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Obituary: Sam "the Record Man" Sniderman

He said it, he did it. Sam “the Record Man” Sniderman loved catch phrases and used them frequently to promote himself and the family business that bore his name.But, unlike the claims of many entrepreneurial blowhards, Sam’s slogans were no empty boasts. He actually did create the “best chain of record stores in Canada, with great music at great prices,” like he boldly predicted he would, and built a reputation as the greatest promoter of domestic talent that Canadian music ever had.Long before CanCon regulations, which he helped to usher in, Sniderman made a habit of giving prominent display space in his stores to domestic artists. Gordon Lightfoot remembers how Sniderman faithfully stocked...
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Feature Article: Snow - Snow business

As a teenager growing up in the housing projects of north Toronto, Darrin O’Brien did not seem to have much of a future. An indifferent student from a working-class family, he spent much of his time drinking, fighting and getting caught on the wrong side of the law. His police record includes several convictions—for mischief, causing a disturbance and assault. Aside from his skill as a street fighter, O’Brien's only talent was mimicking the thick Jamaican dialect that he heard on reggae records and in his predominantly West Indian neighborhood. Then, in 1989, when he was 19, a brawl involving butcher knives sent him to jail on charges of attempted murder. But prison proved to be a turning po...
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Toronto cultural landmark lost

From Heritage Toronto

335 Yonge Street (The Empress Hotel) Destroyed by Fire

January 4, 2011 - 12:30pm

How can we better protect our heritage?

The Empress Hotel at 335 Yonge Street was destroyed yesterday in an early morning fire. Located on the southeast corner of Yonge Street and Gould Street, the Empress Hotel (1888) is a three-storey commercial building. The property was included on the City of Toronto's Inventory of Heritage Properties in 1974, and was designated last year under the Ontario Heritage Act in response to a demolition application.

From the Intent to Designate Report: "The Empress Hotel has design value as a well-crafted example of a late 19th century commercial building that blends elements of the popular Second Empire and Romanesque Revival styles of the era. The distinctive corner tower with a classically detailed mansard roof from Second Empire styling is combined with the monumental round-arched openings that typify the Romanesque Revival style in a carefully crafted composition designed to enhance the presence of the building on Toronto's most prominent commercial street.

Contextually, the Empress Hotel is a local landmark on the southeast corner of Yonge Street and

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Music Review: The Sattalites - Reggaefication

Canada’s reggae veterans have “reggae-fied” everything from the Beatles’ “She Loves You” to Cat Stevens’ “The First Cut is the Deepest.” Here, they add the one-drop rhythm to the Rascals’ “Groovin’.” But catchy covers are only part of the Sattalites’ oeuvre. Led by Jo Jo Bennett and Fergus Hambleton, the band—now happily celebrating its 20th anniversary—also delivers polished originals like Hambleton’s “The Key” and Bruce “Preacher” Robinson’s spirited dancehall rap “God Bless.” Joyful, unpretentious stuff.
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Liner Notes: Various artists - QSW The Rebel Zone

Toronto’s Queen Street, the portion running west from stately University to cosmopolitan Spadina, was originally a jumble of greasy spoons, barbershops and clothing stores. Owners lived above their shops, while children played on sidewalks. There were even a couple of watering holes that supplied the mostly Irish, Jewish and Eastern European locals with cold, cheap draft beer. By the late 1970s, those bars had become part of a fertile breeding ground, a creative hothouse of forceful protest, stylish adventure and uninhibited experimentation that produced an explosion of musical talent. In many ways, it paralleled the city’s fabled Yorkville scene of the previous decade, with a tight concentration of clubs that served as a launching pad for a generation of future stars.

The catalyst for change was the nearby Ontario College of Art. Drawn by the lure of affordable housing and restaurants serving inexpensive meals, students from the college began moving into the area, rubbing shoulders with the district’s working-class denizens. Soon, artist-run galleries, theatres and other performance spaces sprang up, while music quickly took over the taverns and the illegal, after-hours clubs that surreptitiously opened

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