Toronto's Historical Plaques
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Toronto's Reggae Roots
Photos by Alan L Brown - Posted October, 2015
On the south side of Eglinton Avenue West at Reggae Lane, a block east of Oakwood Avenue, to the left of a parking lot entrance can be found this 2015 Heritage Toronto plaque. An accompanying mural in the adjacent parking lot can be seen further down this page. Here's what the plaque says:
Coordinates: 43.697708 -79.440873
In the 1970s and 1980s, estimated 100,000 Jamaicans immigrated to Canada. Many settled in Toronto on Eglinton Avenue West, between Oakwood Avenue and Allen Road, in "Little Jamaica", which became the centre of one of the largest Jamaican expatriate communities in the world.
Among these immigrants were popular reggae artists who brought their music to Toronto. Reggae record stores and recording studios began opening up in this neighbourhood. Leroy Sibbles (the influential bass guitar player and lead vocalist of The Heptones), Jackie Mittoo, The Cougars, Ernie Smith, Johnny Osbourne, and Stranger Cole all performed and recorded in Toronto during this period. Despite the rich talent in and around Little Jamaica, early Canadian reggae struggled to find mass appeal. However, later generations of Toronto reggae artists achieved mainstream success, including Juno Award-winners Lillian Allen, Messenjah, and the Sattalites.
Here's what the mural information card, to the right of the parking lot entrance, says:
"Reggae Lane Mural" mural by Adrian Hayles
Toronto is home to one of the largest populations of Jamaican expatriates in the world, and the second largest hub for reggae music after Kingston, Jamaica.
This is mural, inspired by the ideas of dozens of residents, musicians, and reggae enthusiasts, celebrates the rich local reggae history of this community, paying homage to the musicians that paved the way for a new generation of talent.
Together with the local youth and the STEPS team, lead artist Adrian Hayles visually interpreted locally sourced stories and aspirations into what it is now a new cultural landmark in the Eglinton-Oakwood community.
Adrian Hayles is a Toronto-born, visual artist with Guyanese roots who has been blurring the lines between graffiti and ultra realism on various canvasses across our city for over four years.
The STEPS initiative is a community arts organization that connects people to public spaces through art.
(1) Bob Marley
(2) Haile Selassi
(3) Pluggy Satchimo
(4) Bernie Pitters
(5) Leroy Sibbles
(6) Lord Tanamo
(7) Leroy Brown
(8) Carol Brown
(9) Otis Gayle
(10) Joe Isaacs
(11) Jay Douglas
(12) Stranger Cole
(13) Johnny Osbourn
(14) The Lion of Juda
(15) Jojo Bennett
(16) Nana Mclean
(17) Jackie Matto
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