GARY RAY RUSH
"Ontario Place Is The Place To Be"
1351 Queen Street West, Toronto
This May marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of Ontario Place.
As a young boy, I have great memories of visiting Ontario Place with my family in the early 70s. It was all brand new and I was excited by the futuristic architecture and the adventurous infrastructure permitting you to walk over man-made lakes or along the shore line of Lake Ontario. With friendly paths to stroll you felt nature and urban life were in perfect balance. The grounds were immaculate and I remember the bright red garbage bins strategically placed close at hand. Water fountains were available when needed as were washrooms. It was very visitor friendly. Into my teens and twenties, I visited often, I saw one of the first IMAX films made “North of Superior” at the Cineshphere and caught world class musical acts in its cozy open-air venue, the Forum. All this on a tiny Island with both the impressive Toronto city skyline and the great expanse of Lake Ontario in view gave me a feeling that Ontario Place is the Place to Be.
Ontario Place opened on May 22, 1971, and operated as a theme park centered around Ontario themes and family attractions. The park closed in 2011, though parts of the site, including the Cinesphere, Budweiser Stage, and Echo Beach performance venues are still in use. In 2012 the Government of Ontario announced that it would close for redevelopment. It has since reopened as a park without admission but without several of the old attractions. The gift of Ontario Place today is its great walking and biking trails right on the shoreline of Lake Ontario amongst its still futuristic looking yet deteriorating architecture.