Feature: Hearn Generating Station

440 Unwin Avenue, Toronto, ON M4M 3B9                                           

Box Office: (416) 368 4849; General Inquiries: (416) 368 3100

Toronto’s largest multi-arts festival is back for its 10th anniversary and it’s been a year of exciting changes for the city staple. The main focus of the buzz this year is the festival’s new venue. This year Luminato took over the defunct Hearn Generating Station, a colossal undertaking that has blended performance, visual art, music, theater, dance, magic and more - all under one roof.

Picture of the main entrance of the Hearn
Picture of walkway to the entrance

The main pathway up to the Hearn is paved concrete and also connects to the outdoor Biergarten and New Canadian Music stage that stands near the main facility. The Biergarten, presented by Mill Street with some help from the fine folks at Parts and Labour, offers a collection of sausages, sides and Mill Street beers. Seating options include picnic or high-top tables.

Picture of the "Biergarten"
Picture of the New Canadian Music Stage

Entering into the Hearn you can’t help but be awestruck by its sheer size. In taking over the space, Luminato has attempted to retain the soul of the building while making it a place that can accommodate all. Flooring on the main level is concrete which has been patched in numerous places leading to some bumpy spots and lips. Any flooring spots that present a potential hazard have been marked out using fluorescent spray paint which was easily visible during our daytime visit. However, this may vary with changes in natural and artificial lighting. Due to the nature of the space, lighting and sound at the Hearn will vary depending on the event or time of day.

Picture of accessible interior of the Hearn
Picture of interior of the Hearn. Red spotlights are featured on the floor

The upper level has smooth tile throughout and hosts the restaurant, Le Pavillion, and a enormous disco ball, among other delights. It can be accessed by a construction elevator complete with an attendant. On the main floor there is a ramp leading to the elevator that is wide and with a smooth gradient, however both Chris and I noted that it was a bit dark and could have benefited from some track lighting. Le Pavillion does have some standard height tables with removable seating, but is booked up for the Luminato stretch.

For those wishing to take in the James Plays, the theater provides accessible seating within the first two rows. To ensure that the sound is well captured in the vast space, the theater features acoustic paneling and has enhanced listening devices available for those who may require it.

Picture of theater with first two rows featuring accessible seating
Picture of the booth containing the Hearing Assistance Receivers

There are three washroom areas consisting of portable toilets on the main floor and one near the Biergarten. There are two accessible units within each area complete with grab bars. Chris noted that the doors were tricky to operate as they close quite quickly. We also noted that lighting within the stalls was variable depending on the ambient light in the area. Sinks are foot-pedal operated, but there are hand sanitizer stations within each accessible toilet.

Picture of rows of portable washrooms with two being accessible
Picture of the interior of the accessible portable washroom

The Hearn is located in Toronto’s Port Lands. Buses from either King (172B) or Pape (72C) drops patrons off about a 30 minute walk or roll from the site itself, there is also a Luminato shuttle running from Union station, however it is not accessible. Those electing to take Wheel-Trans can look forward to being able to be dropped off right at the main entrance. Luminato will also reimburse travelers using the service with a TTC token- just let the staff know upon arriving! Travelers using Wheel-Trans may also choose to arrive via the south entrance which allows you to skip some of the bustle and crowding that can occur near the main entrance.  

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