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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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

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

A Farewell to Legendary Stores in Toronto: Sears / Eaton’s

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As this Sunday passes, we bid a fond farewell to fabled and perhaps locally famous store at Yonge and Edward…The World’s Biggest Bookstore! Not only have we seen this one time giant fall but also we said goodbye to Sears (formerly Eaton’s) and in the near future Honest Ed’s.

To be perfectly clear this post is not to point out the politics or hardships that have led to the demise of these stores. I am just simply a fan that would like to pay tribute by sharing memories of what these places meant to me as a kid growing up in Toronto.

It was sheer irony that the week Sears finally closed its doors at the Eaton Centre, in February, coincided with Yorkdale Shopping Centre began to celebrate its 50th anniversary. A few days after Sears officially closed I snapped this picture. Hard to believe such an iconic brand was leaving us.

Maybe I’m showing my age but, I recall when this was Eaton’s not Sears. As a kid growing up in Scarborough, coming downtown to Eaton Centre was like a wonderland for me. The draw of these big stores, so many escalators, usually fast paced all the time, the two food courts, two McDonalds (yes I was easily impressed back then) and of course Eaton’s. Why does Eaton’s hold a special place for me personally you may ask?

Well, I had a family member who worked there. Visiting them was my excuse to go downtown and just be a kid with my eyes opened wide, especially at Christmas time with that Christmas tree dangling from the mall ceiling and the Santa with sled and reindeer. You could even sit on Santa’s lap, yes that’s right no Skype appointments! Eaton’s was that go to store when you wanted to be in style and it had a floor strictly dedicated to TOYS! Yes, Floor 7 a.k.a Toyland I remember you. The first time I ever saw a Nintendo or Sega Master System was on that toys floor.

Tell me you remember that shopping bag? That’s actually my Eaton’s bag I found it while rummaging through that closet most people have filled with bags and boxes that you haven’t checked in over a decade. When Eaton’s transitioned into Sears in the mid 90’s my family member sadly was no longer working at Eaton Centre and I did kind of resent Sears for a bit because of that. It didn’t matter what new Kenmore appliances they had on display I probably did not set foot into that Sears for like 2 years. Eventually, I caved and did shopping here and there but as I grew up I discovered other stores and I kind of lost touch with Sears unless I was seeking a fragrance or a watch perhaps.

When I heard Sears was closing its doors, my first reaction was ‘Hmmm will the Jays Store have awesome deals?” followed by the thought of that another piece of my childhood swept away. So for the last few months, while cutting through Sears, to either get to the rest of the mall or get to Yonge Street, I would kind of wander around and reminisce of those days but sadly I was blinded by the discount wholesaler vibe I was getting where literally everything was on sale even the fixtures and storage cases.

So I have lived through Eaton’s to Sears to now Nordstrom in 2016 wow where does the time go? While the ending for Eaton’s and Sears was kind of ugly to me I will hold on to that memory of the grade school version of me endlessly playing with the new toys in Toyland. Sometimes the simplest memories are the best ones.

Regards,

Waynie

6 Music Videos Filmed in #Toronto That I Love

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It’s no secret that when it comes to music, Toronto knows! Or maybe it is? Toronto has a rich history with music videos by local and international artists. Artists know when they come here to Toronto they will get an energetic and real reaction from the crowd. Truth be told I am a bit of a concert fiend especially in the summer months myself.

With that in mind, I decided to compile a list of music videos filmed on the streets of Toronto. I am not saying these are the best music videos ever, but in my opinion these are simply music videos filmed in Toronto that I personally appreciate.

And in no particular order:

6. Drake – Headlines

From Drake’s second full length album ‘ Take Care’ in 2011, this was a video that used different parts of the city including the SkyDome (no never the Rogers Centre), the CN Tower and even the old Guild Inn in Scarborough. I remember when on the Gardiner Drake had a billboard for Take Care up. Getting to see the time-lapsed opening of the Dome is pretty cool on its own!

