The 1995 Harold Award Founders (top left to right): Alex Poch-Goldin, Luthar Hansraj, Daniel MacIvor, Deanne Taylor, Don McKellar, Fiona Jones (standing in for Paul Bettis), Lisa Ryder (bottom left to right) Sherrie Johnson, Nadia Ross, Jacoba Knaapen, Kirsten Johnson, Darren O'Donnell

The 1995 Harold Award Founders (top left to right) Alex Poch-Goldin, Luthar Hansraj, Daniel MacIvor, Deanne Taylor, Don McKellar, Lisa Ryder, Fiona Jones (standing in for Paul Bettis) / (bottom left to right) Sherrie Johnson, Nadia Ross, Jacoba Knaapen, Kirsten Johnson, Darren O’Donnell

Since 1995 The Harold Awards have come to represent the independent and hard-working spirit of Toronto’s vibrant theatre community – a kind of rabble-rousing alternative to the Dora Awards.

To be Harolded is an honour of the highest subversive order. Awards are bestowed from one individual to the next in recognition of an outstanding and often under-recognized dedication on or off the stage. The Harold Awards lineage reads like a who’s-who of Toronto theatre, beginning with: Luther Hansraj, Kirsten Johnson, Sherrie Johnson, Jacoba Knaapen, Daniel MacIvor, Don McKellar, Darren O’Donnell, Alex Posh-Goldin, Nadia Ross, Lisa Ryder, Sarah Stanley, Deanne Taylor and the late and dearly missed Paul Bettis.

Born on May 30, 1906, Harold Kandel achieved notoriety in Toronto’s theatre community with his tireless commitment and frequent heckling. Knowledge of Harold’s presence in an audience would elicit a double-edged response of dread and pride in the heart of a performer. If Harold was in the house – it meant you had arrived. If Harold was in the house – it meant it was going to be a long night. After Harold’s death in 1994 a group of 13 theatre artists assembled to create this now-legendary annual event in celebration of the spirit of dedication, commitment and passion of Toronto’s vibrant theatre community.

Established in 1995 by Buddies In Bad Times Theatre, Platform 9 and Theatre Passe Muraille, the annual Ken McDougall Award serves to acknowledge a promising emerging director. Previous recipients have been: Franco Boni, Cathy Gordon, Michael Waller, Chris Abraham, Simon Heath, Patrick Conner, Ellen Ray Hennessey, Rebecca Brown, Nina Aquino, Kimahli Powell, Brendan Healy, Bea Pizano and Jacob Zimmer.

Each year the innovators, instigators and architects of the Toronto theatre community descend upon a local establishment to honour our fellow devotees and to celebrate. The evening is riddled with giddy secrecy, as those about to be Harolded don’t know it. The Harolds is the only awards night of its kind – as unique as the man himself – an evening of surprise, pride and serious celebration.


Established in 2012 by the 2012 Harold Award Planning Committee, the annual Barbara Fingerote Volunteer Award acknowledges the dedication and commitment of the volunteers in the performing arts in Toronto who help the artists and administrators make the show go on. A few notes on the Award itself:

  • As with all other Harold Awards, recipients of the Volunteer Award will not expect to receive it and will be totally surprised at the Harold ceremonies.
  • Recipients will have been active volunteers for independent, not-for-profit, alternative theatre companies/coops/productions for more than ten years.
  • Recipients will have treated and continue to treat volunteer assignments with the same respect and professionalism as if they were regular paying assignments.
  • Recipients will have expected and continue to expect nothing from the volunteer experience except the joy and fulfillment of giving back to worthy organizations and endeavours.
  • Recipients will participate on the subsequent Harold Committee to assist with the presentation of the next ceremony as per the other members of the Committee.
  • Another member of the Committee may be responsible for preparing the physical scroll and updating the plaque to be presented at the next ceremony, but the Volunteer winner will be responsible for ensuring these physical elements will be prepared and ready prior to the ceremony.
  • The recipient will keep the scroll in perpetuity; the updated plaque will be passed on to subsequent recipients.

special thank you to Kirsten Johnson for allowing us to use her painting of Harold.


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