My Top 50 Canadian Anthems 

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My Top 50 Canadian Anthems

This is a list of my personal favourite Canadian anthems. To me, anthems are songs Canadians from Victoria to St. John’s would likely recognize and sing along to without feeling a shred of shame! Not necessarily, #1 hits but songs that resonate with Canucks for one reason or another. It could be a childhood favourite or that summer jam that takes you back to that time you first heard it.

I grew up in the 90’s so my list won’t have Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes or The Weeknd on it…YET! Keep in mind this just my personal collection of Canadian songs I consider anthems and these are in no particular order. I would love to hear some of yours.

I should also point out, originally this was supposed to be a Top 25 but, then I realized 25 is not enough. So I opted to make it a Top 40 and still that was not enough. I could go well passed a Top 50 but I had to cut it off at some point.

  1. Hockey Night in Canada Theme: This is basically the 2nd national anthem after Oh Canada; the true Canadians can hum this theme with ease. Growing up in Canada, Hockey Night in Canada was religion on Saturday nights from fall to spring.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAjgpVy2rMQ

  1. The Hockey Song – Stompin’ Tom Connors: If HNIC is the 2nd national anthem this could be considered the 3rd national anthem in Canada. Stompin’ Tom is a Canadian legend if you don’t know you better ask somebody.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YS3GQverRiQ

  1. Log Driver’s Waltz – Wade Hemsworth: This classic folk song was a part of the Canadian Film Board’s ‘Canada Vignettes’ series which started back in the 1979. It tells the tale of a young woman who is told to love someone like a doctor or lawyer but she can’t escape her affection for the log drivers. This was a staple during my elementary school days, when I would watch YTV.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Srp7k-9oCkw

  1. Blackfly – Wade Hemsworth: Another classic folk song about those pesky blackflies. If you have ever been to North Ontar-I-O-I-O you probably know all about this. Back in elementary school I think in 3rd grade our class had to learn this song in South Ontar-I-O-I-O. Oh the memories.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2q8jEuH3nk

  1. Skinnamarink – Sharon, Lois and Bram: These 3 wonderful people were staples of kids’ lives back in the 80’s and 90’s. There way of making simple things into unforgettable songs that were interactive to all people was amazing. While one could argue songs like ‘Peanut Butter and Jelly’ or ‘Fish and Chips and Vinegar’ or ‘One Elephant’ were great (and they were) their signature song was no doubt ‘Skinnamarink’ with the hand motions every child talent show from the 1980’s onward in Canada. I believe this was probably the first kid song I remember performing as a kid probably back in Grade 1 or 2. Not really sure if my vocals improved since then. Also, R.I.P Lois.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPdV8jXAjUQ

  1. Down By the Bay – Raffi: This was the jam back in music class in elementary school. Raffi is beloved by many of us born in the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s. His family emigrated here from Egypt when he was 10 years old. His other hits include ‘Baby Beluga’ (remember that from Full House), ‘Apples and Bananas’ and ‘Bananaphone’ but for me, ‘Down by the Bay’ sticks for me because it is where watermelons grow!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CSxGHve60E

  1. Summer of ’69 – Bryan Adams: This song is the quintessential song at every cottage weekend or BBQ in the summer. People over the years have had the argument of what ‘69’ meant if it was the year 1969 or something else. Apparently, it is meant to be nostalgic and about making love in the summer. Either way this is forever an iconic Canadian anthem!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9f06QZCVUHg

  1. If You Could Read My Mind – Gordon Lightfoot: Mr. Lightfoot is a national treasure and this is easily one of the most recognizable Canadian songs in history. Now, growing up in the 90’s I knew this song more from the ‘Stars of 54’ dance remix but, still it brought me to this version….eventually.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkvPkSpg1OQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97ZbiemJ1KU

  1. Life is a Highway – Tom Cochrane: If you have ever been on a road trip in Canada, this song is necessary listening material. Or if you have kids, you have been driven insane by the Rascal Flatts version from the Pixar film ‘Cars’…Thanks Lightning McQueen! Either way if you don’t get your air harmonica on during the bridge something is wrong with you. Also, shout out to ‘Big League’ that’s banger too.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3sMjm9Eloo

  1. Born to be Wild – Steppenwolf: So this classic was first made famous on the soundtrack of ‘Easy Rider’. If I am being completely honest, I have always known this song but for the longest time I never knew Steppenwolf originated from Toronto. Also, this song coined the term ‘heavy metal’ when describing a motorcycle. This track still ROCKS and it will never die! The ultimate cruising song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UWRypqz5-o

