Twenty-seven archival photos showcasing the history of a bygone Ontario Place
From its construction in 1970 to its halcyon days in the ’80s and ’90s, the waterfront space was a much-loved community hub
Ontarians’ fondness for Ontario Place is hard to quantify. After the waterfront site opened in May of 1971, people of all ages flocked to the destination year after year—young adults attending free concerts at The Forum, families enjoying the Children’s Village and tourists enjoying dinner along the water. In 2012, after a steady decline in attendance, the province announced that the public sections of the park would be closed and redeveloped. Almost a decade later, in 2021, Doug Ford’s government revealed its plans to remake the site into a massive private spa designed by Austrian firm Therme Group.
While many agree that the park is in need of a revamp, the new plans were met with heavy pushback. Critics denounced the proposed redesign as “tone-deaf,” inaccessible and exclusionary—not to mention a poor use of the city’s minimal waterfront. In response, the province has maintained that, should the plans be approved (they’re set to go to council in the fall), the park’s most quintessential features and public green spaces will be preserved.
According to legendary German Canadian architect and Ontario Place designer Eberhard Zeidler, the site was intended as a recreational space for all people—not just those who can afford luxury spa treatments. Here’s a selection of archival photos that capture Ontario Place’s legacy of family, friendship and community.