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Image shows a mural overlooking a crowd of people.

The Making of Icons – The Untold Story of Canada’s Largest Theatre & Mural

20 March 2024 at 12:00 pm

Millennium Library, Carol Shields Auditorium, 251 Donald Street



Directed by Mark Bachsler
2010, Canada, 43 minutes, English

Originally sponsored by a beer company, The O’Keefe Centre for the Performing Arts (now Meridan Hall) in Toronto, Canada, opened in 1960. The building is rich in history and deep in story having housed the country’s and the world’s greatest performances in theatre, ballet, music and opera. Yet, little know that what has been declared a City of Toronto Heritage site almost never happened.

During its formative period and construction both the performing arts centre and its iconic mural encountered the most unusual of obstacles from the religious right to the labour left.

Featuring digitally restored and 3D enhanced archival photographs including never before seen images from the lost Gilbert A. Milne collection, the film takes us on a roller coaster journey of vision, determination, conflict and triumph against the black and white backdrop of a changing Toronto in the late 1950’s.

At 100 feet in length, the mural in the lobby by artist R. York Wilson is the largest in Canada. The film presents a detailed history of the abstracted wonder: The Seven Lively Arts of painting, dance, sculpture, music, drama and literature.

Sponsored by Ken King Ottawa.