  1. Let Your Backbone Slide – Maestro Fresh Wes: Calling this classic an anthem is an understatement I would probably consider this the most important song in Canadian Hip-Hop as Maestro showed Canada that rap music was not a fad it was here to stay. The road was not easy for him but, he is a legend today and the first person I can ever recall using ‘sacroiliac’ in any music lyric that alone is a feat. ‘Backbone’ still rocks the party like it was 1989. Remember kids, without this song Drake might not even be rapping today.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eQt3KFNeh4

  1. You Oughta Know – Alanis Morissette: Potentially one of the breakup songs in music history. When this song dropped back in 1996 this was not the Alanis we grew up on, not the teen pop singer. Although ‘Too Hot’ was nice and ‘An Emotion Away’ was my jam, she repackaged herself as this young woman filled with emotion, angst and raw energy who was not afraid to be heard. The rest as they say is history. After a few drinks at the bar, you can’t help but belt out the chorus as loud as possible.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPcyTyilmYY

  1. Sunglasses at Night – Corey Hart: Thanks to Corey Hart we now know why you should wear your sunglasses at night. This song is another banger that the average Canadian rocks bars, bonfires and house parties from coast to coast.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56HSPQHSqEE

  1. American Woman – The Guess Who: No, this song wasn’t done by Lenny Kravitz. Interestingly enough, this rock classic was created by accident. The famous riff starting the song happened on the fly and they started jamming and ‘American Woman’ was created. This track is timeless is another one of those songs you scream at the top of your lungs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_3yeQeBOAI

  1. Don’t Forget Me When I’m Gone – Glass Tiger: The pride of Newmarket, Ontario hit the big time when this single dropped. This song used to be on CBC Video Hits and MuchMusic on heavy rotation. This is another one of those singalong tracks after a few beers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JG2IFsz_n5c

  1. Working for the Weekend – Loverboy: As I’m going through this list I see the obvious trend of 80’s music but, whatever this is good track. I didn’t learn about this track until later on in life but 35+ years later it still kicks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zL8G5pBZ5CI

  1. Lay it on the Line – Triumph: Repping Mississauga, Ontario Triumph was all about that hard rock, metal type of sound. This track is winner just because of the awesome guitar solo midway through let alone the whole song being sweet. Definite headbanging material!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pz26fcmq3S8

  1. Black Velvet – Alannah Myles: The mix of rock and country on this song just adds to the power of this track. If you really listen to the lyrics it is a pretty sexy song. I can’t even count the amount of covers to this song there is out there.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tT4d1LQy4es

  1. How You Remind Me – Nickelback: So today, it seems like the whole world hates Nickelback but, ‘How You Remind Me’ is an iconic song and is one of the best-selling singles of the 2000’s. Before it was cool to crap on Nickelback they put out some pretty solid tunes. I can recall rocking this track at a karaoke night or two.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cQh1ccqu8M

  1. Superman’s Dead – Our Lady Peace: This OLP song is around 20 years old and for me it never gets old. Mimicking, the ‘aye ee aye ee ah aye yeahhh’ was everyone’s favourite thing to do after the song got popular, and I still try and fail to do it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CBBtorFg2I

  1. It’s All Coming Back to Me Now – Celine Dion: To be fair there is lots of songs in Celine’s catalogue to choose from but for this one is a stand out. Firstly, it’s a 6 minute song but you will listen to the entire thing because the tempo and vocals change it is a power ballad lover’s wet dream. Secondly, this sort of feels like the Canadian version of Meat Loaf’s ‘I Would Do Anything for Love’ which I’m good with. Lastly, Celine throws down some serious vocal acrobatics all over this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDxoj-tDDIU

  1. Rise Up – Parachute Club: Let’s be real ‘Rise Up’ is one of the most important songs in Canadian pop music for its message of peace, unity and equality while still remaining upbeat. It also, brought together Caribbean sounds for the first time in pop music. Today, it is an activist anthem used to inspire and uplift in the LGBTQ community along with feminist movements. This song is 34 years old and still going strong.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwR0CPXZpBs

  1. Run With Us – Lisa Lougheed: So, either you know this song because you watched the CBC cartoon ‘The Raccoons’ in the 1980’s or you made conscious choice to watch ‘Hobo, With A Shotgun’ either way you can’t go wrong, this song is so 80’s it hurts and I love it!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usFFKNRB2z8

  1. I Beg Your Pardon – Kon Kan: What you know about this? When new wave and dance music was dominating the charts in the 1980’s Kon Kan pulled out this gem. It kind of has that New Order/Pet Shop Boys feel to it which makes it even better!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAw-YYKkqWE

  1. These Eyes – The Guess Who: This song is a rock classic period, Burton Cummings vocals are haunting and pierce right there you. For the hip-hop fans you may recognize the sample from Maestro’s track ‘Stick to Your Vision’.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOBBXfWEdW0

