Arts & Culture

The old expression “Never a Dull Moment” could easily be the Ajax town motto because the place is rich with arts and cultural activities year-round. Some are activities where members of the public are an engaged and attentive audience watching actors and comics, singers and musicians “do” their thing. Other events involve the active participation of everyone attending, and some a combination of the two.

Ajax Downs Racetrack

Arguably Canada Day in Ajax is a blowout unequalled anywhere in the Great White North, featuring everything from fun, food and fireworks to strolling buskers, wagon rides and face painting. Canada’s last national birthday last July 1st culminated with a spectacular fire show called FlameOz, a sort of high-impact fire dance followed by a fireworks finale.

Canada Day in Ajax is, quite simply, a blast celebrating our country’s past, present and future. But let’s drill down a bit further and profile some of this extraordinary community’s vibrant cultural organizations. Bottom line: there’s something to suit everyone’s taste.

An alfresco rock and jazz concert where musicians play and the audience boogies all day AND all night long. But nowhere is the active participation of the public more in evidence than at the numerous festivals celebrating the Ajax community’s extraordinary cultural diversity.

The St. Francis Centre
For Community Arts and Culture

Embedded in a renovated and expanded late 19th century church in Pickering Village is the St. Francis Centre for Community Arts and Culture. Originally designed by a prominent Victorian architect named Henry Langley in 1871, the St. Francis de Sales Church was acquired by the Town of Ajax in 2007 and transformed into an arts and performance space.

With its stage, retractable seating for 150, reception and meeting spaces, glass atrium and bar, theatrical light, and sound and audio/visual capabilities, the St. Francis Centre quickly established itself as Ajax’s preferred venue for concerts, musical performances, recitals, corporate and social receptions, lectures, you name it. Last July the centre celebrated its fifth anniversary with an event billed as “an Evening of Wonder,” featuring the incredible illusionist Ray Chance and a musical performance by Envriondrim, artists indicative of the kind of acts Ajax residents can expect to enjoy over the course of any given year.

The St. Francis Centre is also the home of the Ajax Community Theatre, a lively group of thespians who mount a season of plays that invariably entertain, amuse and provoke. Last season the bill of fare included a radio adaptation of the iconic 1940s movie It’s a Wonderful Life, Looking by the prominent Canadian playwright Norm Foster, and a classical whodunit, Then There Were None by the incomparable Agatha Christie. Presently the company is casting a play that opens in February 2017 called 5 Women Wearing the Same Dress. It’s just one of the endless events and performances that “crowd” Ajax’s very lively cultural calendar, so clearly never a dull moment in Ajax.

The General Motors Centre

The premier sports and entertainment venue for the Durham Region is the General Motors Centre, located in Oshawa. Opened in 1965 at a cost of $45-million, the centre is the home of the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League, the Durham Turf Dogs of the Canadian Lacrosse League and the Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame.

With its flexible ice pad, the GM Centre can host events requiring seating from 1500 to 7600. And there’s no question the centre has been an incredible economic and entertainment boon to the region, hosting nearly 400,000 guests through 2015. That same year the centre ranked as the 19th best facility in the world by Venues Today Magazine.

GM Centre is patently punching well above its weight. And clearly the “word is out” to superstars of all stripes because many of them are beating a path to perform here. Among the artists who’ve played the GM is the legendary Beyoncé, arguably the most famous woman in the world. But let’s not forget Elton John, Cirque du Soleil, Selena Gomez, and The Rolling Stones. Among the headliners coming soon, Il Divo, in October. So whether it’s divas or defencemen, the GM Centre has
it covered.