Toronto News ~ Toronto Focus

Defunct Toronto Live Music Venues

Jim Slotek wrote a piece for the Toronto Sun about how Toronto's live music scene isn't what it used to be. The catalyst was the closing of Hugh's Room, which may be re-opening.

In this article Jim listed Toronto's live music venues that have disappeared over the decades. I culled a list and am pasting it here to pack a punch.

  • Larry’s Hideaway
  • The Edge
  • The Nickelodeon
  • The Colonial Tavern
  • The Guvernment
  • The Big Bop
  • The Diamond
  • The Hotel Isabella
  • The Bamboo
  • The Midwich Cuckoo
  • Hotel California
  • The Gasworks
  • Ted’s Wrecking Yard
  • The Cabana Room
  • Masonic Temple
  • The Copa
  • Cafe Soho
  • Albert’s Hall
  • The Siboney
  • The Riverboat
  • The Mynah Bird
  • The Midwich Cuckoo
  • Le Coq D’Or
  • The Piccadilly Tube,
  • Network
  • Upper Lip
  • Nag’s Head North
  • The Turning Point
  • Healey’s
  • The Montreal Bistro
  • Top O’ The Senator
  • The Senator Guitar Bar
  • Bermuda Onion
  • X-Rays/Ultrasound
  • Ontario Place Forum

Did Jim miss anything?

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I Watched the Speakers Corner Outtakes Video Tape

In September, I sat down with former-Citytv anchor Anne Mroczkowski for an episode of my podcast. She mentioned a video cassette of Speakers Corner outtakes the staff would watch at parties. I took a mental note that I had to see these outtakes.

Brother Bill, a popular deejay at 102.1 the Edge throughout the 90s and into the 2000s, heard that episode, and mailed me his tape of Speakers Corner outtakes.

For those of you from out of town or too young to remember, Speakers Corner was a television show on Citytv comprised of user-generated videos taken in a booth outside the Citytv studios at 299 Queen Street West. In the days before YouTube, it was really something.

A podcast listener named Grant lent me his VCR so I could finally watch this video tape. Here's what a saw.


It begins with 45 minutes of... well... how should I describe this... It's good ol' consensual adult debauchery on stage while a hard rock band plays on. Since I don't want to host nudity or pornography on this site, this is only screen I could capture.


On today's internet, we're all only two clicks away from better quality, more graphic content. These 45 minutes were a true throwback to the pre-web days.

Next up were some highly anticipated Speakers Corner outtakes. In a nutshell, it was lots and lots of nudity! Flashing aplenty. The star stickers were added by me to protect the identity of those on this well-circulated cassette.



Then there's a lengthy clip of a couple having sex on a public street. This footage was taken in 1995 by a Citytv cameraman and contains real-time commentary from a group of guys.


Back to more Speakers Corner outtakes! But this time, it's not just flashing. There's fellatio, cunnilingus and more!


Then we have a few recordings from an American radio show. The first clip includes a well endowed guest and a pie.


But wait, there's more! A trio of nude wrestlers engage in further debauchery and a woman distracts a newsreader by removing her top. Essentially, a Howard Stern influenced deejay convinces female guests to strip down for a radio show.


If you enjoy flatulence humour, this next bit is for you. It's a religious show called Only Heaven Knows with farts inserted into the audio with hilarious results.


And finally, if you've made it through all of that, there's a cartoon entitled "Lupo's Meat" "Lupo the Butcher" with plenty of swears and a decapitation to boot.


Now I've finally seen the Speakers Corner outtake video and bonus material copied to VHS in the mid-90s, so you don't have to!

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Toronto Sports Teams Had a Great 2016

I've been blogging here for 14 years, and during that time there were some pretty low times in Toronto sports. Just four years ago I wrote this about the new bottom for Toronto sports teams. Things were very, very bad for the big five.

In 2016, things got a whole lot better. In fact, there's something great to report about every team in the big five not nicknamed the Argos. Although we didn't win a championship, we were close!

Toronto FC
Ten years after their birth, TFC hosted the MLS Cup final, losing a heartbreaker to Seattle. That second leg against Montreal in the semi-final was absolutely thrilling.

Toronto Blue Jays
For the second year in a row, the Blue Jays played in the ALCS. Unlike the hype train of 2015, this didn't seem likely in September as we sputtered into the playoffs, but an Edwin walk-off against Baltimore in the wildcard game and a sweep of the Rangers in the ALDS helped recapture the joy of the previous year.

Toronto Raptors
For the first time in franchise history, the Raptors won a best-of-seven playoff series. And we did it twice! We even took two games against Cleveland in the conference finals, making this far and away the best Raptors season, ever.

Toronto Maple Leafs
Last season, the Leafs were bad. Very, very bad. This is a good thing, as it helped us land Auston Matthews with the first overall pick in the draft. Now, with Matthews, Marner and Nylander, the future actually looks bright and the present is a lot of fun, too.

Toronto Argonauts
Let's not ruin this entry with an Argos update.

