Ontario’s Niagara Parks celebrates  80th Anniversary of Oakes Garden Theatre

Rededication event celebrates the extensive rehabilitation work undertaken at Oakes Garden Theatre

80th Anniversary celebrations include special Canadian citizenship ceremony

News from Ontario’s Niagara Parks Commission

Posted September 19th on Niagara At Large

Niagara Falls, OntarioIn a ceremony held today, The Niagara Parks Commission was pleased to rededicate the awe-inspiring amphitheatre, Oakes Garden Theatre, in celebration of the venue’s 80th anniversary.

Oakes Garden Theatre near the Falls. Photos courtesy of Niagara Parks

Oakes Garden Theatre and its associated Rainbow Gardens are outstanding examples of design and architecture created to specifically act as a dramatic gateway to Canada. Influenced by the City Beautiful architectural movement of the mid-20th century, the venue was first opened to the public with an original dedication ceremony held on September 18, 1937.

The amphitheatre and the surrounding grounds stand as one of the finest examples of landscape architecture in Canada, designed by early prominent landscape architects Dunington-Grubb and Stensson, with sculptures within the theatre created by noted Canadian artists Florence Wyle, Frances Loring and Elizabeth Wyn Wood.

In remarks provided during the rededication ceremony, Niagara Parks Chair, Janice Thomson, stated, “Oakes Garden Theatre and its Rainbow Gardens are indeed public treasures and have become a rich part of the cultural heritage and fabric, which we are proud to maintain and showcase for the people of this country, province and all those who come to visit. I want to thank both the Federal and Provincial governments for their support, which have allowed us to restore the key landscape elements and features of Oakes Garden Theatre to their original splendor, for all to enjoy.”

Beginning in the summer of 2015, Niagara Parks initiated extensive rehabilitation work to restore this important public gathering space. Construction began with accessible pathways and entrances to enhance public access and enjoyment of the space, followed by significant repairs to the Theatre’s pergola and retaining walls and other improvements. Over $1.65 million has been invested in the restoration of this important venue with up to $550,000 contributed under the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program (CIP 150), delivered by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). An additional $170,000 in funding support was provided by Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.

“This CIP150 investment is a community-building project to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary. There’s no better way to mark this milestone than to celebrate the places that bring us together—the places that allow us to stay fit, unwind and connect with our friends and neighbours,” said the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for FedDev Ontario.

“That’s how we establish the bonds of common understanding and friendship in a country where people come from every corner of the world. The values of openness, diversity and inclusion that define all Canadians are forged in our community spaces.” 

“The theatre and the associated Rainbow Gardens are a significant and beautiful part of the warm welcome we offer to the millions of visitors to Ontario,” stated Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, the Honourable Eleanor McMahon. “I am proud of the ongoing support we provide to the Commission to help fulfil its role as steward and preserver of historical and natural landscapes all along the Niagara River”.

Oakes Garden Theatre is also the perfect venue to host a Canadian citizenship ceremony, which was presided over by Canadian Citizenship Judge, Ted Salci. With the beauty and majesty of Niagara Falls serving as a backdrop, a total of 20 individuals received their Canadian citizenship in front of those attending the rededication ceremony, including many family and friends.

About the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program  – The Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program is a $300-million national program, which is being delivered by regional development agencies across the country. This project is one of 730 Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program projects approved in Southern Ontario under the program’s two intakes.

About Niagara Parks  – The Niagara Parks Commission is committed to a vision of Ontario’s Niagara Parks as one that Preserves a rich heritage, Conserves natural wonders, and Inspires people world-wide. Founded in 1885, The Niagara Parks Commission is an Operational Enterprise Agency of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Its mission is to protect the natural and cultural heritage along the Niagara River for the enjoyment of visitors while maintaining financial self-sufficiency.

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 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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