Music History

Toronto Music Venue History: The Riverboat

[Frequent contributor Juliette Jagger wrote this for Noisey/Vice. – AC]

In the mid 1960’s, Toronto’s Yorkville neighborhood was a renowned musical mecca. Like Greenwich Village in New York City and Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco, Yorkville housed a vibrant and thriving artistic community and served as a launch pad for some of the era’s brightest musical talents.

Situated within a seven-block radius that is bound by Bloor Street and Davenport Rd. and extends from Yonge Street to Avenue Road, Yorkville was full of clubs, coffee houses, experimental art galleries and bohemian boutiques, bustling with a combination of acoustic and electric performances every night. There was Chez Monique (88 Yorkville Ave.), The Mynah Bird (114 Yorkville Ave.) and Penny Farthing (112 Yorkville Ave.) amongst so many others, and then there was The Riverboat coffee house. Owned by Bernie Fiedler (a one time coffee salesmen), and located below street level at 134 Yorkville Ave., The Riverboat officially opened its doors in October of 1964, and quickly grew to become the epicenter of the city’s folk music and counter culture scenes.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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