After extensive restoration and an adaptive retrofit of the former St. Francis de Sales Church, the St. Francis Centre for Community, Arts & Culture, opened its doors to the public in July 2011, and has quickly become THE destination for live theatre, concerts, and world film in Ajax.
Built in 1871 and designated as an Ajax heritage building in 1999, the former St. Francis de Sales Church is now the setting for this unique performing arts venue, which marries beautiful stained glass windows and heritage architecture with modern design elements and theatre amenities such as a box office, stage, retractable seating, dressing rooms, Heintzman concert grand piano, and theatrical light, sound and audio-visual capabilities. The facility's vibe is artsy and intimate with unobstructed seating for 150, meaning there is not a bad seat in the house. Its architecture also lends itself to incredible acoustics to the joy of performers and music aficionados alike. Combine this with the beautiful Ontario Power Generation Atrium, the Ajax Downs Racetrack Refreshment Counter, as well as a catering kitchen, and the possibilities are endless for a variety of events.
Operated by the Town of Ajax, the St. Francis Centre offers a full season of shows annually from September to June, including incredible concerts, variety shows (comedy, magic, etc.), and unique films from the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) through the TIFF Ajax Film Circuit. Past performances have included The Second City, The Dreamboats, Toronto Men's Welsh Choir, Slocan Ramblers, Cadence, Mysteriously Yours Dinner Theatre, Joe Sealy and Jackie Richardson, David Miles, and Patricia O'Callaghan to name a few, as well as tributes to the Beatles, Journey, the Travelling Wilburys, Ella Fitzgerald and more.
The St. Francis Centre is also home to Ajax Community Theatre, an award-winning registered not-for-profit community theatre company that provides live theatre including dramas, comedies and more. The flexible programming space is also available for rental purposes and can accommodate a variety of community-based programming including weddings, celebrations, community and cultural events, corporate meetings, workshop and lectures, product launches, fundraisers, recitals, and holiday parties.
Threatened with possible demolition, Ajax Council approved the purchase of the former church in 2007, to protect and restore the structure. The facility is a key cultural and historic landmark in Pickering Village, and gives meaning to the name of the street on which it is situated (Church Street). The acquisition is important as it represents the first publicly owned, publicly accessible heritage facility in Ajax. Building on its landmark status, the St. Francis Centre contributes to local economic development and the revitalization of Pickering Village by creating a dynamic cultural destination that is actively promoted as a place of gathering, learning and celebration.
The St. Francis Centre turned 10 years old in July of 2021. The facility itself also celebrated a milestone anniversary in 2021, turning 150 years old.
Call or email to book your event at the St. Francis Centre today!
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Last Updated: September 13, 2023
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