Toronto’s renewed and reimagined premiere event space located centrally in beautiful Yorkville. Our 700-person concert hall and supporting spaces, turning 100 years old this year, guarantee your event will be unforgettable and one of a kind. Radiating with character and history, having hosted thousands of musical events across the last century, there’s a story and an experience around every corner.
Complete with a raised stage, ornate proscenium arch, active theatre lighting rig, hardwood dance floor, and awe inspiring acoustics, the hall is second to none in the city.
The Masonic Temple was opened with great ceremony on January 1, 1918. Owned by an independent corporation of Masons, the Temple was intended to house a disparate group of lodges and chapters; at one point, thirty-eight different groups called the temple home.
Unlike the rest of the Temple, the Concert Hall was intended as rental public space to help defray operating costs, with dressing rooms, a stage, and food preparation areas.
It’s been known by many names as music and owners changed: The Concert Hall; The Auditorium; Club 888; The Rockpile, Regency Ballroom. The Concert hall started out mainly being used as a lecture-hall (“G. K. Chesterton: Literature as Luggage”), ballroom (“Canada’s Largest Public Dance Every Wed. – Fri. – Sat.”) and to host community concerts.
That’s not to say there weren’t more fantastic events too - Frank Sinatra used to rent the building for private parties, and the Rolling Stones used the space as a summer rehearsal studio for years.
The Concert Hall started to gain traction as a rock concert venue in the 1960s, attracting performers like Wilson Pickett, Tina Turner, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Johnny Lee Hooker, Canned Heat, and Buddy Guy by 1968.
1969 was a massive year: Led Zeppelin, Muddy Waters, Frank Zappa, Chuck Berry, The Who, B. B. King, the Grateful Dead, Mothers of Invention. And that was just a lead into the 70s: The Animals, Iggy Pop, The Ramones, Toots and the Maytals, Hugh Masekela. The 80s starred Iron Maiden, The Cure, Dead Kennedys, King Crimson and Depeche Mode
But things were starting to look bleak. The Building’s condition had rapidly deteriorated throughout the 70s, and as Masons started moving to the suburbs, the Temple started to fall on hard times. The corporation started looking to sell in the mid 90s, but the bands played on, ranging from Vanilla Ice to Weird Al Yankovic, The Tragically Hip to Ice-T. Rage Against the Machine. Phish. Queen Latifah. David Bowie. Pearl Jam & The Smashing Pumpkins opened for The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Green Day opened for Bad Religion. It wasn’t enough.
The building narrowly escaped demolition in 1997 by being declared a heritage site (the ‘lucky’ 888 address was coveted by developers). CTV bought it in 1998 as a news bureau and venue for the Mike Bullard show. MTV took over in 2006, and, despite closing the Concert Hall, still managed to cage a performance from U2 in 2009.
MTV decided to up-stakes and move down to Queen Street in 2012, but the Temple only had to wait a year before Info-Tech Research Group bought and thoroughly renovated it. The Concert Hall has been opened for special events, like listening sessions lead by Jimmy Page, concerts by Luke and the Apostles and Platinum Blond, boxing events, and much more. Now that 888 Yonge Inc. has the reins, we can expect more fantastic events in this beautiful, historic space.
Special Thanks to Daniel Tate. @theflyervault