  1. Tom Sawyer – Rush: Once that drum crashes and the guitar hits you already know what song this is. For the new school people you may have heard Paul Rudd and Jason Siegel raving about Rush in the film ‘I Love You Man’ you know ‘slappin da bass’. Iconic rock song and its Canadian!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auLBLk4ibAk

  1. Conductin’ Thangs – Maestro Fresh Wes: Off of Maestro’s 2nd album ‘Black Tie Affair’ listening to a hip hop track with a big band sound was awesome. Once again, putting Canadians on notice that rap music was on the come up in Canada.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUuYtBSe4pU

  1. Dance Desire – Haywire: 80’s glam rock at its best on this one. Maestro sampled this track; ‘Drop the Needle’ came from the opening of this song. This another one of those awesome summer cottage tracks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhAK0WYsELI

  1. Don’t Wanna Fall In Love – Jane Child: As new wave was transitioning into synth-pop and ushering in the 90’s this track was too dope! I still jam hard when this track plays at old school parties, I still recall seeing this on MuchMusic and being in awe of her style the perm looking spikes, braids down past her butt and the earring chain attached to a nose ring that left an impression.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWd__w5UWVc

  1. Heaven – Bryan Adams: To be honest, narrowing down Bryan Adams tracks is difficult there is still ‘Cuts Like A Knife’, ‘Run to You’, ‘Somebody’ and that’s just from the 80’s that doesn’t even include his stuff from the 90’s like ‘Everything I Do’, ‘Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman’, ‘Please Forgive Me’ among others. ‘Heaven’ to me was one of those classic 80’s power ballads and when karaoke nights happen, someone is singing the hell out of this one. Also, the video shows the Stanley theatre in Vancouver, a piece of Canadiana.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6TtwR2Dbjg

  1. Any Man of Mine – Shania Twain: Oh Shania! I remember the first time I ever saw Shania Twain I was smitten pretty much like a majority of Canada. She made country cool and fused it into pop music. Not to mention, she didn’t pull any punches with her content she kept it real. This is another country bar and karaoke classic almost anywhere in Canada. Country girl done good!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8N2k-gv6xNE

  1. My Heart Will Go On – Celine Dion: I mean this is the biggest power ballad probably ever maybe only ‘I Will Always Love You’ surpasses it. After Titanic was released this song haunted your dreams. Then it followed you at high school dances, weddings and any karaoke bar you entered in the world not just Canada. Just like Bryan Adams, Celine’s catalogue is hard to choose from because there is so much but this is one of the greatest love songs ever hands down. I still remember her from ‘Love Can Move Mountains’ and ‘Je Danse Mon La Tete’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHG2oizTlpY

  1. Northern Touch (Remix) – Rascalz featuring Kardinal Offishall, Checkmate, Choclair, and Thrust: This posse cut was a landmark of Canadian hip-hop. Getting that American love which is what we wanted back then for hip-hop. I remember freaking out when I saw this on BET’s 106 & Park. Crazy that this song is 20 years old. Man, I feel old.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qCJ6Jazpfc

  1. Magic Carpet Ride – Steppenwolf: Another classic rock song that, as I mentioned earlier, I had no clue until recently was Canadian. Trippy psychedelic rock that again is another one of those songs you can cruise to on a road trip.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvidoBef4wA

  1. Steal My Sunshine – Len: Had to put up this guilty pleasure. Sure, Len were one-hit wonders but we all still jammed to the song regardless. And it automatically reminds you of summer and just kicking back with friends.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1fzJ_AYajA

  1. You’re A Superstar – Love Inc.: I will be the first to admit, dance music in the 90’s was huge in Canada. From ‘Chris Sheppard’s Pirate Radio Sessions’ to the ‘MuchMusic Dance Mix’ series it was inescapable. This was an ultimate feel-good track. Every time I hear this track flashbacks of Electric Circus keep rushing back to me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsidcB-24JU

  1. Let’s Ride – Choclair: After the success of ‘Northern Touch’ when Da Shizknocka dropped his solo album this single was a BANGER! The beat is just so chill this is a driving down Yonge Street on Caribana weekend kinda track. This also, got some love on BET south of the border.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_Nnvl621oo

  1. Dancing Under A Latin Moon – Candi and the Backbeat: Was Candi and the Backbeat a huge deal in Canada? Probably not but, I loved this song from the first time I heard it so it is making my list! Great pop music with a bit of Italian and Latin flavour in it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlF-mX4DrCg

