lights camera sound actions | time-based contemporary art

Queen St. West history

In Uncategorized on January 26, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Here’s my input to all the Queen St. West history.

Peter Pan wait staff Hilary & I circa 1978

It takes nothing away from the magnificence of The Cameron to remember what everyone seems to forget when writing about the history of Queen  St. West – both The Cameron and the music scene built on what was  already established by other artists in the 70s. I lived over Jacob’s Hardware (beside The Cameron) from 1975-1988 and most of the “new  dance” community as well as the infant modern dance Dancemakers  rehearsed there in the mid-70s. General Idea’s Art  Metropole moved from Yonge St. to Richmond and Duncan in the mid-70s  and CCMC opened The Music Gallery on St. Patrick St. just north of  Queen. The Centre for Experimental Art and Communications (CEAC) was on Duncan and the independent film organization, The Funnel, was in  its basement. Lots of artists lived in the lofts along Queen St. W. around Spadina (protected by provincial rent control) including John Scott, Peter McCallum,  Randy & Bernicci and many others. Before The Cameron we drank at The Beverley and occasionally The Rex Hotel or Horseshoe (speaking personally of course).  The Cabana Room of The Spadina Hotel was the original artists’ bar of area.

The restaurants were key to the scene and provided employment for visual artists, dancers and musicians. Peter Pan opened in the fall of 1976 and was the game-changer to hipsterism. General Idea’s Jorge  Zontal and myself were amongst the first wait staff. Le Select opened  up before The Peter Pan and was a hangout for theatre people including  Montreal emigrés from Bill 101 who opened the Soho Theatre on  the second floor in the building that later became The Rivoli. Around this time, the hippie Beggar’s Banquet changed to The Parrot and its  owners and chefs were the soon-to-be-superchefs Greg Couilliard and  Andrew Milne-Allen. The Clichettes are other dancers formed most of the wait staff.

But don’t take my word for it – see The Toronto Star article, “A new village lures the creative crowd”, Saturday, June 125, 1977 by Bruce Kirkland.


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