Archive for February, 2008

Songbird’s Swan Song

What!!! One of the best music stores in the city has filed for bankruptcy. Songbird Music had stripped itself down from a double store front to a single one last winter. Now in liquidation mode. Damn! Proof positive that the people who made Queen Street West “QUEEN STREET WEST” are getting gentrified.

I chatted with a former fixture of the Queen West area about his exodus last month. “Well it was really a matter of rents” (over $150,000 in two years). Um, I think that would give a reasonably successful store reason enough to revert to an online storefront and pack up and leave the street for good. The tone of the street is changing with this rent gouging. Sad but true but I can be sure Queen St W doesn’t need to be another Bloor W. With the “slick” shops and generic mall stores moving in who knows what will happen. The Horseshoe trudges on and hopefully will have something to cheer about Queen Street in the years to come.

Songbird Music R.I.P
The Toronto Song Bird appeared in October, 1988. It moved to a bigger store a few doors down Queen Street West in 1992.

Birds in Toronto

Toronto is filled with birds of all colours — red, grey, brown, blue, pink, multi-colours, polka dots — and songs and styles. We’ve become familiar with the peregrine falcons that inhabit our downtown, but have you heard of the Red Poll or Yellow Breasted Chat? Members of the Toronto Bird Observatory have, and until one whiny couple screeched at city staff to force them out of High Park, they banded and tracked the birds flying through and staying in Toronto about once a week. You can see some of the multitude of birds that hide among us on their blog at tboweb.blogspot.com. The photo above is of a House Finch.

Guitar Hero or Guitar ZERO

airaxe.jpg

The colder weather appears to be with us for awhile. The “official” result of this Groundhog Day is that we have six more weeks of the cold stuff. Well you don’t have to play video games all day. Show your flare and bust out some virtual chops at the First Annual AIR GUITAR Contest at the Cadillac Lounge tomorrow. Bring your fave guitar tunes (yup, one song and an encore) either on a CD or MP3 player and try for the $100 prize.

Judd- judd, judd-judd, wooooooooooooooooooooow…..

The First Annual Cadillac Lounge Air Guitar Contest
at the Cadillac Lounge
1296 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON
(416) 536-7717
February 3rd
Contests to register by email: cadillaclounge@sympatico.ca

Prize: $100

No need for effects pedals or guitar, just raw air guitar fury.

Hubbard is Black History

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To kick start Black History month her on MB Toronto I thought I would post some info on Toronto’s most popular black politician William Hubbard.

William Peyton Hubbard, (1842 – 1935), was first person of African descent, on Toronto’s City Council. He was first elected in 1894 and served on it for 15 years. Hubbard was born in Toronto to former American slaves, who had escaped via the Underground Railroad. A baker by trade, he was well-known for his strong political opinions, his sharp wit, his convincing oratory and for his strong sense of public duty. His eloquence was such that his fellow politicians dubbed him “Old Cicero.”

George Brown supported him after he had rescued Brown from drowning in the Don River. The horses pulling Brown’s carriage bolted and he was tossed into the river. Brown recognize Hubbard’s political astuteness and encouraged his political ambitions. Not only was he Toronto’s first African Canadian Councillor, he was also Toronto’s first Canadian deputy mayor of African lineage.

He made a name for himself as a champion of little man, protecting the rights of Chinese laundry owners in the city. He also was a supporter of Adam Beck, founder of Toronto Hydro, in his efforts to keep power public.

Losing an election in 1915, Hubbard retired to the Riverdale area of the city, building a home 660 Broadview Ave., now part of Montcrest School, .that he would spend his remaining days in until he died at the age of 93. There is a plaque commemorating this house in the northeast corner of Riverdale Park, just south of Montcrest.

He maintained he had never experienced racism in political office because he ran on his knowledge of real estate, rather than as a “Negro politician,” and said, “I have always felt that I am a representative of a race hitherto despised, but if given a fair opportunity would be able to command esteem.”

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