  1. Someday – Glass Tiger: This one is a tune! I think we had the vinyl 45 for this when I was a kid. Alan Frew kills it as usual and the lyrics are simple but you can feel them. We’ve all had those times after a break-up and trying to cope with it. I could see myself belting this one out after last call.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHYtsnSlCg0

  1. My Definition Of A Boombastic Jazz Style – Dream Warriors: I don’t think this one needs much of a description as this was a foundational song in the story of hip-hop in Canada. You had to be living under a rock not to know this song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXAJZmlRMdc

  1. Rocking in the Free World – Neil Young: I mean does it even get more Canadian and rock than Neil Young? I don’t think so; I believe that’s all that needs to be said. Neil Young is an OG no question about it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnAgc1kgvLc

  1. Taking Care of Business – Bachman Turner Overdrive: It doesn’t matter whether or not it is one of the best rock n roll songs ever, that’s undeniable. Who even knows how many covers of this there are?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4sI5DG5sjc

  1. If I Had A Million Dollars – Barenaked Ladies: It’s hard to find someone who hates BNL because they were just so likeable. Shoot, I remember when they were doing videos at Speakers Corner before they got their first break. This song is as Canadian as it gets.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBH2Q_owBHw

  1. Nobody’s Supposed To Be Here – Deborah Cox: There weren’t too many R&B stars in Canada but she was one of them. The lyrics and the vocalization in this song makes you feel her emotions and if this sounds too sad for you well good news there is the dance remix. Now that I’m an adult I totally get what she is going through in this song. Honourable mentions to ‘Sentimental’, ‘ Beautiful U R’ and ‘Who Do You Love’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H947PtHmh0Y

  1. So Into You – Tamia: Representing Windsor, it’s Tamia! Along with Deborah Cox she was one of the few Canadian-born R&B stars. This track is just timeless to me. Honourable mentions to ‘Officially Missing You’, ‘You Put A Move On My Heart’, ‘Still’ and ‘Imagination’.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fd0uuy4mDrE

  1. Wavin’ Flag – K’Naan: When this was used as the official anthem in the 2010 World Cup it was incredible and closest Canada has been to participating in a Men’s World Cup since like 1986. This song brought some unity and pride with its lyrics and message.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amXeJrA-wDc

  1. Safety Dance – Men Without Hats: We can dance if want to! You can call this song corny but it’s damn catchy. Men Without Hats were reppin’ new wave in Canada back in the 1980’s and Safety Dance is a worldwide success along with ‘Pop Goes The World’. Classic tunes!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjPau5QYtYs

  1. Informer – Snow: Whether you want to admit it or not, ‘Informer’ was a huge track! A white guy droppin’ Jamaican patois was a novelty. If ‘In Living Color’ does a parody of your song you are doing something right, for better or worse. I remember when people found out he was white, they lost their minds. ‘Girl I’ve Been Hurt’ was my jammmm.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cv1crUGHi4E

  1. Crying Over You – Platinum Blonde: These dudes were the definition of 80’s glam hair band. This song still goes hard especially when the chorus kicks in you want to scream it at the top of your lungs like they seem to be doing. When the guitar solo happens you gotta pull out the air guitar.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkxH-Q7_sbk

  1. I Cry – Bass Is Base: This trio blended jazz, R&B and some hip-hop and this is one of my favourite Canadian songs. Catchy, soulful and for me this is one of those chill out songs I can listen to on repeat.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOXqrAv6eEQ

If you made it all the way to the bottom of this list, bless your soul! What songs would make your list?

Cheers,

Waynie

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Memoirs of Honest Ed’s

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I wrote about this back in April 2014, but now the iconic Toronto store is close to shutting it’s doors for the final time on New Year’s Eve. Over the past year Honest Ed’s has been selling it’s locally famous hand painted signs and this last weekend was supposedly the ‘final sign sale’ so I opted to go down and check it out for myself.

In case you were wondering about my history with Honest Ed’s I’ve written about it before but I’ll reiterate. As a kid born to immigrants Honest Ed’s was known as the place to find cheap deals and there were always interesting characters from the shoppers to the employees to the Mirvishes themselves. Whenever, we went to see family in Parkdale usually Honest Ed’s along with Dufferin Mall and Queen West were on our to-do list whether I liked it or not.

Christmas season we would trek there to look for bargains on gifts while Boney M Christmas was blaring through the store on repeat. My mom was smart though she would bribe me with a beef patty from Bathurst station for my patience.

While, in the store today random conversations were happening between total strangers talking about their experiences here with their parents or with their kids. It was like a Toronto living history lesson. One man said his dad would shop at the original store and other people reminisced about first coming to Canada and this being the place they got their first belongings upon arrival in Toronto.

Some people were here looking for signs to resell online while others like myself were searching and searching and searching for the right piece of Toronto nostalgia for their wall or basement.

