Ontario Science Centre

Giving visitors a unique insight and
interactive approach into science exploration

ontario science centre Unlike most other museums on the planet the Ontario Science Centre takes a more hands on and interactive approach to displaying its scientific exhibits. Since it opened in 1969 visitors have been encouraged to learn by participating and physically experiencing what is presented before them.

First conceived in the early 1960's construction began on its futuristic looking buildings in 1966. It was planned to open in 1967 in celebration of Canada's Centennial and was to be called the Centennial Centre of Science & Technology but construction delays resulted in the newly named Ontario Science Centre officially opening on September 26, 1969.

Located in a Don River ravine its 3 main buildings are connected by a series of escalators and bridges and when you first approach the Ontario Science Centre visitors are immediately struck by its unusual and innovative design.

The first thing you will encounter is a large fountain directly in front of the main entrance. This is not any old fountain though as it's a specially designed hydraulic action pipe organ known as a hydraulophone. Basically water runs through pipes with holes in them that can be blocked to create musical notes. In all there are 57 jets that can produce a variety of sounds and the fountain can be played by like a musical instrument by experienced operators.

In winter, the flow of water must be shut down to prevent freezing and since 2007 air has been pumped through the pipes creating a pneumatophone that produces similar results. Most visitors are usually enthralled by this innovative display and it can be hard to tear yourself away from it, especially children. The hyraulophone (the worlds largest) is open 24 hours a day and is free to operate.


Location of the Ontario Science Centre

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Getting to the Ontario Science Centre:

From Niagara Peninsula:
  • Take the QEW Toronto
  • The QEW turns into the Gardiner Expressway
  • The Gardiner Expressway turns into the Don Valley Parkway
  • Exit at Don Mills Road North
  • Continue on Don Mills Rd., make a u-turn at Rochefort Drive into the Centre

From Western Ontario:
  • Navigate to Highway 401 East
  • Exit at Don Valley Parkway South
  • Exit at Eglington Avenue East
  • Turn left onto Don Mills Road

From Northern Toronto:
  • Navigate to Highway 400 South
  • Highway 400 ends at Highway 401, stay left and take Highway 401 East
  • Exit at Don Valley Parkway South
  • Exit at Eglington Avenue East
  • Turn left onto Don Mills Road

From Eastern Ontario:
  • Navigate to Highway 401 West
  • Exit at Don Valley Parkway South
  • Exit at Eglington Avenue east
  • Turn left onto Don Mills Road


ontario science center Once inside, most visitors are pleasantly surprised by the Centre's "hands-on" approach to displaying what is typically boring science exhibits.

Whereas most museums have exhibits that are for viewing only the Ontario Science Centre has taken a vastly different approach and has made most of their exhibits interactive or accompanied by live demonstrations. Initiated when the Centre first opened this was a vastly different approach to science exhibits and one that has since been adopted by numerous museums around the world.

The Ontario Science Centre has several hundred permanent and time limited feature exhibits in areas as diverse as:
  • Astrology
  • Geology
  • Technology
  • Anatomy
  • Music
  • Nature
  • Communications

One of the more popular exhibits with people of all ages is without a doubt the Van de Graaff generator. This "big silver ball" is a visitor favourite as participants are encouraged to stand by it and watch their hair stand up. Sounds of giggles and laughter permanently permeate through the building in which is located.

While previous visitors may have tired of the Centre's 1970's displays the Centre initiated a huge transformation project in the late 1990's called the "Agents of Change" in which 30% of its exhibits were modernized as of 2006. This has led to a resurgence in its popularity on the local tourist landscape and again has made the Ontario Science Centre one of the most popular tourist destinations in Toronto and for that matter all of Ontario.

Some of the recent improvements include:
  • Omnimax Theatre (with a screen 4500 times bigger than the average TV screen) where viewers can enjoy IMAX films
  • Cloud - a giant computer operated kinetic sculpture
  • Weston Family Innovation Centre
  • Mindworks - for those wishing to test their mind skills
  • Kidspark a kids play area and learning experience centre
  • Planetarium (with Moon and Mars rocks on display)
  • Circus Exhibition displaying amongst others:
    • Guess the animal poop game
    • Human cannon simulator
    • Tightrope walking simulator
    • Strength test
    • Human pretzel simulator
    • Cafe Scientifique - where visitors can eat and learn at the same time

The Centre also features a number of ever-changing temporary exhibits with displays such as:
  • Sports (with a working pitching mound, rowing displays etc)
  • Harry Potter (a collection of film props)
  • Leonardo Da Vinci (featuring interactive invention exhibits)
  • Game On 2.0 (a video game history extravaganza)
  • Star Trek Live

I myself have been to the Ontario Science Centre 3 times over the last forty years (in the 70's, 90's and in 2006) and have always come away thoroughly impressed. While not everyone's cup of tea it does make for a good way to spend half a day especially if the weather is not the greatest as most of the exhibits are indoors. Children will definitely find a visit entertaining and its ever-changing exhibits encourage repeat visits.

Entrance to the Center is included in the Toronto City Pass and holders should make use and try to see all the attractions it includes. You will save almost half price on admission and it does allow you to skip any lines should there be one. For more information visit: Toronto City Pass.

Insiders Tip: For those not wishing to purchase the Toronto City Pass you can still get a discount on admission to the Ontario Science Centre by visiting: www.attractionsontario.ca.

While I would not include a visit to the Ontario Science Centre on my "must see" list when visiting the City of Toronto it definitely is a world-class attraction that does merit some consideration for inclusion on your itinerary especially of in town for an extended period. For more information as to opening times, admission rates etc please visit: www.ontariosciencecenter.ca.


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