Registration for By The Lake Book Club is now open. View events below and register online.
The Assembly Hall is dedicated to nurturing and celebrating community, creativity and culture with arts-focused classes, performances and events. The beautifully restored building, which blends history with innovative modern design, is a favourite community-based location for meetings, celebrations and more.

The Assembly Hall has been an important part of the Etobicoke Lakeshore community for over a century. It was built in 1898 as part of the Mimico Lunatic Asylum, designed to serve as a place of recreation and worship for the patients and hospital staff. Patient labour was used to construct the Assembly Hall and various other hospital buildings. The hospital’s first superintendent, Dr. Nelson Henry Beemer, was a strong believer in meaningful work as a form of rehabilitative therapy.

The original purpose for the Assembly Hall was to meet the social and spiritual needs of the hospital. However, because there was no comparable facility in the area, the Assembly Hall soon became the principal gathering place for a multitude of community events, dances and concerts. The Asylum changed names repeatedly over the years, becoming the Mimico Hospital for the Insane in 1911, the Ontario Hospital, New Toronto in 1919 and finally renamed as the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital, but the Assembly Hall maintained its name and central role throughout the entire history of the hospital.

After the closure of the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital in 1979, the Assembly Hall fell into disuse for two decades. The combined efforts of local activists and politicians helped to support the City of Toronto’s restoration of this facility, which reopened on in June 2001. The renovated Assembly Hall has been designed to meet a variety of cultural and community needs. The beautiful 250+ seat Performance Hall is a venue for music, theatre, dance, receptions and special events. The community rooms are used for art classes, meetings, workshops and rehearsals. Gallery spaces for visual arts are located throughout the building. The Assembly Hall is a rental facility for both public and private use.

Office Hours

Monday to Friday: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Closed for all statutory holidays

Gallery Hours

Closed until further notice.

Public Transit

The Assembly Hall can be reached either by the 501 Long Branch streetcar, which runs along Lake Shore Blvd. W., or by the 44 Kipling South bus, from Kipling Station.

Location

1 Colonel Samuel Smith Park Drive

Parking is available

Assembly Hall is celebrating its 20th Anniversary! After all these years, Assembly Hall continues to be a gathering place at the heart of the Lakeshore, where community and creativity are celebrated and nurtured. Stay tuned for upcoming anniversary celebrations information.

10 Fun Facts, Celebrating 20 Great Years

  1. The Assembly Hall was built in 1898 as part of what was then called the Mimico Lunatic Asylum. The hall was located on the northeast corner of the hospital grounds, at the corner of Lake Shore Boulevard West and Kipling Avenue.
  1. Most of the work to construct the hospital buildings, including Assembly Hall, was done by the patients themselves based on theories around rehabilitative labour. Learn more about the history of the Assembly Hall.
  1. In response to the advocacy of a committed group of local residents and arts groups, Toronto City Council approved capital funds in 1998 to restore the Assembly Hall as a community cultural centre.
  1. On February 14, 2000, Mayor Mel Lastman and local councillors, joined citizens for the official ground-breaking. Mayor Lastman welcomed the project, stating “This historic building will become a treasured resource for our city and a great cultural centre for the community”. The building was officially opened in the spring of 2001.
  1. The Assembly Hall boasts a Butterfly Garden located on the south side of the building. It was created in 2006, as part of the Assembly Hall’s 5th Anniversary, to help balance the reduced level of butterflies and associated insects in Colonel Samuel Smith Park.
  1. On the Assembly Hall grounds sits the Third Garden, a public art installation, designed by artists Millie Chen and Warren Quigley. The artists created a cultural-natural landscape that mediates between two distinct existing garden types—the manicured open green spaces and the rehabilitated nature reserve on the landfill shoreline.
  1. The Performance Hall features a beautiful 250+ seat venue, used for music, theatre, dance, film festivals, receptions and special events. Recent Performance Hall upgrades have added state of the art theatre sound, lighting and projection equipment to the space. The gallery spaces for visual arts that are located throughout the building, hosting eight to 10 art exhibitions per year, featuring local artists and arts groups, both emerging and established.
  1. The Assembly Hall has been used as a filming location for many TV series and movies over the years, such as Police Academy, Martha, Inc.: The Story of Martha Stewart, Annedroids, Locke and Key, The Handmaid’s Tale, What We Do In the Shadows, and Private Eyes, just to name a few!
  1. Some signature Assembly Hall events include: Lakeshorts International Film Festival, who have made the Assembly Hall their home for the past 10 years, welcoming 4000+ people to the Assembly Hall to view more than 150 films from both local and international emerging and established filmmakers.
  2. The Assembly Hall continues to be a place for community, culture and creativity welcoming artists of all ages and experience to join us in classes and workshops throughout the year.

