Yorkville and Toronto of the 1960s

Yorkville is a high-end neighborhood in Toronto bounded by Bloor Street to the south, Davenport Road to the north, Yonge Street to the east and Avenue Road to the west. Yorkville in the 1960s bears little resemblance to the Yorkville of today. Before the upscale shopping and expensive real estate, before the fine eateries and luxury hotels, Yorkville was the heart of Toronto's Bohemian culture: hippies, drugs, free love - the world of counterculture - and a thriving music scene. 

Though most of the landmarks are now gone, places like The Riverboat coffeehouse, The Purple Onion, and 71 Club were frequented by famous artists like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin, and Buffy Sainte Marie. But Bohemian culture wasn't just about music. It was about being contrary to societal norms, and artists from around the world visited the area - including then-underground literary figures like Margaret Atwood and Dennis Lee. 

By the 1970's most of Yorkville had changed, in part due to the failure and notoriety of the infamous Rochdale College. The area was given a multimillion dollar face lift and over the years has evolved into the ritzy district we know it as today. 

Using Stuart Henderson's remarkable Making The Scene as your guide, stroll through the Yorkville of today and try to imagine how it was before. Visit Bloor Street, the Uknown Student statue in front of Rochdale College, the plaque commemorating the rich musical scene of the era. The buildings are still there - even if they do not resemble what once was. You can also stop at Nathan Phillips Square, where the famous protests and sit-ins took place.

Other Tours to Consider: 
Museums and Landmarks of Toronto


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