Victoria Street
Toronto, Ontario
Coordinates43°39′15″N 79°22′44.50″W / 43.65417°N 79.3790278°W / 43.65417; -79.3790278Coordinates: 43°39′15″N 79°22′44.50″W / 43.65417°N 79.3790278°W / 43.65417; -79.3790278
OwnerThe Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall
TypeConcert hall
OpenedJuly 14, 1894 (1894-07-14)
Years active1894–present
ArchitectSidney Badgley

National Historic Site of Canada
Official nameMassey Hall National Historic Site of Canada
DesignatedJune 15, 1981 (1981-06-15)
Ontario Heritage Act
Designated1975 (1975)

Massey Hall is a performing arts theatre in the Garden District of downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The theatre was designed to seat 3,500 patrons, but after extensive renovations in the 1940s it now seats up to 2,765.[1]

Massey Hall and the more intimate Eaton Auditorium were the only substantial concert venues in Toronto before the opening of Roy Thomson Hall as the new home of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir.

Massey Hall was designated a National Historic Site of Canada on June 15, 1981.[2]


  • 1 History
  • 2 Notable appearances
  • 3 Historic designations
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links


Massey Hall was built to fill the need for a secular meeting place where people from Toronto and area could meet and enjoy choral music not of a religious theme. It was designed with a neoclassical facade, and features moorish arches that span the width of the interior hall. This interior was inspired by the Alhambra Palace in Spain as well as Louis Sullivan's Chicago Auditorium.[1] The exterior neoclassical facade was a preference voiced from Lillian, Hart Massey's daughter.

Designed by architect Sidney Badgley, Massey Hall was completed in 1894 at a cost of $152,390.75.[3] Construction was financed by Hart Massey of Massey-Harris (later Massey Ferguson) holding company. The hall's debut concert was on June 14, 1894. The Albert Building, at 15 Shuter Street, was added as a janitorial residence in 1917, and later converted as backstage space.[4] However, it will be demolished and replaced by a new addition during pending renovations in spite of potential historic value (featuring a two storey oriel window).[5]

The exterior is Palladian architecture while the interior is Moorish Revival architecture.[5]

In 1933, the Massey Foundation undertook further renovations to the hall. It is currently used for a variety of events and is operated by the same corporation as Roy Thomson Hall.

In 1994, to commemorate the Hall's 100th anniversary, the basement was completely refurbished to include Centuries, a fully stocked bar. Prior to this addition, alcohol was not permitted in the hall. The decor of Centuries includes hundreds of photos of artists who have performed there over the years (largely collecting portraits of popular music stars since the eighties) including many autographs. Centuries has a capacity of 220 people, and often hosts CD release parties and post-show parties for the visiting artists. Roughly five years after Centuries was created, an additional bar in the balcony lounge was added.

At some point in its renovation history, three of the windows at the front of the venue were converted into doors, and a pair of fire escape staircases were installed along the front face of the building. The doors at the front of the venue were painted red (from their earlier brown-gold colour), a large neon sign was hung above the main entrance, and notice boards listing upcoming acts were revamped on either side of those doors.

Notable appearances

Many dignitaries have attended the Hall since its inauguration. In 1901, the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York (the future King George V and his wife Queen Mary) visited with Canadian Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier.

Many famous figures have appeared on the broad stage of this stately hall, including Montserrat Caballe, William Booth, Maria Callas, Enrico Caruso, Winston Churchill, George Gershwin, Glenn Gould, Vladimir Horowitz, Dalai Lama, Gordon Lightfoot, Luciano Pavarotti, Ravi Shankar, Bob Dylan, Cream, Neil Young, Thomas Mann, The Kinks, Billy Joel, Lenny Kravitz, Oscar Peterson, Joe Satriani and Arturo Toscanini.

It was the site of the legendary Charlie Parker-Dizzy Gillespie concert, recorded as Jazz at Massey Hall, in May 1953. Accompanying Gillespie and Parker in this acoustically sound hall were Bud Powell, Max Roach and Charles Mingus.

Neil Young's performance on January 19, 1971 was recorded and later released as a live album, entitled Live at Massey Hall 1971. Rush, in June 1976, recorded the live album All the World's a Stage here. Matthew Good performed and recorded his concert, on May 29, 2008, which was released as a live album, entitled Live at Massey Hall.

During Natty Dread Tour, Bob Marley and The Wailers performed for the first time in Toronto, Canada on June 8, 1975. On January 8, 1995, Ronnie Hawkins celebrated his 60th birthday by throwing a concert here, which was documented on the album Let It Rock. The concert featured performances by Hawkins, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Band and Larry Gowan. Jeff Healey sat in on guitar for most, if not all, of the performances. Hawkins' band, The Hawks, or permutations of it, backed most, if not all, of the acts. All of the musicians performing that night were collectively dubbed "The Rock ‘N’ Roll Orchestra".

On December 21, 2011, Justin Bieber performed a special Christmas concert, which sold out in 30 minutes.[6]

Canadian rock band Spirit of the West's 2015 concert at the venue, and the preparations for it, are profiled in the 2016 documentary film Spirit Unforgettable.[7]

Toronto-born comedian Russell Peters filmed his Netflix Original stand-up special Almost Famous over two nights at Massey Hall in April, 2016.

Historic designations

In 1973, Toronto City Council designated Massey Hall a Heritage Property under the province's Ontario Heritage Act.[8] Massey Hall was designated a National Historic Site of Canada on June 15, 1981.[2]


  1. ^ a b Kilbourn, William (1993). Intimate Grandeur: One Hundred Years At Massey Hall. Toronto: Stoddart. 
  2. ^ a b "Massey Hall". National Register of Historic Places. Parks Canada. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  3. ^ Gillen, Mollie (1965). The Masseys: Founding Family. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ Naulls, Kevin (19 December 2011). "Justin Bieber's Massey Hall Christmas concert sells out in 30 minutes (prepare to be gouged by scalpers)". Toronto Life. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  7. ^ "'Unforgettable' Spirit Of The West documentary". Toronto Sun, April 29, 2016.
  8. ^ Yu, Andrea (7 May 2013). "Massey Hall: Past, Present and Proposed Future". Urban Toronto. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 

External links

  • Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall
  • The Canadian Encyclopedia: Massey Hall

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