October 18th, 1997
Naming the Space, The Gordon Lightfoot Auditorium
taken from The
Naming the Space
On October 18th, 1997, Gordon Lightfoot attended a ceremony at the Orillia Opera House, at which Orillia City Council, Opera House Management Committee, staff and the general public combined to dedicate the main auditorium in his honor.
Mr. Lightfoot’s international success in the field of popular music, his generosity to worthwhile projects in the City of Orillia, and the recognition of Orillia as his home town, made this an appropriate gesture that some felt was long overdue.
At the hour long event, presided over by Master of Ceremonies, Peter McGarvey, Orillia’s Mayor French and radio personality Taylor Parnaby (who provided a biography of the singer), tributes were given to Mr. Lightfoot’s talent and unique ability to define the Canadian experience in the literature of folk music to fans around the world.
Before his extended family, including his mother Jessie, and a capacity crowd of 600 well-wishers from across the province, Mr. Lightfoot spoke movingly of the long road taken to polish his craft and achieve his present success, mentioning many local figures whose paths he crossed over the years. He also talked about his first performance on the Opera House stage.
A solid brass plaque, decorated with a brass guitar set into the top, left-hand corner, proclaiming the theatre to be "The Gordon Lightfoot Auditorium", was unveiled to great applause and later installed in the Orillia Opera House lobby, marking the significance of this event in the life of our then, 103 year old theatre.
That evening, Mr. Lightfoot played a sold out concert, to the benefit of the Huronia Symphony Orchestra, again thrilling the crowd with personal reminiscences, the background of his songs and the very best of his superb song writing career.
Everyone connected to the event would like to thank, Gordon Lightfoot for the honor he’s done the Orillia Opera House by associating his name with our building, his Manager Barry Harvey for his unstinting efforts to make sure everything was "just so", Mr. Lightfoot’s band for a wonderful evening of music, backing up his tunes, new and old, and our own house technicians for making the gig as smooth as silk.