In addition to successful developments for the big four teams in this city, Toronto hosted the Grey Cup, World Cup of Hockey and World Juniors. 2016 was a very good year for Toronto sports. Let's hope for a championship in 2017.

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Honest Ed's

The beginning of the end for Honest Ed's was July 2013. Now, the end is nigh.

When Ed Mirvish passed away in 2007, I first shared my memories of the Toronto institution at Bathurst and Bloor.

My grandmother loved Ed Mirvish and his discount store. She dragged me there many times and always glowed when scouring the place for bargains. I loved the signage and posters throughout the big barn. That place was magic.

The very first time I rode the subway by myself was to attend a school near Bathurst and Bloor one day a week in grade five. I'd get off at Bathurst station and walk from there. The lights of the Honest Ed's sign alway put a smile on my face. I just loved knowing it was there.

Snowing. Walking by Honest Eds

The store is slated to permanently close tomorrow. It's the end of an era, Toronto.

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Has the City Plowed Yet?

It snowed last night. I just shovelled my first snow of the season. Are you wondering when the City of Toronto is going to plow your street? Follow @TO_WinterOps for real-time updates.

I'm a fan of this new map that lets you know when roads have been salted and plowed in the City of Toronto. It's particularly convenient if you're planning a bike ride and wish to stick with streets and trails that have just been plowed.


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Toronto Popularity Contest: Argos vs. TFC

I'm writing this entry out of frustration. My pal Freddie P thinks I'm "a fool" because I told him TFC was more popular in Toronto than the Argos. In my humble opinion, TFC is more popular than the Argonauts in this city. Fred, obviously, strongly disagrees.

Fred bases 100% of his argument on the fact the Argos get higher national television ratings. He has no other metric to point to, and he's correct in that an Argos game will be credited with many more eyeballs than a TFC match across this fine nation. But those numbers are national in a ratings system that heavily favours an older demographic. Every other metric, anecdotal evidence and common sense tells you Fred is dreaming in technicolour.

Very quickly, in this moment of frustration, I tweeted the following:

There were many responses validating my opinion.

There were a couple of tweets referring to the aforementioned national television ratings, which is undeniable, but the overwhelming majority think Fred has lost his marbles.

In Toronto, the 416 Toronto with John Tory as mayor, which team has more fans: TFC or Argos?

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This is Toronto on October 18th


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The Lucky Lion

My youngest son has taken a shine to a statue of a lion situated by the off-lease dog park just west of Windermere by the Waterfront Trail. Yesterday, I snapped a pic of him and his lion friend.

Jarvis and the Lion

You're forgiven if you didn't know about this lion. I have probably biked or walked the Waterfront Trail in this area over 500 times over the past three years and didn't know it existed. It's tucked away out of sight in an area you'd only visit if you were taking a dog to the dog park.

As soon as I shared the above picture, I was told by a commenter it was the Lucky Lion. Here's a good history lesson on the Lucky Lion.


It was one of Toronto's most famous early monuments — so well-known to locals that many simply called it the Monument. It was erected in 1939, in the opening days of the Second World War, to celebrate the city's newest highway. The beautiful Queen Elizabeth Way would stretch from the Humber River around the bend of Lake Ontario to Niagara Falls. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother herself came to open it that summer, on tour with her husband, the stuttering King George VI. (She was the mother of Queen Elizabeth II, better remembered these days as the Queen Mum.) It was the first time a reigning monarch had ever visited Canada — or any Dominion for that matter — a way of rallying the Empire as war with the Nazis loomed.

And so, the new monument would not only celebrate the new road, but also commemorate the royal visit and Canada's role in the Second World War. A tall column would stand at the entrance to the QEW by the mouth of the Humber River, topped by a crown. A relief would portray King George and the Queen. And at the base of the column, there would be a lion sculpted by one of Toronto's most famous and respected sculptors: Frances Loring.

In 1974, when the QEW was widened to twelve lanes, the lion monument was going to be demolished until an outpouring of support resulted in the lion being moved to where you'll find it today.

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The Kennedys After Camelot Set in Marie Curtis Park

Entertainment Tonight Canada is all atwitter about Katie Holmes and Matthew Perry filming The Kennedys After Camelot here in the GTA. They're reporting the mini-series is filming in Toronto, but as someone who watched the set being built from his bike seat, a great deal is actually being filmed on the Mississauga side of Marie Curtis Park.

On May 24, I took this pic of a wooden floor being built on the grass.


By May 31, the structure was taking shape. What was it going to be? A store? Washrooms?


Soon enough, they were using the set to film After Camelot. Pretty cool.



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Whimbrels Spotted in Sam Smith Park

I've written about Whimbrel Point before, a spot in Samuel Smith Park where whimbrels rest for a day or two every May. This morning, I finally spotted these whimbrels.

Apparently, they had just arrived from an overnight flight from Virginia. They're just resting on their way to the arctic. I couldn't get too close as to not disturb them, but here's my pic of the elusive whimbrels.


Let's zoom in a little...


See them? Let's zoom in a little more...


Four whimbrels on a rock at appropriately named Whimbrel Point.

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