 


A wide variety of art classes and workshops are available through the Assembly Hall. Register online at efun.toronto.ca using a course barcode or by phone 416-338-7255 (Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.).

View Courses & Workshops

The Assembly Hall is dedicated to providing timely, accessible and high quality services to clients. Staff will take all reasonable measures to accommodate accessibility needs. Please contact the Assembly Hall, if you have any special needs requirements.

Please note, the Assembly Hall facilities are excluded from Parks, Forestry and Recreation policies and procedures, including the Welcome Policy.

By the Lake Book Club returns this fall with yet another fantastic line-up of Canadian authors. Join talented past and present members of Humber College’s faculty, as they dive into conversation with our authors, guiding lively discussions and moderating audience questions.

This Assembly Hall program is presented in partnership with Humber College Faculty of Media and Creative Arts and the International Festival of Authors.

By the Lake Book Club featuring Lauren B. Davis

Cover art for author Lauren B. Davis novel, Even So. Novel title at center in faded white, with white and pink orchids just below in the background, surrounded by greenery. Join Canadian author Lauren B. Davis, as she takes you on a journey of passion and compassion with her novel Even So, a story that explores loving difficult people. Lauren B. Davis’ latest novel, Even So, explores passion, guild, forgiveness and redemption, and begs to be discussed. The author will do just that, with interviewer Catherine Graham. Event includes a reading, discussion and audience Q&A. Event link will be sent by email, a few days prior to the event date. Closed Captioning interpretation will be offered during this event.

Date and time: October 19, 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Registration: Register online at efun.toronto.ca using barcode 3902636

Fee: $5/person

By the Lake Book Club featuring Kim Thúy

Cover art for author Kim Thuy's novel, em. Novel title and author name in black text over a background of colourful overlapping rounded shapes, with two small figures in the distance holding hands.Join Vietnamese-born Canadian novelist Kim Thúy, winner of the Governor General’s Award for French-language Fiction, as she takes you behind the pages of her novel Em, a journey of enduring love. Explore this novel, as Kim discusses her book and the invincibility of the human spirit, with interviewer Alissa York. Event includes a reading, discussion and audience Q&A. Event link will be sent by email, a few days prior to the event date. Closed Captioning interpretation will be offered during this event.

Date and time: November 9, 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Registration: Register online at efun.toronto.ca using barcode 3902664

Fee: $5/person

 

About By the Lake Book Club

Since 2009, By the Lake Book Club has featured a diverse group of over 50 Canadian authors, sharing their latest works to readers in West Toronto and beyond. The series is held at and presented by the Assembly Hall, in partnership with Humber College Faculty of Media & Creative Arts and the Toronto International Festival of Authors. With six monthly Tuesday evening events from September to April, By the Lake Book Club differs from other book clubs by having the author present – reading excerpts from their recent novel moderated by a seasoned Humber writing instructor; with audience questions, lively discussion and book signings. Some past authors include: Kim Fu, Lawrence Hill, John Irving, Vincent Lam, Monia Mazigh, Alistair McLeod, Eva Stachniak, Tanya Talaga and Miriam Toews.

In 2020, under COVID-19 restrictions, By The Lake Book Club offered its first virtual event with author Anar Ali and can be viewed online for free.

The Performance Hall and Community Rooms are ideal spaces for events ranging from small meetings and workshops to performances, weddings, film shoots and conferences. For information on the wide array of public events held at the Assembly Hall, please visit Exhibitions & Events.

For information on how to book the Assembly Hall for your event, please call 416-338-7255 or email assembly@toronto.ca.

Floor plans of event spaces

Browse the Assembly Hall Exhibitions & Events Calendar.
Assembly Hall can be rented for a variety of functions.

 


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Collection Notice: Personal information provided is collected under the authority of the City of Toronto Act, 2006. The information is used exclusively by Assembly Hall staff to process email subscriptions. Questions about this collection can be directed to Community Cultural Coordinator, The Assembly Hall, 1 Colonel Samuel Smith Park Drive, Toronto M8V 4B6, phone: 416-338-7255 or email: assembly@toronto.ca

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