York alumnus appointed Knight of the Order of Dannebrog

York Faculty of Arts alumnus  William J. S. Boyle (BA ‘69, MA ‘71) has been named Knight of the Order of Dannebrog by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. Boyle, the chief executive officer of Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, received the honour at a private reception in Toronto on Nov. 23. The official presentation of the appointment, an honour rarely conferred on persons of non-Danish heritage, was made to Boyle by Poul E.D. Kristensen, ambassador of Denmark, on behalf of Queen Margrethe.

Right: William J.S. Boyle

The appointment recognized Boyle’s outstanding and unprecedented contribution to the development of cultural ties between Denmark and Canada, following the Harbourfront Centre’s presentation of “SuperDanish: Newfangled Danish Culture”, an extensive 13-week investigation into contemporary Danish Culture which took place in Toronto in Fall 2004. The largest international cultural festival ever staged in Canada by a single country, the exhibit showcased a broad cross-section of Danish contemporary art.

 “SuperDanish was  a vision in the mind’s eye of Bill Boyle,” said Kristensen in his remarks prior to the presentation of the honour. “Bill Boyle’s vision was a burning one, and his passion became infectious. Bill and his staff, working closely with the embassy and The Danish Arts Agency became expert mediators, negotiators and bridge builders, and their dogged determination and resilience kept the project on track and on time. The rest as they say is history!”

Harbourfront Centre is one of Canada’s largest multidisciplinary cultural centres. The centre’s facilities include four theatres, an outdoor amphitheatre, The Power Plant Art Gallery, Harbourfront Craft Studios, York Quay Gallery, several additional exhibition areas as well as marinas, piers and many indoor/outdoor facilities used for cultural programming.

The founding director of The Power Plant contemporary art gallery at Harbourfront, Boyle is also the founding executive director of Visual Arts Ontario, Canada’s largest association in support of visual artists.

In addition to SuperDanish, Boyle has initiated several major international arts projects, including “Today’s Japan” the largest exposition of the contemporary arts of Japan ever held in North America, “FOKUS: The Contemporary Arts of Germany”, “Japan/Canada New Century Creators Series”, and the 2001 event “World Leaders: A Festival of Creative Genius”.

Boyle has participated on many local cultural boards including the Ontario Association of Art Galleries, International Readings at Harbourfront Centre, The Power Plant, the Toronto Sculpture Garden, and Wellspring Cancer Support Centres; has been editor of several arts publications; and has been involved on numerous cultural committees including the Public Arts Policy Advisory Committee of Metro Toronto, Metro Toronto Chairman’s Cultural Roundtable and the 1995 and 1999 International Association of Performing Arts International Congress.

On Jan. 27, 2004, Boyle was named a Member of the Order of Canada by former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson in recognition of his work to champion Canadian and international culture both at home and abroad.

Left: The medal accorded to recipients of Knight of the Order of Dannebrog. The medal is awarded for special deeds or conspicuous service to Denmark.

The Order of Dannebrog was instituted Oct.12, 1671, by King Christian V of Denmark. According to the statutes of Dec.1, 1693, the order was to consist of no more than 50 knights, but by royal decree of July 28, 1808, King Frederik IV expanded the order “to recognize meritorious citizenry for all subjects, regardless of position or nobility”. The order was also expanded from one class to four: Grand Commander, Grand Cross Knight, Commander and Knight.