Personally, my mission was to find a sign or a few for items I actually bought here as a kid. Some would grab a bunch of signs and find an area to sort through them while people like me would try to design the layout of signs on my wall. Prices ranged from $1 to $200+ it varies on the design, size and age of the sign.

It is kind of funny to me that now in Toronto we are struggling with not having enough community areas for people to gather and wander around meanwhile places that gave you that opportunity like Honest Ed’s are forced to close their doors because in Toronto condos are our hobby. Rumour has it there are plans for a big closing bash, hopefully many of us can pass through.

Ethnicity, gender and other demographics did not matter here all that mattered was finding the best deal for your family, meeting like minded people and maybe making good conversation in the process, now that’s something Amazon has yet to deliver.

Walk it out people, 

WAYNIE

My Reflections of Toronto: The Club District in the 2000’s

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Back in my younger days in Toronto, pretty much every weekend that I was free was spent down in the club district. Whether it was on Adelaide, Richmond, Peter, Duncan or Pearl there would always be some excuse to head downtown to party and jam. It could be for someone you know like a friend or family member, or friend of a friend celebrating a birthday or graduation or some other milestone, or some guy/girl you met once at Markham Station while getting some late night eats. And didn’t everyone have a friend or family member that was a club/event promoter?

For me, my downtown clubbing heyday probably was around 2004-2010 so I can only speak on what I recall. The old glory days, which are but a distant and sometimes drunken memory. When I was wandering around downtown a few weeks back I wondered what happened to these spots if they are still around or demolished because for anyone who walks around downtown Toronto these days all you see are condos for the most part. Keep in mind I am not saying these were the best clubs in Toronto but these were places that I recall frequenting in my younger days.

Inside

old toronto nightclubs

I remember when Inside was the place to be not only because it was popping but, former Raptor, Vince Carter was an owner of it! There was like 3 floors and each floor had a different vibe to it. One floor was a glass room where I think the dancefloor was glass and there were glass windows, booths and such that usually was the club anthems floor. The next level up had a wooden floor and we would usually hear Reggaeton and dance music on this floor. One time, we saw Daddy Yankee who was in town promoting a new project performing so that was pretty cool for our 5 dollar guest list cover charge.

However, for me and the crew back in like 2005 it was all about the basement! Or as we called it, the SOCA FLOOR! When we came here on Fridays you would hear Soca Sweetness and/or Dr. Jay De Soca Prince and back in those days it was RARE to hear reggae and soca music inside of a downtown club. So it was important to come and support the cause because if we didn’t show up it would no longer exist and many of us didn’t want to take it for granted. Countless, birthdays were celebrated here I think I celebrated my birthday here two times. The vibes were just toooooo nice week in and week out. It was almost like a weekly reunion with people.

It is now a resto called Ja Bistro. RIP Inside!

 

Seven

old toronto nightclubs 1

And right next door to Inside was Seven and Runway 224. I only went here a few times. It had an upscale urban music kinda vibe. I could be wrong because again I only been here a few times. One time I celebrated my birthday here and there was a snowstorm so the place was virtually empty. On the top floor, where we stayed at it felt more like a private party since it was literally only the people who came for my birthday that were in the room. It was kinda awesome just like 12 of us liming and wilding out. Oddly enough, one person I met there for the 1st time has become a good friend of mine since then. I respect Seven for that.

Now it is called La Vie Complex one of the few places from back in my day that is still a club!

 

G-Spot

old toronto nightclubs 2

So this place has been through quite a few name changes over the years but, I remember it as G-Spot. Usually, after a shooting would occur at a club the management would change the name to refresh the place and give it facelift. If I’m mistaken I remember it once being called Metro and its last incarnation was Gravity not sure if it has a tenant anymore. If you wanted ratchet well G-Spot was the place for you!

I think we took my cousin here after he turned 19 and it was probably a mistake but, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Can’t front though the convenience was great because I could watch a movie across the street at Paramount (now known as Scotiabank Theatre) then pop over to G-Spot shortly after. Then again, shots might pop off in the club as well.

I also remember getting into an argument with a friend of mine over something which to this day I don’t understand and she was mad at me for a while. Oh the memories!

 

Lot 332

old toronto nightclubs 4

Lot 332 used to be poppinnnnn! Once upon a time, I came here back in like 2006-2007 a few times. I came here with some friends to celebrate a birthday and this was like back when SexyBack and anything Justin Timberlake was all the rage! And now, it’s a City of Toronto building.

