During a virtual ceremony that took place last evening, seven winners of the annual Heritage Toronto Awards were announced from 2021's total of 47 nominees in four categories. The awards program is in its 46th year, and highlights the key role of heritage in city building, recognizing extraordinary contributions to Toronto's heritage. Each of the four categories—Community HeritageBookPublic History, and Built Heritage—were judged by an independent jury of experts. Along with those juried awards, a People's Choice award was also presented.

The Community Heritage Award was presented to the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre for its decades-long work to promote Japanese culture and Japanese Canadian heritage. The Centre offers a wide range of programs, from film festivals to martial arts presentations, and welcomes 5,200 members and over 210,000 visitors annually.

Ikeda Tower and Sakura Tree, Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, a community heritage organization nominated for the 2021 Heritage Toronto Awards, image by Kathy Tazumi

The Book Award was presented to Accidental Wilderness: The Origins and Ecology of Toronto’s Tommy Thompson Park. Written by Walter H. Kehm, the work is a collection of essays on the transformation of the former landfill site into a city park, and its importance to public recreation and the natural environment.

Cover of Accidental Wilderness: The Origins and Ecology of Toronto's Tommy Thompson Park

The Public History Award was presented to The OJA Presents: A Trip to the Market, an educational program benefitting over 3,000 students, which offers an immersive experience on the Jewish presence in Toronto and its commonalities to current immigrant stories.

Speech at synagogue, The OJA Presents: A Trip to the Market. Image: Justine Apple.

The Built Heritage award was won by three nominees, all for different specificities. The Craftsmanship Award recognizes the use of construction techniques and materials that are compatible to the building’s original architectural qualities. It was won by the Paradise Theatre– located at 1006 Bloor Street West–for the reimagining the early 20th-century cinema by ERA Architects inspired by its Art Deco design by Benjamin Brown, who was one of the earliest Jewish architects in Toronto. The 1937 heritage-designated landmark has been transformed into a thriving creative hub and community amenity.

Exterior of Paradise Theatre, 2019, image by Philip Castleton

The Adaptive Reuse Award recognizes projects that meet current needs while maintaining the integrity of the original design vision. Centennial College's Downsview Campus Centre for Aerospace and Aviation at 65 Carl Hall Road, took home the award for ERA Architects' transformation of the de Havilland plant, built from 1929 to 1944. It was once the centre of aviation manufacturing and design for Canada. The site now houses a learning institution for Centennial College, which continues to contribute to the legacy of Canadian aviation.

Centennial College Downsview Campus Centre for Aerospace and Aviation, image by Doublespace Photography

The Heritage Planning and Architecture Award recognizes the successful application of appropriate conservation and planning principles. This year's winner was the Massey Tower for Mod Developments and ERA Architects' revitalization of the former branch of the Canadian Bank of Commerce–located at 197 Yonge Street–as part of a new mixed-use development. The project prioritized the rehabilitation of the 1905 landmark, maintaining its visibility on Yonge Street by constructing the connected tower behind the heritage building.

Massey Tower, image by Sean Galbraith


The People's Choice Award was presented to Old Toronto Series, which is comprised of 40 short films about local histories of the city that seek to make Toronto's history approachable, engaging people from all walks of life, ages, and orientations. The most watch of the films, so far, is about Ontario Place.

You can find greater detail on all winners and nominees at the Heritage Toronto Awards site

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section provided below.

* * *

UrbanToronto has a new way you can track projects through the planning process on a daily basis. Sign up for a free trial of our New Development Insider here.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been republished to make corrections to two awards following a revised press release by Heritage Toronto.

Related Companies:  Cecconi Simone, Crossey Engineering, Hariri Pontarini Architects, Isotherm Engineering Ltd., Janet Rosenberg & Studio, LiveRoof Ontario Inc, Peter McCann Architectural Models Inc., Rebar Enterprises Inc, RJC Engineers, Stantec, TUCKER HIRISE Construction