5. Stereo Love – Edward Maya & Mia Martina

When this version of the Edward Maya & Vika Jigulina smash-hit was covered by New Brunswick’s Mia Martina it was EVERYWHERE! It haunted your dreams and followed you to every club, restaurant and sometimes even Dollarama! When I watched this video for the first time back in 2010 it gave me a new appreciation for the song and Toronto. I can’t recall ever seeing Toronto being shot in that kind of way and it was impressive. Toronto looked European to me in this video.

4. Need You Now – Lady Antebellum

The first time I ever heard this song was after the 2010 Grammy Awards one of my college classes. The professor was showing us some of the effects they used in their performance to create a ghost projector kind of effect. I liked the song so I got home looked for the music video and to my surprise it was filmed in Toronto! If I’m not mistaken this single, ‘Need You Now’ really made Lady Antebellum blow up! You can see King St East, The Patrician Grill, a Beck Taxi and The King Edward Hotel. Great song, great concept and great video.

3. Let Your Backbone Slide – Maestro Fresh Wes

The year was 1989, a young rapper by the name of Wesley Williams had the audacity to make a landmark song and video which finally put Canadian Hip-Hop on the map! You can see a TTC streetcar in the background which 25 years later is still what we use. Undeniably, ‘Let Your Backbone Slide’ breathed life into young Canadians who had dreams of being hip-hop artists. This video was played on MTV in the US and if I’m not mistaken is the Best Selling Canadian Hip-Hop Single of All-Time. Yes kids, there was someone before Drake.

2. The Anthem – Kardinal Offishall

If you are from Toronto and you don’t know Kardi you need to move right now! This video was released in 2011 and it literally should be a tourism video as it shows all the best-known and lesser known landmarks in Toronto. Scarborough, Etobicoke and North York also get some love too! What makes this video even better is that the actual lyrics are a love letter to Toronto. Kardi loves Toronto and Toronto loves you back.

1. Rise Up – The Parachute Club

While this song is a bit before my time you cannot deny the power of this song. ‘Rise Up’ to me is a song demanding equality for all. Toronto has always been in the forefront for equal rights for women, minorities and the LGBT community. The late great politician Jack Layton used this song in his last political campaign. This song was a call to action and people still to this day respond to ‘Rise Up’ all over the place, not just in Canada.

Hope you enjoyed my little list, might you have any favourites?

Waynie

Being ‘Happy’ in Toronto on a Cold Winter Day!

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A friend of mine sent me a link to this video a few days ago and I gotta admit it is pretty infectious! The video was done by Flip TFO

They made -17C look somewhat enjoyable, once you keep an open mind. Dancing throughout the streets of Toronto to Pharrell Williams’ smash hit ‘ Happy’. Sadly, no one was wearing his infamous ‘Arby’s’ style hat in the video.

Really cool to see this group get everyday citizens of Toronto in on the fun too.

Sidenote, don’t forget to check out ‘This Is Not A Toy’ exhibit at the Design Exchange guest curated by the one and only Pharrell Williams going on until May 19th.
http://www.dx.org/index.cfm?pagepath=exhibitions/current_exhibitions&id=47464

Enjoy,

Waynie

Soca on Ice Takes Over Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre

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It’s never too cold for SOCA MUSIC! Last month was proof of that as hundreds of people braved the frigid weather to take part in the 4th edition of ‘Soca on Ice’.

Since it’s inception in 2011, as a part of Harbourfront Centre’s DJ Skate Nights, this event has been a complete success bringing together people of all ages and backgrounds who want to feel the Power of Soca delivered by Dr. Jay, ‘De Soca Prince’ who has been a groundbreaking ambassador for soca music not only in Canada but worldwide.

It was a night to enjoy some nice island vibes, take a dance on the ice and come alive as people wave their rags and flags and show their national colours!

In case you weren’t able to attend or if you did attend and want to relive it here are a few video recaps of the night when Soca ‘Tun Ova’ the Waterfront!

The Official Dr. Jay Recap:

Humber News (Trevon Marsh):