Toronto's Historical Plaques
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Yorkville's Music Scene
Photos and transcription by contributor Wayne Adam - Posted September, 2016
At 162 Cumberland Street, east of Avenue Road, can be seen this 2016 Heritage Toronto plaque. Here's what it tells us:
In the 1960s and 1970s, Yorkville village was the heart of Canada's bohemian, counterculture community. More than 40 clubs and coffee houses nightly featured folksinger-songwriters, including Ian & Sylvia, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, and Neil Young, who performed some of their first compositions in these smoky venues.
Yorkville's first coffee house, Club 71, was opened by Werner Graeber in 1959. By 1964, Yorkville had become a nurturing environment not only for folk music, but also for pop, blues, and later, psychedelic rock. Hippies and teenagers flocked to these unlicensed venues, which offered an alternative to Yonge Street bars.
Yorkville was also home to three sound-recording studios, taping major acts such as The Guess Who, Lighthouse, and Anne Murray. With its pivotal role in fostering a wealth of talent, the Yorkville scene inspired a generation of songwriters and led to the rise of a new Canadian sound.
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