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The home of music journalist Nicholas Jennings, author of Lightfoot, the definitive new Gordon Lightfoot biography from Penguin Random House.
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Obituary: Elyse Weinberg - Yorkville's Forgotten Folkie

She was one of Yorkville’s forgotten female folkies, a contemporary of Joni Mitchell and a friend of Neil Young who left Toronto in 1968 for the hills above Los Angeles. For a while, Elyse Weinberg was a Lady of the Canyon herself, with an acclaimed debut album and a rose-tinted future. Newsweek magazine even compared her to Ms. Mitchell, Melanie and Laura Nyro. But disillusionment with the music business eventually caused the husky-voiced singer to drop out, move to the rural northwest and change her name.In 2000 Ms. Weinberg, then living as Cori Bishop in Ashland, Ore., received an out-of-the-blue phone call: a young musician had found her mystical self-titled debut in a thrift s...
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Book Excerpt: Yorkville's Ugly Summer of Love

By the summer of ’67, Yorkvilleʼs hippies found themselves choking on exhaust fumes from bumper-to-bumper traffic. Reduced to curiosities for the passing, pointing motorists, many resented the way their community was being taken over by tourists gawking at the longhairs. Kids started demanding that Yorkvilleʼs streets be closed to cars. The Diggers seized on this and the issue became the hippiesʼ new mantra.Yorkville had been a thorn in the side of Toronto the Good for some time. But in the heat of that summer, the problems came to a head. Cops in the village started hassling kids with a “move-along, move-along” attitude. Politicians, meanwhile, railed against the presence of runaway youths,...
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Toronto Songs: Neil Young's Ambulance Blues

Neil Young (left) with Four to Go's Ken Koblum and Geordie McDonald
Neil Young returned to the city of his birth in 1965, determined to break into Toronto’s flourishing music scene. He’d arrived with his Winnipeg group, the Squires, but their new folk-rock sound fell on deaf ears. Even changing their name to Four to Go failed to make a difference. So Young parted ways with his bandmates and launched himself as a solo folksinger.Before leaving Winnipeg, Young had become enamored of Bob Dylan’s music and taught himself to play “Four Strong Winds,” Ian Tyson’s Canada-referencing response to “Blowin’ in the Wind.” He’d also encountered Joni Mitchell, who was performing at the Fourth Dimension coffeehouse with her husband. After the show, Young went up to Joni, t...
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Toronto Songs: Murray McLauchlan's Down By the Henry Moore

Photo by Bart Schoales
 Murray McLauchlan moved downtown and never looked back. Armed with a guitar and a backpack, he ran away from home at the age of 17 and headed straight to Yorkville. He wound up crashing at the Village Corner coffeehouse, sleeping on a mattress in the basement and soaking up the sounds of guitarists like Amos Garrett and Jim McCarthy and folksingers including Al Cromwell and Elyse Weinberg. The Village Corner had been the place where artists like Ian & Sylvia, Gordon Lightfoot, David Wiffen and Bonnie Dobson all got their start.The son of a trade unionist, McLauchlan developed an artistic flair while attending Central Technical School, where he took classes from renowned Canadian pa...
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Toronto Songs: Ian Tyson's Marlborough Street Blues

When Ian Tyson arrived in Toronto in September 1958, the folk music scene didn’t exist. The coffeehouses hadn’t yet appeared in Yorkville. The city’s bohemian district consisted of a few ramshackle cafés and galleries along a tiny stretch of Gerrard Street, near Bay, that attracted colorful personalities and painters like Harold Town. All of that was about to change with the Folk Boom ignited by the Kingston Trio and its massive hit “Tom Dooley.”Tyson had hitchhiked his way East from the West Coast, where he’d graduated from the Vancouver School of Art. He was 25 years old. His life experience at that point largely amounted to riding bareback in rodeos and playing a little guitar in rockabil...
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