Program Types: Community-Led,

About the AIDS Memorial

In the mid 1980’s a group of gay men, led by Michael Lynch, developed the idea for the AIDS Memorial in response to the isolation and fear that so often characterized the experience of AIDS. Volunteers constructed a temporary memorial every year on Lesbian and Gay Pride Day, while working with friends to raise funds in the community to build the permanent AIDS Memorial. Initially, the Memorial was a place where gay men — by far the largest group affected in Toronto in the 1980’s— could grieve, remember and celebrate the lives of those lost.

The permanent AIDS Memorial, designed by Patrick Fahn, opened in 1993 in Barbara Hall Park (formerly known as Cawthra Square Park), behind The 519 Community Centre. Over time. the Memorial became a place for everyone infected and affected by AIDS in the broader Toronto community. Names of those to be honored are engraved and installed each year, by mid-June.

“Cry” by Michael Lynch and “Circle of Stones” by Shoshanna J. Addley are engraved on the first pillar of the Memorial. This plaque recognizes the deaths of those unnamed.

The AIDS Memorial reflects a particular place and time. It is a physical monument in a park in a neighbourhood that was devastated by AIDS in the early years of the epidemic. The AIDS Memorial Advisory Committee, which carries on the work of the committee initially led by Michael Lynch, has decided that creating a virtual memorial on the internet would not be part of this particular project. The AIDS Memorial is managed by The 519. Inquiries are welcome.

The AIDS Memorial is the site of the Annual AIDS Candlelight Vigil.

AIDS Memorial Engraving

The AIDS Memorial in Barbara Hall Park stands as a tribute to people from our local community who have died of an AIDS-related illness. The Memorial counters the silence, denial, isolation, and rejection that are so often connected with AIDS. This is a place to grieve those who are gone, to celebrate their lives and courage, and to take pride in our response to AIDS.

Partners, friends, and family members may submit names to the AIDS Memorial. We accept all submissions of names where the deceased had a connection to our communities, and specifically those whose connections were within the Province of Ontario. You may wish to ask other friends and family members if the deceased person made their wishes known regarding an engraving on the Memorial.

The 519 receives engraving requests throughout the year, however, we only engrave new names once a year, in advance of the annual AIDS Candlelight Vigil in June.

Submissions are currently closed, so as to have the names engraved by Toronto’s Annual AIDS Candlelight Vigil in June 2023.

Applications will reopen in September, 2023.


For further information regarding the AIDS Memorial, The 519’s role as trustee, or to follow up on a request for engraving, please contact:

Rebecca Hooton (she/her)
Manager, Sector Capacity Building