Staff of York’s Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections has been busy since October helping visual researchers pull together material for the documentary Yonge Street – Toronto Rock & Roll Stories, a three-part series.
Yonge Street – Toronto Rock & Roll Stories will air on Bravo! March 21, 22 and 23 at 10pm, and on the “A” Channel Sunday, March 27 at 1pm.
Above: Yonge Street at night outside the Hawk’s Nest club, November 1965. Image courtesy of York University Libraries, Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections, Toronto Telegram fonds, ASC01221
There’s been a whole lot of scanning going on. Archives staff has worked furiously to create contact sheets and last minute additions, and staff in bibliographic services were enlisted to help scan nearly 100 images from the Toronto Telegram fonds. “It was amazing to see the vibrant nightlife of the Yonge Street scene come to life,” says Julia Holland, archives assistant. A selection of these images will be used in episodes two and three and on the Bravo! and CTV websites.
Right: Ronnie Hawkins (right) and Robbie Robertson in performance at Le Coq D’Or Tavern in Yorkville, Nov. 14, 1963. Image courtesy of York University Libraries, Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections, Toronto Telegram fonds, ASC05106
The project brings together historical footage and photographs with notable Canadian film and music industry figures to create a fascinating documentary. Yonge Street was directed by Bruce McDonald (Dance Me Outside, Hard Core Logo, This Movie is Broken), and co-written by McDonald, David Brady and Jan Haust. Duff Roman was executive creative consultant. Together, they’ve provided a slice of Toronto’s rock ‘n’ roll scene in the 1950s and 1960s, featuring interviews with Daniel Lanois, Robbie Robertson, John Bower, Gordon Lightfoot, Ronnie Hawkins and others.
The Toronto Telegram Photo Collection held by the Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections consists of some 830,000 negatives and roughly 500,000 prints of photos taken for the newspaper, from 1876 to 1971, with the bulk of the photos being from 1939 to 1971. It is a collection of complete runs of photographs (with multiple shots) and represents a large and rich source of images relating to world events, as well as documenting local events in Toronto.
Left: A waitress contest out front of the Colonial Tavern preceding its renovation. Image courtesy of York University Libraries, Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections, Toronto Telegram fonds, ASC08131
The collection has been a source for images in an array of recent books, video productions and exhibits, including Unbuilt Toronto: A History of the City that Might Have Been (Dundurn, 2008) by Mark Osbaldeston, Brew North: How Canadians Made Beer and Beer Made Canada (Greystone Books, 2010) by Ian Coutts, Walking into Wilderness: The Toronto Carrying Place and Nine Mile Portage (Heartland Associates, 2010) by Heather Robertson, Chinese Canadian Women 1923-1967: Inspiration-Innovation-Ingenuity (Multicultural History Society of Ontario), Emancipation Day: Celebrating Freedom in Canada (Dundurn, 2010) by Natasha Henry and the documentary Behind the Bohemian Embassy (Moose Creek Productions).
To view images, visit the Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections, Toronto Telegram fonds.