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Torontoist and Toronto Life and blogTO all happily noted last week that the iconic sign of the Yonge Street location of Sam the Record Man will be coming back to the streets of Toronto. The Toronto Star's Tim Alemenciak reported on the new location, looking down on Yonge-Dundas Square from the east.

Toronto’s iconic Sam the Record Man sign may have a home atop a city-owned building near Yonge-Dundas Square if a new plan is approved.

But the local councillor says the proposed building is slated for sale in 10 to 15 years, potentially endangering the long-term future of the beloved sign.

“Overall I think there are some great positives that come out of this proposal . . . the fact that the sign will be seen again,” said Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam whose ward includes the sign’s former Yonge St. location. “People have been asking for the signs to come out of storage.”

Deputy city manager John Livey’s plan suggests placing the double-record neon sign atop the Toronto Public Health building at 277 Victoria St., overlooking Yonge-Dundas Square.

[. . .]

“What we’ve heard from residents of the community and residents at large across the city is they would like to see the sign visible from Yonge St.,” said Wong-Tam. “So now they’ve chosen to have that sign placed above Yonge-Dundas Square which I would say is the most iconic space in the city next to Nathan Phillips Square.”


Here's my photo of the sign at its original location, in 2008.

Sam the Record Man
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blogTO's Derek Flack noted that the HMV music store at Yonge and Dundas is opening up a concert space in its basement. The idea actually makes a lot of sense to me, for the reasons he states.

As the company struggles to remain relevant in the post-CD age, the move makes a whole lot of sense. HMV needs to get people into the store and can tap into a fair bit of local history in opening a live venue on Yonge Street. Over and above the fact that Yonge and Gould was once a nexus of record shops (most notably the former home to Sam the Record Man's flagship location), the stretch of Yonge between Gerrard and Dundas was once a breeding ground for the city's rock and roll scene.

The space will accommodate 140 people and go by the name HMV Underground, which is kind of fitting in its '90s-ness. It was, after all, about 20 years ago when the store was at its peak of popularity. One doubts that a crossover plan like this will restore the location to its former heights, but it sure won't hurt. Hosting live shows is tried and tested way for bricks and mortar record shops to generate traffic and interest on the part of local music fans. In that sense, it's nothing new. But the size and sophistication of the venue is noteworthy. This isn't a little stage tucked into the corner as an afterthought.


I mentioned in April 2012 that the store was going through some hard times, giving up half of its former space to (among other retailers) the Silver Snail comic shop. Doing something innovative with the space remaining is probably HMV's only chance.

HMV, now only 333 Yonge Street

Toronto Star's Graham Slaughter has more.

Like other stores, HMV has ridden the peaks and valleys of the music business since the dawn of the Internet. A 2010 Statistics Canada study found that 87 per cent of youth aged 15 to 24 download songs at least once a week, while only 6 per cent exclusively listen to CDs.

This shift has hurt sales and triggered store closures, including Toronto HMVs at Sherway Gardens and on Queen St. W.

But the same Stats Canada research found seniors have remained loyal to tangible sound; 80 per cent of those polled over 65 said they only listen to music on traditional formats.

This demographic gap may be partly responsible for HMV Underground’s set list; the first performer will be Canadian classical guitarist Michael Kolk on May 3. The studio has also been reserved for the TD Toronto Jazz Festival in June.

However, Williams insists the Underground isn’t for one age group or music style.

“This isn’t exclusive just to those hardcore consumers, it’s for everybody. If we can bring new people in the store that’s all the better,” he said. “We’re selling the product that is there, but it’s about the artist. It’s a genuine brand extension, really.”
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Toronto got quite a lot of snow yesterday, between 10 and 15 centimetres. It came as a shock after Tuesday's warmth, but I quite like this new layer of snow, covering as it does the dirty snow that was all that was left of the winter's snow to date.

