Toronto’s newest street sign

A blue and white Toronto street sign that says Reggae Lane. Some stores and a tree are in the background.

Reggae Lane is a small lane on the south side of Eglinton West, between Marlee and Oakwood.
It is home to a new mural that celebrates the many reggae musicians from Toronto.

below: A Heritage Toronto plaque marks the spot.  It tells the story of Jamaican immigration and the reggae music they brought to Canada with them.   A transcription of the plaque appears at the bottom of this post.

plaque with the title "Toronto's Reggae Roots" with three photos as well as a story of Jamaican immigrants to Toronto and the story of reggae music in Toronto

 

The mural was painted over the course of three weeks by Adrian Hayles with the help of some young painters.

below:  Appearing in the mural: Reggae musicians from Toronto – Pluggy Satchmo, Bernie Pitters, Leroy Sibbles, Lord Tanamo, Jay Douglas, Stranger Cole, Johnny Osbourne, Jojo Bennett, Nana McLean, Jackie Mittoo, Leroy Brown, Otis Gayle, Joe Isaacs, and Carol Brown.   Bob Marley is also in the mural as are the Skatalites, one of the groups that started it all; they began recording ska music in the mid 1960s.

View of a 1200 square foot mural by Adrian Hayles that depicts many different reggae musicians. This photo was taken from the second floor of the building next door so the camera is looking down across the parking lot towards the mural. Eglinton Avenue is seen behind the mural.

below: “Reggae, The King’s Music” is a reference to Haile Selassie, the Emperor of Ethiopia (1930-1974) who was born Tafari Makonnen.   Before becoming emperor, he was known as Ras Tafari where Ras means Duke or Prince (depending on the translation).  Hence the name Rastafari.   The Rastafari movement began in Jamaica after the coronation of Haile Selassie.  To them, Selassie was not just a black king, he was the messiah.

Part of a very colourful mural depicting various reggae musicians -

Although it didn’t become a musical genre until the 1960s, reggae also has it’s roots in Jamaica. Reggae and Rasta have become closely linked.   Reggae has spread the Rasta message and Rastafari musicians like Bob Marley have popularized reggae music.

below: The radio station CFRB once had a Sunday evening reggae program.

Part of a very colourful mural depicting various reggae musicians - A large hand with a finger pointing to the right with the letters C F R B above it. Two musicians are also in the picture.

below: The Lion of Juda is a Rastafarian symbol.  It comes from the fact that as Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Sealssie’s full title was “King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the tribe of Judah”.  The lion also appears in the middle of the Ethiopian flag.

Part of a very colourful mural depicting various reggae musicians - a black man in a green hat, a lion's face and the words, Adrian Hayles production

Part of a very colourful mural depicting various reggae musicians - A man wearing headphones and a baseball cap is playing a guitar.

plaque: “Toronto’s Reggae Roots

In the 1970s and 1980s, an estimated 100,000 Jamaicans immigrated to Canada. Many settled in Toronto on Eglinton Avenue West, between Oakwood Avenue and Allen Road, in “Little Jamaica”, which became the centre of one of the largest Jamaican expatriate communities in the world.
Among these immigrants were popular reggae artists who brought their music to Toronto. Reggae record stores and recording studios began opening up in this neighbourhood. Leroy Sibbles (the influential bass guitar player and lead vocalist of The Heptones), Jackie Mittoo, The Cougars, Ernie Smith, Johnny Osborne, and Stranger Cole all performed and recorded in Toronto during this period. Despite the rich talent in and around Little Jamaica, early Canadian reggae struggled to find mass appeal. However, later generations of Toronto reggae artists achieved mainstream success, including Juno Award winners Lillian Allen, Messenjah, and the Sattalites.”

 

The project was funded by the City of Toronto’s StreetARToronto program, with support from Metrolinx, Councillor Josh Colle’s office, the Macaulay Centre for Child and Youth Development, the Toronto Parking Authority and the York-Eglinton BIA.  It was also supported by the STEPS Initiative.

Comments
  1. […] the second mural painted here.  You can see the original Reggae Lane mural in the background.  I blogged about it when it was first painted two years […]

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