“Reggae Lane" is a the name of a laneway located behind the storefronts south of Eglinton Avenue West and east of Oakwood Avenue. It was given this title in 2015 by the York-Eglinton BIA, along with the Laneway Project, to honour the rich music tradition of this area.
The history of reggae in Toronto dates back to the 1960s when many Jamaican musicians settled in the city where they performed jazz, calypso, soul, R & B, and other popular genres. Around the same time, musicians in Jamaica had started a new sound - reggae - which soon was adopted by Jamaican-Canadian musicians. Before long, record shops, music studios, and performance venues lined Eglinton Avenue West between Marlee and Dufferin streets. The strip was also home to many West Indian clothing shops, beauty and barber shops, restaurants, grocery stores, and other businesses, and became known as “Little Jamaica”.
Searching the Library Website
Recommended Subjects and Keywords
Jamaica to Toronto Series. Listed below are six CDs featuring reissued soul and reggae albums and singles that were compiled by DJ/Canadian music historian Sipreano with Light In The Attic Records of Seattle, Washington.
Innocent Youths, by Earth, Roots & Water. 2008; originally released 1977.
Noel Ellis. 2006; originally released, 1983.
Wayne McGhie & the Sounds of Joy. 2004; originally released 1970.
Dubwise: Reasoning from the Reggae Underground, by Klive Walker. 2005
Series of essays that delve into the Jamaican diaspora and its musical influence. See "One-Drop Dubs the Maple Leaf: The Story of Reggae in Canada," pages 155-176.
Global Reggae, edited by Carolyn Cooper. 2012
Plenary lectures from the 'Global Reggae' conference convened at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica in 2008. Chapter 9 discusses "The Journey of Reggae in Canada".
Jamaican Canadian music in Toronto in the 1970s and 1980s : a preliminary history, by Keith McCuaig. 2012.
Master's thesis on the musical community of Jamaican musicians in Toronto in the 70s and 80s.
Jamaican Popular Music: From Mento to Dancehall Reggae: A Full Bibliographic Guide, by John Gray. 2011.
Bibliographic references to books, articles, reviews, dictionaries, newspapers, electronics sources, videos, and dissertations on popular Jamaican music and the music abroad. Materials about Jamaican music in Canada are detailed on pages 88 to 89.
Profiles of 250 Jamaican-Canadians from across Canada. Jay Douglas is featured on page 62.
King Alpha's Song in a Strange Land : Jamaican Migrant and Canadian Host in Toronto's Transnational Reggae Music Scene, 1973-1990, by John Jason Collins Wilson. 2013.
Doctoral thesis on the migration of people and music from Jamaica as seen through the eyes of the immigrants themselves and locals.
Using Online Resources
Recommended Articles (newest to oldest)
Toronto’s reggae roots to be celebrated in Eglinton-Oakwood laneway celebration: Party for ‘Reggae Lane’ takes place Sept. 19, by Dominik Kurek. York Guardian. September 15, 2015.
Councillor Josh Colle is hosting the unveiling ceremony for Reggae Lane.
Eglinton Avenue laneway renamed to celebrate Toronto's reggae history: Coun. Josh Colle hopes Reggae Lane can be a successful model for revitalizing Toronto's side streets and alleyways, by Luke Simcoe. MetroNews. September 14, 2015.
Contains images of the mural and plaque dedicated to the musical history of the area.
Toronto Laneway to Become Reggae Hot Spot (Once Again), by Ryan Ayukawa. Blog TO. April 18, 2015.
The clean-up project of Reggae Lane led by Dewitt Lee and JuLion King.
A Brief History of Reggae in Toronto, by David Dacks. Blog TO. December 24, 2014.
Chronicles the reggae music scene by collating the venues, musicians, promotors, and record stores which comprised the genre's infrastructure in Toronto.
Eglinton West's Music History Gives Beat to Street Name. The York Guardian. August 14, 2014. (Access through Canadian Newsstand Torstar - Toronto Public Library card login required)
Eglinton Avenue West's rich music history to be remembered in the naming of Reggae Lane.
Historicist: Sounds of Home II: After-hours clubs and the West Indian Music scene of the 1960's, by Kevin Plummer. Torontoist. Dec 28, 2013
Details the West Indian after-hours nightclub scene in Toronto going back to the 1950s.
Wisdom’s Barber Shop and Hair Salon: A community hub in Little Jamaica, by Nancy J. White. The Toronto Star. July 13, 2012.
Jimmy Wisdom is a legendary singer from Jamaica who has been barbering on the Eglinton West strip for over three decades.
Toronto's Lost Soul & Reggae Stars Revisited, by Kevin Plummer. Torontoist. December 12, 2007.
Tells the story of the "Jamaica to Toronto" series and the reissue of classic Canadian soul and reggae albums by Seattle-based Light in the Attic Records. Includes an interview with Jay Douglas and his experiences with his band The Cougars.
The soul survivors, by Murray White. The Toronto Star. July 15, 2006. (Access through Canadian Newsstand Torstar - Toronto Public Library card login required)
Chronicles the process behind Light in the Attic Records' launch of the "Jamaica to Toronto" CD and the reunion of contributing artists such as Jay Douglas, Everton "Pablo" Paul, Terry Lewis, Jimmy Wisdom and Bob Williams.
Reggae Roots Run Deep, by Nick McCabe-Lokos. The Toronto Star. July 27, 2003. (Access through Canadian Newsstand Torstar - Toronto Public Library card login required)
Highlights the immigration experience of artists from Jamaica to Canada within the context of Canadian immigration during that time.
Jamaica Beckons and Sibbles is Listening, by Peter Howell. The Toronto Star. April 26, 1991 (Access through Canadian Newsstand Torstar - Toronto Public Library card login required)
Leroy Sibbles, a reggae pioneer who moved from Jamaica to Toronto, describes his immigration.
A blog by JuLion King that promotes and showcases Canadian reggae artists and events.
Information about the laneway improvement project presented by The Laneway Project and the York Eglinton Business Improvement Area.
Lists influential artists, and provides an interactive Google map of the venues, shops, recording studios, record labels and more.
The public arts organization involved in designing the mural to be placed in near Reggae Lane.
The Fabulous Cougars: Reggae in Toronto, Jay Douglas and Everton "Pablo" Paul, with Karsten Frehe, 2010. This interview is on a German online magazine called Irie Ites, which features information, interviews, recordings, and live streaming on dub, reggae, dancehall and ska.
Everyday Ambassadors: Jimmy Wisdom. Toronto 2015: Panamania. This video (3:22) tells the story of Ronald "Jimmy" Wisdom who came to Canada in 1968 from Montego Bay, Jamaica and now owns Wisdom's Barber Shop and Beauty Salon on Eglinton West in Toronto.
This research guide was developed by Barbara Baillargeon, Librarian, Maria A. Shchuka, Toronto Public Library and Tania Gamage, Graduate Student, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto.
Updated September 18, 2015