The atrium of the MaRS Centre.
It was 1981, and CIFAR was struggling to be born. Created on the recommendation of a committee set up by University of Toronto President James Ham, CIFAR had a federal charter and a board of directors, but no money, no researchers and no home – its two office staff were working in borrowed space at Massey College.
Luckily, CIFAR’s founding president, Fraser Mustard, had discussed the problem with Ontario’s Minister of Education Bette Stephenson. She arranged for the fledgling institute to take unused space at an Ontario government office building at 434 University Avenue. In 1982 CIFAR moved in, Mustard officially took office, and within short order CIFAR had secured funding and approved its first program, Artificial Intelligence & Robotics.
Thirty-five years later, CIFAR has 14 programs and almost 400 fellows and advisors from around the world. And the institute has just completed another important move – this one to the MaRS Centre, the largest urban innovation hub in the world. It’s an appropriate home for a renewed CIFAR which increasingly emphasizes programs that encourage collaborative and innovative ways of thinking, and it’s a great way to kick off the next 35 years.
The building at 434 University Avenue, above, was CIFAR’s first home.