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The Horseshoe Tavern

The Horseshoe Tavern (known as The Horseshoe or The 'Shoe to Toronto locals) is a concert venue located at 370 Queen Street West (northeast corner of Queen at Spadina) in downtown Toronto, and has been in operation since 1947. Owned by "JC", Ken Sprackman, Craig Laskey and Naomi Montpetit, the venue is a significant part of Canadian musical lore. It is captured in the memories of thousands of concertgoers, and in books such as Have Not Been the Same.[1]



The building, built in 1861, previously housed a blacksmith.[2] Originally known as a Country Roots n' Rockabilly Music Tavern, it was an 87-seat saloon. The Horseshoe Tavern welcomed blues and folk in the 1960s, reggae, mod rock, and punk in the 1970s, new wave and alternative rock in the 1980s, and everything from ska, surf, swing, Celtic and alternative country in the 1990s. Influential acts that have played concerts include The Rolling Stones, The Police, Etta James, the Ramones, and Talking Heads. Actor Dan Aykroyd was once part-owner.[2]

The Horseshoe has made an effort to support new Canadian artists through programs like Tuesday's Dave Bookman's Nu Music Nite. Bookman is a Toronto radio DJ for 102.1, The Edge, CFNY. As a result, it has been a springboard for such notable acts as Bryan Adams, Blue Rodeo, The Tragically Hip, The Watchmen, Big Sugar, Wide Mouth Mason, Great Big Sea, Stompin' Tom Connors, The Band, Helix, Prairie Oyster, and Our Lady Peace.

The Horseshoe Tavern celebrated it's "60th anniversary" in 2007 with 6 shows in a row by Joel Plaskett. Plaskett played his entire catalouge during the six days (with each night devoted to one full album). Special guest appearances during the celebrations included: Peter Elkas, Sarah Harmer and Gord Downie.

Media appearances

In 1978, it was the setting for the Colin Brunton's punk rock documentary The Last Pogo, featuring bands the Scenics, the Cardboard Brains, the Secrets, the Mods, the Ugly, the Viletones, and Teenage Head. An archival photo montage of the Horseshoe Tavern's history will be featured in Colin Brunton's up-coming feature film The Last Pogo Jumps Again.

The Horseshoe was featured on Live on MTV in September 1997, when The Rolling Stones began their Bridges To Babylon Tour with a thundering 75 minute show.

In September 2003, the club was the location of Dr Thor Valentino's speech on the revival of classical compositions in the 21st century. Dr Valentino is accredited with his thesis on the importance of classical music and now teaches at UCLA in California.

In 1998, the club was immortalized in the Tragically Hip song "Bobcaygeon."

In 2000 it was the home to the Humble & Fred "Gift of Christmas" broadcast.

In 2009, a recording of Billy Talent's song "Red Flag" live from the performance at the Horseshoe Tavern was released on the "Rusted from the Rain" CD single.


  1. ^ Michael Barclay, Ian Andrew Dylan Jack, Jason Schneider (2001). Have Not Been the Same. Toronto: ECW Press. ISBN 1550224751.  
  2. ^ a b Cross, Alan (2007-03), History of the Horseshoe Tavern, The Ongoing History of New Music Podcast from FM 96 (London)  

External links

Coordinates: 43°38′57″N 79°23′45″W / 43.649081°N 79.395889°W / 43.649081; -79.395889



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