It had cushy couches and upscale lounge décor. It really had the loft kinda vibe down cold. The crowd would be a mix of bag of people from new clubbers to older ones. The most vivid memory I have is listening Jr. Flo just juggling beats and killing it! The problem was most of the crowd weren’t really into that stuff so they didn’t get it at first but just some of the mixes and live remixes he did were awesome. One of the best things about the line up at Lot 332 was that it was directly across the street from a hot dog stand so if the line was long you could grab eats without losing your place in line.

 

Afterlife

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Personally, Afterlife was legendary to me. To the older club goers its legendary status comes from when it was called Limelight when I was younger I would hear older family members raving about it. I first set foot into Afterlife probably in 2005. Now if you love Soca and Reggae on a Saturday there was NO OTHER PLACE but Afterlife. Friday was Inside with Dr. Jay and Saturday was Afterlife, 3rd floor, the Paradise Room with Jump Up Kingz and Loudmout Chiney.

I will admit the décor and layout was very basic they didn’t appear to try hard on making Afterlife look good. Chipped paint on walls and faded dancefloor.

People had strategies as how to jump the line or claim they were on guest list. The thing was if you got there before 11:30pm you were good after that though, all bets were off because it would be jammed! It truly was a meeting place, the random girl you saw at STC a week ago was there, the dudes you were shooting pool with a month ago were there, that crew from your work would be there wilding out. The amount of times I had to MSN Messenger someone for guest list or send a message on like Black Planet or Desi Planet is countless. So many birthdays, so many reunions, so many passed out people that needed to be dragged down 3 flights of stairs and so many foolish fights over the bar, a girl or stepping on a man’s shoes.

And I cannot forget Afterlife Sundays! Why, because the whole bar was $2 a drink. Beer, mixed drinks, shots it was all a TOONIE!!! Most people could get lit on a $20. When I worked in retail if you had Monday morning off it was expected you would be there Sunday night. They would do limos there and back so it was no excuse not to have a few. I remember one time we had a work dance battle, I refused to dance to anything 50 Cent related which is still true today and one time the song ‘Girlfight’ by Brooke Valentine was playing and literally a girl fight started over wanting to be on top of the riser dancing.

Eventually, Afterlife lost its lustre and faded into obscurity but the good times were definitely lasting memories and now it is Rock N Horse Saloon.

 

 

Sometimes when I walk around downtown and reminisce I wonder about what happened. Toronto used to be so much fun and then suddenly we became the town from Footloose with a ban on dancing. The city opted that bringing the suburbs downtown made better sense it seems. The best cities in the world have a balance between residential living and providing nightlife and entertainment but, while Toronto is technically the 4th largest city in North America we still seem to have this small town sort of mentality. Sometimes that’s a good thing other times it’s a not so good thing of course it depends who you ask.

I am sure I will post more in the future because there is lots of history and stories that we all have about these places. Mine aren’t that wild and crazy… Well because I have a filter and somethings just should not be posted online =)

 

Walk it out people,

Waynie

Burger Week Toronto!

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For those of who love burgers, whether, beef, chicken, veggie, vegan last week (May 28-31) was the week for you! More than 50 dining establishments participated in this year’s festivities. There were two way to participate either check out single Burger Week places and get their signature Burger Week offering for $5 or head down to Fort York on Jun 1st and partake in indulging in sliders.

For myself, I did not bother with Burger Day I opted to go to establishments and try their offerings. In past years, when attempting to go to Burger Day everything tended to sell out real fast so while they may have improved it this year I chose to sit Burger Day out and go for it when I could.

In 2 days that I was able to check out places I hit up 7 locations. A few that I have frequented before such as Hey Meatball and Gangster Burger and checked out places I have never been to such as Toma Burger Addiction and Grapefruit Moon. All in all, it was cool, met some serious self-proclaimed ‘foodies’ and others who were just lovers of burgers and wanted to eat, experience and enjoy.

Gangster Burger!

I’ve been to Gangster Burger before so it was not brand new to me. The line was pretty long considering it was a Wednesday at 1pm I guess foodies mixed with people on lunch. I probably waited about 20-25 mins for my burger but, they were playing 90’s hip-hop and R&B so the time flew by while I was bouncing along to the lyrics reliving my younger days. Their feature burger was the Jesse James, in case you’re wondering all their burgers are named after legendary gangsters even El Chapo has a burger named for him.

The Jesse James was a beef patty with a Dijon glaze, southern coleslaw and with a bacon marmalade. While I enjoyed it the wait was a bit long but, I understand $5 burgers will draw a line up. It was a nice sized patty good flavours but the bun got mushy down the line. Regardless it was a good kick off!

Lisa Marie by Fidel Gastro

My first Fidel Gastro experience was at TIFF last September eating off their food trucks and they definitely try to flip the script with their toppings and flavours so it made perfect sense for them to offer the NUTELLA BURGER!

