What makes a great event space fabulous? A distinctive personality that pops with inspiration!
TSEvents e-news delved into its files to spotlight the following venue gems both in and beyond city limits:
A Novel Scene
The Entertainment District’s Storys Building has been spinning out notable event tales since Hanif Harji and Charles Khabouth, maestros of resto-lounge cool, teamed up to open the 170-year-old property last fall as a multi-level hospitality complex. Classic brick and beam, and large casement windows backdrop designated private event space on the third and fourth floors, each accommodating up to 225 guests.
The 14,000 sq. ft. building also houses a plush second-floor cocktail parlour paying homage to high-end mixology and culinary inventiveness. The lounge opens its doors to the public in June and will be available for buy-out from Sunday to Wednesday. On ground level, the 60-seat Tavern restaurant is set to open later this year with a focus on high-end comfort food. A rooftop patio is slated for 2013.
Follow Highway 404 to its northern-most end to discover Sharon Temple, rising like a white, three-tiered wedding cake amid the lush greenery surrounding an old Quaker village. Built over 170 years ago, the historic building offers incredible acoustics – microphones not necessary – and unobstructed sight lines for concerts and events. Available May to October, a door on each side of its unique architectural frame is a nod to the temple’s origins as a place of equality and social justice. With a capacity of 150, the space can be configured for a variety of set ups.
Elsewhere on the 4.5 acre heritage site is Temperance Hall, open year-round. The small meeting hall seats up to 100 guests and has a full on-site kitchen. Nine historic buildings dot the property which is also available for picnics, teambuilding and tented receptions.
Once home to a Buddhist church, 918 Bathurst Centre, located on Bathurst just north of Bloor, has been a bustling multi-purpose hub for arts and community groups since 2009. The main event room is the Great Hall, a spacious, natural redwood auditorium boasting a stage, soaring 45-ft. A-frame cathedral ceiling and skylight (Capacity: 220 seated). A new lighting grid was recently installed, hidden within the ceiling beams to preserve aesthetics.
Adjacent the Great Hall are two art galleries. Multiple skylights give the Sun Room its name, a versatile space for receptions up to 70. The smaller Star Room accommodates 20. Four lower level rooms – a fifth coming soon – offer meeting and studio space.
Along with making good cookies, baked goods titan William Christie also constructed a beautiful Victorian home along Toronto’s Queen Park Crescent. The circa 1910 Christie Mansion is now home to University of Toronto’s Regis College, and the setting for many events and film shoots including HBO’s The Kennedys.
A picture of architectural flourishes, the mansion is stunning, with gleaming dark oak wainscotting and floors, ornate vaulted ceilings and windows, and multiple marble fireplaces. Main floor function rooms vary in size from a 30- to 90-guest capacity. Of note is the Groupil Foyer, a grand oaken hall, the Central Lounge with its cameo ceiling, and the light-filled Solarium.
Four towering boxing gloves stand sentry at the door to Bloor Street Fitness, a west-end gym that lets out its second-floor boxing studio to events looking to pack a gritty punch (Capacity: 120). The setting offers an eclectic mix of exposed limestone brick, mirrors, a black-and-white wall mural, shabby-chic antique seating and piano. The regulation-size boxing ring, a New York import, is rumoured to have once been the sparring ground for Muhammad Ali and Rocky Marciano.
Clear away the row of punching bags for extra mingle room, and put the event action – from presentations to entertainment — in centre ring. Along with monthly boxing matches, the space has seen numerous product launches, fundraisers and teambuilding gatherings. An excellent sound system pumps up the volume, and a collection of old-fashioned red barbershop chairs may be called into service.
Riding The Rails
Open from May to October, the Halton County Radial Railway offers several unique hosting ideas for corporate gatherings, retreats and family outings with tours, picnic areas and historical rail car displays. Located 45 minutes west of the city in Milton, ON, the volunteer-operated museum houses a collection of 65 vintage streetcars and buses, ranging from the late 19th century to mid 1990s.
Two or three streetcars per day, driven by operators dressed to reflect the vehicle’s era, take groups on a 20-minute trip along a 2 km loop of scenic track. Several cars are available for private receptions of up to 20 people, including a 1915 Fleet #8 London & Port Stanley Railway car with elegant wood interior and plush purple seating. Events can also be staged in the historic Rockwood Station and in the back room of the Welcome Centre.
Earlier this year, the Plumtree Group unveiled the Silver Bus, a 1960 vintage motor coach retrofitted with a stylish interior that has all the star-treatment trappings. Seating 14, the former rock-and-roll touring bus is a lounge on wheels, with handsome black leather seating, hardwood accents, Bose sound system, and designer stainless steel kitchen.
Hit the road with a fully licensed driver, or park the bus at events and use its eight-foot wide interior as a VIP salon or unique display show room. Athletic maker Converse recently used the bus as a pop-up shop featuring its latest footwear collection. Vinyl-wrap the left and right panels of the vehicle’s sleek silver exterior for branding clout.