I took some quick photos

Yonge and Eglinton:

Winter snowfall, 12 March 2014 (1)


Winter snowfall, 12 March 2014 (2)


On the subway:

Winter snowfall, 12 March 2014 (3)


Dundas between Bay and Yonge:

Winter snowfall, 12 March 2014 (4)


Winter snowfall, 12 March 2014 (5)


Winter snowfall, 12 March 2014 (6)


Winter snowfall, 12 March 2014 (7)
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Building Ryerson at Yonge and Gould (1)


Construction is afoot at Yonge and Gould, as Ryerson University continues to build its new Student Learning Centre on the site of the old Sam the Record Man store.

Building Ryerson at Yonge and Gould (2)
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  • BlogTO highlights a new photography exhibition at Ryerson University that I really should see.

  • Centauri Dreams takes a look at the idea of subsurface biospheres on exoplanets.

  • Crooked Timber's Belle Waring shares pictures from the ongoing protests in Ukraine and starts a debate.

  • The Dragon's Tales notes a new model of the evolutions of the Sun and the Earth's atmosphere that suggests Earth will face a runaway greenhouse in 1.5 billion years, rather later than previously expected.

  • Far Outliers highlights the ongoing Berber awakening in north Africa.

  • Language Log tackles the Jamaican-sounding remarks of Rob Ford and finds them credible.

  • The Map Room's Jonathan Crowe links to a wonderful New Yorker article on maps in literature.

  • Marginal Revolution notes a new paper arguing that coal power was essential for urban growth.

  • Supernova Condensate quotes Karl Popper about inductive reasoning.

  • Torontoist notes the plans for a new proposed park to be built at Ontario Place.

  • Towleroad remarks on the recent suicide of an Azerbaijani gay rights activist and notes the doubling of a bounty offered by Hong Kong billionaire to any man who would marry his lesbian--and coupled--daughter.

  • Window on Eurasia notes the new reading list for Kremlin officials.

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The northeast corner of Yonge and Gould, just north of Yonge and Dundas, once hosted the flagship store of Sam the Record Man, a leading Canadian music store chain that collapsed in 2005, the flagship store continuing on but finally closing on the 30th of June, 2007. The site was bought by Ryerson University, which levelled then building and then in April 2011 announced plans to build an avant-garde student centre.

I have pictures here of the old building after the store closed and of the demolished site. Now, the construction crews are digging the foundations for the student centre.

Where Sam the Record Man was
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The Maple Leaf Gardens, the historic home of the Toronto Maple Leafs but abandoned for a decade once they decamped for newer grounds, has been saved.

The Canadian government, a local university and Loblaw Cos (L.TO), the country's biggest supermarket chain, said on Tuesday they will spend C$60 million ($57.5 million) to transform the downtown building, opened in 1931, into a retail and recreation complex.

Maple Leaf Gardens was home to the Toronto Maple Leafs until the team moved to the more modern Air Canada Centre near the Lake Ontario waterfront in 1999.

It became an always sold-out hockey institution during the Depression when games were broadcast across the country on radio. Later it was home to Hockey Night in Canada television broadcasts on Saturday nights.

The Leafs won the Stanley Cup, the NHL championship trophy, 11 times while they played there, the last one in 1967.

After its facelift is completed in 2011, the revamped Gardens will feature a new ice rink for Ryerson University teams, an athletic centre for Ryerson students and a supermarket on the ground floor.

"We needed to do something special with Maple Leaf Gardens," Loblaw Executive Chairman Galen Weston told a news conference on Tuesday. "This is a great example of how business, academia and government can work together to deliver a great result."

Loblaw bought the arena from Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment in 2004.

Maple Leaf Gardens was built during the Depression by then Leafs owner Conn Smythe at a cost of C$1.5 million. Tickets for the opening night game between the Leafs and the Chicago Blackhawks ranged between 95 Canadian cents and C$2.95.

Since then it has hosted Elvis Presley, the Beatles on three occasions, and the 1972 Summit Series between Team Canada and the Soviet Union's national hockey team.


This project is but one component of Ryerson University's aggressive expansion, west to Yonge Street--the site of the flagship store of the Sam the Record Man has been bought and the building demolished and north along Church Street. Ryerson, a decade and a half old as a university, seems determined to be entirely the equal in prestige and in land area as the older University of Toronto.
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