Yea, let that sink in for a minute, NUTELLA on a beef burger patty not to mention plaintain chips and a garlic tinged coconut sauce. Naturally I was skeptical about it when I first took a bite my tastebuds were weirded out for two reasons…1. Nutella and a juicy burger aren’t a natural fit and 2. The plaintain chips were like a Jedi mind trick to me because the texture and crispiness is similar to bacon so mind thought it was bacon at first. Yup, that was pretty weird but enjoyable. Keep in mind though, I have eaten the Krispy Kreme Burger and Cronut Burger in the past so this may have been right up my alley. So the consensus was once you get over the shock value of Nutella on your burger its pretty good but your tastebuds are in for a weird ride.


TOMA Burger Addiction

Okay so I will be the first to admit for my money this was probably the best burger I ate for Burger Week but not necessarily for the beef and toppings. It was because that brioche bun was AWESOME! It was oversized, it didn’t fall apart, was tasty on it own and a big T was branded into it!

The Wild Life burger had gourmet written all over it, arugula, swiss cheese, a truffle styled mayo and huge mushrooms not to mention the prime angus beef!

The downside, it wasn’t for takeout so you had to sit in the eatery and wait…and wait…and wait some more. Looking at their menu some of their burger prices were kind of steep for my liking but I can’t really knock it til I try it. This was hands down the best burger I had up until this point. I was lucky because soon after we got there the place began to create a crowd and since there was no takeout people had to wait for a booth.

The Greek

The Greek on King West had sliders available and after downing 3 burgers sliders were a welcome alternative. As the name suggests their menu consists of greek influenced foods such as souvlaki, greek salad and such. Their chuck was a mix of beef and lamb keftedes (meatballs). The pita bread was good but it did remind me of a rice cake for some reason. Simple ingredients and the sauce was tzaziki had a little kick to it was a good balance for me after eating Nutella, truffle mayo and arugula at other spots.

Morgans on the Danforth

This restaurant is located right by Greenwood station so on my first Saturday stop it was on my way so I figured sure why not. I seemed to have beat the dinner rush and had to eat-in. This restaurant had a nice family, laidback kinda vibe which was good. The burger is entitled ‘This Burger’s Got Seoul’

Brisket and beef chuck seasoned Kalbi style with their version of kimchi and a boatload of Monty Jack cheese. Good flavour and it wasn’t a challenge to eat. It was a random choice and I’m glad I got to try this one out!

Grapefruit Moon

In case you are wondering this has not been Photoshopped, there really is a sunnyside up egg on top of the fresh sausage patty and fries on the side all this for FIVE DOLLARS! The large tomato and greens seemed to mesh well with this burger. The sausage patty made sense going together with an egg to give you that oversized breakfast sandwich feel which worked for me.

It was a mission to eat due to its size but I am glad I got to experience it. In the process I was talking to some foodie hipsters who seemed genuine at first but began bragging about their eating exploits with each other and me. I also got a backhanded compliment asking if I got judged or looks from people because I was eating alone that day. That kind of tarnished the experience for me so I ate as quick as I could and got out of there.

Also, shoutout to the server who was in attendance that night. He was alone and they got slammed with a crowd due to the burgers about 15 minutes after I got there. While he was frazzled a bit he kept his composure and toughed it out.

Hey Meatball! (College Street)

My last stop for Burger Week was good ol Hey Meatball. They were offering was called ‘Big Trouble in Little Italy’, a pork patty with tomato gravy, pesto and spicy pickles.

The resto was busy but surprisingly it was more of their menu people were eating rather than the Burger Week special which is a testament to their following of people who come there for the food not jus a special.

It wasn’t a huge burger which for me was good after my previous two stops. Good flavours and I believe all their meat is local, natural and horomone-free so the meat had a different taste in a good way. Also, walking through Little Italy on a summer evening is never a bad thing!

Burger Week was a healthy mix of exploring the city, good and bad food choices and just the challenge of continuously eating at discount prices. One unique thing about Burger Week was their pairing with PayPal. There were about 8 locations that were basically giving you a free burger once you downloaded the PayPal app and checked-in with it. Once you check in an offer would appear for the location you’re at and the free burger is yours!

One place I wanted to check out but wasn’t able to was Holy Chuck which had this huge double patty burger but, with TTC subway closures it deterred me from venturing in that direction.

I look forward to next year’s Burger Week and hopefully it expands even more!

Walk it Out!

Waynie

Waynie Walks the TDot: TTC Streetcar Lines – Bathurst and Spadina

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The name of the blog is ‘Waynie Walks the TDot’ and finally it looks as if some ideal walking weather may have hit Toronto therefore I must take advantage!

