History

For over 50 years, Christians have gathered in downtown Toronto to share breakfast, pray for our provincial government leaders and be inspired. Individuals leave their titles, positions, and aspirations behind to listen to a message of faith. The message is delivered by people whose lives are each a unique story bound by a common thread: how God lives and works amidst good times and bad. This is the Ontario Prayer Breakfast.

The Breakfast is part of an international community of groups started more than 80 years ago. In April 1935, Seattle Washington, 19 business executives were faced with a critical situation in the life of their city and began to meet for discussion and prayer. Over the following years breakfast groups sprang up in different parts of the United States. In 1941, the United States Senate and House of Representatives held their first congressional prayer breakfast. In time, other groups came together in the United States. Then in 1953, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, with President Dwight Eisenhower, birthed the first Presidential Prayer Breakfast and it is now an annual event in the United States.

This simple idea of men meeting together for mutual encouragement and fellowship has spread over forty countries on every continent. In fact, in Canada several Members of Parliament were meeting in Ottawa as a Breakfast Group before they had knowledge of the development in the United States. In 1964 the first Annual National Prayer Breakfast was held in Ottawa and continues to take place each spring. It is an annual ecumenical event, where men and women from differing backgrounds gather together with our elected public officials to pray in the spirit of Jesus Christ for Canada.

Today, most Canadian provinces and many cities host an annual Prayer Breakfast. The Ontario Prayer Breakfast began in 1969 and followed the same theme of bringing Christians together for prayer and inspiration. Over the years many people have been blessed with inspiration from guest speakers such as Sir John Templeton, Kim Phuc, Millard Fuller, Romeo Dallaire, Tom Caldwell and Preston Manning.

The Breakfast is organized by a volunteer Board of Directors and is a registered not-for-profit but is not a charitable entity.  The event operates on a break-even basis and was historically hosted at The Royal York Hotel and now takes place at the Toronto Sheraton Centre Hotel. A musical guest is a welcome addition to the agenda and leaders of the Ontario Liberal, New Democratic and Progressive Conservative Parties in addition to the Mayor of the City of Toronto are invited as head table guests to offer scripture readings. One or two lay individuals are asked to offer grace and prayer for our Provincial leaders.

Len Riley was the first Chair of the Ontario Prayer Breakfast in 1969, followed by Claude Simmonds, Paul Hellyer, Peter Bouffard, Neil Hetherington, Jane Eisbrenner, and currently Leanne Ferris and Neil MacCarthy as Co-Chairs. It must be noted that Jack Mollenhauer faithfully attended and participated in the leadership event for several decades. His faith and commitment to the event over the years is one the primary reasons for its ongoing success.

When the first prayer breakfast was held more than 2000 years ago, Jesus invited his disciples to join him for breakfast on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias (John 21). At that breakfast Jesus confirmed his resurrection, demonstrated his presence with his disciples following the crucifixion, and explained the reality of a promise made earlier, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with you”. (Matt. 18:20).

The wonderful news is that Jesus is just as present to us now as he was to his disciples 2000 years ago.

Previous Speakers and Musical Guests

This list outlines the speakers and musical guests who have participated in the Ontario Prayer Breakfast. If you have information for the years we are missing, we would appreciate hearing from you. Please contact us at info@ontarioprayerbreakfast.ca. Thank you very much.

YEAR SPEAKER MUSICAL GUEST CHAIR
2021 Neil Hetherington & Dr. Rose Zacharias Brooke Nicholls Neil MacCarthy
2020 Event Cancelled due to Covid-19
2019 Jerry Howarth Brooke Nicholls Leanne Ferris/Neil MacCarthy
2018 Natalie MacMaster Natalie MacMaster & Family Jane Eisbrenner
2017 Rt. Honorable David Johnston Susan Aglukark Jane Eisbrenner
2016 Prem Watsa Ben Heppner Jane Eisbrenner
2015 Dr. Kent Brantly Greg Sykes Jane Eisbrenner
2014 Lorna Dueck Trevor Dick Jane Eisbrenner
2013 Paul Henderson Ali Matthews Jane Eisbrenner
2012 Dr. Jane Philpott Tenore Jane Eisbrenner
2011 Brian Stewart Steve Bell Jane Eisbrenner
2010 The Honourable David C. Onley Kelita Haverland Jane Eisbrenner
2009 Dale Lang Laila Biali Jane Eisbrenner
2008 Millard Fuller Mike Janzen Jane Eisbrenner
2007 Murray Taylor Diane Clemons Neil Hetherington
2006 Mike “Pinball” Clemons Salvation Army Ensemble, Michael Dunston Neil Hetherington
2005 Preston Manning Salvation Army Ensemble, Michael Dunston Norm Allen
2004 Don Morrison Kelly Walker Norm Allen
2003 Romeo Dallaire Norm Allen
2002 Eleanor Clitheroe Norm Allen
2001 Millard Fuller Norm Allen
2000 Rev. Dr. Pierre Allard Salvation Army Ensemble, Sharon Riley Norm Allen
1999 Kim Phuc Salvation Army Ensemble, Catherine Robbin Peter Bouffard
1998 Archibald MacLean Salvation Army Ensemble, The Victoria Scholars Peter Bouffard
1997 Sir John Templeton Paul Hellyer
1996 Rick Tobias Paul Hellyer
1995 Tom Caldwell Paul Hellyer
1994 Janice Filman Paul Hellyer
1993 Paul Hellyer
1992 Paul Hellyer
1991 Paul Hellyer
1990 Paul Hellyer
1989 Paul Hellyer
1988 Paul Hellyer
1987 Paul Hellyer
1986 Claude Simmonds
1985 Claude Simmonds
1984 Ben Heppner Claude Simmonds
1983 Claude Simmonds Leonard Riley
1982 Claude Simmonds
1981 Claude Simmonds
1980 Claude Simmonds
1979 Claude Simmonds
1978 Len Riley
1977 Len Riley
1976 Len Riley
1975 Len Riley
1974 Len Riley
1973 Len Riley
1972 Len Riley
1971 Len Riley
1970 Len Riley
1969 Len Riley