Last year, in an effort to be healthier, I challenged myself to do some long distance walking as I am not much of a gym person. So opted to walk TTC subway lines last summer. I walked the RT line, Finch to Union and even Kipling all the way down to Kennedy! While that was a mission it felt soooo good and it was a neat way to explore and discover the city I love!

This year, my challenge is to walk streetcar line routes! This past weekend I started with the Bathurst line and followed that with the Spadina line. All in all, it was about a 9K walk and I stopped off by the Waterfront to take in the beautiful day.

In case you may wonder if I walk for monetary gain and such, I do not, I merely do it because there is more to Toronto outside of my immediate neighbourhood so why not explore it, walk about while staying healthy in the process. Learn about places and people that are new to you!

Here are some pictures from my adventures over the weekend.

So we begin off at Bathurst Station…

The iconic Toronto landmark…Honest Ed’s!

Good ol Sneaky Dee’s on Bathurst and Queen!

Random shot of a Streetcar and CN Tower near Bathurst and King

Soldiers on Bathurst and Fleet St.

The old Tip Top Factory…now lofts…where members of my family once worked back in the day!

Fort York Armoury

 

 

Let’s Go to The EX!

Check out the view at Toronto Music Garden at Harbourfront, picturesque is an understatement.

You got to love the Tall ships you can find by the Toronto Waterfront!

HTO Park is a nice way to cool down in the summer.

Now entering Chinatown!

As the summer progresses, I aim to do even more walks and see more of our fair city.

 

Walk it out people,

Waynie

Video History of Toronto

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This short video created for TEDx Toronto Conference last fall is a brief history of the culmination of our city Toronto.

The video starts from its early days going to today. As a proud citizen, not just a taxpayer, of Toronto it is great to see our diversity celebrated even if it is just for 150 seconds. If you don’t know where you came from, you will not know where you are going.

Enjoy,

Waynie

A Farewell to Legendary Stores in Toronto: Honest Ed’s

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Now I will be the first to admit that Honest Ed’s is not closed until Dec. 31st 2016 but it still is unfortunately on the way out and that Honest Ed’s handmade signs sale they had a few weeks conjured up some nostalgia for me. As I am sure Honest Ed’s provides nostalgic memories for many residents in the GTA.

Since its inception back in 1948, Honest Ed’s has been an indelible landmark in Toronto. Whether it was throwing over the top birthday parties for Honest Ed Mirvish filled with freebies for the crowd, giving away free turkeys around Christmas season or even the hand painted signage inside of the store Honest Ed’s is undoubtedly one of a kind. For plenty of people living in Toronto whether new to Canada or old to Canada if you wanted a deal Honest Ed’s was on your list of places to check out.

As the child of immigrant parents I can speak first-hand about the impact this store had for us. My mother waking my sister and me up on a weekend morning demanding we get dressed because we had to go. Keep in mind we lived in Scarborough and Honest Ed’s is located on Bathurst and Bloor we had a bit of distance to cover. Usually, when we were visiting family that lived in Parkdale an Honest Ed’s trip was virtually guaranteed. Taking the subway all the way there was a task in itself along with walking all over that store looking for stuff I didn’t want but my mother insisted we needed. Items such as: winter boots, undershirts, colouring books, touch lamps (you know you had one), Christmas decorations, frames, house slippers and so on were musts for my mom. If she knew it would be cheaper at Honest Ed’s rather than BiWay, Bargain Harold’s or Woolco (yes, I went there with you guys) we were going to be there a while! I swear if I didn’t get lost from my family at least once for each time we were there it would be a miracle.

I remember one Christmas season we went to Honest Ed’s and to this day when I think of Christmas I think of Boney M’s Christmas album because it was like etched into my memory from shopping and only hearing that album for like 3 hours straight.

I will admit the best part of going to Honest Ed’s would be when we were leaving to go home on the subway. Why? Simple, BEEF PATTIES at Bathurst Station! I do not care what anyone says the Beef Patties located at Bathurst and Warden Station are the BEST in Toronto. My mother recognized my struggles with keeping up with her so as a reward I would get a beef patty for my troubles. As you can tell, as a kid, bribing me was pretty easy.

Honest Ed’s is the quintessential family store created by a family for families of all types. It did not matter how much money or status you had or how well adapted to Toronto you were, you could always appreciate a good deal and a place filled with energy and the kind heart of Mr. Ed Mirvish. I was just there a week ago looking through records at Sonic Boom and it still gives me the same sense of awe as it did when I was kid. Only now it is because of what I gained from going there and how places like this are rare this day in age. The building may not last but the memories….those are forever!

Regards,

Waynie